The ultimate guide to solo eating in Edinburgh’s New Town

Nothing screams main character more than taking yourself out for some fine dining

A few weeks ago, a TikTok denigrating solo eaters in restaurants went viral. I was so baffled: Although I knew the man slandering lonely people in restaurants still wets his bed, I couldn’t help but feel offended by such a comment. 

In my boarding school years, solo travelling and table-for-one was the norm. Alternating between Kevin McCallister from Home Alone and hangover Avril Lavigne with run-down mascara and a tie at the airport, I was continually served by waiters pitying me. I was convinced they felt sorry for me, assuming I had been stood up or abandoned outside an orphanage (one with a Pret a Manger and a few aircrafts). I was occasionally offered a free dessert, only once a phone number (by a woman in her 60s with her own taxi business in Switzerland). How can you deprecate the experience? 

Although I now love treating myself to solitary fine dining, I felt incredibly self-conscious on my first few companionless dates. Like working on the fourth floor of the Main Library, it felt like doing some rite of passage into a cult. My hunger always prevails (not for knowledge, unfortunately) over what TikTok’s big baby boy claims. He voiced the opinion of many members of society who lack courage or perhaps have an abundance of buoyancy (more likely delusion) in expecting compassionate waiters. Realistically, they’re counting down the minutes until their shift is over and get their tip – they do not give a shit about your circumstances. 

Courage is different from what is needed to accomplish such an endeavour. Pressing the fourth button in the lift is quite underwhelming, too. What you need is a great food experience. Here’s a list of my favourite restaurant spots to eat by yourself in New Town and feel like the main character, be mistaken for a food critic or get yourself a chauffeur for your next ski trip!

The Pantry

In case you need a soft launch to your solo travelling around the New Town food scene, The Pantry is the perfect warm-up, the amuse-bouche for any Stockbridge newcomer. I can confidently say they have the best menu for breakfast and brunch to satisfy both sweet and sour palates. They will treat you like a celebrity while bringing off the art of food plating. Whatever drink you might order, they will carry it to you like holy water. Stockbridge girlies like me have no shame coming solo: It is the locals’ Sunday service.


I am still unsure how to pronounce the name, even though you’re welcomed by a sign explaining how to as soon as you arrive. I call it “chiropractor”, and it’s how I justify my frequent visits. Just like the magical fourth floor in the Main Library, a lift will bring you to what I believe is the paradise of pad thai – angels will escort you to your table, and they’ll walk so fast and elegantly they’ll seem to be floating. It is the best rooftop restaurant in Edinburgh’s New Town and a great place to see the sunset and enjoy some time with yourself. 10/10.

Chez Jules

A classic spot for New Town girlies and a celestial banquet for steak lovers and red wine drinkers. Though it usually gets crowded and noisy, candle-lit tables and exciting conversations with strangers magically transport you to a different era, nailing what every French bistro should do. Even my French mother would approve of this place; you don’t need any more convincing.

Maki and Ramen

This place is close to my heart. Every time I come here alone, I leave with a funny story to tell. My latest involves a woman I thought was hitting on me and spontaneously decided to go to the Fringe with. I’ve been to different ones around town, but I must say the New Town one has the friendliest staff, to the point that TikTok’s nocturnal enuresis might be right in believing some people do care.

Wee Buddha

This guide seems to have a religious undertone, and I do not mean to sound blasphemous. Food to me is a religion: Chefs are deities and waiters the clergy. But how can I talk about angels, holy water and Sunday service without mentioning my favourites? Though there is no relation to Buddhism, the name might inspire a big TikTok baby to come in (if he misreads the restaurant sign). In case you crave some zen after a stressful essay writing day in the lib, this is the place to be to calm all your nerves. Located on Jamaica Street (by chance?), relax is on everyone’s lips. No need to meditate on the menu; ask the waiter for the chef’s recommendation.

Ignore what everyone says about solitude and explore solo dining after reading this. It is liberating, character-building, unforgettable, and all the other adjectives those gap-year gals use to describe Bali. You do not need a date, a friend or a Swiss chauffeur to overcome shame. Wee TikTok man cannot do things alone; he probably needs his mum to put his socks on. Anyone criticising your behaviour is projecting their own insecurities. The reason restaurants survive and thrive (and welcome snobby guests like him) is because of millions of lonely food critics like the one in Ratatouille. You could be one of them or mistaken for one and get a wee discount. Bon Appétit!

Related articles recommended by this writer: