Best Haggis in Edinburgh
Today is the 25th January which means that Burns night has arrived. So I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to address some of the most asked questions on my Edinburgh walking tour like, what actually is haggis? What is the history behind Scottish people eating haggis? Where is the best place to eat it?
When asked what it is, as I am sure with other Scots sparks the urge to recite the theory of the wild haggis. An aggressive shaggy maned, four legged creature which has legs of unequal length that allow it to run around the mountainous highlands effortlessly. Believe me the story often works especially if you send them to the Kelvingrove museum in Glasgow to “see” one face to face. If only that story was the truth. I try to tell myself it is but haggis is actually sheep’s heart, liver, lungs mixed together with oatmeal, suet and spices all encased within sheep’s stomach. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? When I tell tourists about this, around 50% turn up their noses and subsequently never try it. But this is the biggest mistake you could possibly make. At least give it a try! Haggis is so varied whether you want it in your Scottish Breakfast, deep fried at the chippy, in its traditional form with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) or vegan and vegetarian. Don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Plus, if you take my advice where to eat it in Edinburgh then you are in for a glorious time. On a budget? We’ve got you too!
How did haggis become a Scottish thing? While the exact origin of haggis remains uncertain, it is believed to have become a significant part of the Scottish diet in the late 17th century, during a nationwide recession and a seven-year famine. This meant the people of Scotland would try to get their hands on the food that they could afford. Haggis being a very affordable option. Haggis’ popularity was further engraved into Scottish culture by the national bard (poet) Robert Burns who united the food with the character of the Scottish people in his a famous poem “Address to a Haggis“. Ever since, people across Scotland and around the globe celebrate Burns Night on the 25th January (the anniversary of his birth) and honour the impact he had on the life and literature of the country. This evening involves piping in the haggis, reciting some of Rabbie’s work, a Burns supper (haggis, neeps and tatties) together with a good old dram of whisky and finally a toast to the haggis. What more could you want?
Where is the best place in Edinburgh to try a Burns Supper?
Originally, I wanted to find a king or queen of the best Edinburgh haggis however, each one I tasted was unique with different sauces and styles. After the 4th haggis I tried it became evident it was like comparing apples and pears. So today I am going to spare with you my 4 favourites so in no particular order.
- Teuchters Landing in Leith was my first stop on this tasting journey and what a superb place to start setting the bar very high. For the average tourist Teuchters can be a little out the way but now the tram line is complete it is well worth taking the journey. On a winters day take a seat in the warm, cosy pub with top notch bar service or if the suns out enjoy the superb beer garden overlooking the Water of Leith. To top it off order yourself the haggis tower or haggis stovies. This is a cracker with a really good ratio of haggis to neeps and tatties. As well as a tasty touch of mustard in the whisky sauce that complements the other flavours nicely. To believe this quality and only £9 for the main, bargain! Note this is the perfect place to watch the Six Nations rugby especially with a pint of Moonwake, the delicious local beer.
2. Haggis Box is based in the cafe within John Knox House on the Royal Mile which is one of the oldest buildings in Edinburgh, parts of it dating back to 1470! This beautiful location makes it the perfect place to sit and relax with a coffee and indulge in the local cuisine. I recommend the haggis with the whisky sauce which was excellent but I also tried the vegan haggis with the red wine sauce and that was also a winner! All for only £10, the cheapest of all ones I tried. Note if you want more Scottish culture they also do a cracking Scotch egg.
3. Whiski restaurant initially I thought it would be a Royal Mile tourist trap, so I wasn’t expecting too much. But as they say never judge a book by its front cover! Its busy for a reason and that is its quality. The haggis is a good portion with a nice extra touch, the two oatcakes which you will see in the photo. The only thing I wished was that there was more melt in your mouth sauce. Note if you are on a budget this is the second most expensive to the Arcade bar at £18. If this doesn’t bother you and you want more of Scottish culture try their really good dessert called Cranachan!
4. Makars Mash Bar is a vibrant restaurant specialising in mashed potato with a total of 10 types to choose from so was always destined for greatness. But which mash should I have? The waiter recommended the black pudding with the haggis and wow it was a classic. I could have eaten a second especially with the creamy whisky sauce to match. The price being on the more expensive side of the spectrum at £16 but the location, family vibe and quality just speaks for itself! Note the restaurants name commemorating the Scots word for a bard/poet and it sits just meters away from where RobertBurns stayed during his time in Edinburgh.
I want to say a huge thank you to the restaurants for the hospitality. I really enjoyed being out and about talking with you all. I look forward to new restaurants opening and more haggis to taste to keep this blog up to date (luckily for me). Also want to congratulate the establishments who made it into the top 4, I look forward to visiting again soon! I hope that you have enjoyed the blog post, if so make sure to like, share or join one of my Harry Potter, History and haggis tasting tours!