Traditionally Edinburgh’s gateway to the ghetto of Leith, Easter Road, and indeed Leith itself, have undergone a pretty visible renaissance over the last decade or so.
Now one of the only places in Edinburgh were you can combine cheap-ish rent with a proximity to top-class Scottish (Championship) Football, Easter Road is a proper area full of proper folk. There’s barely a hipster in sight.
If you’re not a local resident or a die hard Hibby you won’t know about some of the little things that make living here so special. Here’s a few things you only really see down Easter Road.
1. Some of the pubs are essentially armoured
Most the pubs on Easter Road are honest, cheap and full of character. And full of ‘characters’. Unfortunately, they’re often more armour-clad than a South American riot van. Of course, safety is key for any drinking establishment but sometimes it feels a little extreme. Incarcerate yourself from 12-till-late.
2. You can get bacon rolls and, well, other stuff…
It’s nice to see a greasy spoon that offers ‘et al.’ as a menu option. Renu’s Kitchen is a classic Easter Road spot for a breakfast bap or a huge Scottish breakfast. But of course, it’s not just the legendary rolls that are on offer. As it’s right near the bottom of the road, you can work off one of your ‘etc.’ options with the hike back up the hill into town.
3. There’s been some terrible sign writing
Is it just me or does this sign get ruder the more you look at it? It might just be an optical illusion, or a particularly terrible use of kerning but I know what I read every time I’m cutting down Iona Street from Leith Walk.
4. Yes, they have no bananas
Has anybody ever actually seen this place open? Local rumours abound as to what it actually houses, but whatever it is it doesn’t appear to be apples and oranges. You can insert your own jokes about the viability of a fruit and veg shop on Easter Road if you like.
5. There’s some pretty honest bins
About five or six of the bins off Easter Road are pretty self-aware when it comes to the fumes they generate. It’s either that or it’s a very intense piece of instruction. Alternatively, it could be the worst graffiti tag in history. Speaking of which…
6. The ‘Youtz’ have at least put the effort in
As tagging for the sake of tagging goes, Edinburgh-based ‘Youtz’ have got it, and most of the city, covered. If you’ve never noticed their work before you’ll be seeing it all over walls, bins and on baby’s foreheads from now until the end of time. It’s like you’re being stalked by a rubbish 90s Scottish rapper.
7. There’s regular patrols from the grammar police
Here’s a pic that includes both bins and graffiti, so everyone’s happy. Well, apart from the person that wrote it in the first place. It’s nice to see this level of intellectual pedantry in a predominantly working-class area too.
8. Erotic midcentury furniture is on your doorstep
Linguistic ignorance prevents me from understanding the true meaning of ‘Bra Bohag’, but either way it’s an unusual thing to find among Easter Road’s usual collection of secondhand furniture and bric-a-brac shops. Speaking of which…
9. Easter Road has its own answer to Harry Potter’s Room of Requirement
The bowls of the secondhand shop D ‘n’ R Trade is probably the best recreation of the Room of Requirement you’ll ever see in the city. It’s tough to even walk to the end and back without knocking half the shop over. Aside from that, it’s actually got some decent bargains, especially if you’re one bedside cabinet short of a full bedroom.
10. You never use the pedestrian entrance to Tesco
Easter Road brings out the daredevil in you. You never see anyone taking the proper pedestrian entrance to the car park. Instead, everyone is willing to risk their life to get to the teacake deals and value gin before the next person.
11. You’ve become a Hibs fans by default and for your own protection
The thing that really makes Easter Road famous the world over is the whopping great stadium on its doorstep. Hibs might be out of the Premiership right now but they’re always teasing their fans with the prospect of a much-needed cup win. If you don’t care about football in the slightest you’ll recognise HIbs games as the only time anyone who ‘isn’t from round here’ ventures down the street.
12. There’s a street dedicated to Scottish sausage
Some silly sausage has chosen to amend the Lorne Square street sign to something a bit more breakfast related. Down the bottom of Easter Road, as you cut through to Leith Walk, this is probably the best bit of street-based word play since a few of the letters of ‘Canal Street’ were rubbed off the sign for Manchester’s LGBT district.
13. The most niche shop on Earth
If you want to buy football programmes from basically any club on Earth, from a committed Scottish cricket fan, who used to sponsor Scarborough’s many, and now defunct football clubs, then Easter Road has you covered. A mecca for a certain type of person and possibly the equivalent of perusing through drying paint for others, it needs to be visited at least once.
14. You have surprisingly beautiful views on your doorstep
For a pretty solid working-class part of town Easter Road has an incredible horizon. There’s not many parts of the world where a mini craggy mountain jumps out at you from outside a Greggs. It always makes walking up the hill worthwhile.
15. Pie Wars
You’re spoilt for choice if you fancy a scotch pie or a steak slice, in fact the competition is a bit fierce. If you’re lucky you might even witness some of the Chicago gangster-style bakery standoffs that erupt sporadically throughout the day. Pick a side. Local or national.
16. You’ll find amazing beer prices
So not every pub has taken such a progressive attitude to its cost margins but you’re willing to accept any atmosphere at those prices, and so you should. Land of milk, honey and lager.
17. You’ve never won the quiz, even if you’ve managed to get a seat
It’s not that the quiz is even that hard, getting a seat is usually the hardest part. Considering it’s part of a league and the pizza’s are pretty cheap, it might be worth booking a few months in advance, if you want to have a go at defeating the great and the good of Edinburgh’s quizerati.
18. The mystery food van, that looks like the Mystery Machine
What is this van and what does it actually sell? Usually nestled around the Albion Terrace area, it’s a proper mystery machine. I assume it sells foot-long hot dogs to great danes and meddling kids. As good a guess as any.
Liked this? Try these:
10 of the most stress-inducing things about Edinburgh
25 amazing things about Edinburgh that you always take for granted
16 brilliant things you can only do in Edinburgh
Quiz: Which Edinburgh neighbourhood should you live in?
15 Edinburgh lifehacks every local should know
All photos by Tom Crosby