By Ailsa Sheldon

Edinburgh is a city whose residents and visitors like to shop and really love going out to eat and drink. So it’s wonderful to see vibrant new ventures popping up, particularly as we approach festival season and welcome visitors back again.

Starting in the town centre, Hanover Street will be welcoming a brand new design-led cocktail bar, Superico Bar and Lounge.

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With award-winning Edinburgh mixologist Mike Lynch at the helm, signature cocktails include Padron Martini, Yuzu Spritz and Passiflora.

Commenting on the launch, Mike said: “I’m really excited to be bringing something truly groundbreaking, vibrant and genuinely fun to Edinburgh’s bar scene with our unique Latin American flair.

“Already shortlisted for an international design award in New York this September, we’re really lucky to have a stylish and beautiful venue where guests can enjoy some showstopping cocktails and bar snacks in a relaxed and sophisticated lounge bar setting”.

New bar NQ64 also opens on Lothian Road this summer. Expect a graffiti-splattered bar and a focus on retro arcade games, lovingly restored and ready to play.

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For dining out in the New Town, young Scots-Italian restaurateur Stefano Pieraccini of The Rocca Group is launching Rico’s Ristorante on North Castle Street (on the former site of The Honours). Rico’s will offer high-end Italian dishes using the best of local ingredients – look forward to antipasti of hand-dived Isle of Mull scallop and guanciale, risotto with East coast crab and shellfish bisque; and Carpaccio of Tweed Valley beef fillet.

Introducing Rico’s, which is named after his grandfather Enrico, Stefano said: “We think now is the time to bring something really different to Edinburgh city centre.

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“The venue itself will be stylish, desirable and have a great atmosphere, but I also want it to be somewhere guests know they will get excellent, authentic Italian dishes and warm hospitality.”

The newly opened St James Quarter has certainly perked up Edinburgh’s retail offerings, with new shops to Edinburgh, including Peloton, & Other Stories, Pull & Bear and, of course, the Lego store – with many more due to open throughout the summer, including Kate Spade and the new Everyman Cinema. Many local foodie favourites have taken a space in the new centre, too. Bross Bagels continue their bagel domination, Maki Ramen keep the noodle slurpers happy and @Pizza bring their unique multi-topping pizzas to a new audience.

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Alongside these well known names, there are plenty of brand new dining destinations to try. Ka Pao, who have a hit Glasgow restaurant by the same name (as well as the popular Ox and Finch), are opening a new place in the centre and bringing their unique Asian inspired dishes to the capital.

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Most exciting in the St James Quarter is the launch of Edinburgh’s first food hall, Bonnie & Wild’s Scottish Marketplace. With the aim of celebrating the best of Scottish food, drink and hospitality – there will initially be eight different restaurant food stalls, a butcher and bottle shop, plus a demonstration kitchen, three bars, a private dining room, children’s area and flexible events spaces.

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Diners may struggle to choose from the top-quality offerings, including Creel Caught, the first solo venture for Scotland’s National Chef and MasterChef winner Gary Maclean. We’re also excited about the arrival of more Glasgow favourites – Broken Clock Café and Patisserie and The Gannet. Joining them will be vegan restaurant Erpingham House, sourdough maestros East Pizzas, up-market fried chicken from Chix, luxury gelato Joelato, Rico’s Pasta Bar and Hong Kong-style street food from Jimmy Lee’s Salt & Chilli Oriental, with more to come.

If that wasn’t enough in the St James Quarter, for a casual bite, check out the food trucks at the Picardy Place entrance, where award-winning Harajuku Kitchen return to their street food origins with the launch of a new food truck offering sushi ‘burritos’, poke bowls and yakisoba noodles.

Other trucks include The Mac Man and Churros, Baby? After that, stroll down Leith Walk and pick up a coffee from the new outpost of Artisan Roast, a very welcome addition to the area.

The hottest ticket in Leith currently is the pop-up that queuing bao fans wouldn’t let go – Bundits of Leith, now with a new indoor Bar and Bao venue. The former Constitution Bar (briefly the Fly Half) has been given a sparkling new make-over by Ja.Coco with murals by local illustrator KMG.

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Here you’ll find cosy booths, funky decor and a cheery welcome. Start with a punchy cocktail (mine’s a yuzu margarita) then order as many tasty steamed hirata bao buns and small plates as you can manage. The grilled squid with watermelon is tender and delicious, and the pickles crunchy and moreish. You can’t go wrong with any of the bao buns – but you may need a stack of napkins. Try the prawn katsu with ponzu mayo, or braised shiitake mushrooms with carrot pickle, crispy onions, and truffle mayo. If you have space, try a deep fried bao ice cream sandwich.

Matthew, the owner, said: Opening Bundits of Leith as a proper venue is a massive milestone for us and has been a long time coming. We genuinely couldn’t quite believe just how supportive people were of our pop-up and how quickly they embraced this more relaxed style of cooking from us.

“This is the next step, and we want it to be nothing short of perfect, so we’ve been working tirelessly to create a venue that will burst with energy, great food, music and drinks.”

Round the corner Ooh Mami had just opened pre-pandemic and is hidden behind the tramworks – so it still feels new to the Leith food scene. They serve local beers and great cocktails alongside noodles, gyoza with interesting fillings and fun dishes like inari pockets – deep fried tofu pockets stuffed with noodles, salad and crabmeat.

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Along at Portobello the food on offer has really diversified in recent months, Civerinos Slice has opened a new outpost offering slices of hot pizza on the prom.

Next door fine-dining favourite The Little Chartroom has happily made their pop-up The Little Chartroom on the Prom permanent, offering daily specials including oysters, squid flatbreads and smoked mackerel fritters.

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So many good places to eat . . .  lucky us!