Christmas cheap eats in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Lunch spots for shopping breaks, places to hide from your friends and family, and a surprising amount of spice – this Christmas, we've got you covered...

Feature by Peter Simpson | 25 Nov 2022
  • Paesano Pizza

As much as we love Christmas, festive overload is very much a real thing; there are only so many times you can hear Step Into Christmas before you start swinging at folk. At the same time, you want to support local businesses, and that means going outside, where everyone is being extremely jolly. What to do?


One classic trick is to run off and hide just out of reach. Tucked away on the corner of Princes Street, Taco Libre (3 Shandwick Pl) serves up excellent tacos and great margaritas in a pleasantly chaotic environment. Hakataya (122 Rose St S Ln) will give you a fantastic bowl of ramen, around the side of the many, many Christmas nights out up and down Rose Street. Pickles (60 Broughton St) is a stone’s throw from the St James, but it’s a whole other world of relaxing chairs and cheese boards that go on for days.

If you just need to grab *something*, we have a few suggestions. Sister Bao (32 S Clerk St) serve tasty and ludicrously cheap bao buns from their shop in Newington; Piemaker (38 South Bridge) remains the best place to grab a handheld snack in the heart of the city; The Sicilian Pastry Shop (14 Albert St) make up delicious sandwiches every day, or you can just go wild and have a cannoli for lunch. It’s Christmas!


Christmas shopping got you down? Legs knackered? Need fuel, no time, want help? What you need is Paesano (94 Miller St and 471 Great Western Rd) – the pizzas are excellent, the venues are enormous, the pricing is incredibly reasonable and the service is terrifyingly quick. Fastest we know of someone getting in, eating, and leaving is 14 minutes – if you break the record this Christmas, get in touch.

It’s a similar story across at the Lighthouse, where Sugo (70 Mitchell St) applies the Paesano formula to pasta. Big bowls of ragu, hundreds and hundreds of seats, and enough hustle and bustle to revive anyone. Just around the corner, Mezcal (104 Hope St) has great tacos and an extensive tequila list. It’s just behind Central Station in the middle of town, but with a fantastic level of neon lighting to zap you back to life. Ting Thai Caravan (19 W Nile St) does a great line in bowls of noodles, small boxes, tasty snacks and very spicy things; more neon in here as well, if anyone’s starting to spot a theme.

Alternatively, hop on the bus to the Southside, and take a break at Ranjit’s Kitchen (607 Pollokshaws Rd). Have an excellent homemade curry to keep you going, or grab a pal and get the Panjabi tea for two – a brilliant selection of savoury nibbles, sweets, and the house chai, it’s guaranteed to pull you out of any kind of festive funk.


When you’re marching about on a Christmas shopping run, versatility is key. You might want a coffee, or lunch, or a beer or to keep shopping… The Bach (31 Meadowside) has it all covered. Great beers and wines with a New Zealand twist, a great brunch and all-day menu, lovely coffee, a tuck shop-type situation filled with Southern Hemisphere treats – just stay here, to be honest.

Elsewhere, Pacamara (302 Perth Rd) offer excellent coffee and brunch to fuel you up for the day, Rad Apples (51 Meadowside) has tasty vegan bar food and the prospect of gigs downstairs if you can’t face more Christmas stuff, and Loco Rita’s (15 Old Hawkhill) and Mas (304 Perth Rd) provide the chance to get your tacos in both vegan-friendly and omnivore set-ups.