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 burgeoning and, eschewing the big chains, there's plenty of scope for a satisfying meal — or a drink up in the clouds.
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. Pure's breakfast range spans the spectrum from smoothies, porridge and birchers to breakfast toasties and rolled omelettes.
French-themed café Paul is a safe bet to kick-start your day and it has two locations in this part of town. 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, Pret, Starbucks, Joe and the Juice etc) all over Canary Wharf, but for something with more pizzazz, 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 in both of the Canary Wharf locations.
Blank Street has brought its transatlantic coffee culture to Canada Place, while Grind serves up some of London's favourite blends in the buzzy atmosphere of Market Halls. Nearby, for a feel of Italy, Café Brera has been serving the Canary Wharf clientele since the area opened its first offices in the 1980s. Its riverside location makes a peaceful setting for meetings, although there are two other venues nearby if your first choice is full. Another option is 640East — a trendy little bar by night, a stonkingly good coffee shop by day.
Black Sheep Coffee in Jubilee Place and at South Colonnade is hard to beat for convenience (or strength) while the Change Please cart on Reuters Plaza serves up top-notch brews with a social mission to help tackle homelessness. For non-coffee lovers, bubble tea shops Yi Fang and T4 offer that caffeine craving in a different format.
Where to eat lunch in Canary Wharf
It goes without saying that most of the major grab-and-go giants are well established in this area of London. But with such high footfall, all sorts of places offering quick bites thrive. One of these is Atrium Kitchen, which brings together different establishments from around the globe. You've got Zizzi and Gallio for vibrant Mediterranean dishes, German Doner Kebab's signatures, handmade noodles from Marugame Udon, Nando's (which needs no introduction) and plant-based gem, Neat Burger. There's also Yolk — don’t miss their steak bearnaise and bang bang mushroom sandwiches, with a side of mozzarella salad.
Similarly, Wharf Kitchen, in Jubilee Place, is another street-food setup where hungry workers can decide on the hoof which world cuisine tickles their fancy on any given day. Diners can choose from Greek gyros and pitas at Smashing Plates, South Asian fare from Indi-go, noodle soups from Biang Xi'an Noodles, fried chicken at Thunderbird, fresh bowls from Poke House and signature gyoza and katsu wraps from Rainbo. Crispy, double-fried Korean chicken is on the menu at Seoul Bird and close by, Leon, Itsu, Chipotle and Wagamama all have outposts.
For flexi-health food, Farmer J's buffet style lunch spread is a godsend, available here and at Canada Place. 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.
A host of choices await in Canada Place and on Canada Square itself. In the lobby of One Canada Square, is the new SuperNatural counter which offers pastries by day and natural wines and charcuterie by night. Coco di Mama serves steaming pasta bowls and classic Italian fare and Pilpel has you covered for Middle Eastern inspired cuisine.
Another popular lunch spot is Birleys traditional salt beef bar. With a range of fresh food to eat in or take away, in three different locations, the sandwiches in particular at Birleys have gained a loyal following. Carved meats like salt beef, porchetta and pastrami come stuffed between hearty hunks of bread. Newcomer bread&truffle also offers outstanding sandwiches on freshly baked focaccia. For a lighter, gluten-free fix, Kaleido's salad wraps offer fresh ingredients enclosed in a thin, 30-cal rice paper casing.
At Reuters Plaza, you can find salt beef and oak-smoked salmon at a branch of Brick Lane Bagel Co. and contemporary Jamaican food from Rudie's Jerk Shack. For a cosy, independent feel, Garbanzo's is your must-go for a Middle Eastern-falafel fix. Chinese meats and veggies are the special at Rice Guys or you can try salad bowls and filled pitas at Grill.
A short walk away, find atis where customers can choose from a selection of fresh ingredients to create their own salad and warm bowls. An eclectic range of salads are also the focus at nearby Urban Greens, with options like veggie Caesar, which swaps chicken for tempeh and the Gogosan, combining sesame marinated glass noodles, with kimchi and green vegetables.
Last year, Market Halls launched its second branch in Canary Wharf. With eight kitchens, including Gopal's Corner, BaoziInn and Black Bear Burger, it is yet another place where you can get a quick bite or go with a group to try lots of different dishes in a casual setting. On the topic of burgers, Patty&Bun, Five Guys, Shake Shack and Burger & Lobster also have you covered with all the usual staples.
Island Poke at Crossrail Place is another great option for a light, refreshing bowl of fresh seafood and veggies. For even more hearty nourishment, Ippudo, a stone's throw away, 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.
Around the corner, 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 global flavours, Caravan's Palm Springs-inspired interior, or its verdant terrace, make the ideal setting for a laid-back lunch. 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. Across Westferry Circus, South American-inspired fare such as Argentinian choripan, Colombia pericos and tostadas are on the menu at Assenheims 56. Moments away, you can also snack on sushi and dumplings from The Modern Samurai and Momo Canteen.
On weekends, when things in the Wharf are more relaxed, Feels Like June is the ideal brunch spot. Sip on prosecco or cocktails while enjoying dishes like tomato bruschetta, chicken Milanese and pulled beef brisket tacos from 11.30am to 4pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and bank holidays. Or, opt for a meal at Fish Game. Fire-cooked seafood is spotlighted here on a daily changing menu, focusing on sustainability.
Another one for the socially-conscious is MMy Wood Wharf, a sustainable community market from the creators of Mercato Metropolitano which offers a range of international cuisine with a riverside view. The attached grocery store offers products from organic and local producers. Grateful Kitchen also focuses on seasonal, organic and local ingredients, for example their fish comes from Billingsgate.
If you've a hankering for sugar on your way back to the office, Fuwa Fuwa has a sublime selection of Japanese souffle pancakes that are guaranteed to hit the spot. Similarly, Crosstown Doughnuts, Buns from Home and Lola's Cupcakes will have your sweet tooth singing in no time.
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.
For other Italian options, Scarpetta and Emilia's Crafted Pasta both specialise in fresh pasta. Seafood lovers can eat their hearts out at Oysteria, savouring platters piled with seabass, salmon, mussels and prawns or indulging in dishes like lobster linguine. Franco Manca's sourdough pizzas naturally continue to draw in the crowds.
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.
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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, with an evening menu designed around robatayaki — a specific type of grilling over hot coals. The lamb cutlets and asparagus are a highlight. Across the green, Pedler is a contemporary restaurant in One Canada Square which features dishes like grilled baby squid and braised pork belly.
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. As well as this, Dishoom has landed in the newly developed Wood Wharf area. Expect the same iconic hits — the house black dal, chole puri and spicy lamb chops all make an appearance — but the exclusive signature dish at this branch is a lobster marinated in a creamy malai sauce.
By the river, towards a more residential side of Canary Wharf, lies Moira, which serves generous portions of Turkish-inspired mezze and grilled items. Bōkan, at the top of the Novotel Hotel, offers some of the best views in the area from its restaurant, bar and rooftop on the 37th, 38th and 39th floors of the building. For a special occasion, enjoy executive chef Robert Manea's £99 tasting menu while taking in the glorious cityscape.
Another tasting menu worth checking out is at Six by Nico; it changes every six weeks and features six courses based on a different cuisine or geographical location.
Naturally, meat-based establishments feature heavily in Canary Wharf. As well as Blacklock's steak and chops, you've also got Manhattan Grill, located in the Marriott and a branch of Hawksmoor in Wood Wharf, worth seeing for the building alone. The floating site is an eco-friendly architectural feat. You can also get steaks at M, Gaucho's sister concept, including a 'wagyu experience' menu which promises wagyu prepared six different ways, all while overlooking picturesque waterside vistas.
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. Bavarian beerhall, Munich Cricket Club also brings the party, in the form of live oompah bands, as well as German beers by the stein. Perfect for Christmas and New Year parties, guests can indulge in traditional food like pork knuckles, wiener schnitzel with lingonberries, and obatzda, a type of cheese dip.
Pubs, bars and gastropubs in Canary Wharf
The bar scene in Canary Wharf has had a bit of an overhaul lately. Gone are many of the city staples and in their place, activity-focused venues are taking the limelight. Fairgame is essentially a reimagined adult fairground, decked out with digital leaderboards and complete with stuffed animals to win. Further fuelling the air of competition is Electric Shuffle, which has turned the traditional game of shuffleboard into a fast-paced and immersive social experience including a large tournament for bigger groups.
Another concept that seems made for corporate team building is Clays which — you guessed it — is basically a techy version of clay pigeon shooting. Players can enjoy interactive target practice on high-def screens and on heated outdoor terraces. For something more sedentary, but with the potential to get just as heated, head to Platform, Canary Wharf's gaming bar. Laid out over two floors and with over 20 gaming booths, you can channel your efforts into beating your friends at Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat, FIFA, and more.
Still, it wouldn't be Canary Wharf without some chain boozers heaving with the after-work crowd, and Drake and Morgan's popular bars are represented with The Parlour and The Sipping Room. They do serve all day food menus, but it's their chunky selection of interesting beers and wines that set them apart. National chain, The Alchemist also has a presence here, taking up a substantial spot on Reuters Plaza. Another place serving a good selection of ales, lagers and cocktails is modern British restaurant Rocket, as well as an all day dining menu, its well-stocked bar makes it a popular watering hole to round off the day.
For something more intimate, The Boathouse, is a new events space which is, as its name suggests, in a boat. The tiny speakeasy has a roster of live lounge sessions and other music events with new and upcoming artists. Other venues nearby include the chic 1950s-themed The Pearson Room with its seasonally inspired cocktails, and the cosy Nicolas Wine Bar, which offers more than 300 wines to try by the bottle (and 20 by the glass). The Henry Addington, on the water, hits the nail on the head when it comes to old-school comfort with its leather booths and wooden panelling. It also boasts a traditional pie shop to boot. 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. 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.
The Cocktail Club, No.35 Mackenzie Walk and Pergola on the Wharf, all offer riverside views from beautiful outdoor terraces. 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.