The best South Bank restaurants

Looking for a restaurant on the South Bank? We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to, and compiled a handy list of the best eateries along the south side of the river Thames. From Mexican to British, there’s something for every taste.

Updated on 22 July 2019

Boasting some of London’s most iconic landmarks (as well as views of other London landmarks), the South Bank offers an abundance of fantastic restaurants. With the London Eye as its centrepiece and places such as the National Theatre, the London Aquarium and the Royal Festival Hall within its boundaries, South Bank really is one of London’s top destinations, teeming with culture.

The riverside at South Bank offers a busy, cosmopolitan ambience with visitors from around the world flocking here to enjoy its attractions. These include the South Bank skate park, covered in graffiti and filled with keen, young skaters; vibrant street food vendors showcasing the cuisine of the world; vintage book markets; and street performers.

Many of South Bank’s restaurants offer glorious riverside views and al fresco terraces, too, which add to their charm and draw. From clean-cut Nordic food, proud British grub and modern European, to Italian comfort food, exceptional cocktails and steak, the South Bank restaurant scene is varied and of high quality.

The never-ending battle of the riversides, with everyone living north of the river claiming it is the best, and everyone living south of the river arguing that, no, in fact, it is the south side that is the best, shows no signs of stopping. But perhaps these restaurants might add to the south’s ammo. The below list of best restaurants on South Bank will, at least, ensure access to the very best eateries situated in this vibrant riverside area of London.

Sea Containers at Mondrian London

Sea Containers at Mondrian London

20 Upper Ground, Southwark, London, SE1 9PD

The Mondrian hotel group does a good job of nodding to this venue’s maritime history with witty decorations including a yellow submarine suspended above the bar. Built in 1977, Sea Containers has been a landmark long before the restaurant opened in 2014, though. The menu is split into dishes from the field, sea and land, with some of our favourites including the crab on toasted sourdough, and the seared Cajun flank steak. Service is top-notch too.

£50 - £79
International
Lyaness at Sea Containers London

Lyaness at Sea Containers London

20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London, SE1 9PD

Occupying a sexy, Tom Dixon-designed room within the Mondrian London (part of the iconic Sea Containers), Lyaness is a worldwide destination for cocktail aficionados. Award-winning mixology maestro Ryan Chetiyawardana (also known as Mr Lyan) has designed a menu of botanically-themed sips, including a Nitrate Manhattan. There are cheaper cocktails in town, but you’ll struggle to find better. The good views make up for it too, and they can be enjoyed out on the cute and colourful terrace.

£30 - £49
British
Bars
Afternoon tea
OXO Tower Restaurant

OXO Tower Restaurant

Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9PH

Some would say the OXO Tower Restaurant is home to one of the best views in London, and we certainly have to agree it’s up there! It might not be the tallest of London’s high-flying buildings, but its location provides a unique outlook. The sophisticated menu here features the likes of chicken with a chestnut cream, bacon and oat crumble, and duck breast with a beetroot purée. The wine list is a cracker and the afternoon tea is also a hit. None of it comes cheap, but with that swoon-worthy view, it’s an ideal date-night location.

£50 - £79
British
Afternoon tea
Union Street Café

Union Street Café

47-51 Great Suffolk Street, Southwark, London, SE1 0BS

This Gordon Ramsay-backed restaurant perfects the ‘warehouse-chic’ look with exposed brick walls, concrete floors and industrial windows. Warm lighting is added for a more intimate feel, and service here is wonderful. Mediterranean is the fare on offer and presents itself in dishes such as warm buffalo mozzarella wrapped in gazpacho with raspberries and strawberries. Go for the whole lemon sole with peperonata and tomatoes to take in flavour delivered with serious skill, or devour the fresh, homemade pasta.

£30 - £49
Mediterranean
Bars
Italian
Skylon

Skylon

Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, Waterloo, London, SE1 8XX

Handy for a pre-theatre dinner or a more leisurely occasion meal, Skylon serves up uncomplicated dishes cooked to a high standard. Expect the likes of Scottish salmon in a lobster bisque, and lamb rump with spiced aubergine and purple sprouting broccoli. For dessert, go for the signature apple pie – a disc of pastry topped with slices of stewed apple and milk ice cream. Stunning decor and an impressive drinks list are further pluses, not to mention the epic views of the Thames and the rest of South Bank.

£50 - £79
British
Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden

Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London, SE1 8XX

This summer-only terrace and café on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall of the Southbank Centre is turfed and decked out with flowers and plants, making it a great place to hang out even when all the tables are taken. Views are epic and sunsets here are phenomenal. Food-wise, it’s in snack land, drinks-wise, it’s Pimm's all the way, plus wine and beer. South Bank also has a range of street-food vendors on either sides of the centre, so if a bigger meal is needed, it’s never too far out of reach.

Under £30
House Restaurant at the National Theatre

House Restaurant at the National Theatre

The National Theatre, Upper Ground, London, London, SE1 9PX

The brutalist concrete façade of the National Theatre has resurfaced on the walls of House Restaurant, the National Theatre’s flagship restaurant, and we like it. The comforting menu features steak tartare, treacle-cured salmon and fritto miso, for instance. Classic such as bavette steak with chips and Béarnaise also pleases. This is naturally a perfect spot for pre-theatre dining, but is well worth a visit outside of that, too. It’s well-priced and service is efficient and friendly.        

£30 - £49
Modern European
Meson Don Felipe

Meson Don Felipe

53 The Cut, London, SE1 8LF

This raucous tapas bar is a weathered London institution that still has a regular full house, just like it used to when it first opened in 1987. The food here (tuna croquetas; chicken livers in cherry sauce; fried bacalao with aïoli) always hit the spot, but it’s the Don’s lively atmosphere and value for money that will keep you coming back. With lots of Spanish wines and tapas-inspired food, there is also live flamenco music on certain nights, if you’re lucky.

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish
£30 - £49
Gillray

Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar

London Marriott County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, Southbank, London, London, SE1 7PB

Boasting an enviable view of the capital, Gillray’s is bulldog British to the core, decked out with Waterford chandeliers and original cartoons on the walls. Located  in the London Marriott County Hall hotel, the menu majors in excellent steaks, but sides of black pudding, baked bone marrow and duck eggs place it a cut above the competition. The English spirit continues in the bar, too, with gins aplenty and cocktails with ingredients and garnishes inspired by Gillray’s sketches.

£50 - £79
Steak
British
Anchor & Hope

Anchor & Hope

36 The Cut, London, SE1 8LP

This long-standing and well-respected South Bank gastropub is still loved by Londoners, despite a ‘no reservations’ policy (except for Sunday lunch), dishevelled interiors and jam-packed tables. A menu of Brit-accented dishes features garlic sausage with celeriac and mustard, or more traditional plates of seven-hour-cooked lamb shoulder with gratin dauphinoise, tomatoes and fennel seeds. There’s also a set one, two or three-course ‘Worker’s Lunch’ showcasing the likes of spiced aubergine salad, yoghurt and olive crumbs; whole roast mackerel with beetroot and horseradish; and lemon pot with cassis and shortbread. Much of the wine list is also below £25 – win. 

£30 - £49
Gastropub
OXO Tower Brasserie

OXO Tower Brasserie

Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9PH

Views are spotless with this restaurant’s location high up on the eighth floor of the much-loved OXO Tower. Food is just as good as the neighbouring OXO Tower restaurant, but prices are far cheaper – what’s there not to like about that? The easy-going restaurant serves up British food with vibrancy – soft-shell crab and watermelon salad, for instance, or grilled chicken with soft polenta, balsamic-pickled onions and Gorgonzola butter. Live jazz or mellow piano music form the soundtrack and the outdoor terrace makes this place packed in the summer.

£30 - £49
British
Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe

Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe

21 New Globe Walk, Southwark, London, SE1 9DT

Right on the river, this restaurant has one of the loveliest views on the South Bank – and it’s not even in a skyscraper! Star chef Allan Pickett has taken the reins at this best-of-British joint with a homely menu including honey and pepper-glazed duck breast, and steamed lemon sponge with honey and mascarpone ice cream. A global wine list seals the deal, making it the perfect pit stop before heading off to see the bard’s best work.

£50 - £79
British
Bars
Afternoon tea
Terrace at the National Theatre

Terrace at the National Theatre

Level 2, National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX

This is a natural al-fresco dining spot in SE1 and also offers great views of the river and the City. Situated on Level 2 of the National Theatre, it serves up global tapas, which means you can expect sea bream ceviche with steamed coconut bread, or four-cheese gnocchi with morels or cheese and charcuterie. There’s a fine line-up of bottled beers alongside international wines, but the main drink attraction is its seasonal cocktails – the signature Pumpkin Martini is a must come winter.

International
Wahaca Southbank

Wahaca Southbank

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX

The South Bank-based site of MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers’ colourful mini chain serves up equally colourful Mexican food on the terrace of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Made from old shipping containers and decorated with graffiti and multi-coloured murals, it captures both the spirit of the South Bank and of Mexico all in one go across its two floors. Chow down on signature tacos alongside more experimental stuff, all delivered with bold flavours and heaps of tequila.

Under £30
Mexican
Tate Modern Restaurant

Tate Modern Restaurant

Switch House, Level 9, Tate Modern, Southbank, London, SE1 9TG

The Tate Modern’s vast flagship restaurant boasts fabulous views (although they disappear when you sit down) alongside a concise menu of carefully-sourced British dishes. Pick from the likes of roast chicken breast with a black garlic and truffle mayo, before choosing a wine from the dreamy 100-strong wine list, which features both classic and unusual bottles. The dining room is stripped-back and decked out in raw oak and concrete with industrial details such as pendant light bulbs.

£50 - £79
British

Not fussed if it’s north or south? Our list of the best riverside restaurants in London should do you nicely then. Good views of the river are ensured, alongside wonderful, global-spanning food.