The Portuguese are famous explorers, and have an influence across the world. This series looks at destinations outside Portugal where you can experience Portuguese wine, food and culture.
The grey and gothic cobblestoned streets of Edinburgh may feel a million miles away from the sunsoaked calcadas of Lisbon and the Algarve, but the Scottish capital is a great place for fans of Portuguese culture. It’s where JK Rowling moved to after she started writing Harry Potter in Porto, after all. So here are our top Portugalist picks in Edinburgh.
Best Portuguese restaurants in Edinburgh
Casa Amiga, 294 Leith Walk, EH6 5BX & 7–9 North Bridge Arcade, Edinburgh, EH1 1QL
There are now two Casa Amiga cafés Edinburgh. The first and original Casa Amiga is located on Leith Walk, next to a Hib’s pub: the Harp & Castle. It’s small, and often hard to get a seat, but this is testament to how well this Portuguese café has been received in Leith. As well as selling coffees and cakes (including, of course, pasteis de nata), Casa Amiga also sells Portuguese essentials like Delta Coffee and Gallo olive oil.
O Canto do Passarinho, 93 St. Leonard’s Street, EH8 9QY
Owned by the chef behind Tugas Amor in Fountainbridge (which has sadly closed down), O Canto do Passarinho is home to the best franceshinha we’ve ever tasted – and that includes the ones we’ve had in Porto! If you’re lucky the chef might pop out of the kitchen and play a bit of fado while you eat, too.
Ophelia Mar, 78 Portobello High Street, EH15 1AN
There are also a couple of Nandos in the city, but let’s not get into that…
Where to learn Portuguese in Edinburgh
Portuguese language short course, University of Edinburgh
Evening classes are offered at four different levels, from absolute beginner to maintenance for advanced speakers. Levels 1.1 and 2.1 usually run from September to December. If you want to continue learning, 1.2 and 2.2 last from January to March and 1.3 and 2.3 run from April to June.
Lusofonias, Old School House (Free Church of Scotland), 140 Morningside Road, EH10 4PX
This school offers Portuguese classes to bilingual children as well as English-speaking kids who are really keen on learning Portuguese. Classes take place from 11am to 1pm on Saturdays with 34 sessions during the school year.
Edinburgh Language Academy, 71 George Street, EH2 3EE
The ELA run two courses for adults, both starting in September: an 8 week holiday survival guide, and an 8 week intermediate course which also goes into Portuguese food, history and culture. They also have courses for children, too.
Yakety Yak Language Cafe, The Inn, 20-30 Cockburn Street, EH1 1NY
If you’d rather practice your skills in an informal setting, this is for you. Small groups (six learners plus a tutor) chat for about an hour in Portuguese. Note that the focus here is on Brazilian Portuguese. Drop in on Monday nights, 6pm-7pm.
Where to buy Portuguese wine in Edinburgh
Cornelius Beer & Wine, 18-20 Easter Road, EH7 5RG
It can be hard to find Portuguese wine in Edinburgh, or anywhere in the UK for that matter. Although most supermarkets now stock a few Portuguese wines, the Portuguese section is usually relatively small. Cornelius Beer & Wine on Easter Road is a hidden gem for Portuguese wine lovers: there are usually 10-20 different varieties available, with new wines being added all of the time.
Have you found any other Portuguese businesses in Edinburgh? Let us know in the comments below.