The gleaming glass and steel towers of Canary Wharf — it isn’t all power lunches and after-work booze-ups, you know. Inside and among glittering skyscrapers, an array of restaurants offer cuisines from around the world. Independents are few and far between, but eschewing the big chains, there's still plenty of scope for a satisfying meal.
Where to eat breakfast in Canary Wharf
Home to one of London’s most popular all-day breakfasts, The Breakfast Club offers strong options like eggs done every possible way, bacon-topped pancakes and even a pile of Disco Fries smothered in cheese, bacon, hollandaise and pulled pork. The Northern Soul-inspired venue also hosts a secret cocktail bar, Dr Kluger’s Olde Towne Tavern, where you can sip gin sours overseen by a dazzling disco ball. Perhaps not for breakfast though, eh?
Belgian chain, Le Pain de Quotidien is always reliable for freshly baked goods. The focus on organic ingredients and ancient grains make it a healthy choice for the first meal of the day. French-themed café Paul is another safe bet for breakfast. The continental pastry and cake selection is almost dizzying, with classics like pain au chocolat rubbing shoulders with more substantial options, such as ham and omelette-stuffed croissant.
Swing by famous Danish bakery Ole & Steen for all the cinnamon slices, kløben buns and, er, danish pastries your heart could ever desire. Or for gluten-free goods, Joe Blake's is open from 6am for coffee, custard tarts and cruffins (that's croissant muffins, doncha know).
Coffee shops in Canary Wharf
There are branches of the usual coffee behemoths (Costa, Starbucks etc.) all over Canary Wharf. But for something a little different, the team at Notes takes your caffeine kick to another level. Baristas only use beans prepared at Notes’ own east London roastery to ensure that quality is spot on. The venue, which has locations in many other office districts around London, also offers all-day dining, craft beer and wine.
Nearby, for a feel of Italy, Café Brera has been serving the Canary Wharf clientele since the area opened its first offices. Its riverside location makes a peaceful setting for meetings, although there are two other venues nearby if your first choice is full. Much fresher to the area is 640East — a trendy little bar by night, a stonkingly good coffee shop by day.
Black Sheep Coffee in Jubilee Place is hard to beat for convenience or strength, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is high on the list for quality (ignore the naff name, these guys really know their beans), while the Change Please cart on Reuters Plaza serves up top-notch brews with a social mission to help tackle homelessness.
Where to eat lunch in Canary Wharf
It goes without saying that the most of the major grab-and-go chains are well established in this area of London. With such high footfall, places offering quick bites thrive. One of these is Wharf Kitchen, an indoor street-food setup where hungry workers can decide on the hoof which world cuisine tickles their fancy on any given day. Zingy Caribbean chicken from Mama's Jerk, fresh fish bowls from Ahi Poké, vegan eats from The Vurger Co? You're spoilt for choice and although it gets reliably packed of a lunchtime, the focus is on quick eats so tables aren't too hard to come by.
For a more cosy, independent feel, Garbanzo’s is your must-go for a Middle Eastern-falafel fix. Another popular lunch spot is Birleys traditional salt beef bar. With a range of fresh food to eat in or take away, the sandwiches in particular at Birleys have gained a loyal following. Carved meats like salt beef, porchetta and pastrami come stuffed between hunks of fresh bread.
For even more hearty nourishment, Ippudo ticks the box with its take on Hakata-style ramen. Like its Covent Garden flagship, the tonkotsu, chicken and vegetarian broths all come with house-made noodles, although lunchtime specials like bibimbap and donburi rice bowls can be hard to resist.
From solo noodles to sharing plates, Iberica’s tapas are consistently strong. The restaurant’s extensive menu of Spanish classics can be enjoyed al fresco in Cabot Square, in the summer, or in the relative warmth of Iberica’s cavernous interior in the colder months. A particular highlight is the white sangria.
A stone’s throw away, Silvio Ursini’s Obicà Mozzarella Bar has some of the tastiest snacks around. Of course, mozzarella is the star of the show, available in three different incarnations. But pizzas and other dishes are also worth trying.
For flexi-health food, Farmer J's buffet style lunch spread is a godsend. Grab your 'fieldtray' and load up on a rice, cauliflower or spinach base, top with your choice of mains (harissa chicken, tofu steak, kale mac 'n' cheese) and finish off with two sides and a sauce. Healthy, hearty and reliably good quality — job done.
Another street food favourite is Giant Robot, part of the Street Feast family. Its location right next to the Crossrail Place roof garden makes it an already tasty option, but the food is equally good. Don't expect too many health foods — burgers, fluffy bao buns and fried chicken rule the roost. It's a top choice for a quick and dirty lunch, or come back after work for tropical cocktails on the balcony.
Relative newcomer The Ivy transports the gentle elegance of the original branch to this East End location. The attractive space is bright and airy, with art-filled walls and an orangery. Similarly atmospheric, the Canary Wharf branch of Gaucho serves grilled meats for all occasions.
Where to eat dinner in Canary Wharf
Amerigo Vespucci is one of the oldest independently-run restaurants in Canary Wharf, serving traditional Italian cuisine for more than two decades. The tagliatelle with seared scallops, crab and green peppercorns is a firm favourite, as is the pea and shallot ravioli in mint butter.
Slick Chinese restaurant Royal China is famous for its lunchtime dim sum but the signature dishes — from each of the head chefs of the brand’s other locations — for dinner are just as good. Nearby, Sticks n Sushi is also perfect for banqueting. The combination of sushi and freshly grilled skewers make it a favourite for large groups who love to share.
Another Japanese-inspired option is Roka, which offers an evening menu designed around robatayaki — a specific type of grilling over hot coals. The lamb cutlets and asparagus are a highlight. For a south Asian fix, Chai Ki offers seasonal dishes showcasing traditional Indian flavours, with a contemporary flourish. It also houses a toddy shop with a selection of the popular palm liquor.
Towards a more residential side of Canary Wharf lies the Lincoln Plaza Hotel, and inside it, Mr Todiwala's Kitchen, the latest venture from chef Cyrus Todiwala. Renowned for producing food inspired by his Parsee heritage and his time as an executive chef in Goa, Todiwala's restaurant duly showcases a range of these flavours. Time-honoured culinary technqiues such as cooking in a tandoor are also explored here. Highlights include Parsee signature dish, dhansak and the Goan prawn curry.
Like its more central sister-sites, Boisdale is all old-world charm and luxury. The Scottish-themed fine dining venue has four private rooms, a live music area and an oyster bar and grill with a terrace. With Jools Holland as a patron, Boisdale is set apart as an eatery with a programme of jazz music at its core. It is also home to more than 1,000 bottles of whisky, and a cigar library that enthusiasts will love.
More whisky and oysters can be enjoyed at the whopping 11,500 sq ft Big Easy, which also specialises in barbecue — this time to a blues soundtrack. Minutes away, D&D’s Plateau is an atmospheric dinner destination for modern French classics, while just around the corner Franco Manca's sourdough pizzas continue to draw in the crowds. Ears perk up at pizza? Radio Alice began life in Hoxton but recently opened a new branch in Canary Wharf slinging out homemade pizzas with lesser-seen toppings.
Pubs, bars and gastropubs in Canary Wharf
City staples like Slug and Lettuce and All Bar One occupy some of the most central sites in Canary Wharf — and all heave with the after-work crowd most days. Drake and Morgan’s popular bars are also represented with The Parlour, The Pagination and The Sipping Room. The trio do serve all day food menus, but it's their chunky selection of interesting beers and wines that set them apart.
Other venues nearby include the chic 1950s-themed The Pearson Room with its seasonally inspired cocktails, and the intimate Nicolas Wine Bar, which offers more than 300 wines to try by the bottle (and 20 by the glass). Davy's Wine Bar, overlooking the water, hits the nail on the head when it comes to old-school intimacy with its leather booths and wooden panelling. But if it's light 'n' airy wine bars you're after, Humble Grape (also on the water) has a lovely indoor-outdoor feel and over 400 wines on the menu.
Specialist drinks can be found at G&Tea, at the Marriott Hotel, which serves tea-infused gin alongside a menu of grilled food. Also on West India Quay is Rum & Sugar which offers a wide selection of rums, rum cocktails and Caribbean cuisine. Also boasting an impressive rum collection, a nod to the maritime heritage of the docks, is intimate cocktail bar, Jack Speak. Set on the mezzanine floor of the Lincoln Plaza, this little bar churns out some incredible signature cocktails including a twist on the classic Daquiri, made with homemade sugar cane juice or the delightfully peaty, Scotch-based penicillin. If it's mezcal you're after, Wahaca’s Canada Square bar is the place to go.
For a great range of beer in a surprisingly chill environment (not always an easy find in Canary Wharf), BrewDog is your faithful friend. Cracking burgers too. A no-frills pub experience can be found at Fuller’s pub, The Merchant, which offers a riverside view with a wide selection of craft and gluten free beers.
Meanwhile, to watch all the sports, there is one place that stands out from the rest. The mighty Sports Bar & Grill has its largest site at Crossrail Place, impressively decked out with screens to catch the best in British, European and American games.