The Mosque Kitchens
Edinburgh Central Mosque, 50 Potterrow, Edinburgh, EH8 9BT / 31-33 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh EH8 9BX
There aren’t many places that don’t bill themselves as fast food restaurants that can get you fed in twenty minutes. But both Mosque Kitchens do exactly that – and deliciously. There’s the real Mosque Kitchen which is (surprise) in the Mosque. Eating outside on their terrace in summer is a total winner. The ‘pretend’ Mosque Kitchen capitalises on its proximity but as far as I know, isn’t affiliated. But both can be relied on for a huge plate of curry (meat and vegetarian options) and rice, served by lovely people, for not much more than a fiver. The imposter place also does samosas, breads and a wide range of puddings and ice-creams and is open everyday from 11:30am until 10pm . Perfect when you want to be filled nutritiously, deliciously and quickly.
37 Marshall St, Edinburgh EH8 9BJ
This is my favourite Fringe hangout. It’s a tiny cafe, right in the centre of the biggest venues, and they serve all kinds of bagels with all kinds of fillings. I plump for sesame seed with cream cheese, roast peppers and pine nuts, toasted. But there are plenty of options for carnivores too. The coffee is great, served in their signature mugs, there’s a fridge full of cold drinks if you’d rather and they tend to have a jar of cookies on the counter if your sweet tooth is nagging you for attention. A cousin of Edinburgh institution, The Elephant House, it has the best window seats (in my humble opinion) in town.
Arch 12, 17 East Market Street, Edinburgh EH8 8FS
When you need to take your sugar and run, Bababudan is nestled away under a set of railway arches in one of Edinburgh’s newly refurbished and nicely stylish quarters. Their coffee would satisfy most gourmet tastes (and take 10p off if you bring your own cup), they do breakfast at the weekend but the home-made doughnuts are the star of the show. Nipping greedily at the coat tails of the iced American chain versions, these doughnuts are a throwback to being six and licking sugar off your fingers but with a grown up twist that could be a pistachio or a peanut butter filling. I’d almost urge you to make it your first stop off when you hop off your train at Waverley but I wouldn’t want to be that sugar pusher. Suffice to say that you might need more than one but they’ll keep your day ticking along very nicely.
If you don’t even have time to sit down, for the Fringe only, you’ll find a cluster of fancy food vans encircling George Square that dole out anything from crepes to coffee, pulled pork to noodles and a bundle of gourmet delights in between. You tend to have to queue at the most popular pit stops but that’s the only thing that will slow you down. And if you’d like to wash it down with something a bit stronger than coffee, you’ll find tents and carts aplenty within George Square that keep serving long into the night. With picnic tables, grassy banks and fairy lights strung through the trees, it’s a cracking place to while away a couple of hours between shows on a sunny day. It all tends to stay open until about 1am. Perfect for late night snacking.
Traverse Coffee, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED / Brew Lab, 6-8 South College Street, EH8 9AA / Black Medicine Coffee, 2 Nicolson St, EH8 9DH
If you’re a multiple shows a day marathon Fringe goer, coffee is an essential accessory. If you’re West side, the Traverse Theatre hosts a coffee shop that’s open every day in August, serving sugary snacks, sandwiches and all the coffee variants you could possibly need. If you’re East and fancy yourself a hipster, Brew Lab turns coffee making into a science (they even run classes on how to make proper filter coffee). With excellent wifi, bare bulbs and wooden benches, this is the place to come if you’re a lover of an earnest look (and their superior cakes). If you fancy a more varied diet, the Black Medicine Coffee Company is equidistant between the Pleasances and Assembly Roxy. It offers a plethora of sandwiches, cakes, smoothies, coffees, cold coffees, fruit. It’s quirky interior is a nice break from the vaguely identikit venue vending places. Best of all in my book, they give you a discount if you bring in a reusable cup.
Superior fast food
Maki Maki, 75 Nicolson St, Edinburgh / Sakura Tree, 60 Home St, EH3 9NA
For fast food that doesn’t leave you feeling fatty, sushi’s a great option. (If you don’t mind cold fish.) It’s also pretty portable so useful if you’re after something to gobble while you’re queueingyou’re your next show. If you’re in the East End, there’s a branch of Maki & Ramen right along from the Festival Theatre, Zoo Southside and a stone’s throw from the Teviot portion of the Pleasance. They have a noodle only version right round the corner on West Richmond Street which is worth a visit just to see the years of customer decorated napkins, receipts and general musings on life that adorn the walls. And if you’re on the West side, Sakura Tree is a fairly characterless place to sit in but the sushi and the quixotic service more than makes up for it.
A seaside oasis
Monny’s, 3 Brighton Place, EH15 1LH
If you want to escape from the hurly burly of the city centre for a couple of hours, I commend Edinburgh’s seaside to you. Portobello is half an hour from Princes Street (hop on a 26 destined for Tranent or Seton Sands). You’ll be able to walk along the high street without needing to apologise to every second person. Pick up an Illy coffee, a Sicilian pastry if you’re quick or a freshly made gelato from Monny’s on Brighton Place (Monny’s Delight is worth a shot if you like almonds) and take a stroll down Bath Street and along the promenade by the beach. The space and the sea air will refresh and recharge you before plunging back into the fray for another six shows before bedtime.