There's no need to settle for generic, touristy restaurants in Edinburgh. Food blogger Jonathan Jones's favourites are an eclectic mix but all have fine food to shout about
The Ship on the Shore
Many tourists head to Leith to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia but many neglect to stop at The Shore. That's a shame as this area by the water is home to some 10 of the best restaurants Edinburgh's most welcoming and best quality restaurants. The Ship on the Shore focuses on seafood, with the catch of the day joined by a host of regulars, including a mean seafood chowder. If the sight of water isn't enough to perk up the seafarer inside you then surely the nautical maps along the wall will. Try a bowl of steamed Shetland mussels – they'll provide you with an enduring memory of this fine City.
Castle Terrace Restaurant
This is the sister restaurant to Edinburgh's Michelin-starred The Kitchin. Enjoy a drink in the bar or, even better, wait to be invited down to the chef's table, which overlooks Dominic Jack's kitchen – although seeing the preparation of the beautiful food makes choosing a dish even harder. Perhaps put your faith in the Surprise Tasting Menu (£60), from which the pistachio souffle lingers long in the memory. Inside the dining room patches of purple puncture calming neutral tones – this is a place where whole evenings pass with ease.
Ondine has been a breath of fresh air for Edinburgh's seafood scene. After opening in late 2009, it soon picked up a host of awards for the near-perfect manner in which the locally sourced seafood is prepared. Work your way through the oysters, feast on the sea bream curry or push the boat out and try the roast shellfish platter. Huge glass windows provide views of Edinburgh's old town, while the silver-topped horseshoe bar provides an impressive internal focal point. Post meal, go for a nightcap in the stylish bar of the Missoni Hotel next door.
La Favorita is a modern pizzeria, with black-topped tables and whitewashed walls. In recent years, owner Tony Crolla has expanded his brand to include a takeaway fleet of Mini Coopers and a mobile van, complete with a log-fired pizza oven. Yet it is the original restaurant on Leith Walk that continues to offer what is surely Edinburgh's best pizza, with their thin crispy bases and superb quality ingredients. That said, overlooking La Favorita's pasta and regularly changing specials would be unfair; their saltimbocca is superb.
When this restaurant opened four years ago it sent out a clear message that on Edinburgh's touristy Royal Mile you could still find seriously good restaurants with seriously interesting menus. Many a business in this historic location would be tempted to bask in their success; maybe put their feet up and watch the tourist money roll in. Not Wedgwood; its pigeon served with haggis, neeps and tatties is as unusual as it is delicious. Try to avoid being seated downstairs, as the natural light of the street-level dining room is where you will enjoy this inventive and innovative experience the most.
While its decor is traditional – paintings of China adorn the walls and paper lanterns hang from the ceiling – Kweilin's food is spectacular. The wafer paper prawns are the best I've ever eaten and the eight treasures duck – a breast of braised duck buried deep in various fish and meats – is an all-time favourite. Monkfish, halibut and lobster all make appearances on the seafood-heavy menu. The prices might be a little higher than your average Chinese restaurant but then so is the quality of food.
The Grain Store
When eating out in Edinburgh it's not unreasonable to expect the very best Scottish meat and fish. The Grain Store consistently delivers, with its venison, beef and lamb never failing to impress. The upstairs setting sums up all that is great about Edinburgh: an intimate dining room, moody lighting, bare-brick walls and views of picture-perfect Victoria Street. The three-course lunch for £15 has been running for a long time and offers superb value.
Martin Wishart's in Leith is probably Edinburgh's best outright restaurant (with a correspondingly expensive menu and long waiting list to match). So there was much anticipation before the Michelin-starred chef opened this classic brasserie. The interior is lined with marble, huge mirrors and grand lampshades bathing the interior in a golden hue. The menu has depth, appeal and grabs your interest in a way many newcomers cannot: there are surely few restaurants where you can start with a pressed pigs head terrine and end with an ice-cream sundae. The Honours has 70 covers and there will be few nights when all are not taken.
Dusit is a Thai restaurant a notch or two above the norm. Situated on quirky Thistle St, it rubs shoulders with champagne bars and designer boutiques. It simply doesn't do disappointing dishes but you'll be most mesmerised if you order anything with scallops, king prawns or monkfish. For meat lovers, some dishes can be ordered with venison, providing a Scottish twist to classic Thai recipes.
This small restaurant has been satisfying sushi cravings for as long as I can remember but as its popularity has risen so has the competition for seats. Through the huge front window you'll see diners perched on stools; food competing for space on cramped tables and a sushi chef working his magic at the rear. No wonder Sushiya has a buzz similar restaurants lack. Enjoy a selection of the excellent salmon and tuna sushi, then follow with the delicious soup-based udon (noodles).