The Southbank and Bankside along the River Thames holds a special place in many a heart of Londoners and visitors alike. We can all recall a romantic moment, an inspiring moment or a captivating moment that took place in our lives somewhere between Westminster Bridge and London Bridge. There’s so much to see and do along that side of Thames: the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, Borough Market, the National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall, the BFI, the London Eye. At some point in your memorable journey along this stretch of river, you’ll need to stop off and eat. Here, then, are the best restaurants along the river to satisfy your hungered needs.
Skylon Restaurant & Bar
South Bank & Bankside / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: European
Located within the Royal Festival Hall, Skylon restaurant offers a spectacular panorama of London's skyline with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the River Thames. A destination restaurant and a relaxed, informal grill centre around a raised bar serving classic and contemporary cocktails. If you're taking someone to a show, this is the place to dine.
OXO Tower Restaurant
South Bank & Bankside / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
As you would expect, eating here is not cheap, but some would say the view over the Southbank and beyond towards St Paul's Cathedral is worth the hefty price tag alone; although the food is really decent. For a cheaper alternative to seeing London from above, there's the terrace bar where you can have an equally memorable evening soaking up the vista, helped along by a cocktail or two.
South Bank & Bankside / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Eclectic
Inspired by the golden age of transatlantic travel and the bounty of local fresh produce from Borough Market, Sea Containers restaurant combines the best of England and America, creating a refined offering that's youthful and casual. Seasonally contemplated, globally responsible, locally sourced and perfectly presented, Sea Containers' modern dining room is perfect for lunch by the river, sunset cocktails, or an enchanting dinner.
Borough & Southwark / Restaurant / Cuisine: Meat
Mark Hix's restaurant Hixter Bankside is ideally situated across from the Tate Modern, and just a short walk from Borough Market, and with its great design and unique commissions, Hixter Bankside has become a distinctive addition to the neighbourhood, and ideal for those hungry for art. Hixter Bankside builds on Mark's already well-liked concept of serving a whole roast chicken or steaks to share. Mark's Bar, a second outpost of Mark Hix's award-winning Soho cocktail bar is located in the basement, with stunning 'New York' style design and a cocktail menu championing British drinks.
Union Street Cafe
South Bank & Bankside / Restaurant / Cuisine: Italian
Although not strictly on Southbank or Bankside along the river, Gordon Ramsay's Union Street Café gets a mention because it lives in the heart of London's most thriving food borough, nearby Borough Market and Maltby Street Market. With Head Chef Davide Degiovanni at the helm, the restaurant focuses on ingredient-lead dishes, sourcing speciality produce from the Mediterranean, with an emphasis on Italian artisan producers. Worth the 5-minute walk in from the Thames.
South Bank & Bankside / Restaurant / Cuisine: Meat
Bankside has a smoking hot addition to its dining scene in Porky's BBQ, specialising in Memphis-style smoked meats, unique cocktails with an Americana twist and a fantastic range of bourbons, rye whiskies and craft beers. Hardcore meat eaters will appreciate Porky's no-fuss menu, which uses a traditional Memphis-style grill and Oklahoma smokers to create authentic slow-cooked American barbecue dishes. The main act includes Memphis meaty ribs and tips, which are dry-rubbed and gently smoked low andslow over hickory wood, then served with Porky's very own homemade BBQ sauce. Other guilty pleasures include the must-try hounddogs.
South Bank & Bankside / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
Following the success of the first Albion in Shoreditch, designer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran and his business partner Peter Prescott launched a second site at the Lord Rogers-designed NEO Bankside in Southwark. A large dining space, a small shop selling local produce, and a heated terrace all overlook the Tate Modern making it a great spot to enjoy long-established British recipes and ingredients from some of the UK's best suppliers at the nearby Borough and Maltby Street Markets. Enjoy a range of London & Kent brewed beers, organic ciders and carefully selected wines all within a stone's throw of the sights that occupy the Southbank.
London Bridge & Bermondsey / Restaurant / Cuisine: Italian
Presenting an irresistible riot of colour, aroma and flavour against a backdrop of handcrafted tiles, local Apulian stone, glass and wood, Pulia's shelves and counters are brimming with a wide array of produce. Here customers will find focaccia, panzerotti, pizza rustica, parmigiana, salads, dried pastas, olive oils, wine, cheeses and cured meats, along with natural juices, organic smoothies, specialist coffees and the famous pasticciotto (Puglia's version of a custard pie). Simple Italian food just when you need it: lunchtime.
The Green Room
Waterloo / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
The Green Room is a neighbourhood restaurant, bar and garden serving delicious, ethically-sourced British diner food. It?s a unique collaboration between the National Theatre and local social enterprise Coin Street Community Builders. Inside the restaurant building you?ll find an airy, contemporary space featuring props and scenery recycled from National Theatre shows. Surrounding The Green Room is an urban oasis: a sustainable garden designed and maintained by the Bankside Open Spaces Trust with volunteers from the theatre and local area. All profits from this restaurant support the National Theatre and local communities.
Waterloo / Restaurant / Cuisine: Japanese
Offering freshly-made sushi at affordable prices, Feng Sushi restaurants have established a popular reputation for providing London with classic sushi dishes, prepared with sustainable produce. An ethically-focused chain of sushi restaurants, Feng Sushi sources its fish from within European borders. There is also a wide range of Japanese beers, sake, wine, green tea and soft drinks to accompany your meal. Feng Sushi at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank makes a great dining option for anyone going to the National Theatre or The Hayward Gallery. It's also just a short walk from Borough Market, the Tate Modern or Shakespeare's Globe theatre.
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