Neighbourhood Watch: Leith, Edinburgh

Neighbourhood Watch: Leith, Edinburgh

A beginner's guide to the capital's port town

What’s it like? It’s Leith. If you’re an Edinburgh List reader, it’s very likely you live there. Glossy bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and warehouse conversions squaring off against cobbles, pint’n’pie pubs and Hibees. Vibrant, community-focused (it has its own radio station and a number of online community newspapers), utterly distinct and still not entirely sure that it’s really part of Edinburgh.

Where’s it, like? Technically, it’s the area around the port at the very north of Edinburgh to the top of Leith Walk, spreading up Easter Road to encompass Hibernian FC and all the way along to the Terence Conran-designed Ocean Terminal.

Am I right in thinking I can take a tram there? Oh, you prankster. Watch your mouth.

Who’s from there? Only the most internationally-famous Edinburghers in the last two decades: Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie (let’s just pretend that the film wasn’t actually shot in Glasgow) and of course, their creator, Irvine Welsh. You can still take Trainspotting tours during the festive months. Other notable Leithers include Eduardo Paolozzi, who created the Hand, Foot and, er, Ankle(?) sculptures at the top of Leith Walk, and The Proclaimers, obv.

Why would I go there? Because just about anyone can have a good night out in Leith: delicate flowers can get their cocktails-in-teacups fix at The Roseleaf, the hippy-to-arts-enthusiast scale is covered by the variety of events and activities at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall, off-beat families and singletons alike can find a home at Sofi’s or Joseph Pearce’s and upmarket foodies have a whole plethora of Michelin-starred establishments to choose from (Plumed Horse, The Kitchin, Restaurant Martin Wishart). Fortunately, you can still access the real Leith at legendary pub the Port O’Leith. Just don’t look at anyone’s pint funny.

Where should I start?
We’re big fans of the Edinburgh Murmur, a low-fi audio tour through Leith history, as told by its residents.

A Joseph Pearce’s
23 Elm Row, Edinburgh, EH7 4AA
Casual bar at the top of the Walk with Scandi food and an intimate vibe.
B Dance Base @ Out of the Blue Drill Hall
30–36 Dalmeny Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 8RG
C The Roseleaf
23–24 Sandport Place, Edinburgh, EH6 6EW
Welcoming pub with a chintzy clutter of board games, beer, healthy juices, comfort food and cocktails.
D The Kitchin
78 Commercial Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX
A revered and respected Edinburgh institution which is neither stuffy or exclusive, despite its lengthy list of plaudits and awards.
E Sofi's
65 Henderson Street, Edinburgh, EH6 6ED
A laid-back local with plenty of festivities on offer.
F Restaurant Martin Wishart
54 The Shore, Edinburgh, EH6 6RA
Michelin-starred flair and precision in one of the city’s most celebrated fine dining destinations.
G Port O'Leith
58 Constitution Street, Edinburgh, EH6 6RS
Changed days for this Leith institution – summer 2017 saw new owners, a refurb and a change of direction towards craft beers and cocktails.

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