Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in London Southbank
Hardens guides have spent 31 years compiling reviews of the best Southbank restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 14 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
Mexican/TexMex restaurant in South Bank
119 Waterloo Road - SE1
“Tasty Mexican street food” at this “buzzing” chain still wins over plenty of supporters, who swear by its “fresh, wholesome, family-friendly” grub (ideal for “when you’re on the hoof”). Others, though, complain that “the menu is getting a bit tired” and the “flavours can be a bit hit and miss outside the standard dishes”. Financial losses during the pandemic forced the chain to close nearly half its branches and sell a majority stake to South African billionaire Dick Enthoven, owner of Nandos. Founded in 2007 by former MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby, it now has 10 remaining branches in London as well as venues in Brighton, Cardiff and Edinburgh.
. La Barca
Italian restaurant in Southwark
80-81 Lower Marsh - SE1
This “family-owned Italian restaurant” is a well-known landmark behind Waterloo Station “that feels like it hasn’t changed in 50 years” – it even “seems the same staff has been there” since its 1970s opening. But “they’re friendly and cheerful” and ensure this is “the place to go after performances at the Old Vic”, almost opposite – as thespians including Sir Ian McKellen, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have done in the past.
. Sticky Mango
Pan-Asian restaurant in Waterloo
33 Coin Street - SE1
“Freshness of flavours in the varied SE Asian dishes” all “at sensible prices” – and including a tasting menu option – provides endorsement of Peter Lloyd’s transformation of RSJ (RIP, the former occupant of this site, which graced the South Bank for 30 years). “They found their feet quickly after lockdown”, too. On the debit side, the famous “Loire wines inherited from RSJ seem to have been exhausted, and noise levels are still as high as ever”. And oddly, given the proximity to the Festival Hall and Old and Young Vics, “there’s no pre-theatre menu”.
. Meson don Felipe
Spanish restaurant in Southwark
53 The Cut - SE1
This “long-lived favourite” in Waterloo is packed early most evenings before shows at the nearby Young and Old Vic theatres. “Love the atmosphere” and the “fabulous tapas and wines” – although “the menu hasn’t changed since it opened”. Not everything stays the same, though – “now there are good tables outside and you can book”.
. The Anchor & Hope
British, Modern restaurant in Southwark
36 The Cut - SE1
“The ultimate gastropub” – this Southwark “pioneer of quality pub dining” missed out this year, by the narrowest whisker, on re-taking the crown as being London’s No.1 favourite hostelry in our annual diner survey. The gutsy, honest food is “top-notch every time” and – even though no longer viewed as achingly cutting edge – comes “at sensible prices, and with good beer and wine to go with it”. Service is “super-nice”, and all-in-all it’s just “a great, laid-back place to relax”. Best of all for some folks, they “now accept reservations!”
. The Green Room, The National Theatre
British, Modern restaurant in South Bank
101 Upper Ground - SE1
2021 Review: 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”.
Pizza restaurant in South Bank
Unit 3 Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road - SE1
Grab and go at this new brand from Pizza Pilgrims where you can order New-York-style 12-inch pizza – available whole or in slices (in five flavours) – or pizza by the metre. Wash them down with alcoholic slushies and to kill any spare time there are ’80s-style arcade games.
. Skylon, South Bank Centre
British, Modern restaurant in Waterloo
Belvedere Rd - SE1
An airy, light-filled space, with vast picture windows overlooking the Thames – this large dining room (once known as The People’s Palace) showcases the 1950s Brutalist architecture of the South Bank arts centre at its best, and that inherent appeal keeps business ticking over at this D&D London venue. Too many reporters, however, say the food is merely “decent” or “not too bad”, which makes the whole enterprise feel like a “missed opportunity”.
. Skylon Grill
British, Modern restaurant in Southwark
Belvedere Rd - SE1
2019 Review: “Thank goodness for the view” – the “saving grace” at this riverside grill in the South Bank arts centre, sibling to its D&D London stablemate next door. For most reporters, the food is little better than “average” – “not so much dialling as texting it in these days. Such a shame as the space is so wonderful!”.
. House Restaurant, National Theatre
British, Modern restaurant in
National Theatre, South Bank - SE1
“The set menu is good value” at the National Theatre’s most salubrious in-house dining option, so it’s “always reliable” as a pre-show pit-stop. But critics would welcome a bit more ambition, saying the current effort is “a wasted opportunity” given the site and its captive audience. Top Tip: “the waiters are always a good source of play reviews”.
Fusion restaurant in Lambeth
Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road - SE1
2021 Review: 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.”
. Masters Super Fish
Fish & chips restaurant in Southwark
191 Waterloo Rd - SE1
For a “cheap ’n’ cheerful” fish ’n’ chips hit, fans still recommend a meal at the Formica tables of this long-standing Waterloo chippy.
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, opened in summer 2021. 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?
. Flat Iron, The Cut
Steaks & grills restaurant in Southwark
41-45 The Cut - SE1
“If you want a good steak that’s half the price you’d pay at Hawksmoor or Gaucho, then this will do nicely!” – so say fans of this “always busy and dependable” chain, which added a Bevis Marks branch in October 2020 and opens a ninth 90-seater venue near Borough Market on Clink Street in late 2021. The success of the formula is its “straightforward” menu (“the simplest I have ever seen in a restaurant: five or six steaks, six sides, no starters, no puddings, but a delicious soft salted caramel in a cornet on the way out”). “Are prices creeping up though...?” – ratings dipped this year with more reports of the “good, but nothing special” variety. (Btw ‘Flat Iron’, aka ‘featherblade’, is a cut known for its tenderness, flavour and affordability).
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