Neighbourhood guides: Live like a local in Leith, Edinburgh
20 Apr 2022
Perhaps making its cinematic debut in the movie Trainspotting didn’t give off the best vibe for the neighbourhood. But that was then. Now, however, Leith has transformed into an undeniably ‘hip’ area with a delectable food and vibrant arts scene.
Once a formidable shipbuilding hub, Edinburgh’s port area, Leith, features one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city; the Royal Yacht Britannia, the old yacht of the British Royal Family. If tourist traps are not your cup of tea, there’s plenty of antique and second-hand stores to peruse. In terms of food options, you’ll find everything from fine dining to old-school Italian trattorias, and it’s the diversity on offer that makes Leith a compelling foodie destination. And that’s just the start.
Here are our favourite spots.
Unsurprisingly, Leith Arches can be found under a brick railway arch. Walk through and you’ll discover a multi-level venue which hosts live music, theatre, as well as even spin and yoga classes. There’s a weekly pop-up market, a pub quiz every Thursday, a café and a wine bar, co-run by Edinburgh’s charcuterie box firm sprEHD.
Edinburgh’s first wine cafe located at The Shore in Leith, Toast is as much an ideal location for breakfast and brunch as it is for an after-dark tipple. Come evening, expect Mediterranean-style sharing plates, serving simple yet imaginative food alongside a carefully curated, predominantly biodynamic, organic and natural wine list.
Williams & Johnsons
Fans of the coffee bean would be remiss to visit Leith and not grab their morning fix from Williams & Johnson. Originally launched as a roastery, it is now Leith’s flagship coffee spot which occupies a space inside Custom Lane – a collaborative working space, art gallery and craft shop.
Coburg House is a former granary on Leith’s Coburg Street that’s been home to creatives for more than 20 years, with around 80 artists, makers and designers using the space today. Here you’ll find a community of painters, silversmiths, knitters, comic artists and more. Make sure to check out the exhibition area and gallery shop that are open to the public.
Roseleaf Bar Cafe
You probably won't find any other pub quite like the Roseleaf bar and cafe, and that’s saying something considering there are a lot to choose from in Edinburgh. The vintage bric-a-brac-filled spot is a casual, quirky affair that serves up hearty Scottish dishes. Fun fact: its stiff cocktails come served in dainty vintage teapots.
Owners Natasha and Matt have a big love for sandwiches, and so they spent nine months renovating the old Snax Cafe venue into a relaxed mid-century that serves their “big hot sandwiches” which are all served on focaccia. Our standout favourite? The spiced roasted cauliflower, garlic & lemon tahini, coriander dressing and pickled onions.
As we previously mentioned, Leith is filled with conscious options for consumption. Epoca is an instant favourite. Owners Diago and Elisa run the second-hand clothes and vintage shop which is located on Leith Walk. Interestingly, all their stock comes from Italy, so it’s likely you’ll find rare gems that no-one else has.
Tom Kitchin and his team’s philosophy is a true reflection of their passion for the finest, freshest Scottish seasonal produce, which they utilise to rustle up some seriously delicious dishes. We can safely say this is one of Edinburgh's finest Michelin-star restaurants.