Foodie Fridays: The best foods to try in Scotland

I’m finally writing a Foodie Friday post about my favorite place! I love Scotland so much, not only for its beautiful mountains and cities but also for its food. My last trip to Edinburgh, everything I ate was great.

Here are some of my top recommendations for things to try in Scotland. And, of course, how could we start with anything but…


Yes, the quintessential Scottish dish, composed of sheep’s innards (…yum?), suet, oatmeal, and onions and which, like the Kinder egg, is illegal to import into the United States. I had haggis at the Amber Restaurant in Edinburgh, and in my opinion it closely resembled meatloaf.

Here’s a related bit of trivia for you to puzzle over while you’re in Scotland: is haggis named after a small animal with a loud scream, like the locals will tell you? Or is all of that a crock of sheep’s innards?

Neeps and tatties

This funny-sounding dish is made of potatoes and turnips and is traditionally served with haggis.

Walker’s shortbread

The most buttery and probably most calorie-filled store-bought shortbread I tried in the UK was Walker’s, which is a common sight in Scottish gift shops. Patterson’s is another brand that’s pretty good. Just try not to eat a whole package in one sitting!

Meat pies

One thing I love about Scottish food is how basically all of it is comfort food. Heavy dinners full of cooked vegetables and buttery bread and potatoes. Warm drinks in the chilly winters. Scotland has similar food to England, but, being farther north, Scottish meals have a cozier touch.

Meat pies are one of the ultimate British pub foods, and Scotland is great at them. Any pub will likely offer a variety of types, but a particular national specialty is the Scotch pie, which is a savory mince pie.

One of my dinners in Edinburgh the last time I visited was a meat pie at a pub on the Royal Mile. It was expensive, which makes sense as I was in the most touristy part of the most touristy city in Scotland. And it came as a bunch of separate pieces—the flaky crust was on its own; the vegetables and meat were separated into individual bowls. This was unexpected and a challenge to consume without just eating one element of the pie at a time. I ended up kind of mashing the top of the crust so I could scoop some of the meat sauce and vegetables into it (which I think is the correct way to do it).

There is no sense of accomplishment quite like feeling like you “made” your own meal when in fact you are just in a restaurant and have done no cooking at all. So far, I’ve experienced such an inexplicable thing nowhere but Scotland.

Italian Aroma Coffee

I don’t know what it was, but this Glasgow-based brand seemed to me like the best coffee I’d ever tasted. I had it every day for a week at the Saint Giles Café in Edinburgh (latte with two sugars)—after which I didn’t have it, and I experienced my first coffee-deprivation-related headache.

Hot toddy

In chillier seasons, especially around Christmas, lists of warm, spiced drinks fill up the chalkboards in British cafes and pubs. Warm whisky, also known as hot toddy, is a frequent one you’ll see—and after all, you’ve got to try Scotch whisky in Scotland.

Bonus: Deacon’s House Café

When I was searching for the name of this coffee shop on Google Maps, it pulled it up as directions from Minnesota (which would require a 10.5-hour flight costing over $1000), as though I would want to hop on a plane and head over to Deacon’s House Café right now. Well, it’s not wrong.

I was fortuitous enough to overhear the name of this Edinburgh café from a roommate in my hostel. They said it was amazing, which I assumed was an exaggeration. I’d been eating Edinburgh food all week, and while it was good, it wasn’t anything to write home about. But I stopped by around dinnertime the next day anyway and ordered a tuna salad croissant.

You guys. I don’t know what they did to this tuna croissant, but it was. Amazing. So good. Probably the best thing I’d eaten that entire trip. I tried to go back the following evening, but alas, the café had closed early.

So do me a favor and stop at Deacon’s House Café next time you’re in Edinburgh so that it has business and stays open long enough for me to visit again. (Two places I went during study abroad were permanently closed the next time I was in Europe, only a couple of months later.) K thx!

For more posts on UK travel, click the ellipsis at the top right of the page and select Follow blog via email. Thanks for reading! 

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