There’s no denying that London Bridge is one of the capital’s mightiest hubs. With Borough Market, the riverside and The Shard all right here, it’s an indispensable location for Londoners and tourists alike. Our guide will help you make the most of the area, with all picks located within a 15-minute walk from London Bridge station.
Aqua Shard Level 31, The Shard 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY (above)
Staying head and shoulders above the high-rise competition, Aqua Shard recently employed Dale Osborne as executive chef (previously of Dinner by Heston). Breakfast choices include Colchester Blue lobster benedict and an ‘express’ option (juice, coffee/tea, pastry) if time is tight.
Monmouth Coffee 2 Park Street, SE1 9AB
More than 30 years old, this trailblazing company nurtures fair relationships with its worldwide suppliers and happily, the coffee is phenomenal. It’s a casual affair with pastries, cakes and amazing smells.
Roast Floral Hall, Stoney Street, SE1 1TL
The mighty cooked breakfasts are legendary at this handsome, high-ceilinged crowd-pleaser. The ‘Full Borough’ includes smoked streaky bacon, sausages, fried bread, black pudding, grilled tomato, field mushrooms, bubble ‘n’ squeak and your choice of eggs.
Arabica Bar & Kitchen 3 Rochester Walk, Borough Market, SE1 9AF (above)
Arabica started as a popular food and spice stall, so its location deep in Borough Market is a fitting one. Its dramatic setting beneath a railway arch, superb ahmacun (Armenian pizza) and range of Middle Eastern/international small plates make for a fun lunch.
Elliot’s 12 Stoney Street, Borough Market, SE1 9AD
This buzzy New York-style eatery has a massive communal table at its centre and a tidy selection of regularly changing, provenance-driven dishes. At lunchtime, you might find pork cheek with chorizo and creamy judion beans, or you can always depend on the signature cheeseburger.
Magdalen 152 Tooley Street, SE1 2TU
Tucked away from the bustle of London Bridge, this elegant, grown-up restaurant is worth seeking out for top British produce crossed with classic French technique. There’s a good-value set lunch menu, with dishes including roast hake, samphire and sea purslane.
Lobos Meat & Tapas Bar 14 Borough High Street, SE1 9QG (above)
Created by friends who met while working for renowned Spanish group Brindisa, Lobos incorporates a bar, kitchen and cave-like dining area. Grab a cosy booth for two and start with the pan con tomate, and ham, chorizo and smoked bacon croquetas.
Texas Joe's Slow Smoked Meats 8-9 Snowsfields, SE1 3SU
Joe Walters is a Texas native, so while his restaurant’s location between London Bridge and Bermondsey High Street feels a bit marooned, the food is the real deal. The menu covers all the smoky meat bases, or you could make a whole meal from sides of bacon-wrapped jalapeños and cakey corn bread with chilli butter.
Vivat Bacchus 4 Hays Lane, SE1 2HB
If you’re commuting, this restaurant and wine bar is ideally located just yards from the station. South African wines feature heavily (it’s where the owners are from), although most countries get a look-in. A menu including crocodile burger and grilled halloumi with Lilliput capers is available in both the ground-floor bar and basement dining room. There’s also a cheese room – what more could you possibly need?
Padella 6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ
The team behind much-loved Highbury Italian Trullo have well and truly nailed it here, with a simple list of superb pasta dishes. You can’t book and there’s always a queue, but this one is worth your time.
Worth paying a bit more for…
Wright Brothers Borough 11 Stoney Street, SE1 9AD
Wright Brothers now have outlets across the capital, but this is where it all began for London's uncrowned oyster kings. Everyone loves the relaxed vibe and service is just right. The briny oysters are a must, but the daily menu takes in various other seafood wonders too, from smoked mackerel pâté and potted shrimps to turbot or brill with cavolo nero, turnips and horseradish sauce.
Restaurant Story 201 Tooley Street, SE1 2UE
Tom Sellers' Michelin-starred eatery is best experienced via the Full Story tasting menu, from the now-famous bread and dripping (a fully functioning beef-dripping candle for dunking sourdough) to a barrage of fast-paced snacks. Matching drinks are equally imaginative, while service is elegant and confident – you'll feel in safe hands as this gastronomic story unfolds.
Pay to go up the viewing deck at The Shard, or spend the same on two cocktails? Exactly. You can’t go wrong with a Shard bar.
Aqua Shard level 31 (above)
A slick, sexy Manhattan-style loft space with a lengthy cocktail and wine list
Oblix level 32
Live music and cocktails inspired by US history are the trademarks here
Hutong level 33 (above)
Dark, moody surroundings and sharp cocktails with an oriental twist
Gong level 52
Part of The Shard’s Shangri-La hotel, it’s the highest bar in Western Europe
Prefer the ground? Here are some other bars worth checking out.
Call Me Mr Lucky 11 Southwark Street, SE1 1RQ (above)
With no signs to help, you'd be hard pushed to know about this massively fun, honky-tonk drinking dive in the basement of The Breakfast Club – you reach the bar itself through the restaurant's kitchen.
Cecil’s 8 Holyrood Street, SE1 2EL
This hidden, speakeasy-style bar is a real one-off among London's outré lounges, with no holds barred and virtually nothing off-limits. Expect two-for-one cocktails until 9pm on Wednesdays, cabaret on Thursdays and live music on Saturdays (make sure to book tickets for that last one).
Tom’s Kitchen Bar & Deli at HMS Belfast HMS Belfast, The Queen's Walk, SE1 2JH
One of London’s longstanding tourist attractions, this Second World War vessel is permanently moored between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. From this quayside deli and bar alongside, the views are phenomenal, with The Shard on one side of the river and the Tower of London opposite.
London Grind 2 London Bridge, SE1 9RA
The Grind empire already encompasses cafés in Shoreditch, Soho and Holborn, but this is its first restaurant. Brunch staples include the London Grind, a generous full English with twists such as chorizo sausages and cannellini beans in moreish tomato sauce.
Rabot 1745 2-4 Bedale Street, Borough Market, SE1 9AL
The notion of a chocolate-filled menu might seem gimmicky, but the team behind Hotel Chocolat mostly pull it off here, reimagining a Saint Lucian plantation house where roasted cacao dominates the food and cocktail lists. Expect to leave choc-full, thanks to the likes of giant Yorkshire pudding filled with cacao-glazed pulled pork and white-chocolate mash.
A visit to London Bridge isn’t complete without a bite at Borough Market, so here’s our pick of the maze of stands.
With shops now spilling across London, this is where it began in 2002. Expect a bias towards France and a good-value wine and beer refill system. *Hic*
Horn OK please (above)
Inspired by the streets of India, all the food here (including dosa, aloo chaat and pani puri) is vegetarian and, more importantly, delicious.
Mrs King’s Pork Pies
Elizabeth King started making these legendary pork pies back in 1853. Sadly, she has since passed, although Melton Mowbray pies will of course make you live until you’re at least 115.
This is the place for great vegetarian and vegan food, including meat-free burgers, salads, sauces, dips, curries and soups.
Fancy browsing a list of over 100 restaurants located near London Bridge? Click this way…
If you’re up for exploring slightly farther afield in the London Bridge area, take a look at our full list of restaurants and bars in the South Bank and Borough area here, with over 250 suggestions which you can filter by cuisine type.
This article was modified 12 June 2017