With our recent review of Dario’s still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d finally put pen to paper on a topic that has been nagging away at me for years and one of the few remaining areas where I think the Edinburgh food scene is quite weak – late night dining.
For one reason or another, we just don’t seem to have a particularly healthy or diverse set of dining options for those who wish to dine late.
What constitutes late dining is perhaps the first thing to consider, because I think I mean a couple of different things.
Firstly, I regularly find myself wandering around the city between the hours of 9.30pm and 10pm having the spent the early part of the evening at some event or other. The vast majority of restaurants are closed by 10pm, which in a number of cases means last diners seated at 9.30pm. What are my options?
Ting Thai Caravan and Nawroz both open until 11pm, so are very handy in the Old Town/Southside. Greenmantle serves its burger menu until closing time, which is usually midnight, so that’s also good in that part of town.
New Indian thali place Atithi opens until 11pm, so is currently proving very handy in Haymarket. Pomegranate at the top of Leith is open until 11.30pm, I think Pickles on Broughton Street serves its platters until late, and the Curry Cafe on Elm Row is open until 10.30pm.
These are all places that I’d happily visit when looking for a meal at any time, but also cater to later diners.
Places in the second category are what you might consider late night specialists.
As befits the Mediterranean preference for dining later in the evening, there’s a rash of Italian options, primarily on Hanover Street or Lothian Road. Some of these are fairly decent, but they’re scarcely the pick of the crop. Often they’re catering to the post-pub crowd, of which I’m not infrequently an example.
Indian and Chinese takeaways, some of which have small sit-in places, are open lateish but can be very hit and miss.
Once the witching hour has come and gone, only two or three options spring to mind where a truly high quality feed is on offer and again these tend to be on the southside. Kebab Mahal has long been a late night curry favourite. Nearby Palmyra (along with sister restaurant Zenobia) does very good wraps and falafel. Mediterranean Gate is a beacon of late night middle eastern goodness further towards the city centre.
There are a few decent pizza places. Moratti and Pasha spring to mind. Chip shops are another way to go. I have been enjoying the work of the Station Takeaway in Haymarket, recently. There’s a couple of late night bakeries, although the ones I’ve visited recently have seen much better days.
And that’s about it. I’ve actually come up with a longer list of places than I’d originally thought, but certainly once we’re past 11pm we’re sorely lacking on light, fresh and healthy options. I’m sure to have missed some good ones, so do let me know of others you value.
And to pre-empt anyone that espouses the whole “you shouldn’t eat after 8pm” or whatever, that’s irrelevant in the face of the fact that people do eat out later in the evening, and it would be better if there were some healthier options on offer.
I think there’s an opportunity for a complete rethink of our late night dining choices. I’m as guilty as anyone of reverting to post-pub stodge, but if there were some more imaginative choices on offer I’d be there like a shot and I don’t think I’m the only one.
So that’s my challenge to you all: share your ideas for how we redevelop our approach to late night eating out. Share your ideas for more diverse and enticing options that we should demand from our late night marketplace. And let’s see if we can do something to improve on this last bastion of poor quality in our city’s dining.