The best Edinburgh restaurants, menus and bars to try on the run up to Christmas

Here’s our selection of new venues, festive menus and cocktails to try in the capital

Franco Manca's roast beef Xmas pizza with a Yorkie in the middle
Franco Manca's roast beef Xmas pizza with a Yorkie in the middle

As the weather gets colder, our appetite increases. We’ve decided not to resist the eating and drinking urges, as we need the insulation.

For those who feel the same, here are a few of our favourite Edinburgh venues to try in the run up to Christmas. Some have a festive vibe, others don’t, in case you want to avoid the tinsel.

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THE BALMORAL’S 120th CELEBRATIONS

Barry Bryson outside Honeycomb & Co

We hope that the grand old lady of Princes Street has got her age right, as her clock is always telling us that we’re five minutes late. To celebrate her birthday, they’ve created a special 120th Anniversary Afternoon Tea, which includes winter citrus cakes with dried mandarins and basil, coconut gateau opera and chocolate and Maldon caramel religieuse. In Bar Prince, they’re serving The 1902, made with Balmoral Gin, Aprol, Antica Formula and grapefruit bitters, and the Forte 25, with Bombay Sapphire Premier Cru, orgeat syrup, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and elderflower water.

1 Princes Street (0131 556 2414, www.roccofortehotels.com)

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HOMIES PIZZA

Neapolitan-style pizza, with its thin crust, has dominated for the last few years. Now, there’s an alternative, as this place, which is owned by the people behind Edinburgh’s Butta Burger, is opening in Waverley Market towards the end of November. It offers Detroit deep dish creations, with options including their Homies Detroit Classic, with pepperoni, jalapenos, hot honey, Parmesan and parsley, or the Philly Cheesesteak, which is topped by ground beef, mixed peppers, crispy onions and homemade cheese sauce.

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Hawksmoor's Tommy Verde cocktail

Instagram @homiespizza_

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BARRY FISH AT HONEYCOMB

Edinburgh chef Barry Bryson is popping up at Bruntsfield’s favourite brunch venue Honeycomb & Co, with dinners running from November 23-26, from 7pm each night. They’ll consist of a five-course tasting menu, with dishes that showcase all the fruits de mer from Edinburgh’s Welch Fishmongers, for £70pp.

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1 Merchiston Place (0131 228 4641, www.honeycombandco.com)

Ciao at Rico's Ristorante
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HAWKSMOOR’S COCKTAILS

If you're done with sugary festive cocktails, try this restaurant and bar. They've just launched a sophisticated menu of drinks that are inspired by what they describe as the second golden age of cocktails, from 1995-2005. There's a Pink Gibson Martini, which features Boatyard Vodka, Audemus Umami Gin, Aperitivo Co. Dry Vermouth and pink pickled onion, as well as a long Ranch Water consisting of tequila, mezcal, pineapple soda, hopped kombucha, jalapeño salt and agave syrup. To continue the savoury feel, they're also offering a Tommy Verde, which features tequila, mezcal, cucumber agave, olive brine, green tabasco, and green tomato juice.

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23 West Register Street (0131 526 4790, www.thehawksmoor.com)

DULSE’S FESTIVE MENU

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One Square's Hunter Square cocktail with Irn-Bru reduction

Chef Dean Banks’s newest restaurant is offering a menu for £35pp for three courses, or £45pp for four, available throughout December. Dishes include their fish pie with charred winter greens or roast hake, braised fennel, dulse and dill sauce, with desserts including plum crumble with nana’s custard. They’re also serving seasonal cocktails, including a nutmeg espresso martini.

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17 Queensferry Street (0131 573 7575, www.dulse.co.uk)

CIAO

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This Tuscan-inspired cocktail bar has just opened, as a 30-cover extension to Rico’s Ristorante at 58a North Castle Street. It specialises in negronis, and you can order versions including a sbagliato or boulevardier, among others. There’s also a casual menu, with two courses for £15 and three for £20, and dishes including Puglia buratta with nduja and fennel crackers, croquettes with chilli and leek and mains such as beef barolo lasagna, carbonara and mushroom risotto.

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ONE SQUARE’S COCKTAILS

To celebrate its tenth birthday, the bar at The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa has launched a cocktail menu that pays homage to eight squares in the capital. These include One Square, with One Square Gin, grapefruit cordial and a sugary dandelion and burdock rim, and Hunter Square, which has ingredients including Koko Kanu Rum, lime juice and an Irn-Bru reduction.

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It’s hip to be square.

1 Festival Square, (0131 229 9131, www.onesquareedinburgh.co.uk)

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BAR HÜTTE

Hit the hütte, as this apres ski village is back for its second year beside St James Quarter. From November 14 until January 2, there will be live music, pizza, seasonal drinks and you can do karaoke with pals in your own private hütte. It’s not just for the grown-ups either, as this year, you can do a Santa Claus Club booking, which includes a karaoke hütte for one hour, hot chocolate and colouring pads, plus the chance to take a selfie with Santa.

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FRANCO MANCA’S FESTIVE MENU

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This sourdough pizza chain has two branches in the capital. There’s one on South St Andrews Street and a newer venue on Deanhaugh Street in Stockbridge, where Pizza Express used to be. From November 15, they’re offering a Christmas menu, which will be available until December 24 and consists of two courses for £19.50, three for £23.50, plus a glass of bubbles. It includes three roast dinner-inspired new pizzas: topside of beef, which features broccoli, mozzarella, taleggio, gravy and a Yorkshire pudding, a porchetta version with Brussels sprouts, Stilton, a Yorkie and other diet-bothering treats, as well as a vegetarian option with butternut squash, halloumi, pomegranate and hazelnuts. There will also be bites of cheese fonduta, oven-baked bruschetta and vibrant winter salad. For pudding, expect caramel pecan cheesecake, tiramisu and affogato. Wear very loose trousers.

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ANTE’S BAKES

The team behind wine bar and bottle shop, Spry, on Haddington Place have recently opened this basement bakery. They’re offering breakfast, brunch, lunch and coffee, with goodies like quince tart to take away.

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1b Haddington Place Instagram @spry_wines

A PINCH OF SALT

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The people at Salt Cafe in Morningside took over the Tollcross police box a month ago. They’ve painted their mini me in a signature mint green and are offering Mr Eoin coffee and seasonal special drinks including pumpkin spice latte and hot spiced apple, along with cupcakes, cookies and rocky road.

Instagram @salt.scot