Mary’s Milk Bar is a mid-century style ice cream parlour located in Edinburgh's popular Grassmarket area.
Mary's traditional and unusual ice cream and sorbet flavours in cones or tubs, floats, milkshakes, handmade chocolates in small batches, and coffee specialities enjoy huge popularity with young and old, locals and tourists.
The quality of the gelato is amazing. It is made fresh by Mary on site every morning, and the daily changing flavours add an element of adventure to each visit. Some of the very interesting ones include baked fig, violet, honey and lavender, spicy peanut & cinnamon, cinnamon pretzel & chocolate chip, tea and jam, and pecan pie. You might also find savoury combinations like sweet corn & cracked pepper and blue cheese & walnut butter ice cream, or boozies like whisky and peach sorbet, or seasonal ones like mince pie ice cream. For fans of the traditional flavours, there are usually classics like hazelnut, milk, raspberry sorbet, pistachio to fall back on.
If you are unfamiliar with a flavour or not sure what to expect of an unusual creation, ask to try before you buy and you can taste a sample on a spoon before you decide on a big scoop. The service is attentive, helpful and quick.
In high season and on sunny days expect a queue outside, which is taped up on the pavement like a maize to keep disturbance for neighbouring businesses to a minimum. The queue is usually quite sociable and winds back on itself when you follow the pattern on the ground. The service is quick, however, and the wait is sweetened by the view up to the glorious Edinburgh Castle.
On a colder day, the hot drinks from the menu may be appealing. The hot chocolates come recommended, and the milkshakes and floats are stunning, too.
Another one of Mary’s specialities are chocolates. These are incredibly tasty, pretty, and made in small batches and without preservatives. A great place to bear in mind to get treats for Easter and Christmas.
The interior in Mary’s is that of a retro ice cream parlour with stools and worktops made of recycled milk bottles and bottle tops. There are not many seats available, but those by the window allow people-watching in the Grassmarket and a great view up to Castle Hill.
There is a high turnaround of gelato, meaning you get the freshest quality possible. This, however, also means once it is sold out of ice cream, Mary’s Milk Bar closes its doors until the next day. It is therefore advisable to be early to be given a choice of flavours and not leave empty handed, as the much sought after goods may be snapped up before closing time. Summer opening hours are from 11am (Sunday 12pm) until 7pm (closed on Mondays). One generously sized scoop costs a very reasonable £2.50, and that may be enough to feed one, though it is often impossible to show restraint. For ice cream lovers near the Grassmarket, - no, in Edinburgh - Mary’s is a must-visit.
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