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A bento selection from Hannah on the South Bank.
A bento selection from Hannah on the South Bank.
Hannah

Where to Eat Around the South Bank and Waterloo

The best restaurants by the river in this bustling part of central

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A bento selection from Hannah on the South Bank.
| Hannah

Lined with a parade of arts and cultural venues, the South Bank is one of London’s most popular tourist destinations. Particularly busy during the summer, the stretch of land along the southern bank of the Thames is also home to hundreds of restaurants, pubs and bars. But considering the area’s popularity, it’s often difficult to separate the terrible tourist-trap restaurants from the genuinely excellent — many of which are concentrated around Waterloo station.

While the exact confines of the Southbank aren’t formally defined, it’s generally understood to trail from the Tate Modern to around Westminster Bridge, yet Borough and London Bridge are also well worth exploring if you’re in the area. As such, this map covers the stretch of the Southbank between Southwark Bridge and just past Westminster Bridge, with particular focus on Waterloo, featuring old-school fish and chips, Nigerian street food, outstanding gallery cafes, and much more.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Tas Pide

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With the first Tas restaurant having opened on The Cut in 1999, the group has since opened a small chain of restaurants, most of which are within a stone’s throw of the original. Continuing to focus on Anatolian cuisine, Tas Pide is particularly special, focussing on freshly baked Turkish pide with a variety of toppings. Highlights include the sucuklu pide crowned with garlicky beef sausage and peppers, or the vegetarian mantarli ispanakli pide with spinach, mushrooms, peas and leeks, both served with an optional egg on top for an extra flourish of decadence. Elsewhere, a good selection of grilled dishes from the mangal are also available alongside traditional Anatolian casseroles and both hot and cold meze staples.

Tate Modern Kitchen and Bar

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On the sixth floor of the Natalie Bell Building, The Kitchen and Bar at Tate Modern boasts impressive skyline views across the river, plus a food menu that’s seasonally focused. Alongside a rotation of accomplished modern-European dishes, the restaurant also strives to continue the gallery experience by serving occasional artist-inspired dishes. Coinciding with the gallery’s Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition, for instance, the restaurant is currently serving a Dalí inspired special of ‘Rib of Beef with Cornballs’ (available until 29 August 2022), using Hereford sirloin from HG Walter, Catalonian calçots, and cornballs from the kitchen.

Limin' Beach Club

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Comprising three outdoor beach spaces, cocktail bars and a Trinidadian-focussed food offering, Limin’ Beach Club opened during the summer of 2021, aiming to sate international travel cravings. On the Southbank, at Gabriel’s Wharf, the venue is a project from Trinidad-born Peckham resident Sham Mahabir, keen on championing Trinidadian food in the UK. Buttery roti features prominently here, with the flatbread accompanying the likes of boneless curry goat, caramelised chicken, sweet butternut squash and roasted cumin, chickpea and potato curry, or curry sweetcorn.

Pabellon Venezuelan Food

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From a weekend stall at the Southbank Centre Food Market, Pabellon seeks to preserve generations of family recipes with its menu of Venezuelan food. With a fairly streamlined menu, the choices are broadly split into pabellon rice bowls and slightly sweet arepas loaded with various fillings. Served on a base of salted long grain rice, all pabellons comprise black beans, fried ripe plantain and pico de gallo, then topped with either chicken or — best of all — lightly spiced slow-cooked brisket that’s shredded. A vegan version is also available with just the base components. As for the arepas, the generously seasoned chicken, plantain and mounds of grated cheddar is a winning combination.

Mar I Terra

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Opened in 2000, Mar i Terra doesn’t seem to have changed much over the past two decades. A classic tapas bar near Southwark station, the tapas bar doesn’t necessarily have the pizzaz of Barrafina or José, just down the road in Bermondsey, but it’s an unpretentious space which orders much of its produce from Spain and boasts a considered, entirely Spanish wine list, which is one of the main reasons to visit. The classic tapas dishes such as escalivada, croquetas, pan con tomate, or bouquerones comprising fat Cantabrian anchovies in wine vinegar are all ideal accompaniments to a cold glass of cava or an early 2000s rioja.

Union Viet Café

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A small, family run business on Union Street, Union Viet Café serves a menu of Vietnamese classics from a homely space with friendly service. While the café is also open in the evening, it’s far more atmospheric at lunch. With the base slowly cooked overnight, following a recipe passed down through generations, pho and bun hue are the main draw here. The pho is available with different fillings, including chicken, pork, prawn, tofu, beef (best of all), or a combination, also loaded with flat noodles, sweet basil, coriander, chilli, and pho sauce. Lemongrass and tofu summer rolls are well worth ordering, as is the papaya salad with large prawns and plenty of red chilli.

Macellaio RC Union Street

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The Union Street branch of Macellaio RC, which makes up part of Roberto Costa’s steakhouse group, doesn’t quite fit the blueprint of local Italian restaurants with their pasta-centric menus. But it is very much an Italian restaurant, with a prominent focus on exceptional Italian produce. Costa is well aware that Fassona beef from Piedmont is some of the best in the world, and is without the high prices of Kobe wagyu. For what’s easily one of the best steaks in London, go for the Fiorentina to be shared between two. The restaurant also offers a great selection of well-prepared offal dishes, if that’s your thing.

Akwasi Brenya-Mensa’s debut restaurant is an evolution of his long-running supper clubs, and has taken over a large, bright space in partnership with the Africa Centre. Brenya-Mensa wants the restaurant’s integration with the cultural organisation to incubate a hub for the now and next generations of African chefs in London, and the menu — though rooted in his Ghanaian background — is accordingly and winningly dedicated to showing off the variousness of a continent so often reduced to a monolith. Ackee croquettes, omo tuo and nkatekwnan, and a red red stew are currently at the centre of the menu.

Passyunk Avenue

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A true celebration of Philadelphia’s food and culture, Passyunk Avenue has finally opened its Waterloo site under the Leake Street arches. Joining restaurants in Fitzrovia and Westfield Stratford, Passunk Avenue’s menu is anchored around a loving interpretation of the classic Philly cheesesteak with thin slivers of ribeye steak packed into an Italian submarine roll, with or without caramelised onions and a selection of cheeses: provolone, American, or lurid cheese wiz sauce, which is recommended for first-timers. While an assortment of other dishes are served, sandwiches are clearly the restaurant’s forte, with additional highlights including the Philly style chicken parm sub with slightly sweet marinara, parmesan and provolone, or the sub roll loaded with homemade meatballs, tomato sauce and cheese.

Naija High Street

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A street food line from Sisi Olonje caterers, Naija High Street also operates from Lower Marsh Market (Monday to Friday). A menu comprising classic and contemporary Nigerian dishes is offered here, using specially selected Nigerian ingredients. Highlights include generously spiced ayamase stew, rich stewed chicken available on or off the bone, fried hake, ewa riro, and enthusiastically seasoned jollof rice.

Jerk in da Park

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Upon approaching the park on Coral Street, look out for the billowing plume of white smoke and the long queues during late week lunch times. Don’t be put off by the queue, however, as Jerk in da Park’s food is well worth the short wait. Generally open from 8 a.m. — 2 p.m. on week days, menus are posted on the stall’s Facebook page daily, which may include the likes of homemade sorrel, curry goat, rice and peas, pepper prawns, jerk chicken, jerk beef ribs, or jerk lamb chops. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the jerk meats are the key highlights, slowly smoked on an oil drum-style barbecue then hacked into manageable pieces with a comically oversized cleaver. Impeccably cooked meat is cloaked with a thick bark-like coating rife with allspice, thyme and Scotch bonnet that’s almost as warming as the service.

Himalayan Dumpling

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Running parallel to Waterloo Station, Lower Marsh Market is one of London’s longest running, having been operating since the 1800s. Although having become much smaller over the decades, the market is now home to a number of impressive street food stalls, including the likes of Himalayan Dumpling, open on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Momo are a specialty here, comprising Nepalese and Chinese influences, filled with either traditional mountain chicken with gentle spicing, a melange of vegetables and cheese, or ‘Go Green’ vegan momo with sesame seeds and spring onion. Three sauces are also available: a mild tomato and coriander relish, sesame tomato chutney, or an extra spicy daredevil chilli sauce.

Hannah Japanese restaurant

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Opened by chef Daisuke Shimoyama, formerly head chef at two Michelin-starred Umu in Mayfair, Hannah is a Japanese restaurant with quiet European influences. In addition to his role of chef patron here, Shimoyama is also a qualified sake sommelier, which is reflected in the list of rare and unusual sakes served. At lunch time, Hannah offers decent bento boxes, but the omakase menu is the main draw, at £135 per person. The quality of the food served is often outstanding: ideally sit at the bar and admire Shimoyama’s knife skills, as well as faultless sashimi platters and other dishes which change with the seasons. Think tempura monkfish with purple potato and vinegar crisps; deep fried abalone with caviar; cold soba fragrant with ginger; or Cornish spider crab rice with a deep crab sauce, ikura and black truffle.

Mamuśka! Polish Kitchen and Bar

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Occupying a cavernous space beneath the arches of Waterloo station, Mamuśka is now operating from its third space, having moved up the road from Elephant & Castle. In addition to a huge drinks selection, Mamúska champions comforting Polish food, with the menu offering classics alongside daily specials. Superlative versions of tender pork schabowy with mashed potatoes or Polish stew with sauerkraut are unsurprisingly popular, but the pierogi is arguably the main draw. With various fillings available, including goat’s cheese and spinach; pork; or sauerkraut and mushroom, the deeply comforting pierogi ruskie are best of all, filled with potato, onion and cottage cheese, then topped with fried bacon lardons.

GoGo Pocha

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A small restaurant on Lower Marsh, GoGoPocha serves an extensive hodgepodge of Korean staples from its time-honoured, laminated menus. Korean barbecue dishes join big pot stews, salads with sour-spicy dressings, fish soups, noodle dishes, and rice mainstays such as bibimbap served in a hot stone dish with various bolt-on toppings. Even better is the kimchi fried rice with ham, capped with a runny fried egg; while the whole barbecued eel and Korean fried chicken crowned with a mound of grated cheese are also essential orders.

Coleman Coffee Roasters

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An impressive south London coffee shop, Coleman Coffee Roasters’ first shop was opened by Jack Coleman in 2016. Taking over a former butcher’s, many of the original fixtures have been retained, including the chic terrazzo flooring and large shop-front windows that allow plenty of light to flood the neighbourhood coffee shop. Specialising in velvety South African coffee, the shop also has a small food offering, with superlative pastries, Staffordshire oatcakes, and Iranian nougat.

Masters Superfish

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One of London’s few chip shops of note, Masters Superfish is a Waterloo institution. While fish and chips is available to take away, there’s also space to eat in the canteen-like space, where a handful of complimentary shell-on prawns, crunchy wallys, pickled onions, bread and butter, and copious amounts of dipping sauce precede the main event. As for that fish and chips, all fish is sourced from Billingsgate with huge portions of chip shop classics cloaked with crisp batter and joined by golden chips, plus the occasional surprise: think battered mussels, grilled sardines, tiger prawns with garlic butter, or fried whitebait.

The Garden Cafe

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From a bright, conservatory-like space adjoined to the Garden Museum in Lambeth, The Garden Café serves a weekly changing menu of modern British and European dishes. Seasonality is key here, with dishes taking a relatively simple approach, rarely containing more than three core components, ultimately allowing the quality of the produce to stand out without being overwhelmed by anything not entirely necessary. Expect the likes of insalubrious rolled pig’s head slightly tamed by tart pickled rhubarb; monkfish tail with stewed artichokes, salsa verde and a buttery sauce; or bold smoked eel, horseradish and beetroot soup.

Tas Pide

With the first Tas restaurant having opened on The Cut in 1999, the group has since opened a small chain of restaurants, most of which are within a stone’s throw of the original. Continuing to focus on Anatolian cuisine, Tas Pide is particularly special, focussing on freshly baked Turkish pide with a variety of toppings. Highlights include the sucuklu pide crowned with garlicky beef sausage and peppers, or the vegetarian mantarli ispanakli pide with spinach, mushrooms, peas and leeks, both served with an optional egg on top for an extra flourish of decadence. Elsewhere, a good selection of grilled dishes from the mangal are also available alongside traditional Anatolian casseroles and both hot and cold meze staples.

Tate Modern Kitchen and Bar

On the sixth floor of the Natalie Bell Building, The Kitchen and Bar at Tate Modern boasts impressive skyline views across the river, plus a food menu that’s seasonally focused. Alongside a rotation of accomplished modern-European dishes, the restaurant also strives to continue the gallery experience by serving occasional artist-inspired dishes. Coinciding with the gallery’s Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition, for instance, the restaurant is currently serving a Dalí inspired special of ‘Rib of Beef with Cornballs’ (available until 29 August 2022), using Hereford sirloin from HG Walter, Catalonian calçots, and cornballs from the kitchen.

Limin' Beach Club

Comprising three outdoor beach spaces, cocktail bars and a Trinidadian-focussed food offering, Limin’ Beach Club opened during the summer of 2021, aiming to sate international travel cravings. On the Southbank, at Gabriel’s Wharf, the venue is a project from Trinidad-born Peckham resident Sham Mahabir, keen on championing Trinidadian food in the UK. Buttery roti features prominently here, with the flatbread accompanying the likes of boneless curry goat, caramelised chicken, sweet butternut squash and roasted cumin, chickpea and potato curry, or curry sweetcorn.

Pabellon Venezuelan Food

From a weekend stall at the Southbank Centre Food Market, Pabellon seeks to preserve generations of family recipes with its menu of Venezuelan food. With a fairly streamlined menu, the choices are broadly split into pabellon rice bowls and slightly sweet arepas loaded with various fillings. Served on a base of salted long grain rice, all pabellons comprise black beans, fried ripe plantain and pico de gallo, then topped with either chicken or — best of all — lightly spiced slow-cooked brisket that’s shredded. A vegan version is also available with just the base components. As for the arepas, the generously seasoned chicken, plantain and mounds of grated cheddar is a winning combination.

Mar I Terra

Opened in 2000, Mar i Terra doesn’t seem to have changed much over the past two decades. A classic tapas bar near Southwark station, the tapas bar doesn’t necessarily have the pizzaz of Barrafina or José, just down the road in Bermondsey, but it’s an unpretentious space which orders much of its produce from Spain and boasts a considered, entirely Spanish wine list, which is one of the main reasons to visit. The classic tapas dishes such as escalivada, croquetas, pan con tomate, or bouquerones comprising fat Cantabrian anchovies in wine vinegar are all ideal accompaniments to a cold glass of cava or an early 2000s rioja.

Union Viet Café

A small, family run business on Union Street, Union Viet Café serves a menu of Vietnamese classics from a homely space with friendly service. While the café is also open in the evening, it’s far more atmospheric at lunch. With the base slowly cooked overnight, following a recipe passed down through generations, pho and bun hue are the main draw here. The pho is available with different fillings, including chicken, pork, prawn, tofu, beef (best of all), or a combination, also loaded with flat noodles, sweet basil, coriander, chilli, and pho sauce. Lemongrass and tofu summer rolls are well worth ordering, as is the papaya salad with large prawns and plenty of red chilli.

Macellaio RC Union Street

The Union Street branch of Macellaio RC, which makes up part of Roberto Costa’s steakhouse group, doesn’t quite fit the blueprint of local Italian restaurants with their pasta-centric menus. But it is very much an Italian restaurant, with a prominent focus on exceptional Italian produce. Costa is well aware that Fassona beef from Piedmont is some of the best in the world, and is without the high prices of Kobe wagyu. For what’s easily one of the best steaks in London, go for the Fiorentina to be shared between two. The restaurant also offers a great selection of well-prepared offal dishes, if that’s your thing.

Tatale

Akwasi Brenya-Mensa’s debut restaurant is an evolution of his long-running supper clubs, and has taken over a large, bright space in partnership with the Africa Centre. Brenya-Mensa wants the restaurant’s integration with the cultural organisation to incubate a hub for the now and next generations of African chefs in London, and the menu — though rooted in his Ghanaian background — is accordingly and winningly dedicated to showing off the variousness of a continent so often reduced to a monolith. Ackee croquettes, omo tuo and nkatekwnan, and a red red stew are currently at the centre of the menu.

Passyunk Avenue

A true celebration of Philadelphia’s food and culture, Passyunk Avenue has finally opened its Waterloo site under the Leake Street arches. Joining restaurants in Fitzrovia and Westfield Stratford, Passunk Avenue’s menu is anchored around a loving interpretation of the classic Philly cheesesteak with thin slivers of ribeye steak packed into an Italian submarine roll, with or without caramelised onions and a selection of cheeses: provolone, American, or lurid cheese wiz sauce, which is recommended for first-timers. While an assortment of other dishes are served, sandwiches are clearly the restaurant’s forte, with additional highlights including the Philly style chicken parm sub with slightly sweet marinara, parmesan and provolone, or the sub roll loaded with homemade meatballs, tomato sauce and cheese.

Naija High Street

A street food line from Sisi Olonje caterers, Naija High Street also operates from Lower Marsh Market (Monday to Friday). A menu comprising classic and contemporary Nigerian dishes is offered here, using specially selected Nigerian ingredients. Highlights include generously spiced ayamase stew, rich stewed chicken available on or off the bone, fried hake, ewa riro, and enthusiastically seasoned jollof rice.

Jerk in da Park

Upon approaching the park on Coral Street, look out for the billowing plume of white smoke and the long queues during late week lunch times. Don’t be put off by the queue, however, as Jerk in da Park’s food is well worth the short wait. Generally open from 8 a.m. — 2 p.m. on week days, menus are posted on the stall’s Facebook page daily, which may include the likes of homemade sorrel, curry goat, rice and peas, pepper prawns, jerk chicken, jerk beef ribs, or jerk lamb chops. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the jerk meats are the key highlights, slowly smoked on an oil drum-style barbecue then hacked into manageable pieces with a comically oversized cleaver. Impeccably cooked meat is cloaked with a thick bark-like coating rife with allspice, thyme and Scotch bonnet that’s almost as warming as the service.

Himalayan Dumpling

Running parallel to Waterloo Station, Lower Marsh Market is one of London’s longest running, having been operating since the 1800s. Although having become much smaller over the decades, the market is now home to a number of impressive street food stalls, including the likes of Himalayan Dumpling, open on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Momo are a specialty here, comprising Nepalese and Chinese influences, filled with either traditional mountain chicken with gentle spicing, a melange of vegetables and cheese, or ‘Go Green’ vegan momo with sesame seeds and spring onion. Three sauces are also available: a mild tomato and coriander relish, sesame tomato chutney, or an extra spicy daredevil chilli sauce.

Hannah Japanese restaurant

Opened by chef Daisuke Shimoyama, formerly head chef at two Michelin-starred Umu in Mayfair, Hannah is a Japanese restaurant with quiet European influences. In addition to his role of chef patron here, Shimoyama is also a qualified sake sommelier, which is reflected in the list of rare and unusual sakes served. At lunch time, Hannah offers decent bento boxes, but the omakase menu is the main draw, at £135 per person. The quality of the food served is often outstanding: ideally sit at the bar and admire Shimoyama’s knife skills, as well as faultless sashimi platters and other dishes which change with the seasons. Think tempura monkfish with purple potato and vinegar crisps; deep fried abalone with caviar; cold soba fragrant with ginger; or Cornish spider crab rice with a deep crab sauce, ikura and black truffle.

Mamuśka! Polish Kitchen and Bar

Occupying a cavernous space beneath the arches of Waterloo station, Mamuśka is now operating from its third space, having moved up the road from Elephant & Castle. In addition to a huge drinks selection, Mamúska champions comforting Polish food, with the menu offering classics alongside daily specials. Superlative versions of tender pork schabowy with mashed potatoes or Polish stew with sauerkraut are unsurprisingly popular, but the pierogi is arguably the main draw. With various fillings available, including goat’s cheese and spinach; pork; or sauerkraut and mushroom, the deeply comforting pierogi ruskie are best of all, filled with potato, onion and cottage cheese, then topped with fried bacon lardons.

GoGo Pocha

A small restaurant on Lower Marsh, GoGoPocha serves an extensive hodgepodge of Korean staples from its time-honoured, laminated menus. Korean barbecue dishes join big pot stews, salads with sour-spicy dressings, fish soups, noodle dishes, and rice mainstays such as bibimbap served in a hot stone dish with various bolt-on toppings. Even better is the kimchi fried rice with ham, capped with a runny fried egg; while the whole barbecued eel and Korean fried chicken crowned with a mound of grated cheese are also essential orders.

Related Maps

Coleman Coffee Roasters

An impressive south London coffee shop, Coleman Coffee Roasters’ first shop was opened by Jack Coleman in 2016. Taking over a former butcher’s, many of the original fixtures have been retained, including the chic terrazzo flooring and large shop-front windows that allow plenty of light to flood the neighbourhood coffee shop. Specialising in velvety South African coffee, the shop also has a small food offering, with superlative pastries, Staffordshire oatcakes, and Iranian nougat.

Masters Superfish

One of London’s few chip shops of note, Masters Superfish is a Waterloo institution. While fish and chips is available to take away, there’s also space to eat in the canteen-like space, where a handful of complimentary shell-on prawns, crunchy wallys, pickled onions, bread and butter, and copious amounts of dipping sauce precede the main event. As for that fish and chips, all fish is sourced from Billingsgate with huge portions of chip shop classics cloaked with crisp batter and joined by golden chips, plus the occasional surprise: think battered mussels, grilled sardines, tiger prawns with garlic butter, or fried whitebait.

The Garden Cafe

From a bright, conservatory-like space adjoined to the Garden Museum in Lambeth, The Garden Café serves a weekly changing menu of modern British and European dishes. Seasonality is key here, with dishes taking a relatively simple approach, rarely containing more than three core components, ultimately allowing the quality of the produce to stand out without being overwhelmed by anything not entirely necessary. Expect the likes of insalubrious rolled pig’s head slightly tamed by tart pickled rhubarb; monkfish tail with stewed artichokes, salsa verde and a buttery sauce; or bold smoked eel, horseradish and beetroot soup.

Related Maps