Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in London Southbank
Hardens guides have spent 30 years compiling reviews of the best Southbank restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 11 restaurants in Southbank and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Southbank restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Southbank Restaurants
1. Wahaca Mexican/TexMex restaurant in South Bank 119 Waterloo Road - SE1
“An ever-evolving, fun take on Mexican street food offering zingy flavours (plus a damn fine margarita)” all “efficiently served” in a “bright and buzzy” environment seems to have protected Thomasina Miers’s popular chain from much of the casual dining fall-out of recent times; and it remains “the most dependable of fast(ish) food chains” for many reporters. In particular, it’s “perfect for kids”, and families appreciate that “you fill up well for the price”. At the end of 2020, as a result of the Pandemic, the chain was rescued by Dick Enthoven, the billionaire owner of Nando's who put in £4m in exchange for a majority stake.
2. La Barca Italian restaurant in Southwark 80-81 Lower Marsh - SE1
“A lovely and cosy, family-run Italian”, “handily placed near Waterloo”, which “has been a feature of the area for years” (well over 30). It’s always been “quite expensive”, but for traditional trattoria fare it’s a “go-to” for some diners, including as a business lunch spot.
3. Sticky Mango at RSJ Pan-Asian restaurant in Waterloo 33 Coin Street - SE1
Having the “same staff as RSJ” (its predecessor on the site, now RIP) preserves some continuity at this 30-year stalwart, near the Festival Hall, whose “brave move to Thai food from classic French” a couple of years ago has split opinion: “zingy and fresh” to fans, but to critics, “entirely unremarkable”. Its famous cellar of Loire wine has also been transferred to the new venture: “still the best wine list I know of, but it goes less well with the Asian food now on offer”. The ambience of the room – whose Reinforced Steel Joist inspired the name of the former operation – has never been a major plus.
4. Meson don Felipe Spanish restaurant in Southwark 53 The Cut - SE1
This “modestly priced” veteran Hispanic opposite the Young Vic is invariably “packed out” from early evening. “It’s my default for a quick pre-theatre supper”. There’s “such a vibe between 7-9pm – nobody’s going to write sonnets about the food, but sometimes it’s just about the good times”.
5. The Anchor & Hope British, Modern restaurant in Southwark 36 The Cut - SE1
“Still nailing it after all these years” – this “unpretentious but brilliant” Southwark boozer near the Young Vic was again very narrowly beaten into No. 2 place amongst London’s best gastropubs (by the Harwood Arms), but maintains a massive fanclub, and “you still have to queue to get a table”. The draw is its “hearty” British cooking – “always-fascinating-and-unusual” dishes (often using game or offal) “delivering great flavours and textures”. Top Tip – you can book for Sunday lunch.
6. The Green Room, The National Theatre British, Modern restaurant in South Bank 101 Upper Ground - SE1
For some reporters, the National Theatre’s “brisk” in-house diner delivers on the “plain good food near the theatre” you’d hope for, so “it’s a shame” that the “food is complacently ordinary” for too many others to make it a reliable recommendation. Top Tip – “best when you can sit in the garden”.
7. Skylon, South Bank Centre British, Modern restaurant in Waterloo Belvedere Rd - SE1
“Still one of the best views in London” – this vast chamber was built, back in this South Bank arts centre’s, 1950s, Festival-of-Britain prime, as ‘The People’s Palace’ and it remains “a great-looking venue with an enviable location overlooking the Thames” through gigantic picture windows. All reporters would agree that it’s a “brilliant spot for watching the world and river go by, and the cocktails are great”, but too many find the cooking either “expensive” or “disappointing”, or both. Top Tip – “worth visiting for the ‘Saxy Saturday Brunch’ featuring a nice but limited set menu but also bottomless Prosecco which helps draw in a crowd”.
8. House Restaurant, National Theatre British, Modern restaurant in National Theatre, South Bank - SE1
The smartest of the National Theatre’s in-house dining rooms has had its high in past years, but is currently “only worth it if you’re going to the theatre”. The standard of cooking can vary sharply between visits: at best “really excellent and imaginative” but sometimes merely “fine” or “a bit of a production line process”.
9. Spiritland Fusion restaurant in Lambeth Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road - SE1
For the “mind-blowing sound system”, or as “a great place to grab a drink and a bite with your mates”, this “groovy”, music-led four-year-old, near Granary Square has won quite a following. (It was founded by music consultant Paul Noble, who has worked with Monocle and the Beeb; and Canteen founders Patrick Clayton-Malone and Dominic Lake). “The new, handy Festival Hall branch has the same vibe as the King’s Cross original, and here they offer really well-prepared cooking to match the cool sounds, laid-back atmosphere and enthusiastic service... it deserves to thrive.”
10. Masters Super Fish Fish & chips restaurant in Southwark 191 Waterloo Rd - SE1
“The batter’s crispy, the chips just right” – plus portions are “generous” – at this “reliably good” Waterloo chippie, which draws a steady crowd of locals, passers-by and taxi drivers to be served at its “Formica tables”.
11. Antillean Afro-Caribbean restaurant in Waterloo 74 Blackfriars Rd - SE1
Out goes the Polish vodka and in comes the jerk chicken, oxtail curry and flying fish at this Waterloo site. For over a decade, this intriguing former Georgian factory (a coachbuilding works) traded as Baltic (RIP). But it’s now in the hands of Michael Hanbury who is aiming to highlight an evolved form of Jamaican cuisine. A rum library and cocktails too – Whispering Death anyone?
View full listings of 11 Southbank Restaurants
Popular Southbank Restaurant Searches
london Restaurant News
Top Southbank Restaurants
Hot Newcomers & Coming Soon