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