One of London's most iconic features is the River Thames; as the longest river in England, it winds its way through the city, cruising past many of London's famous landmarks, bridges, buildings, and, most importantly, appearing in the opening credits of EastEnders. Plus, it's home to some of the best riverside restaurants in London. Days out in London reap the benefits of the river with cruises helping tourists explore, museums explaining the history of the river and London's past, and impressive bridges ideally placed over it to offer the perfect tourist pictures of Big Ben and the London Eye.
Miles of riverside certainly make for a pretty view and it's not just tourists that flock to the Thames' banksides - some of the world's top chefs have found their sea legs along the river too, bringing the city some incredibly unique dining spots. There's nothing more relaxing than taking a break from fast-paced London life and dining by the river, especially in the warmer months on the multitude of outdoor terraces.
Whether your looking for a celebratory meal or simple after-work drinks, there are plenty of places to turn your average dinner into a waterside gastronomical experience. Soak up the sunshine at some of London's oldest waterside pubs or enjoy afternoon tea in a contemporary setting while you watch luxury yatchts bobbing on the water.
There really is something magical about dining by the Thames. By day - watch boats and playful wildlife in the water; by night - the water mirrors the glittering lights of the city's skyline. To honour this magic, we've created a guide to the best riverside dining in London from central city spots to dining canal-side in Little Venice. So, it's time to wave goodbye to boring sights as you cast your sights on the silvery Thames. 'Water' you waiting for? Grab some friends and enjoy all that London's riverside dining scene has to offer.
The best riverside restaurants in London
In the mood for some waterside dining? These fine establishments have you covered, from riverside terraces to restaurants housed in old grain barges.
What: Fiume means river in Italian, so no prizes for guessing that charming riverside views are part of the package here. Sunny Sicilian cuisine comes to the fore with plates that include crab and Amalfi lemon tagliolini, decadent burrata tortelli and a range of juicy meat dishes. Dine on the the large al fresco terrace and feast on a traditional tiramisu while surrounded by the sounds of lapping waves, gorgeous olive trees and fragrant potted herbs.
Where: Sopwith Way, SW8 5BN
Book now: Fiume
Beit El Zaytoun, Harlesden
What: Beit El Zaytoun brings stylish Lebanese cuisine to the banks of the Thames. A welcoming, open dining room features large windows, twinkling lights, live greenery and garden-style furniture; even if you're dining inside, the interiors make sure you're treated to only the best sights. Out on the terrace, the space is perfect for warmer nights - relax with friends and share plates of hot or cold mezze including falafel, baba ghanoush and halloumi.
Where: 15-17 Barretts Green Road, NW10 7AE
Book now: Beit El Zayoun
Sea Containers Restaurant, South Bank
What: Situated right along the River Thames, Sea Containers’ menu boasts options that range ‘From the Sea’, ‘From the Land’ and ‘From the Field’. Plates such as sea bass ceviche tacos, crab toast, and lobster and fries are among the dining options at this riverside joint. Finish off with a choice of desserts, which tend to be fun takes on classics, such as a baked cheesecake with wild strawberries.
Where: 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD
Book now: Sea Containers Restaurant
Le Pont de la Tour, Bermondsey
What: With riverside views of Tower Bridge, this French restaurant is perfect for some waterside dining, as well as a good photo op. The menu serves up elaborately plated, intricate dishes that draw on international influences as well as classic French flavours. If you're nabbing a seat on the riverside terrace, you can't really go wrong with oysters or a plat de fruits de mer with a glass of crisp Chablis. Consider finishing off with classic French crepes or, if you don't have a sweet tooth, the selection of French cheeses.
Where: 36d Shad Thames, SE1 2YE
Book now: Le Pont de la Tour
Coppa Club Putney
What: Large, inviting and dressed up to the nines, Coppa Club knows how to outfit a site and the Putney location is a stunner, with colourful, soothing interiors that look like something out of a Farrow & Ball catalogue. Still, the real fun is actually outside on the terrace, which puts you right next to the river, preferably with a tiramisu martini in hand.
Where: 29 Brewhouse Lane, SW15 2JX
Book now: Coppa Club Putney
Rotunda, King's Cross
What: Offering a break from the river and a visit to Regent’s Canal, Rotunda’s large waterside terrace is a pleasantly serene contrast to the bustling offices above it. The kitchen takes full advantage of the owner’s farm and butchery in Northumberland for well-aged slabs of beef and flat-iron steaks, offered alongside lighter starters such as grilled asparagus with black garlic, or a heritage tomato and burrata salad.
Where: 90 York Way, N1 9AG
Book now: Rotunda
Hithe + Seek, City of London
What: With a large window offering fantastic views of the Thames and surrounding city, Hithe + Seek is a great, luxury spot for drinks at a riverside restaurant in London. The internationally inspired wine and cocktail bar also offers a thoughtfully designed food menu, with paired wines, featuring dishes like lamb kofta, grilled octopus, or duck terrine. Homemade rolls, crackers, chutneys and olives all make perfect accompaniments to an evening of drinks by the riverside.
Where: 60 Upper Thames Street, EC4V 3AD
Book now: Hithe + Seek
Bread Street Kitchen On The River, Limehouse
What: While it might not be the most impressive of Ramsay's ventures, Bread Street Kitchen On The River is a great riverside spot for post-work drinks or catching up with friends over plates of delicious food. The menu is kept relatively simple but offers a range of flavours from classic fish and chips to butter chicken curry with saffron rice. Perfect for sunny weather, the barbecue menu is a sharing concept of meats and sides from the grill, finished off with a selection of ice cream to cool you down on a hot day in the city.
Where: 44 Narrow Street, E14 8DP
Book now: Bread Street Kitchen On The River
Tavolino, London Bridge
What: Tavolino’s bohemian-chic, two-storey dining room and bar is perfectly suited to dining and drinking in the sunshine. Head to the upper floor for the best views, where huge windows give you a front row seat of Tower Bridge and surrounding landmarks. Tavolino’s traditional Italian menu holds up its end of the bargain too, ranging from delicious Sicilian antipasti to pasta and classic desserts like affogato.
Where: Unit 1, Riverside, 2 More London, SE1 2DA
Book now: Tavolino
Skylon, South Bank
What: On the third floor of the Royal Festival Hall, you get the best of both worlds thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that provide views of the Thames and the city's skyline. While the cooking is pretty uncomplicated; fresh, carefully sourced ingredients elevate classics like fish and chips and sticky toffee pudding to impressive levels. If the riverside dining views aren't doing enough to draw you in, the drinks menu will as it hosts a wide range of international wines.
Where: Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
Book now: Skylon
The Lighterman, King's Cross
What: Lively and fun, this riverside dining spot features wrap-around terraces that make the most of its prime location. As an all day dining and drinking establishment, the menu features all the old school classics like fish and chips, however the real star of the show is the wood-fired grill. Chargrilled chicken, rib eye steak and a range of flatbread dishes transform a typical pub menu into an exciting, contemporary riverside restaurant.
Where: 3 Granary Square, N1C 4BH
Book now: The Lighterman
Coppa Club Tower Bridge
What: Coppa Club Tower Bridge’s main calling card is an impressive one - a stunning view overlooking the Tower of London, Thames and HMS Belfast. Throw in Coppa Club’s easy-going European menu, smart cocktail list and all-day cafe offering and it’s no wonder this fantastic site is permanently buzzing.
Where: 3 Three Quays Walk, Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6AH
Book now: Coppa Club Tower Bridge
Swan at the Globe, South Bank
What: As far as riverside dining in London goes, the Swan has a pretty decent claim to fame with its views of both the Thames, St Paul's, and its convenience for theatre-goers. It has a very reasonable 'River View' set menu alongside a normal a la carte, that is served daily and features easy-going modern British cooking, alongside a selection of Neal's Yard cheeses.
Where: 21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT
Book now: Swan at the Globe
Butlers Wharf Chop House, Southwark
What: Wood-panelling, wooden furniture, and lots of light all merge to make a decidedly nautical-style interior at Butlers Wharf Chop House. While riverside dining in London is a great excuse to feast on seafood, it's the robata grill that is the most impressive thing here. Fillets, sirloins, rib-eyes and T-bones are all cooked over hot charcoals to seal in those mouthwatering flavours; plus with an extensive wine list to accompany your meaty feast, this is a real treat when it comes to riverside restaurants.
Where: 36E Shad Thames, SE1 2YE
Book now: Butlers Wharf Chop House
Maria G’s, Fulham
What: This bright and breezy all-day brasserie has nabbed a gorgeous spot right by the Thames at Fulham Riverside, and delivers an easy-going menu that is perfect to enjoy in the sunshine. The menu features classic cooking with a bit of Mediterranean influence - think pan-seared chicken breast with sundried tomato risotto and basil oil - alongside accessible fare like burgers, fish and chips, and rib-eye steak with truffled chips and Cafe de Paris butter.
Where: 20 Central Avenue, SW6 2QE
Book now: Maria G’s Fulham
Barge East, Stratford
What: Barge East has a permanent spot moored up in Hackney Wick, sitting pretty in between the River Lea and the green pastures of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The buzzy, intimate atmosphere is a pleasure to be in, but Barge East also offers genuinely thoughtful, seasonal cookery that has made it a favourite neighbourhood spot with Wick locals.
Where: White Post Lane, E9 5EN
Book now: Barge East
Chokhi Dhani, Battersea
What: Chokhi Dhani’s maximalist decor (a life-size bronze elephant greets you at the door) and peaceful riverside location make it a popular spot, especially in the summer when small plates, tandoor grills and bowls of kulfi are in full flow. Indian-themed cocktails and an innovative wine wine list also earn plus points from us.
Where: 2 Riverlight Quay, SW8 5AW
Book now: Chokhi Dhani
Towpath Cafe, Dalston
What: The opening of the Towpath Cafe signals the end of winter in east London, closely followed by queues snaking along the canalside. Catering for breakfast, lunch and dinner, tables at Towpath are in high demand and it’s no wonder, thanks to exceptional seasonal cooking, great bakery treats and excellent coffee.
Where: 42 De Beauvoir Crescent, N1 5SB
Book now: Towpath Cafe
What: Scott’s Richmond location is, dare we say it, even more opulent than the original, with vast silver columns, magnificent artwork on the walls and crystal chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings. The seafood is, predictably, wonderful, and you can enjoy it next to the twinkling waters of the Thames right by Richmond Bridge.
Where: 4 Whittaker Avenue, TW9 1EH
Book now: Scott’s Richmond
Ombra, Bethnal Green
What: Ombra’s canal-side location (just down from Cafe Cecilia in fact) perfectly matches the breezy Venetian vibe of this cicchetti spot. One of London’s more underrated Italian restaurants, you can expect daily chalkboard menus and accessible small plates, as well as some excellent pasta dishes and plenty of traditional Venetian ‘spritzs’.
Where: 1 Vyner Street, E2 9DG
Book now: Ombra
Cafe Cecilia, Hackney
What: Chef Max Rocha’s previous experience at The River Cafe, St John Bread & Wine, and Spring, has stood him in good stead at this ultra-trendy spot between Bethnal Green and London Fields. The minimal, ingredient-led menu is straight out of the St John playbook - think sage and anchovy fritti, glistening terrines and lamb leg with sprouting broccoli. Good luck getting a table, particularly the little outdoor ones just over the road from the canal.
Where: 32 Andrews Road, E8 4FX
Book now: Cafe Cecilia
What: Admittedly, you can’t sit al fresco by the water at Caravel, but it’s a small price to pay for being in one of London’s most charming, unique dining rooms. Nearby Studio Kitchen offers more traditional outdoor vibes, but Caravel’s heart-warming, nostalgic British cooking has made it an instant hit in London.
Where: 172 Shepherdess Walk, N1 7JL
Book now: Caravel
Peggy Jean, Richmond
What: The Daisy Green group has done a smart job of repurposing barges in various parts of London, turning them into moored restaurants. Peggy Jean is the largest and most impressive of those, and it’s quite something on a sunny day in Richmond, catering for everything from Aussie-inspired brunches to freshly-baked pizzas and small-plate suppers with cocktails.
Where: Bridge Boathouses, TW9 1TH
Book now: Peggy Jean
What: A great location for a summery meal, this low-lit, casual Italian eatery near the Olympic Park boasts canal-side dining and refreshingly outstanding drinks, including Negronis. With a menu that changes daily, diners can enjoy items such as deep fried squid with lemon mayo or focaccia Pugliese, before enjoying a main of paccheri alla Carbonara or Cornish cod with peppers.
Where: 27 East Bay Lane, E15 2GW
Book now: Gotto
The Summerhouse, Maida Vale
What: Dreamily located by the banks of Little Venice, this breezy venue offers canal-side dining with sunny echoes of a Long Island beach retreat. Seafood is the main culinary event, as options include homemade fishcakes with watercress sauce or whole-baked sea bream. Reminiscent of a Cape Cod getaway, The Summerhouse is ideal for a balmy London evening, finished off with a refreshing lemon posset or seasonal fruit clafoutis.
Where: 60 Bloomfield Road, W9 2PA
Book now: The Summerhouse
The River Cafe, Hammersmith
What: This Hammersmith riverside restaurant needs little introduction, and has entrancing views and a seductive riverside terrace that are the perfect combination for a gorgeous London day. Hyper-seasonal menus take great influence from Mediterranean and regional Italian cuisine, dancing elegantly between antipasti, primi, pasta, secondi and dessert. The menu changes constantly but you can always expect the River Cafe to be a depiction of the season, with food cooked to be eaten and enjoyed, rather than admired. Must-orders include pasta dishes, homemade gelato, and the famous Chocolate Nemesis cake.
Where: Rainville Road, W6 9HA
Book now: The River Cafe
Bravas Tapas, Wapping
What: Riverside dining in London takes on a whole new meaning at Bravas Tapas, where Spanish tapas plates will transport you from waterside views of the Thames, to waterside dining along the sandy beaches of Costa Del Sol. Iberian pork belly, croquetas, crispy prawns and potatas bravas provide the perfect taste of Spain, further complemented by a glass of Sangria. Dine surrounded by candelabras, fresh flowers and exposed brick or al-fresco on the terrace - just make sure you schedule in a siesta after all that delicious food.
Where: St Katherine's Docks, E1W 1AT
Book now: Bravas Tapas
London Shell Co., Paddington
What: Dining by the river, or dining on the river? I think we know what we'd pick. London Shell Co. on board The Prince Regent makes for a quirky riverside dining experience. Opt for the lunch or dinner set cruise and enjoy your seafood with ever-changing views of the river. You might find dishes of trout, stone bass, crab or Cornish cod on the daily changing menu of fresh British seafood. If you can't quite stomach floating down Regent's Canal as you dine, London Shell Co. also has a static riverside spot, The Grand Duchess, serving an a la carte menu.
Where: Sheldon Square, W2 6EP
Book now: London Shell Co.
Rick Stein, Barnes
What: No riverside restaurant list would be complete without Rick Stein. His Barnes dining experience provides a sanctuary from fast-paced London life brought about by idyllic views of the Thames - a nod to Stein's Cornish heritage. It is not just the location that will get you reminiscing about summer holidays by the seaside though; the menu boasts a fine selection of fish and seafood while adding exciting twists.
Where: 125 Mortlake High Street, SW14 8SN
Book now: Rick Stein
River View, Wapping
What: The name gives its impressive location away, but in terms of riverside dining in London, River View is definitely up there as one of the best for Chinese food. With an al fresco terrace, diners can feast upon seafood with an Asian twist; try the likes of crab with chilli and salt, monkish hotpot with ginger and spring onion, or even scallops in a classic black bean sauce. While everyone's favourites, like crispy duck and pancakes, are still on the menu, you don't want to skip the seafood at this riverside spot.
Where: New Crane Place, E1W 3TU
Book now: River View
Cafe Spice Namaste, Woolwich
What: This is a true hidden gem if you're on the hunt for Indian fare along the river. Chef Cyrus Todiwala brings award-winning food and a unique dining experience full of authentic Parsee culture to London. You're sure to find some familiar dishes on the menu such as homemade papads, halloumi sashlik and naan breads; however Cyrus also brings excitement with dishes like grilled trout marinated in green chutney or venison tikka. This riverside dining spot in London is a real treat for the taste buds.
Where: 1-2 Lower Dock Walk, E16 2GT
Book now: Cafe Spice Namaste
High Timber, City of London
What: A wall of glass makes for the perfect view across the Thames to the Tate Modern at this riverside restaurant. Simple, contemporary interiors meet slight South African touches to create a unique, peaceful dining experience. Sip on a glass of South African wine from the Jordan wine estate before perusing a menu inspired by flavours of the motherland. Homemade biltong is followed by the likes of a simple burger or a rich brown butter gnocchi; but the fillet steaks from grass-fed herds are sure to be difficult to pass up.
Where: 8 High Timber Street, EC4V 3PA
Book now: High Timber
The best riverside bars in London
When the British summer sun finally shows it's face, where better to congregate with a few pals and enjoy a cold pint than by one of London's many rivers, canals and waterways?
The Lowback Bar, Canary Wharf
What: The Lowback Bar is run by steak supremo Hawksmoor, which, as any Hawksmoor fanatic knows, also does an absolutely brilliant line in cocktails. This bar shifts the focus over to the group’s drinks offering, dishing up all manner of innovative cocktails, from iconic big-hitters to easy-sipping ‘Sundowners’. Sure, the wharf outside isn’t a ‘river’ by any definition, but if you’re looking for somewhere waterside to enjoy some of the best cocktails in London, The Lowback is the place.
Where: 1 Water Street, E14 5GX
Book now: The Lowback Bar
Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich
What: This historic Greenwich boozer dates way back to 1837 (Charles Dickens and William Gladstone both drank here in their times), and it has claimed a prime spot on the banks of the Thames ever since. Wait for high tide, then sit in one of the bay windows - ideally with a pint of guest ale - and let the peaceful enjoyment of the Thames ebb and flow wash over you (not literally, though it may feel like you’re practically in the water).
Where: Park Row, SE10 9NW
Book now: Trafalgar Tavern
OXO Tower Bar, Southwark
What: OXO Tower really puts up a good case for being one of the best riverside spots in London; with views of St Paul's, the London Eye and the Thames below, you really can't ask for much more. Located on the top floor, the expert team of mixologists create cocktails that are almost as beautiful as the views. Treat yourself to an evening of drinks and whet your appetite with large plates like the OXO Wagyu burger or crispy fried squid.
Where: Barge House Street, SE1 9PH
Book now: OXO Tower Bar
Tattershall Castle, Embankment
What: You want to be by the river? How about, in the river? The Tattershall Castle is a pub housed on a permanently-moored Thames riverboat, with multiple floors spanning a gastropub restaurant and bar. Grab a seat up top to enjoy the view (you can see the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament from here) or head to the lower decks for a more classic pub vibe.
Where: Victoria Embankment, SW1A 2HR
Book now: Tattershall Castle
Crate Brewery, Hackney
What: When Dougie McMaster’s trailblazing restaurant Silo arrived in London, where else would it land but Hackney? Perhaps the only true zero-waste restaurant in the city, Silo is as delicious as it is sustainable. Even better, it's housed inside Hackney Wick’s Crate Brewery, which sits right by the Hackney Cut - stop by for a pint of something delicious and watch canal boats drift by in the sun.
Where: Queens Yard, E9 5EN
Book now: Crate Brewery
The Gun, Canary Wharf
What: With its striking riverside location, The Gun is full of possibilities for balmy evenings and lazy Sundays. Owned by Fuller’s brewery, the menu boasts posh nosh such as west Mersea rock oysters and a rack of lamb to gorge on during a leisurely summer evening. Plus with a Sunday menu, it would be quite a feat to find a better spot to tuck into a Sunday roast in London.
Where: 27 Coldharbour, E14 9NS
Book now: The Gun
The Old Ship, Hammersmith
What: The combination of the traditional 1850's building and its modern, nautical refurbishments makes The Old Ship a beautiful, riverside spot in West London. A gorgeous terrace is matched by the bright, airy interiors so you can dine with a view even throughout the colder months. The head chef does not mess around with the classics, presenting high-quality family pub favourites like pies, burgers, sausage and mash, and fish and chips. Plus with a traditional roast with all the trimmings served on a Sunday, The Old Ship takes proper British pub grub and steps it up a notch or two.
Where: 25 Upper Mall, W6 9TD
Book now: The Old Ship
The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping
What: Ever wondered what the oldest riverside restaurant in London is? According to The Prospect of Whitby, it's here. Dating back to 1520, the pub was a popular spot for sailors, smugglers and even the likes of Charles Dickens back in the day. Now a Greene King pub, the menu is full of traditional grub - think pies, roasts, fish and chips or sausage and mash. Dine in an old-fashioned, wood-panelled dining area or out on the terrace with Wapping's riverside shoreline as your backdrop.
Where: 57 Wapping Wall, E1W 3SH
Book now: The Prospect of Whitby
What: Just down the way on the Regent's Canal you'll find Bruno's - a cocktail bar housed inside a Dutch grain barge. Serving an innovative cocktail list and a handful of easy snacks (olives, pickled, cured meats and the like), Bruno's is a wonderful mood-lit hangout.
Where: 172 Shepherdess Walk, N1 7JL
Book now: Bruno's Bar
Riverside dining in London certainly leaves you spoilt for choice; the glistening Thames provides some pretty impressive and memorable sights. Thirsty for even more gorgeous views in London? Check out our list of 29 of the best rooftop bars in London and keep your fingers crossed for sunny weather!