As an area that’s famed mostly for a sprawling railway station, views of the river and tourist big-hitters like the London aquarium and er, Shrek, the restaurants near Waterloo might not immediately strike you as the neighbourhood’s biggest draw.
But how wrong you might be. Not only are there many fascinating fledgling spots to try out something new, the area also serves as a home to some of London’s best loved and longest standing establishments. For just a glimpse of the best, look no further than our shortlist of the finest Waterloo restaurants.
You now have absolutely no excuse to end up in Las Iguanas next time you’re passing through.
Flat Iron Waterloo
It feels like fate that Flat Iron finally has a branch on The Cut. The Waterloo restaurant has hints of an old butchers shop with its traditional green and white-tiled dining room, but the big draw is obviously the ‘flat iron’ steak, their famed feather blade cut that rules over the menu, served at the perfect shade of pink, and priced at a meagre at £13 (though you’ll want to bolster your order with sides like the creamed spinach and homemade beef dripping chips). You’ll be hard pressed to find better value steak in London…
Details: 41-45 The Cut, London SE1 8LF | Book here
Bread Street Kitchen Southwark
One of the many, many London restaurants run by Gordon Ramsay, Bread Street Kitchen Southwark is not, in fact, located on Bread Street. That’s the address of the original in Bank, whose combination of breezy industrial interiors, crowd-pleasing classics like rare-breed steaks, burgers and fish & chips, and decent wine list has proved so successful, it’s spawned a sibling. BSKS even offers a Beef Wellington experience for meat fans; a wine-paired tasting menu centred around a big ol’ welly to share.
Details: 47-51 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 0BS | Book here
The Anchor & Hope
Claiming the same noble lineage as fellow sites The Camberwell Arms and Canton Arms, pioneering gastropub The Anchor & Hope has been bestowed with an equal measure of culinary genius. If you’re wondering whether it’s a pub first and restaurant second (or the other way around), then you’re going to find the answer as easily as the ‘chicken before the egg’ conundrum.
While it’s technically half-bar, half-dining room, you’ll often find patrons eating from the handwritten chalkboard menu at every table, while the clink of pint and wine glasses fills both the rooms with convivial chatter. The dishes change regularly, ranging from smoked herring to Spanish-style pig’s cheeks – and whether you manage to work your way through to the brandy list or not, the atmosphere alone is enough to leave you feeling high-spirited.
Unfortunately, The Anchor & Hope is also one of the most popular restaurants near Waterloo, so make sure you book ahead – and don’t forget to try the guest ale on tap if you’re waiting for a table.
Details: 36 The Cut, Lambeth, SE1 8LP | Book here
Theatre restaurants can sometimes lack the same amount of direction as a clumsily performed primary school play. Occasionally serving as more of a pit-stop than a destination, coupled with the unavoidable need for speedy covers, it’s not always difficult to see why. Until House.
Nestled into one of the many corners of The National’s brutalist boughs, initial impressions of the place take you far from the concrete theatre foyer and plunge you into an elegantly styled, gently lit space that manages to be classic and contemporary at the same time. It’s one of the more civilised Waterloo restaurants, but it’s still relaxed – it feels equally acceptable to order a pint of lager as it does to sip on a martini.
The food is anything but home cooking, unless smoked turbot, kohlrabi kraut, mussels, cider & clotted cream sauce is something you’re prone to whipping up from the remaining contents of your larder. And for anyone who’s feeling particularly theatrical, their Afternoon Tea menu is inspired by some of the theatre’s ‘most celebrated’ shows. We’re just as intrigued to see how you might turn One Man, Two Guvnors into a sandwich or Sweeney Todd into a scone as the next person…
Details: National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | Book here
Stretching the definition of what counts as a restaurant near Waterloo, but undoubtedly worth the walk, Southwark’s Bala Baya is a love story between Israeli-born chef Eran Tibi and Tel Aviv. Set against a backdrop inspired by Bauhaus architecture, the space has been brought to life by multi-award-winning designer, Afroditi Krassa, conjuring the feel of Tel Aviv in the heart of London. The philosophy behind all that they do is centred around the beauty of sharing, bringing Israel’s hands-on, hands-in approach of family-style dining. Open all day, breakfasts of blackberry pitta french toast and Yemeni pancakes become dinners of saffron beef, ‘Crispy, sticky, crunchy’ (which is in fact chicken thighs, bitter orange, harissa, kimchi, butternut squash puree, hazelnuts and sumac), and pretty modestly priced tasting menus…
Details: Arch 25, Old Union Yard Arches, 229 Union Street, SE1 0LR | Book here
Sea Containers Restaurant
If the recent Coal Drops Yard development hasn’t been enough to serve your love for Tom Dixon, then do not let Sea Containers pass you by. Designed by the man himself, there’s a bit of quirkiness to be found around every up-lit, copper-leafed corner.
Beyond the iconic view across the Thames (as well as being an excellent people-watching spot) this Waterloo restaurant offers ingredient-led riverside food in the form of both small and large plates to be shared, either in the restaurant, or their al fresco terrace lining the fringes of The Queen’s Walk.
Details: 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London, SE1 9PD | Book here
Meson Don Felipe
It’s almost impossible to put your finger on what makes Meson Don Felipe so special. It could be the bright red walls and ceiling, or the convivial setting, with cosy tables surrounding a well-worn central bar. Or better still, it might even be the live flamenco music from a man perched on a ledge above a doorframe in the far left-hand corner, that makes this haven of chicken livers in sherry sauce, whitebait and broad beans with smoked ham and mint the ultimate, authentic no frills affair…
Details: 53 The Cut, South Bank, SE1 8LF | Book here
Coming to you from the TAS group, Ev Restaurant offers a one stop shop for the perfect evening of Anatolian atmosphere. Sprawled across three railway arches (along the blooming Isabella Street) are EV Bakery, Restaurant and Bar, covering your meal from start to finish. Expect hot and cold mezze, Mangal-grilled meat and fish, freshly baked Turkish pide and their famed hummus dip, made in-house to a closely guarded recipe…
Details: The Arches 97-99 Isabella Street, London, SE1 8DD | Book here
Mar i Terra
Another great tapas restaurant near Waterloo, these guys got to Southwark before the Tate Modern did. Nestled off Blackfriars Road, in an affectionally obscure corner by a railway line, you’ll find Mar i Terra where The Hop Pole pub had been for more than 100 years before (who doesn’t love a bit of local landlord history). Cosy and convivial, with just 40 covers and a walled courtyard garden out the back, charming doesn’t begin to cover it…
Details: 14 Gambia Street, Waterloo, London SE1 0XH | Book here
For over 40 years, La Barca has served up traditional food from Tuscany and other regions across Italy, making it the ultimate destination for classic Italian in Waterloo. The highlight has to be the spaghetti alla Barca – spaghetti with mixed seafood and tomato sauce, cooked in a paper bag (yes, you read that right)…
Details: 80-81, Lower Marsh, SE1 7AB | Book here
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