South Bank restaurants

Discover the best places to eat along the South Bank

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After a lengthy stroll along the riverside, the many excellent restaurants on the South Bank come as great relief. For some traditional Turkish food, Troia is great. Skylon is modern and chic (with amazing views), and Benugo has solved BFI Southbank's long-running problem of feeding its cinemagoers properly.

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Skylon

  • Rated as: 3/5

Skylon can’t really fail: its setting on the first floor of the Royal Festival Hall, with lofty ceilings and superb Thames views from soaring windows, is always spectacular, by day or night, and adds wow factor to any meal. The chic cocktail bar, amid sofas in the centre of the space, also offers a dose of metropolitan pzazz. Dining areas are split between the brasserie-style Grill on one side of the bar and the Restaurant, with a more fine-dining menu, on the other.

  1. Royal Festival Hall, (Belvedere Road), SE1 8XX
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Benugo Bar & Kitchen

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4

After years of struggle, BFI Southbank has finally figured out its catering. Or, rather, they got Benugo to figure it out for them. The low ceiling, square dimensions and lack of natural light have long hampered the riverfront space, and Benugo haven’t succeeded in making it into an appealing venue. But it’s a different story in the newer bar further back, always busy with a mix of cinephiles and other revellers who’ve realised that this is the best place to drink on the South Bank.

  1. BFI, South Bank Centre, (Belvedere Road), SE1 8XT
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Canteen

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4

Brit concept chains have become two-a-penny since the first Canteen opened on the edge of Old Spitalfields Market in 2006, but this group – now five-strong – continues to thrive. The location of the SE1 branch (tucked into the back of the Royal Festival Hall) means it’s usually busy. Although the devilled kidneys on toast have always disappointed, more familiar dishes hit the spot: macaroni cheese, sausages and mash with onion gravy, the all-day breakfast – each of which costs shy of a tenner.

  1. Royal Festival Hall, (Belvedere Road), SE1 8XX
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Giraffe

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4

If you don’t love Giraffe, you probably don’t have children. It’s not that giving birth suddenly creates a taste for burritos or pesto oil, but new parents have a heightened appreciation of such elements as well-spaced tables, buggy parking, unflappable staff and ground floor toilets. Giraffe’s crayons, sheet of games and spot-on kid’s menu have given many a couple the simple luxury of a breather on a hectic day out – and the food’s not bad.

  1. Riverside, Belvedere Road, (Royal Festival Hall), SE1 8XX
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Ozu

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4

Perhaps it’s a sign of the recessionary times. Ozu, housed in the grand Thames-side County Hall building, used to serve high-end Japanese food, but, following a change of ownership, it has swapped kaiseki for izakaya-style dining. The new look is low-key, with sombre brown wood and a central island surrounded by stools, some tables and a long curving sushi bar. Diners have a prime view of the Houses of Parliament. We visited soon after the reopening and were among only a handful of customers, mostly tourists.

  1. County Hall, (Westminster Bridge Road), SE1 7PB
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Troia

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4

Troia’s small, dimly lit interior is made intimate with a profusion of coloured-glass chandeliers. The place appears far more roomy than it is, thanks to two massive mirrors. It’s close to the London Eye and while there are several other restaurants nearby, Troia holds its own nicely. Despite the name (Ancient Troy is in the west of modern Turkey), the owners are Kurdish but the dishes are mostly similar to those of other London Turkish restaurants, including a wide selection of meze.

  1. 3F Belvedere Road, SE1 7GQ
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Tsuru

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This small Japanese restaurant in the shiny shopping mall behind Tate Modern is aimed at the takeaway crowd with its display case of ready-prepared sushi and salad boxes, and fridge full of canned drinks. You can eat in – perched on leather-topped stools at high shared tables, or at one of the standard tables near the door – but it can get uncomfortably cramped at lunch. Quality is higher than in many high-street sushi outlets, with all food freshly prepared on the premises. Staff are bright and efficient.

  1. 4 Canvey Street, SE1 9AN
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