Our Guide to Thistle Street
histle Street is steeped in history, with its foundations dating back to the late eighteenth century. Its name invokes Scotland’s national flower and, like Rose Street to the south, celebrates the 1707 Act of Union – the ties that bind the English and Scottish crowns. Today this translates into a street bursting with character. Though lying in the shadow of adjacent George Street, Thistle Street has a cosy and intimate charm that sets it apart from the imposing neo-classical grandeur of the rest of the New Town.
Thistle Street is home to dozens of exciting independent businesses sure to delight even the most discerning of shoppers. Stop for a coffee, take in some culture, shop for a designer outfit and enjoy top-class food and drink right in the heart of the New Town.
Kakao by K
Prime of place on the cobbles of Thistle Street, Kakao by K offers an exclusive, wide selection of super-feminine, stylish clothes, accessories and handmade jewellery, all with a distinct Scandinavian flavour. Hot trends, great prices and friendly service are all part of the shopping experience. Kakao stocks hard-to-find labels, offering everything from casual wear to dresses and Design by K, bespoke jewellery collection.
Henderson’s Bistro and Gallery
A mainstay of the Edinburgh vegetarian scene for almost fifty years, Henderson’s is perhaps best known for its restaurant and delicatessen on nearby Hanover Street. To forget the adjoining bistro on Thistle Street however, would be a terrible shame indeed. Offering top quality vegetarian cuisine at very reasonable prices, Henderson’s Bistro is a more informal alternative to the award-winning restaurant, without sacrificing any of the elegance, intimacy or friendly and attentive service that have made Henderson’s an Edinburgh institution.
Tex Mex II
Edinburgh’s original Mexican restaurant has been serving top-notch fajitas, enchiladas, burritos and much more for over twenty-five years.
Fat Donny’s Flaming Fajitas are undoubtedly the most eye-catching item on the menu, arriving at the table doused in flaming tequila, but there’s more than enough variety to keep everyone, including vegetarians, happy.
Cosmopolitan and stylish restaurant Iris is a fairly recent addition to Thistle Street restaurants. Though unassuming from outside, inside it’s warm and informal, inviting a genuinely convivial dining experience. The menu leans fairly heavily towards meat and fish, putting a contemporary spin on classic European cuisine by adding a dazzling array of complementary ingredients to select cuts of lamb, beef, salmon, duck and more. Though the perfect spot for a relaxed evening meal, Iris’s lunchtime offers represent astoundingly good value, making it ideal for upmarket working lunches.
The Bon Vivant
This relaxed and atmospheric establishment occupies the middle ground between ‘bar’ and ‘restaurant’. The wine list is comprehensive, offering over thirty varieties of white, red and rose, and is complemented by an excellent selection of champagnes, at prices suitable for every budget. The food menu changes daily and combines hearty traditional Scottish dishes with European-style fusion cuisine.
Fishers in the City
Originally an offshoot of the famous Fishers of Leith, Fishers in the City has long since earned a deserved reputation for excellence of its own merit. As the name hints, Fishers specialises in seafood, doing a particularly fine line in Fish and Chips – crispy battered haddock with optional king prawns and a thick, hand-cut chips. The A La Carte menu offers a comprehensive selection of Scottish seafood, ranging from lobster to mussels and from scallops and a dazzling array of fish. Lunchtime and early evening specials offer particularly good value for money, allowing you more freedom to sample the excellent range of hand-made South African wines.
A family-run business turned internationally acclaimed Scottish fashion shopping destination, Jane Davidson is one of the great success stories of the Edinburgh boutique scene. It was named one of Britain’s best boutiques by Vogue and in the top twenty-five in the world by fashion bible Harper and Queen. Spread over four floors of a Georgian townhouse, Jane Davidson occupies the highest tier of the Edinburgh fashion world and offers a full personal shopping service, along with expert advice to help customers find the perfect outfit.
21st Century Kilts
21st Century Kilts offer just that; a modern interpretation of the kilt for men, women and children, bringing the classic traditional design right up to date. Owner and master kilt-maker Harvey R Nicholsby has led the drive to modernise the kilt, hoping to eventually convince the world that the historic garment is a realistic alternative to trousers. Since launching the company at London Fashion Week in 1999, Nicholsby has experimented with different fabrics including leather, PVC, wool and tweed. 21st Century Kilts also stocks a range of clothing and accessories, including jackets, waistcoats, boots, socks and sporrans to complete your outfit.
Have we missed one of your favourite Thistle Street haunts? Let us know in the comments below.