The best fish and chips in Edinburgh
We've researched the options and present a guide to the best places in Edinburgh for a fish supper
Fish and chips: a staple of high streets, back streets, villages and cities, a combo served at football grounds and five-star hotels, something loved by young and old, on high days and holidays, on Friday nights religiously, or on the way back from the pub.
But is it a match made in heaven, or the highway to heart-attack hell? Something to be revered as the British national dish, and a street food to call our own, or low-grade fast food that’s become more about gloopy sauce than brilliant batter?
We share the results of our local quest for plain, good old seafood with a side-order of chopped potatoes. We tried to ignore the distractions of saucing and vinegaring, and of cod-awful puns, as well as the reality that too much deep-fried food too often ain’t going to win you Commonwealth gold. We set out to sample and rate the best we could find by way of deep-fried fish, batter and chips around the streets of Edinburgh, visiting 20 different venues and, along the way, finding out a bit more about the essential elements that make up a great supper.
The best fish & chip shops in Edinburgh
14–15 Albert Place, Leith Walk
The Tailend has long been touted as the poshest of Edinburgh’s fish bars, and the standard fish supper here is succulent and coated in a batter that’s both thin and crispy, while the chips are cooked in beef dripping – good news for all but those of a vegetarian persuasion. Alternatives to standard haddock include Finnan haddie and Arbroath smokies, while specials can include sea bass, scallops and monkfish, all of which can be battered, breaded or grilled. There’s a separate seated section alongside for sitting in.
Fish supper: £6.50
7 Henderson Row, New Town
L’Alba D’Oro has been at the forefront of fish-frying in the capital for nearly 40 years, and your freshly cooked fish is boxed and ready well before you’ve finished digesting the various accolades that adorn the walls. Inside a jacket of golden, non-greasy batter there’s a slab of flaky white haddock that’s just right, and chips are spot-on as well, with a firm outside and a soft, yielding centre. A special fish alternative, which could be monkfish, pollock, sea bass or halibut, is available too, and there’s the option to have your fish breaded or ‘alla Romana’ (with sage and onions).
Fish supper: £6.70
19 Broughton Street, Broughton
An ultra-violet-lit, beat-infused den of iniquity … and chips. Where else could you find fryers doubling as DJs and acid house-inspired T-shirts for sale behind the bubbling vats of fat? Yet while on paper this might sound like some sort of Caledonian culinary Faliraki, Piccante’s has a certain roguish charm that draws in a diverse age range of diners, and they produce a mean fish supper to boot: the fish, if somewhat on the small side, is especially succulent, and the chips strike the right balance of crunch and fluff.
Fish supper: £5.50
7 Comely Bank Road, Stockbridge
The Alonzi family have been feeding the residents of Stockbridge for nearly half a century, stretching back to the Park Café in the 60s. Fresh, thick haddock fillets are cooked to order, even on a busy Saturday night, in batter that comes laced with a hint of breadcrumb for extra crunch and is accompanied by golden, firm and fluffy chips. And although they can no longer call on long-time sister establishment San Marco next door, this keenly priced chippy still offers an impressive 60 pizza and pasta variations.
Fish supper: £5.20
3–5a Sciennes, Southside
Replete with Corleoni-esque references, this Meadows-side fish bar serves up real quality, with the fryers able to elevate the humble haddock to a Don-like eminence thanks to a choice of batters and an insistence on frying their fish to order. Although its name suggests an emporium of all things piscine, curries are actually the mainstay of The Codfather’s output, and those keen to combine their love of heat with a yearning for fish might be tempted by the spicy batter alternative, which lends the dish a real zing.
Fish supper: £5.90
The Codfather – Maybe it’s because Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes, but these guys are wise to all things piscine.
L’Alba D’Oro – Four decades of frying experience equals perfectly cooked fillets.
The Tailend – An unrivalled selection of seafood, although the haddock is a sound place to start.
The Tailend – Impressively streamlined and crispy, it fits the fish like a golden glove.
Pierino’s (11 Bernard Street, Leith, Edinburgh) – Thick without being heavy, and with plenty of crunchy extrusions, it makes for a perfect parcel.
Franco’s – A sprinkling of breadcrumbs might be an unusual addition to the batter, but it’s an inspired idea.
The Tailend – Beef dripping is the key to these cracking chips. Sorry veggies.
Café Piccante – Crisp, clean and light, these chips allow you to sidestep the stodge.
L’Alba D’Oro – Firm and golden with soft centres, these are top-of-the-range chips.
Café Piccante – The only place that provides a dance off with your fry off.
L’Alba D’Oro – Boasts an extensive wine list that puts most off-licences to shame.
Gorgie Fish Bar (136–138 Gorgie Road, Edinburgh) – The banter with the regulars is Saturday prime-time entertainment at its best.