The Best Restaurants Near London Waterloo

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It’s certainly a surprise to say that, despite it being the capital’s second busiest station, London Waterloo is somewhat bereft of great dining options. 

Sure, the clarion call for your 18:38 to Surbiton may ring out crisply, and instructions to ‘mind the gap’ remain insistent, but when the culinary conductors come a calling, this most bustling of transport hubs often falls silent.

You could, of course, seek solace between the buns of Burger King or scoff a sausage roll on the station concourse if you’ve got a train to catch, but if you’re blessed with an hour or two to spare, then rest assured; just outside of London Waterloo station there are some fantastic places to have lunch or dinner. With that in mind, here are the best restaurants near London Waterloo.

Lasdun at the National Theatre

Ideal for old school yet modern British brassiere style plates that sing with seasonal produce…

You’d think that the area surrounding London’s National Theatre would be positively teeming with smart, creative places to eat pre and post show, but that simply isn’t the case. Or rather, wasn’t the case until Lasdun opened.

In a rather barren stretch of the South Bank in terms of eating options, where chain restaurants rule supreme, the 2023 opening of this stylish restaurant within the National Theatre building has caused quite the stir, garnering several positive reviews in the weekend papers before its first chicken, leek and girolle pie had even been polished off.

You don’t have to be an avid consumer of the Real Housewives Of Clapton Instagram account or a Hackey resident to be familiar with the East London pub the Marksman, with its Fergus Henderson inspired plates of austere perfection, and the Ladsun, from the same team, continues with this tradition.

Named after the renowned architect Denys Lasdun, who designed the iconic National Theatre building in a similarly flinty fashion, this restaurant is a testament to his legacy. A collaboration between co-founder of Lyles John Ogier, KERB, and the team behind the Marksman, Jon Rotheram and Tom Harris, there’s a commitment to seasonality and simplicity here that you’d expect, with a knack for finding beauty in the seemingly old-fashioned. 

Their menu is a comforting blend of traditional dishes with flourishes of luxury, like fish cakes in mussel sauce, devilled eggs topped with caviar, and a glazed beef, barley and horseradish bun, all crafted with a touch of surprise and restraint. The menu also takes inspiration from London itself; that means eel and that aforementioned pie will likely be on the menu when you visit.

Lasdun’s interior design pays homage to its namesake, featuring dramatic uplighting, a marble bar, and chrome lighting fixtures that echo the Brutalist architecture of the theatre. It’s a gorgeous, inspiring place to spend time.

And this just in; in addition to its already iconic dining room, Lasdun have just last week launched a new summer terrace, offering guests the chance to enjoy signature seasonal British fare in a sun-soaked setting (if it would bloody stop raining for a minute, that is).

The terrace, directly accessible from the Southbank, seats 60 people and is open from midday until dusk, running through summer until late September. The alfresco menu is a light and breezy affair, with a heavy emphasis on buns – both a Dorset crab and mayonnaise and a treacle-cured Tamworth ham and Lincolnshire Poacher version are available. Sign us up for both!

Super refreshing drinks such as the Lasdun Summer Cup and an elderflower infused Tom Collins seal the deal. We’ll see you out there? Don’t forget your sunnies.

Website: nationaltheatre.org.uk

Address: Upper Ground, London SE1 9PX


Forza Wine at the National Theatre

Ideal for keenly priced Italian-ish crowdpleasers…

Also found in the iconic National Theatre, Forza Wine brought their ‘Italian-ish’ (thought we were calling it ‘Britalian’?) cooking to the South Bank via Peckham in the latter part of 2023, and have already firmly bedded in.

Perhaps ‘bedded’ is the wrong phrase here, as the top floor dining room is positively lauding it over the South Bank below, with wraparound riverside terrace seating and views of the Thames thrown in for good measure.

Better warn your ma who’s suspicious of ‘small plates’ and modern day dining’s obsession with sharing; the menu is one clustered, singular piece of copy. There are no starters or mains here, not even snacks and sharing plates – just a list of 13 dishes plus soft serves and a custardo, the latter of which is a bloody delicious espresso-thickened-with-custard concoction that the lads from Off Menu have regularly eulogised. 

Don’t worry; the larger dishes from that rundown will have even the biggest menu pedants cooing. Generous, fully formed plates, a recent dish of sea bream fillet – blistered and blackened from the grill – with a tangle of shaved fennel and tomatoes roasted until sweet and collapsing was superb. Pair it with a little sourdough toast and confit garlic butter, and perhaps some of the restaurant’s superlative, golden cauliflower fritti and aioli, and you’ve got yourself a beautifully rounded (and admittedly rather pungent) meal. 

True to the conviviality of the place, Forza Wine at the NT is an all day affair, open from midday until 11pm daily, except on Sundays when it’s closed. Due to it being a massive, 160-cover space, you could, theoretically, just drop in for a Custardo or two, if you’ve got a wait before your train departs from Waterloo. 

There’s also a very good weekday lunch deal. Right now, for £15, you get a roast chicken leg, crispy spuds and a kind of riff on a Caesar salad, plus a glass of house wine. You really can’t argue with that value.

Website: forzawine.com

Address: National Theatre, London SE1 9PX


Crust Bros

Ideal for some of the best pizza close to Waterloo…

Just a few minutes walk from Waterloo and with a pizza that’s bubbling on the paddle within a minute or two of being ordered, Crust Bros is the ideal place for a quite bite before catching your onward train. 

Despite the eponymous name, it’s not just the crusts that define the main event here; these are fantastic pizzas which exact an admirable level of restraint in terms of toppings, a few choice elements bringing the best out of that dough rather than weighing it down and overwhelming it.

You can also create your own pizza from scratch (no, they don’t let you go in the kitchen and get busy) using the menu’s flow-chart layout and a few flicks of the wrist, which adds a bit of fun. Hey, could we borrow a pen, by the way?

We’re written more about Crust Bros in our roundup of the best places to eat pizza in London. Do check it out sometime!

Website: crustbros.co.uk

Address: 113 Waterloo Rd, London SE1 8UL


Spring Restaurant

Ideal for eating bang-in-season grub at any time of year, all in a striking 19th-century drawing room…

Spring Restaurant, located in the iconic Somerset House in London, is a culinary gem that deserves a spot on any ‘best restaurants near London Waterloo’ list, despite you having to cross the Thames to get there.

Not to worry; there’s pedestrian access over Waterloo Bridge, and whilst perhaps not long enough to properly build up an appetite, on a crisp, effervescent evening, the stroll can be kind of beautiful. 

Anyway, the chef at the stoves at Spring is Skye Gyngell, an Australian native who has made a name for herself as one of Britain’s most acclaimed chefs. Gyngell first gained recognition on these shores in the early 2000s at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, where her fresh, seasonal cooking style earned her a Michelin star and left a lasting legacy on London about how simple, ingredient-led Italian cooking can be served in the city

In 2014, she opened Spring, which has quickly become considered as one of the best places to eat near Waterloo and the Southbank. It’s a family affair here, with the restaurant’s interior designed by Gyngell’s sister Briony Fitzgerald, and that sense of wholesomeness also translating onto the plate, with just a few bang-in-season ingredients gracing each dish. 

Whilst the lunch and dinner a la carte sees prices reaching River Cafe levels, the set menu is much less bank-breaking, with three courses currently clocking in at £33. On that menu, the current main of onglet steak, served both gnarly and blushing blue alongside a Jerusalem artichoke purée, is a delightful transition from late summer into autumn proper.

Even more interesting is Gyngell’s innovative Scratch menu, which features dishes made from ‘waste’ produce. Running from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 5:30pm to 6:30pm and limited to 30 guests each service, it’s a thoughtful, thought-provoking approach to fine dining. A case in point, the remilled coffee cake dessert, using grounds from post-meal espressos previously served to guests. Served with an ice cream made of ‘spent’ figs (essentially, those on the turn), it’s a gorgeous encapsulation of the chef’s philosophy. 3 courses are yours for £30.

Website: springrestaurant.co.uk

Address: Lancaster Pl, London WC2R 1LA


Anchor & Hope

Ideal for sophisticated pub grub with a Mediterranean bent…

From the restaurant group behind the acclaimed Canton Arms in Stockwell and Oxford’s Magdalen Arms comes the Anchor & Hope, one of the best places to eat in the vicinity of London Waterloo station.

Though this is a pub first and foremost, the menu here carries plenty of intrigue and a decidedly Mediterranean bent, whether you’re enjoying a simple snack of creamy, spreadable calf’s brain on crostini or a something altogether heartier like blushing fallow deer done in a Provencal style and draped over wet, parmesan laden polenta.

Even the ‘worker’s lunch’ here, a snip at £16 for two courses, is far removed from your pub Ploughman’s. Recently, a quail, roast on the crown, was paired with couscous and a tzatziki positively humming with garlic. Very delicious indeed, and remarkably well-suited to a freshly poured pint.

Website: anchorandhopepub.co.uk

Address: 36 The Cut, London SE1 8LP


Read: 7 of the best places for a roast in South London


Masters Superfish

Ideal for fish & chips…

Should you be keen for more traditionally ‘British’ fare just a short stroll from the station, then Masters Superfish has been dunking the good stuff in bubbling vats of fat for generations.

Here, the fish is sourced from Billingsgate daily, the chips are the kind to render a sheet of newspaper translucent, and the pickles are bottomless and full of bite. What more could you want from a chippy?

Though you can enjoy your fish and chips in the Masters’ canteen-like surrounds, you could of course head back to Waterloo with a takeaway the size of a baby under your arm, and make the whole train carriage jealous as you embark on your onward journey. Decisions, decisions.

Website: masterssuperfish.has.restaurant

Address: 191 Waterloo Rd, London SE1 8UX


Limin’ Beach Club

Ideal for some of the best Trinidadian food in the city…

If you were going on GPS only, you might assume Limin’ Beach Club has found something of an unlikely home at Gabriel’s Wharf, just off the South Bank’s main drag. But visit this ode to the beloved Trinidadian pastime of limin’ and you’ll quickly understand why it’s settled into a soca-soaked rhythm here; on a stretch of sand adjacent to the Southbank Centre, chef Sham is slinging out some of the best Trinidadian food in the city, all from a nautically-coloured beach hut.

Here, cooked to order roti is simultaneously flakey and crisp, and is served alongside either curry (a choice of oxtail, sea bass or chickpea on our last visit), or a leg of chicken properly blistered and burnished on the restaurant’s massive charcoal grill. 

Of course, you’ll want to order some doubles while you tuck into a rum cocktail or two. Trinidad’s national dish, at Limin’ it’s an intricately spiced affair of dangerously sloppy channa (chickpea curry) sandwiched between two bara (fried flatbreads) which are then folded and consumed as tidily as is conceivable. Fortunately, if you make a mess here, you can just sweep it under the sand!

Don’t actually do that, of course…

Website: limin.co.uk

Address: 56 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PP


Bala Baya

Ideal for the flavours of Tel Aviv with plates full of verve and vibrancy…

Head back beyond London Waterloo station and into Bankside’s Old Union Yard Arches, and you’ll find a thriving little courtyard of culture and culinary intrigue. 

Nestled in here is Bala Baya, a restaurant inspired by the smells, sights, sounds, and, of course, flavours of chef Eran Tibi’s upbringing in Tel Aviv.

The celebration of the multi-sensory is apt, as it’s noisy in this lively yet functional space, with large groups descending on Southwark for plates full of verve and vibrancy. This is food built for sharing, make no mistake, with long and leisurely lunches of feasting and frivolity very much encouraged here.

The prawn baklava is something of a signature here (certainly in our eyes), coming with piquant notes from lime syrup and cream, and given an aromatic edge with a dusting of pistachio and rose. Just fabulous, and served to allow every member of the squad a portion.

Website: balabaya.co.uk

Address: Arch 25, Old union yard arches, 229 Union St, London SE1 0LR


Union Viet Cafe

Ideal for some stunning Southern Vietnamese flavours…

Whilst the majority of genuinely great Vietnamese food in London is found in and around Shoreditch’s Kingsland Road, you can still find a few gems south of the river, and one of those is Union Viet Cafe.

A ten minute walk from the station and one of the best places to eat near London Waterloo, Union Viet Cafe swings more Southern Viet in its delivery, with the dishes generally sweeter and spicier than their more austere Northern counterparts.

Here, the Ho Chi Minh City streefood staple bo la lot – minced beef wrapped in vine leaves and grilled – is bang on the money, served alongside lettuce, herbs and dipping sauces so you can make your own wraps, just as it should be. 

The delicate, smoky bun thit nuong, which sees thin slices of pork belly grilled and served over fermented rice noodles and loads of herbs, is a real winner for a swift light lunch. Or, you could settle in for something heartier; the restaurant does a range of noodle soups, including pho, bun bo hue and more.

Website: unionviet.com

Address: 120 Union St, London SE1 0FR


Hannah

Ideal for a splurge-worthy, seasonally-led omakase offering…

We end our tour of the best places to eat near London Waterloo at Hannah. If you’re looking for a fine dining restaurant near Waterloo station, this is it. The kitchen here is led by Daisuke Shimoyama, a former head chef of Michelin-starred sushi restaurant Umu, with the main event dinner menu a seasonally-led omakase (chef’s choice) offering. The highlight is the selection of Wagashi homemade desserts presented on a traditional wooden stand:

Though that will last several hours and set you back £165, lunches at Hannah are a more laid back affair, with bento boxes the order of the day (or, at least, the service). An intricately presented sushi bento with ten rolls, two sets of sashimi, seasonal vegetables and miso soup is an absolute steal at £26, and has to be one of the best value lunches in all of London for its quality. 

And with that, conversely, we’re off to endure one of the worst value experiences in all of London; getting a train out of here.

Website: hannahrestaurant.london

Address: Southbank Riverside, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 7PB


If you haven’t found anything in and around Waterloo to satisfy your hunger, then why not take the train a little further south to Battersea, and check out some of the great places to eat near Clapham Junction. A tour of London’s train stations never tasted so good!

Joseph Gann
Joseph Gann
Chef and food writer, with an interest in mental health and mindfulness

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