Although this city offers many fine (and therefore expensive) dining establishments, there are also some very good opportunities for delicious and inexpensive meals. One of our earliest discoveries was the Mosque Kitchen on Nicolson Street at Nicolson Square. One of their signs boasts “Delicious curry in a hurry” — and that’s right on the money! Besides chicken and lamb dishes, there are vegetarian options. Generous portions of chana dal or gobi aloo can be had for £4 each. A popular spot, getting a table might be a challenge at the usual meal times, but take-away is an option. They’re open until 10 p.m. each day, though they close between 1 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. for prayers. And, unless you ask for an ironstone plate and metal cutlery, it will be served on styrofoam plates with plastic cutlery — something to consider before you go to the counter to make your selection. Oh yes — it’s cash only here.

Thanks to our friend, Andrew, we recently discovered Kalpna, a vegetarian Indian restaurant, at St. Patrick Square on St. Patrick Street (which is a continuation of Nicolson Street… which is a continuations of South Bridge… which is a continuation of North Bridge… which originates at Princes Street) that offers an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for £7 per person. Once you’ve heaped your plate, if you want a drink, you’ll have to go to the bar to place your order, and it will be delivered to your table by one of the friendly people who work there. You can visit the buffet as often as you wish. They’re pleased to see you enjoy the food. During lunch times, however, they accept cash only — no credit or debit cards.

Just down the street, on Nicolson, is Cafe TurQuaz, which offers good food, excellent coffee and more friendly service — all for very reasonable prices.

And then there are the churches, with cafes that offer Fair Trade coffees and teas. Cafe Camino at St. Mary’s Cathedral at the foot of Leith Walk is a great spot for morning coffee, afternoon tea or a light lunch. St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile offers delicious food and friendly service. Henderson’s at St. John’s Church on Princes Street has good vegetarian options, and is interesting for the fact that it started as a separate grassroots, back-to-the-land family grocery and cafe operation back in the 70s. It’s now a fixture at St. John’s and, once you’ve satisfied your appetite for food, you can satisfy your appetite for fair trade goods at the One World Shop next door but one.

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