26 May 2017 | 22.1 °C

Where To Eat And Drink In... Waterloo

Ben Norum
By Ben Norum Last edited 7 months ago
Where To Eat And Drink In... Waterloo

Waterloo restaurants, breakfasts, lunches, pubs, bars, cafés and more.

Cubana. Photo by tezzer57 from the Londonist Flickr pool

Waterloo’s dining and drinking establishments are frequented by a pretty even mix of commuters, office workers, South Bank tourists and locals, encouraging a diverse range of places and styles. Steer clear of the tourist traps and make the most of vibrant street food, character-filled boozers, old caffs and trendy coffee shops.

NOTE: we're defining Waterloo as the area immediately around Waterloo station plus the South Bank and the areas stretching from the station towards Lambeth North and Southwark stations.

Breakfast bites

If you’re after a Full English, you’ll find an excellent — if pricey — version at independent deli Greensmiths on Lower Marsh, made with top quality ingredients including sausages and bacon from The Ginger Pig. Riverside 2 restaurant on Kennington Road also does a good version, allowing you to choose exactly the components you want. Greasy spoons The Chunnel Bar and Marie’s Café — both on Lower Marsh — are cheap, cheerful and serve all day.

Lunchtime inspiration

Street food is your best bet for lunch in Waterloo, and there's one place to head to: Lower Marsh Market has a range of stalls selling international food-to-go around lunchtime every weekday (with the biggest range on Fridays).

Also try The Chunnel Bar for freshly made sandwiches; Greensmiths for pastries, soups, salads and mighty sausage rolls; and wraps and Cuban stews from Cubana on Lower Marsh.

If you're after something sweet, pay a visit to Konditor & Cook on Cornwall Road for indulgent cakes and brownies.

Greensmiths. Photo by Past London from the Londonist Flickr pool

Restaurant recommendations

Waterloo’s food scene is an international one. Bright-flavoured Cuban dishes are enhanced by a party atmosphere and punchy mojitos at Cubana; live music sets the scene for traditional Spanish tapas at Meson Don Felipe; and sister restaurants Ev and Tas serve vibrant, healthy and veggie-friendly dishes influenced by the meze of Turkey and the Mediterranean. Thai curries are low in price but highly rated at Marie’s Café, an unremarkable-looking greasy spoon around the corner from the station that’s become a bit of a local institution. RSJ, tucked away on Coin Street, serves well-made French and European classics.

Worth a visit is Assado, set in a hotel on Waterloo Road. It’s another restaurant from Cyrus Todiwala — who also runs Café Spice Namasté near Tower Hill — and pulls together elements of Goan, Portuguese and Brazilian cuisine.

The Cut Bar, attached to the Young Vic theatre, serves burgers to rival Byron opposite and there’s also a branch of Mexican chain Wahaca on Waterloo Road.

Something special — fine dining

Skylon, set in the Southbank Centre overlooking the Thames, is probably Waterloo’s most celebrated restaurant. It doesn’t come cheap and feels a little stuffy these days — it’s been around since 1951 — but still delivers the goods. Italian restaurant La Barca is similarly set in its ways and all the more charming for it — think photos of celebrities lining the walls and zabaglione cooked at the table. Not far from Southwark station, towards London Bridge, is Gordon Ramsay’s energetic Italian restaurant Union Street Café.

Union Street Café

Gastropubs

There are two gastropubs that really stand out from the crowd in Waterloo. Anchor & Hope on The Cut serves pared-back British dishes, often making use of unusual cuts of meat, while The Three Stags close to Lambeth North station on Kennington Road is one of the capital’s most sustainable pubs and the quality of ingredients really shows through. Both pubs feature in our selection of London’s Best Sunday Roasts.

Coffee shops

There’s something of a coffee revolution going on in Waterloo — or more specifically on Lower Marsh. Scooter Caffé has been a go-to café and bar for years, thanks to its eccentric, scooter memorabilia-filled design, resident cats and decent brews. Four Corners and Love & Scandal — both with better coffee than the former — have opened up on the same street.

Scooter Caffe. Photo by Buckaroo Kid from the Londonist Flickr pool

Pubs

Waterloo is well equipped for sinking a few pints. The King’s Arms on Roupell Street serves real ales in traditional surrounds, The Understudy at the front of the National Theatre offers fancy beer and river views, and The Crown & Cushion near Lambeth North station could be among the capital’s finest and most atmospheric Irish pubs — so you can count on a perfect Guinness. Visit our pub database to see more recommendations in the area.

Bars

Cocktail bars aren’t one of Waterloo’s strong points, but you needn’t go without. Both The Pit Bar underneath The Old Vic theatre and The Cut Bar at The Young Vic serve the classics, while Cubana is a master of the mojito and Scooter Caffe does excellent negronis and spritz. The rather brilliantly named Café Del Marsh tends to be open late serving wines, beers and spirits and mixers.

Late night

The proximity to Waterloo station means there’s no shortage of fast food chains offering late night eats, but we’d pay a visit to Capital Kebab House on The Cut for a proper Turkish kebab with homemade hummus, either to eat in or take away. It’s open until 3am.

Any more suggestions in the area? Want to request we do a certain area next? Leave a comment below, email ben@londonist.com or tweet us.

Last Updated 20 October 2016

Latimer Alder

Surprised the Archduke doesn't get a mention.

Nicole Wevers

You've missed out a gem in The Laughing Gravy on Blackfriars Road

Meanderer

How did you miss the Walrus on the corner of WB Rd and Lower Marsh? Great atmosphere and the nicest staff of any pub ever

Sue Sparks

Agree The Laughing Gravy is worth a mention. And the Baltic Restaurant in Blackfriars Road, just around the corner from The Cut, for Polish food in a nice spacious dining room with a bar. I have also had great tapas at Mar i Terra in Gambia Street, though it can be variable.

Ben

There are strangely a lot of places in Waterloo to eat Thai food that don't look like Thai restaurants from the outside. Kings Arms on Roupell, the Crown and Cushion, DaVincis (closed), the Windmill Tavern on the Cut, The Horse, the Ring, the steps of St Johns church (in the past), the alley next to the Union Jack, Marie's Cafe on Lower Marsh.

Ben

Not mentioned in the article:

Agree with Laughing Gravy, Baltic, and Mar i Terra that others mentioned. Mar i Terra is good for lunch when the weather is nice as their garden is lovely. Laughing Gravy and Baltic would be go-to dinner places.

White Hart on Cornwall has a good chorizo burger although service was so bad that we haven't returned. Blackfriars Wine Bar used to have a nice weekly pizza lunch special but then we stopped going because they started to skimp on their toppings, but has a good chorizo burger and a nice atmosphere, excepting that one surly waitress.

Ev was mentioned but Isabella Street in general should be mentioned as a great lunch time "secret garden" of a place, perfect for warm weather as every place has outdoor seating. In addition to Ev, Jack's and Thai Silk are also both good. You can't go wrong under these railway arches between Waterloo East and Southwark Station.

Mentioned in the article, but I thought were just ok:

La Barca has a nice atmosphere but the food is just good, not great. One dish is literally some fish stuck in the oven for too long with a little bit of salt on it.

I tried the Three Stags and Union Street Cafe but didn't understand the fuss with either.

Mentioned in the article, and I agree are great:

Greensmiths, Lower Marsh and Real Food markets, Cubana, Meson Don Felipe, Ev/Tas, Konditor & Cook, Wahaca.

Capital Kebab is definitely a great kabab. The 'large' chicken donor kabab is enough to feed a family. Anchor and Hope is good.

If you are considering going to Byron, save £3-£4 and get the 'triple cut' (burger, fries, drink) across the street at the Young Vic Cut Bar, as the article mentioned. Especially on a sunny day as you can sit on the upper outdoor terrace. We've seen celebrities here several times.

The Kings Arms on Roupell is great on a cold day when they have the fire going, and the salmon curry dishes are great.

What I miss:

The real shame is when Cooper's vegetarian restaurant on Lower Marsh closed due to retirement. Why didn't they sell the business as-is? That place was awesome.

If it was in the article and I didn't mention it, I haven't been!

Jim Morvay

Funny little tidbit, when my wife and I first came to London, she wanted to visit a "real" pub (nothing like that here in the US), so we wound up stumbling on a place across from Waterloo Station called The Hole In The Wall. Looked unique enough and was definitely a pub. We walked in to the restaurant area, feeling completely like tourists in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fortunately, there was a match on the TV, so we got a couple of pints to start with. After that, it was fish-n-chips and banger and mash. I have to say, for pub food, this was pretty good. Not bad atmosphere, but then again, I'm not sure what Londoners consider nice either. As I said before, a very unique place, nothing extravagant or posh. In hindsight, we probably could have done better, but hey, we had to start somewhere!

FG

Greensmiths have a sign up saying their full-service cafe is going away, they are going to become more of a high-street coffee shop style service... not sure what that means for the full english or the excellent value charcuterie and wines they do in the evening.

As for cocktails - the bar under the Union Street Café does great (and pricey) cocktails. Not to mention the Rumpus Room in the Mondrian hotel.

Blackfriars wine bar also does an amazing dirty pizza.

Fussy McFussy

The Three Stags - all I'll say is ONE STAR on Scores On The Doors...

Yellywelly

You should go to Coleman Coffee Roasters on Lower Marsh and try the coffee...and the oaties! They are amazing!