Where To Eat And Drink In... Waterloo

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 version at Riverside 2 restaurant on Kennington Road, 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. Londonist's Ruth Hargreaves recommends independent deli Greensmiths on Lower Marsh. It is the place to head for top quality and fresh ingredients at any time of day, although around breakfast time the smell of fresh bread and pasties is too tempting to resist.

Riverside 2 restaurant

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 and homemade pies; Greensmiths for pastries, soups, tray bakes 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. In warmer months, make it tapas restaurant Mar i Terra on Gambia street, where a beautiful walled garden is an ideal lunch setting during warmer months.

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. Sticky Mango (formerly RSJ), tucked away on Coin Street, serves well-made South East Asian classics.

Worth a visit is The Laughing Gravy on Blackfriars Road, according to Londonist's Ruth Hargreaves. A small, informal bar as you enter leads onto an intimate dining area towards the back of the building, serving modern British cuisine. The food is delicious (especially the Sunday lunch), the drinks are smashing (we leap at the chance to sup their Bramble cocktail whenever it's on the menu) and the service is warm (we always leave with a carefully packaged parcel of leftovers).

Opposite Southwark station is Baltic, a delightfully airy Polish restaurant where you can wash down your pierogis and golonka with a selection of the over 70 vodkas on offer.

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.

Inside The Laughing Gravy

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 perhaps feels a little stuffy, but still delivers the goods, with inventive cocktail menus and top notch fine dining. 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 Café 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. Coleman Coffee Roasters is achingly hip in its minimalism says Londonist's Ruth Hargreaves, but brings the goods in the form of specialty coffee and Staffordshire oatcakes that would make any Stokie proud.

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.

The Understudy on South Bank

Bars

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

A bar with the heart of a local pub is Walrus Bar and Hostel on the intersection of Westminster Bridge Road and Lower Marsh, who serves up decent cocktails, shooters and bar snacks with zero pretence thanks to their unfailingly welcoming staff. Londonist's Ruth Hargreaves wholeheartedly recommends it but suggests that for unbridled luxury, you should head up to Mondrian Hotel's Rumpus Room - exquisite cocktails with excellent views down the Thames and sky-high prices to match. Take a look at a more in depth list here.

Rumpus Room

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 or tweet us.

Last Updated 05 April 2018

Continued below.

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!

grammarschoolman

Erm, the Skylon restaurant has _not_ been there since 1951. It didn't open until the Festival Hall was refurbished in 2007. You're confusing it with the Skylon sculpture which was created for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Surprisingly lousy research for Londonist, if I may say so.

Peter Denton

Then there's the Bar+Kitchen restaurant adjacent to the Old Vic. Always reliable in the quality of food and atmosphere; I've been going there for years and it's probably my favourite Waterloo dining venue - lunch or dinner.

marmite

Bar and Kitchen behind the Old Vic