The best takeaway food in Edinburgh

We review the take away and home delivery meal options in Edinburgh

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The best takeaways in Edinburgh

This is the verdict on Edinburgh's takeaway food options. Glasgow takeaways are covered in a separate article.

Takeaways are a bit like radio stations - you tend to stick to your regular favourites, for better or worse. Occasionally you'll surf the frequencies for something different, knowing that somewhere out there some good stuff exists, but it can feel like a bit of lottery finding it.

It's a useful thing to know the local takeaways you should be tuning into. You may already know a few already, but what else is out there? To set about reviewing the best takeaways in town we decided to go for a Big Takeaway. One night, one venue, 50 meals from 25 different operations. We put together a team of reviewers, invited a photographer along, cracked open a few beers, got on the phone and started ordering.

The drivers came from near and far, reviewers arrived toting bags of steaming food, we tasted and compared and debated and got sticky fingerprints over the menus. When it was all done, dusted, digested and put into the correct recycling bins we pulled together the reviews, hitlists and tiplists.

How we selected

Across Edinburgh there are hundreds of takeaway operations. We tried to pick out the places that offered the best takeaway service and the best food, taking into consideration both established restaurants and takeaway-only operations. Given that one of the great benefits of buying a takeaway is that hot food arrives on your doorstep, we gave priority to places that delivered, but we also covered some venues that only offered collection options. For this round-up we decided not to cover places focused on food that's generally taken away at lunchtime (soup and sandwiches, baked potatoes), or street food, as that's generally designed to be eaten on the street rather than at home. We also chose not to cover fish & chips: there are only a handful of delivery services for these, and it's not a meal that travels particularly well.

Takeaway troubles

For a genre that's so popular, the recurring message from our reviewers was that the standard of takeaway food across Edinburgh isn't particularly high. Most enthusiasm was generated by takeaway operations offering something different - African or Malaysian food, for example, or those places making a clear effort to present clean tasting, healthy food. In this vein a few sushi venues are offering their speciality at prices that compare favourably with traditional Indian or Chinese carry outs.

Alongside the mediocre quality of the food, our hopes were rarely buoyed by looking at yet another long, uninspiring menus filled with the usual suspects. 'Chef's specialities' would often compete in number with regular dishes, and even if you were a regular it could a long time, and as many misses as hits, to home in on food you'd be confident ordering time after time.

Delivering the goods

The gradual spread of online ordering is a welcome trend (while it works); even in the course of our carefully planned Big Takeaway various orders and delivery arrangements came unstuck trying to cross language barriers. Some delivery operations have got their act together, and are winning custom for it. In the end, many of us find it more reliable to walk down to the best of the local restaurants to collect, though even here not all food travels well. Noodles and anything deep fried are particularly susceptible to sweat unpleasantly if left for any length of time in a takeaway box or bag.

Wasting away

Not all takeaways are rubbish, but we're increasingly aware of how much rubbish they generate. The right packaging can help food travel and look better, as well as stay warm, but the sheer volume of cardboard, foil, paper and plastic used by the takeaway industry is startling. There was little evidence of recycled or compostable packaging among the venues we covered. As it was, we just tried to avoid catching the eye of the bin-man the morning after the Big Takeaway.

The top five

Chop Chop
248 Morrison Street, Haymarket & 76 Commercial Street, Leith, 0131 553 1818, www.chop-chop.co.uk
Open: (Morrison) Mon–Thu 6–10pm; Fri/Sat 6–10.30pm; Sun 6–10pm. (Leith) Mon–Thu 6–10pm; Fri 6–10.30pm; Sat noon–2pm, 5–10.30pm; Sun 12.30–2.30pm, 5–10pm.
Delivery: Morrison St collection only. Delivery from Leith within city bypass. Min order £20.

By now, there can’t be many in Edinburgh unfamiliar with the Chop Chop approach, which eschews typical anglicised Chinese fare for authentic cuisine from the north-east of the country, served up in a variety of portion sizes. For the uninitiated though, that means delicious filled dumplings, either boiled (Jiao Zi) or fried (Guo Tie), a number of unusual but alluring vegetarian selections (like shredded potato salad with garlic, coriander and sesame oil) plus lashings of flavoured noodles. The takeaway service – which includes generous meal-deals and discounts for members – follows the same winning formula as the restaurants. You can order online or by phone and collect from either Haymarket or Leith branches; a delivery service from the latter has stuttered recently so check with the restaurants for confirmation that it’s available.

Los Cardos

281 Leith Walk, 0131 555 6619, www.loscardos.co.uk
Open: Sun–Thu noon–9pm; Fri/Sat noon–10pm
Delivery: Sun–Thu 5–8.30pm, Fri-Sat 5–9.30pm to EH1-8.

Meaning ‘The Thistles’ in Spanish, Los Cardos is one of only a few places in Edinburgh offering Mexican takeaway and delivery. Ordering is based on a mix and match premise where the customer chooses from a burrito, fajita, burrito bowl, quesadillas or soft tacos. Next comes the filling, which includes chill-citrus marinated Red Tractor chicken, slow-cooked pork smothered in a salsa verde, or just plain black beans. Additionally, condiments of pico de gallo, ‘roastin red’ salsa and guacamole can be included. Alternatively, a steak burrito bowl contains thick slices of beef, rice, piquant peppers and spicy beans. A vegetarian soft taco is enlivened by a creamy guacamole and chargrilled peppers.

Miso & Sushi

46a Haymarket Terrace, Haymarket, 0131 337 7466, www.sushi-edinburgh.com
Open: Tue–Fri noon–2.15pm, 5–10.30pm; Sat/Sun 1–10.30pm. Closed Mon.
Delivery: from 5pm. £1 for first two miles, £1 per additional mile.

If you’re going to call yourself Miso and Sushi, you need to pay attention to the miso and the sushi. Thankfully, they know their onions here, with some of the best sushi in town available for pick-up or delivery as well as a compact Japanese menu featuring tempura (although this doesn’t travel so well) and ramen. A fuller Chinese menu is also present and correct, but with sushi this good, why would ya? Spanking fresh, pretty dragon rolls, salmon nigiri, avocado maki and the like, washed down with a balanced, salty-savoury hit of miso soup is going to make your tummy very happy. Delivery charges of £1 per mile may mean picking-up is a better option – expect a 10-15 minute wait or call ahead.

Shapla

87 Easter Road, 0131 652 0405,
www.shaplatakeaway.co.uk
Open: Mon–Sun 5–11.30pm.
Delivery: 50p within two miles; £1 otherwise

A deserved institution in Leith and further afield, Shapla has built a reputation over the years as one of the finest takeaways in the city, and it’s not one which they’re content to coast on. Bearing a strong Bangladeshi influence (the shapla is the country’s national flower), their speciality dishes are rich and distinctively flavoured, including a north Indian chilli garlic chicken with both heat and texture. The chicken tikka masala is definitive, creamy and filled with hunks of good quality meat grilled on a skewer, which are as deeply marinated as the excellent dish of whole tandoori chicken. Some delicately herbed breads are also a stand-out, particularly the spicy king prawn or chickpea puri starters, while fast and efficient service adds to the experience.

Spoilt for Choice

19 Marionville Road, Meadowbank, 0131 661 1183, www.spoiltforchoice1.com
Open: Tue–Sun 5pm–11pm. Closed Mon
Delivery: £1.50 within two miles; £4 within four miles

Specialising in Afro-Caribbean ‘soul food’, the eclectic and expansive menu of Spoilt for Choice is a significant departure from Edinburgh’s typical takeaways. Caribbean Chicken Delight features chicken pieces marinated in honey and a blend of Jamaican spices served in a deliciously creamy coconut and pineapple sauce, a wonderful balance of sweet, savoury and spice. Goat stew comes with tender, slightly fatty chunks of goat in a rich tomato ragout. Side orders of dodo (fried plantain) and puff-puffs (small, savoury doughnuts) are the perfect accoutrement to these distinctive sauces, although conkies, a corn based, polenta-like dish seasoned with pumpkin and coconut is more of an acquired taste.

Best dishes

Mother India’s foil-baked spiced haddock
Wing Sing Inn’s hot and spicy fried crab with chilli and garlic
Curry Leaf’s gosh kebab saslik
Sonar Gao’s lamb laknavi
Rivage’s Goan fish curry

Something special

Anima’s beer and wine delivery
Kampung Ali’s roti cenai
Ocean Spice’s haggis pakora
Origano’s antipasti platters

Slick delivery

Anima
New Town, 0131 558 2918, www.anima-online.co.uk
Origano
Leith Walk, 0131 554 6539, www.origano-leith.co.uk
The New Masala Pot
Meadowbank, 0131 620 7080, www.newmasalapot.com
Sonar Gao
Leith, 0131 555 2424, www.sonargao.com
Voujon
Newington, 0131 667 5046, www.voujonedinburgh.co.uk

Good for vegetarians

Chop Chop
Haymarket & Leith, 0131 553 1818, www.chop-chop.co.uk
Illegal Jack’s
Lothian Road, 0131 622 7499, www.illegaljacks.co.uk
Los Cardos
Leith Walk, 0131 555 6619, www.loscardos.co.uk
Noor Takeaway
Newington, 0131 667 0404, www.noortakeaway.co.uk
Zen Kitchen
New Town, 0131 556 9988, www.zenkitchen.co.uk

Best takeaway curries (no delivery)

Indian Lounge
New Town, 0131 226 2862, www.indianloungeedinburgh.co.uk
Kasturi
West End, 0131 228 2441, www.kasturi-ed.co.uk
Kebab Mahal
University, 0131 667 5214, www.kebab-mahal.co.uk
Mother India’s Café
Old Town, 0131 524 9801, www.motherindiascafeedinburgh.co.uk
Rivage
Easter Road, 0131 661 6888

Best Far East

Chop Chop
Haymarket & Leith, 0131 553 1818, www.chop-chop.co.uk
Kampung Ali Malaysian Delight
Newington (0131 662 9050) & Fountainbridge (0131 228 5069), www.kampungali.com
Miso & Sushi
Haymarket, 0131 337 7466, www.sushi-edinburgh.com
Wing Sing Inn
Tollcross, 0131 228 6668
Zen Kitchen
New Town, 0131 556 9988, www.zenkitchen.co.uk

Takeaway guide by area

(* indicates inclusion in Top Five, above)
All venues offer delivery unless stated

North Edinburgh & Leith

Anima
New Town, 0131 558 2918, www.anima-online.co.uk
Numerous made-to-order pizzas and pastas, fried chicken and burgers, as well as fish and chips from L'Alba d'Oro. Can deliver wine or beer with your order.

Los Cardos *
Leith Walk, 0131 555 6619, www.loscardos.co.uk
One of only a few places in Edinburgh offering Mexican takeaway and delivery. Highlights are their chill-citrus marinated Red Tractor chicken or slow-cooked pork smothered in a salsa verde.

Chop Chop *
Haymarket & Leith, 0131 553 1818, www.chop-chop.co.uk
Their famous (and delicious) filled dumplings come either boiled (Jiao Zi) or fried (Guo Tie). Order online or by phone and collect from either Haymarket or Leith branches; a delivery service from the latter has stuttered recently so check with the restaurants for confirmation that it's available.

La Favorita
Leith Walk (0131 555 5564) & Morningside Road (0131 447 4000), www.lafavoritadelivered.com
Wood-fired pizzas that have set a marker for the genre in Edinburgh, with pastas, side dishes and gluten-free options.

The New Masala Pot
Meadowbank, 0131 620 7080, www.newmasalapot.com
Extensive if slightly predictable roster of Indian and Bangladeshi meals, including a decent chicken tikka masala.

Ocean Spice
Newhaven, 0131 551 2700, www.oceanspicetakeaway.co.uk
Changes in 2012 have embraced more southern Indian dishes such as coconut-based fish alleppey and chicken chettinad.

Origano
Leith Walk, 0131 554 6539, www.origano-leith.co.uk
Decent pizzas on delivery along with generous antipasti platters reflecting a commitment to high quality ingredients.

Rivage
Easter Road, 0131 661 6888
Takeaway only from one of the strongest Indian restaurants in the vicinity, featuring a variety of tandoori standards and inventive specials.

Shapla *
Easter Road, 0131 652 0405, www.shaplatakeaway.co.uk
A strong Bangladeshi influence, their speciality dishes are rich and distinctively flavoured. The chicken tikka masala is definitive, while fast and efficient service adds to the experience.

Silver Bowl
Leith Walk & Restalrig, 0800 034 1325, www.silverbowl.co.uk
Cantonese classics and regular Thai with better quality of the ingredients than many. Discounts for loyal customers.

Sonar Gao
Leith, 0131 555 2424, www.sonargao.com
Well-established Bangledeshi restaurant doing a good job of the classics as well as off-piste options.

Spoilt for Choice *
Meadowbank, 0131 661 1183, www.spoiltforchoice1.com
Specialising in Afro-Caribbean ‘soul food’, their eclectic and expansive menu includes goat stew and side orders of dodo (fried plantain) or puff-puffs (small, savoury doughnuts).

Zen Kitchen
New Town, 0131 556 9988, www.zenkitchen.co.uk
Various Asian cuisines including Malaysian and Vietnamese, characterised by good ingredients and reliable cooking.

West Edinburgh

Chop Chop *
Haymarket & Leith, 0131 553 1818, www.chop-chop.co.uk
Their famous (and delicious) filled dumplings come either boiled (Jiao Zi) or fried (Guo Tie). Order online or by phone and collect from either Haymarket or Leith branches; a delivery service from the latter has stuttered recently so check with the restaurants for confirmation that it's available.

Illegal Jacks
Lothian Road, 0131 622 7499, www.illegaljacks.co.uk
Fresh, healthy, speedily prepared tex-mex food on a takeaway or sit-in basis. A tasty pork quesadilla comes with sweet pinto beans, meltingly soft BBQ pork and cheese.

Indian Lounge
New Town, 0131 226 2862, www.indianloungeedinburgh.co.uk
A handy takeaway – though no delivery – in the centre of town specialising in, rich, creamy Punjabi cooking.

Kampung Ali Malaysian Delight
Newington (0131 662 9050) & Fountainbridge (0131 228 5069), www.kampungali.com
Stir fries, noodly slurpy soups and spicy curries with a difference, but no delivery service.

Kasturi
West End, 0131 228 2441, www.kasturi-ed.co.uk
A reliable level of heat across the menu of this Shandwick Place restaurant – slow-burning and warming rather than fiery.

Miso & Sushi *
Haymarket, 0131 337 7466, www.sushi-edinburgh.com
Some of the best sushi in town available for pick-up or delivery as well as a compact Japanese menu featuring tempura (although this doesn’t travel so well) and ramen.

Wing Sing Inn
Tollcross, 0131 228 6668
A vast array of unusual dishes including delicious hot and spicy fried crab and pan-fried dumplings.

Southside

The Curry Leaf
Bruntsfield, 0131 229 9194, www.thecurry-leaf.co.uk
Making a real effort at inventiveness and style, flavours are fresh, herbs are plentiful, and even the old favourites step outside standard expectations.

Food for U
Morningside, 0131 452 8081
Typically extensive Cantonese menu including dim sum options as well as a smattering of Thai dishes.

Kampung Ali Malaysian Delight
Newington (0131 662 9050) & Fountainbridge (0131 228 5069), www.kampungali.com
Stir fries, noodly slurpy soups and spicy curries with a difference, but no delivery service.

Kebab Mahal
University, www.kebab-mahal.co.uk
Takeaways but no delivery from this much-loved institution, with dishes packing a surprising level of heat.

Mother India's Café
Old Town, 0131 524 9801, www.motherindiascafeedinburgh.co.uk
Takeaway only from one of central Edinburgh's better Indian restaurants, with good ingredients and reliable cooking across the board.

Noor Takeaway
Newington, 0131 667 0404, www.noortakeaway.co.uk
A wide range of palatable, if a little unadventurous Indian and Pakistani dishes including meal deals.

Voujon
Newington, 0131 667 5046, www.voujonedinburgh.co.uk
Features most of the standard Indian dishes with some lightly spiced specials and a stand-out Peshwari naan.

Comments

1. robin bate3 Dec 2012, 10:17pm Report

i m a grwat fan of Zen Kitchen. Good use of a variety of vegetables. Excellent tange on menu, with some unuque dishes like Prasasha. Nothing like the local Chinese, mych more expansive with European onput. Treat yourself , give Zen Kitchen a try.

2. Alexandra Leonard17 Aug 2013, 3:59pm Report

Indian Flavour on Ferry is my favourite Indian takeaway. They deliver and have a wide selection of vegie options and loads of curries I hadn't heard of before that I love. Definitely a wider selection than most Indians.

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