Edinburgh loves anything a bit quirky and unusual, which is why it is home to some of the best themed bars and restaurants around. So if you fancy trying somewhere a bit different this weekend, look no further. In no particular order, here is our round-up of the best themed dining experiences the city has to offer.
With their passion for all things geeky, The Pop Up Geeks have truly mastered the concept of a themed bar, by creating unique and immersive drinking experiences based on popular shows such as Game of Thrones, Stranger Things and The Walking Dead.
Having recently secured their own permanent venue in the city centre, they plan to kick off the year in true style, with an event paying tribute to everyone’s favourite boy wizard. Edinburgh’s first Harry Potter themed cocktail bar will open its doors this February, with a menu inspired by the magical potions and elixirs Rowling so vividly describes in her books.
So, dust off your wands and invisibility cloaks, as ‘Perilous Potions’ promises to be an unmissable experience.
Address: Arch 14 East Market Street, EH8 8FS
© Panda & Sons
One of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets and a true hidden gem, Panda & Sons can be easily missed but behind its convincing façade as an old fashioned barbershop, lies a 1920s, speakeasy-style cocktail bar.
Perched on the corner of Queen Street, Panda & Sons created quite a buzz amongst the capital’s cocktail connoisseurs when it opened in 2013, and remains a firm favourite today due to its relaxed atmosphere and quirky, vintage theme.
To access the bar, drinkers must descend down a hidden stairway and through a secret door, cleverly concealed within an old bookcase. Once inside, you are welcomed into a dimly lit drinking den, reminiscent of the Prohibition age, with cosy leather armchairs, vintage books, gramophones and other era-appropriate novelties.
Praised for its attention to detail, there is even Panda-themed artwork in each room, depicting a charmingly well thought-out backstory about a family of beard-trimming pandas, who at night become cocktail aficionados.
Address: 79 Queen Street, EH2 4NF
Overlooking the city’s scenic canal and just a stone’s throw away from our EQ2 apartments, Badabing is a truly unique destination for a night out. Inspired by the famous gangster joints of the 1920s, this two-storey live music and piano bar features plush velvet seating and nods to classic films such as The Godfather and TV series The Sopranos.
With live jazz and blues music performed every night and a menu serving up Italian/American favourites including steaks, hot dogs and a range of ‘bad-ass’ burgers, Badabing fills a unique gap within the Edinburgh restaurant scene.
Address: 2 Fountainbridge, EH3 9QB
© The World Famous Frankenstein
Housed in a gothic, 19th century church, Frankenstein’s is a horror-themed pub, suitably located within the heart of Edinburgh’s historic old town. Just a stone’s throw away from the haunted Greyfriars kirkyard and The Real Mary Kings Close, Frankenstein’s fits right in with the city’s other mysterious and grisly attractions.
Impeccably themed throughout, the bar is decorated to look like a mad scientist’s laboratory with cast-iron fixtures, electrostatic charges and vats of bubbling liquid. Mary Shelley’s famous novel plays a significant role in the decor, with various props and memorabilia displayed on the walls and large screens showing the original black and white films above the bar.
The most notable highlight of course, is the appearance of Frankenstein’s terrifying monster, which emerges from a smoke-filled balcony at regular intervals throughout the day.
Address: 26 George IV Bridge, EH1 1EN
© Hoot the Redeemer
Hidden in plain sight on one of Edinburgh’s busiest high streets, Hoot the Redeemer is by far one of the city’s most eccentric cocktail bars. Created by the same innovative team that brought you Panda & Sons, it transports drinkers back in time to a vintage, carnival themed tavern, set in 1950s New Orleans.
With quirky adornments including retro arcade games, cinema-style seating and a tarot card reader, Hoot the Redeemer promises a fun and interactive experience, while maintaining the same creative charm and high quality of service as its sophisticated sister company.
A particular highlight is the Pinch ‘n’ Sip claw machine which offers drinkers a unique way to choose flavours for their very own customised cocktail. From a vending machine, serving up the company’s own brand of alcoholic ice cream, to frozen slushies infused with gin, rum or tequila, Hoot the Redeemer knows how to put a grown up spin on a childhood classic.
Address: 7 Hanover Street, EH2 1DJ
© Badger & Co.
Located within the former townhouse of Wind in the Willows author, Kenneth Grahame, Badger & Co. takes one of Edinburgh’s historic Georgian buildings and transforms it into a contemporary bar and restaurant. Open from breakfast until late, it centres on bistro style pub-grub, serving up craft drinks and a seasonal menu of locally sourced ingredients.
Inspired by the Gentleman’s Clubs of the Edwardian era, there are nods to the classic children’s novel throughout. The décor features paintings of the book’s beloved riverbank characters, and period furnishings including chandeliers, wood-panelled walls and leather Chesterfield armchairs – straight out of Toad Hall!
Having opened its doors in 2016, Badger & Co. is still a relative newbie to the Edinburgh food and drink scene but has fast become a favourite hangout for foodies looking to try something a bit different.
Address: 32 Castle Street, EH2 3HT
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