With festival season in full swing, Edinburgh is crazy busy right now (if you’re planning a festival trip check out my top tips). When you have 5 shows to see in one day and you’re trying to find all the venues (for some reason during August everything gets a new name and even the locals get lost) it’s really easy to forget to give yourself enough time to eat. And if you do remember about food, you need something fast and somewhere that isn’t fully booked (you won’t believe how hard it is to get a table during August).
With all this in mind, you need to find somewhere fairly central, with fast service and good easy food, which will take your booking. Easy said than done during festival season in Edinburgh. However, I think I have found the perfect venue for your between show grub – Topolabamba on Lothian Road. Lothian Road is right in the centre of town so it’s easy to get to and close to most of the fringe venues, it’s also quiet enough that you won’t be battling any crowds trying to get in. From my experience, the service in Topolabamba is super fast and your food arrives at your table insanely quick it’s also really simple street style food which is quick and easy to eat, no unnecessary complicated dishes here. And the best bit is they are taking bookings right through August (which is actually pretty rare as most places run a first come first serve system during the festival), which means you can plan out your day and not worry about finding somewhere to eat.
We decided to try out the street food menu, so we could sample as many dishes as possible. Topolabamba recommends ordering 2 or 3 dishes per person, so we decided to go for 6 dishes (3 per person) and I reckon this was the perfect amount for dinner (I would pick less for a light meal or lunch). After a bit of deliberation (seriously why is it so hard picking what to eat) we went for Chicken Tinga Tacos, Shredded Chipotle Beef Tostadas (toasted tacos), Smoked Chicken Quesadillas, Classic Queso Fundido (nacho cheese fondue), Camarones A La Plancha (king prawns) and Albondigas con Cascabel (beef and pork meatballs).
Everything was really tasty, but a couple of the dishes really stood out. Both of us loved the chicken tinga tacos, they had just the right about of kick without overpowering everything. I also recommend the Quesadillas (you can never go wrong with Quesadillas), and the Mexican style meatballs. The nacho cheese fondue was a new one on me and I will definitely be trying this out at home, why have I never thought about tortilla chip fondue. The only thing I would change is having the prawns de-shelled before coming to the table, but this is just a personal bugbear as I find it fiddly and messy, however, once out the shell, the prawns were yum.
After our meal we had a little Tequila sampling, they have over 65 tequilas at Topolabamba so if you want to try a couple it’s worth a visit (although please don’t have all 65 in one sitting). They serve Tequila flights (like you would get in a Whisky bar) to try out a couple if you wish. Apparently, you don’t ‘lick it, stick it, suck it’ with good Tequila that’s only for the nasty stuff in nightclubs. You sip a good Tequila like you would a single malt. The one we tried was Fortaleza Reposado, and I will say it was quite smooth but I don’t think I will be taking up Tequila drinking anytime soon. We were also given a tomato juice (it was a bit like a bloody mary) to help cleanse our palettes after taking a sip of the Tequila.
*we were invited to try out the menu free of charge in return for a review, all opinions on the food and Tequila are my own.