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Where to eat Haggis in Edinburgh?

Tourist Trying Haggis for the first time
A guest at Haystack Hostel trying Haggis for the first time

A trip to Edinburgh isn’t complete without trying Haggis. It’s Scotlands National dish, after all, and whilst we find it extremely tasty, it inspires a sense of wonder and disgust in everyone who has heard of it, but not tried it. But the reality is that Haggis is a delicious meal that everyone should try at least once. Edinburgh is full of restaurants and pubs offering Haggis in one form or another. Whether its battered and served with chips, stuffing chicken and wrapped in bacon or it’s vegetarian version, there is an option for everyone. Read on to learn more about this misunderstood food and the best places to try haggis in Edinburgh.

Related Read: The best traditional pubs to visit when you are in Edinburgh.

But First, What Exactly is Haggis?

Haggis is a dish that is made up of offal (normally from a lamb), oatmeal, suet and seasoning, all mixed together and stuffed into a casing, or bag. Traditionally, this casing was a sheeps stomach. Sounds appetizing so far?

Why would anyone ever eat this?

To understand why this dish came about, we have to look back to history. Back in times past, it was usual to use up as much as an animal as possible when preparing food. Winters, especially in Scotland, were harsh, and food would have been scarce. Therefore people wouldn’t want anything to go to waste. This would include the heart, liver and lungs.

Haggis Neeps and Tatties being served
Haggis has a good selection of tastes and textures.

But why the sheeps stomach? Well, when hunters were out getting food for their families and villages, it was hard to carry around pots and pans with them. Especially in the rugged Scottish terrain. So, instead of taking the extra load, it was far easier for them to use the stomach of the animal they just killed, and cook everything in that. The stomach provided a strong casing that allowed the food to cook when boiled over a fire.

Okay, that makes sense, but what does haggis actually taste like?

It’s hard to say exactly. It has an oaty texture, tastes quite meaty and has a little bit of a peppery kick about it. But you don’t just eat it by itself. Haggis makes up one of the ingredients for a number of different Scottish dishes, and there are different variations of how it is eat which will effect the taste.

Traditional Haggis Neeps and Tatties

Haggis Neeps and Tatties Served with Whiskey Sauce
Traditional Haggis Neeps and Tatties Served with Whiskey Sauce

This is the way Haggis is traditionally served. Neeps and Tatties are mashed turnips and potatoes that complement the rough texture of the haggis really well. It is served up on the same plate, sometimes in a stack or tower, and topped with whiskey sauce. Made with wiskey (of course) this sauce is delicious and really finishes off the dish. The haggis itself is normally simmered in hot water until it is softer before being served.

Vegetarian Haggis.

Vegetarian Haggis, available in the supermarket. Photo taken from Macsween website.

As the name suggests, this version of Haggis is vegetarian and contains no meat. How does that work? Haggis is meant to be a dish famous for its use of meat. Well, we can tell you that the vegetarian version of our national dish is just as tasty as the original. The make up of vegetarian haggis changes depending on where you go, but you can normally expect a mix of lentils, carrots and onions. You can buy vegetarian haggis in most restaurants and bars that serve the original meat version. It is cooked in the same way, and is equally delicious with a glass of whiskey.

Deep Fried Haggis.

The Chippy. A well known and much loved institution in every Scottish neighbourhood and street. The Chippy, short for Chip Shop, serves fish and chips traditionally and is definitely worth a visit during your time in Scotland. Famous for its fried food, it is said that Scots will deep fry anything. Whilst this isn’t entirely true, we do like to deep fry haggis and serve it with chips. A favourite late night snack after a night on the town, it perhaps isn’t as sophisticated as its more traditional brother, but is extremely popular amongst locals.

Highland Chicken

Haggis doesn’t have to be the star of the show every time. In fact, it can be used as an smaller ingredient in a larger dish.  A great example of this is highland chicken. Also known as Chicken Balmoral, Highland Chicken is a delicious recipe that features on the menus of most well known restaurants serving Scottish cuisine. The chicken breast is cut in half and Haggis is put in the middle of it, before being wrapped in ham. The result is a truly delicious meal with different textures and tastes.

What are the best places to try Haggis in Edinburgh

There are so many places in Edinburgh where Haggis is on offer. Every bar or restaurant catering to tourists serves it, with most claiming their’s to be the best in the city. However, after years of trying different places to find the true best, we have selected 4 of our favorites. This list is in no particular order, and each place varies in price:

Royal Macgregor

As mentioned before, there are so many pubs, bars and restaurants that offer haggis in Edinburgh, with the majority of them being on the Royal Mile. However, this small, traditional bar stands out amongst the rest as one of our favourites. With friendly staff and delicious food, it is a pleasant spot to stop at whilst exploring the Royal Mile. It has also built up quite the reputation for its haggis. From traditional haggis neeps and tatties, to haggis fritters, there are lots of possibilities for those wanting to give the national dish a try. The Royal MacGregor is also famous for it’s traditional Scottish breakfast, which of course, also includes Haggis.

Situated at 154 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1QS it opens from 9:30am to 11pm.

https://www.royalmcgregor.co.uk/

Arcade

A beautiful little whiskey bar, tucked away at the top of Cockburn street, if you blink twice you may miss it. A real hidden gem, Arcade bar has beautiful interior and the food is delicious. Known as one of the best places to get Haggis in the whole city, it is particularly good for its traditional Haggis Neeps and Tatties, with Whiskey Sauce. With its endless selection of Whiskeys, it’s a great place to go and try the two national treasures in combination.

The restaurant itself is very small, so it is a good idea to book ahead.

Arcade is located at 48 Cockburn St, Edinburgh EH1 1PB.It opens at 12pm- 1am on weekdays and 9:30am-1am on weekends.


http://arcadepub.co.uk/

Whiski

Whiski is a fantastic place to go and experience a true Scottish evening. The staff are friendly, the bar itself is beautiful, it has a fantastic Whisky list (as the name suggests) and it serves beautiful Scottish food using fresh, local ingredients. The Haggis tower is included on the menu as a main dish and if you’re not sure if you want to have a whole portion, they also offer Haggis stacks as a starter. With live music every night of the week, it is a fantastic place to go, even if you don’t want to try Haggis.

You can find Whiski at 119 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SG opening from 11am-1am.

https://www.whiskibar.co.uk/

Amber

The final entry on our list of the best places to try haggis in Edinburgh is Amber. This beautiful restaurant is situated right underneath the Scotch Whiskey experience. With this in mind, they are experts at whisky’s and pairings with food, so during your visit, make sure you find out as much as possible. As for the Haggis itself, it is absolutely delicious. The restaurant has won awards for its food and rightly so. Other than haggis, it offers lots of other Scottish cuisine, from Lamb Stovies to Cullen Skink. Being more of a restaurant than the other venues on our list, it can get slightly pricy, especially if you are having wine or starters, but if you want a lovely place to spend dinner, right next to Edinburgh Castle, then this is the place to be.

Amber is located at 354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE and is open from 12-9pm.

https://www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk/restaurant

We hope that you find this guide useful when you visit Edinburgh. We understand the idea of Haggis can be daunting, but if you give it a try, we’re sure you’ll love it! And if you don’t, at least you can say you tried Haggis in Scotland! Let us know how you got on and if you liked it.