Where to watch the London Marathon

Planning to offer some moral support at 2015's race? Here are the best spectator spots along the route

Let's be honest, running 26 miles dressed as a chicken is hardly the simplest of tasks, is it? So if you're not taking part in the London Marathon on Sunday April 26 2015, be sure to show your support for those who are. Heed the pointers below to find the best spectating spots and track down nearby pubs and bars for when all that cheering and applauding leaves you gasping for refreshment.

The Start: Greenwich

The start (or starts to be precise, since elite men elite women and the mass race all begin in slightly different places) in Greenwich will be heaving. Your support, whether general or specific, will probably be more appreciated later on. Transport: Greenwich/Cutty Sark DLR or Blackheath rail. Check out places to eat and drink near the Marathon start below.

Greenwich Union

Food runs from a humble bacon butty to chargrilled steaks; you’ll also find wines, coffees and teas. Throw in a small front terrace, and you have a very tidy operation.

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London

Old Brewery

The Old Brewery, as you might guess, is all about beer. But this joint offers great pub food in comfortable surroundings, with genial service.

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Pavilion Tea House

Situated a stone’s throw from the Royal Observatory, drop in simply for the Fairtrade tea and coffee, a glass of wine or a hefty slice of cake.

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Blackheath

Richard I

Along with the staunchly British Youngs range and Bombardier, you can find Corona, Tiger and Peroni by the bottle, plus platters and baguettes as well as steak and chips from the newly designed menu.

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London

1. The Highway: Mile 13 and Mile 22

The race doubles back on itself here, so take up a position on the central reservation and you'll see the runners twice – and the first of the runners going east may see the elite women heading back in the opposite direction. Transport: Shadwell DLR or rail. Check out places to eat and drink near the Highway below.

Il Bordello

Venue says: For 16 years Il Bordello has been delighting Londoners with its hearty Italian cooking and warm, cheerful atmosphere. Large Lempicka prints adorn the walls and a gleaming copper bar acts as the restaurant’s centrepiece. Our extensive menu is simply overflowing with beautifully fresh fish and seafood, succulent meat, hand-thrown pizzas and traditional pasta dishes. Sample delicacies like the Insalata di piovra, a tasty octopus salad or the Bresaola della casa with olive oil, parmesan and a dash of lemon. Mains courses include to name a few, Cotoletta Milanese, tender veal coated in golden breadcrumbs or our spectacular pizza Il Bordello with plenty of homemade passata, lashings of creamy mozzarella, artichoke, red peppers and Parma ham. By way of an accompaniment, enjoy a bottle of Italian wine of which we mainly import direct from small Italian vineyards. Our house wine is just £14.50 and other wines include Barolo at £38.95 . Recently we were awarded a certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor for which we are eternally grateful to our customers. Unlike so many London Italian restaurants, Il Bordello sidesteps pretentiousness and instead focuses on delivering deliciously authentic Italian cuisine. An evening at Il Bordello will remain in your memory long after dining with us.

A lovely, unpretentious little Italian, buzzing and near capacity on a weeknight, Il Bordello delivers on quality, and certainly delivers on quantity: the pizzas are larger than the dinner plate they arrive on. The choice runs from margherita to adriatico (with smoked salmon and rocket); the house pizza, the Il Bordello, sports tomato, mozzarella, artichoke, red and green peppers and parma ham. Antipasto was an eclectic mix of salami, cured ham, tinned tuna, marie rose sauce, an egg and a prawn, as well as a scattering of pickled vegetables – all nice enough.

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Wapping

Lahore

There are three great places to eat Indian food in Whitechapel. Along with Tayyabs and Needoo, Lahore dishes out generous portions of brilliantly bold Punjabi grills, snacks and curries, and has been doing so for decades. A recent expansion has eased some of the queues that form on weekend evenings as crowds of hungry, in-the-know diners flock from near and far. They come for rich, powerfully spiced dahls and meat curries (some on the bone), piles of sweet onion bhajia, fiery grilled lamb chops and seekh kebabs, and fresh breads dripping with ghee. 

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Whitechapel

Prospect of Whitby

Dwarfed by residential new-builds on either side, the Prospect proclaims its history from the off. ‘Built c1520’, offers the sign at the front; inside, signs on the walls suggest that the pub was a regular haunt of everyone from Captain Kidd to Samuel Pepys, Richard Burton to Princess Margaret. (Who now regularly haunt it. Possibly.) Behind the Prospect’s bowed, boiled-sweet windows is a solid, barrel-studded, black wooden bar that now offers draught Erdinger and Staropramen alongside such real ales as Wells Bombardier, Sharp’s Doom Bar and Young’s London Gold.

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Tower Hamlets

Wapping Food

Dining under the soaring ceilings, original green tiles and industrial-sized chains of a defunct hydraulic power station is part of the appeal here. Tables are set among old machinery that’s softened to magical effect with dozens of candles after dusk. The unique space also features a bright, airy entrance dining area that’s good for lunches, and a cavernous, spooky art gallery at the back. A small selection of art magazines and books completes the Wapping Project’s triple purpose. The place attracts an urbane crowd. 

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Tower Hamlets

2. Westferry Road: Mile 16

Just over 10 miles to go and the race is starting to hot up as the more serious of the runners start to up their pace, leaving the rest to grit their teeth and continue at a steady slog. Transport: Canary Wharf tube or Heron Quays DLR. Check out places to eat and drink near Westferry Road below.

Boisdale Canary Wharf

This highly enjoyable member of the Boisdale triumvirate is almost laughably incongruous. On the second floor is an appropriately smart bar-diner that offers a brasserie menu and mollifying puffs in the Cigar Library or on the terrace, but the third-floor main restaurant has a cod-Scottish gentlemen’s-club theme entirely at odds with the office-casual modernist architecture around it. 

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Docklands

Pizza Express

Pizza Express is a popular and affordable chain of pizza restaurants with more than 100 branches in London.

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Docklands

3. Mudchute Park: Mile 17

Taking the kids to see a parent run? This is a good spot to choose – very handy for a visit to Mudchute Farm. Encourage the kids to lend support to the rest of the competitors, too; it's not so crowded here and their cheers could make a real difference. Transport: Mudchute DLR. Check out places to eat and drink near Mudchute Park below.

Cutty Sark Tavern

The history may be confusing, but the location can’t be beat. A Georgian freehouse since either 1695 or 1795, depending on whether you believe the sign outside or the writing in the coloured glazed panes in the front door, this hostelry was converted to its present state in the early 19th century. At that time, the waterfront was a busy and thirsty place; this landmark remains, beside an eyesore power station but with perfect views encompassing the Dome, Docklands and beyond. 

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Greenwich

Frizzante @ Mudchute

Frizzante, the company that runs the lovely café at Hackney City Farm, took on Mudchute Kitchen in spring 2011 (having already taken over the café at Surrey Docks City Farm). You’ll find the café in the middle of Mudchute City Farm, a short walk from Mudchute DLR station. It’s a world away from the towers of Canary Wharf, which poke up over the fields to the north. The café looks as it always did, with wooden tables, shelves of books, white walls and posters about Isle of Dogs inhabitants.

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Isle of Dogs

Old Brewery

The Old Brewery, as you might guess, is all about beer. OK, it’s partly about the Grade-II listed hall and World Heritage Site location, amid the quads of the Royal Naval College (now Greenwich University). It’s owned by Greenwich microbrewery Meantime, and even the decor is dominated by beer – a giant chandelier made of 2,000 blue bottles, eight copper brewing vats, and a wall frieze illustrating the history of brewing. 

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Trafalgar Tavern

Thanks to the Thames lapping against its wall and the resulting busy tourist trade, this place is something of a local landmark. Built in 1837 and regally restored in 1968, it feels more historic than it is, with photographs of maritime scenes and portraits of braided admirals aiding the illusion; there are rooms named after Nelson, Hardy and Howe.

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Greenwich

4. Blackfriars Underpass: Mile 24

The course takes the runners through the underpass here – catch them as they emerge into daylight having wrestled with their demons in a rare moment of privacy. Transport: London Blackfriars rail. Check out places to eat and drink near Mudchute Park below. Check out places to eat and drink near Blackfriars Underpass below.

Barbecoa

Venue says: Located in the heart of the City, Barbecoa sits overlooking St Paul's Cathedral. The breath-taking views, vibrant atmosphere and incredible food will make any dining experience special - whether it's a business lunch, a catch up with friends, or a romantic evening meal for two. Opened four years ago by Jamie Oliver, Barbecoa is a celebration of incredible produce and fire-based cooking. Our chefs create beautiful, seasonal dishes using traditional techniques such as the Texas pit smoker, Argentine grill, Japanese robata grill, tandoor and wood-fired oven. The love and passion for food can be felt throughout the restaurant. What sets Barbecoa apart from the rest, is not just the traditional techniques - but also the in-house butchery. Located just below the restaurant, their team of butchers source the finest meat from around the UK and dry-age it in-house, creating meat that is second-to-none.

There’s an industrial feel to this glam shopping-centre restaurant – and we don’t just mean its cavernous proportions and metallic faux-factory decor. You can almost sense the purr of the production line that delivers upmarket grills and US-style barbecue dishes from open kitchens to over 200 diners, via a bevy of perma-perky, black-shirted staff.

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City

Black Friar

Built in 1875 on the site of a medieval Dominican friary, the Black Friar had its interior completely remodelled in the Arts and Crafts style. Now a Nicholson’s, its bright panes, intricate friezes and carved slogans (‘Industry is Ale’, ‘Haste is Slow’) still make a work of art out of the main saloon, adjoined by a prosaic one linked by a marble-topped bar.

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City

Bread Street Kitchen

To judge by this venue’s size and the elaborate Russell Sage interiors – a mash-up of art deco and industrial – Gordon Ramsay can’t be doing too badly. Bread Street Kitchen is located across the One New Change hallway from Barbecoa, Jamie Oliver’s barbecue joint with Adam Perry Lang. Entering the cavernous upstairs bistro is sheer fun, like stepping out of the bowels of a stadium into the stands. 

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City

Northbank

Northbank has a marvellous location: by the Thames, at the foot of the Millennium Bridge, with views across to Tate Modern (but not the river, thanks to the embankment wall). It’s a two-fold operation, with a bar at one end next to the large outdoor terrace – both fill with City drinkers come the evening – and a corridor-like restaurant at the other.

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Bankside

5. Embankment: Mile 25

The runners are more spread out and visible now and the goal is within their grasp. Cheer them on towards the finish then head for the alphabetically signposted meet-up points in Horse Guards Road and Horse Guards Parade. Transport: Embankment tube or Charing Cross rail. Check out places to eat and drink near Embankment below.

Gordon's

Gordon’s was established in its present form in 1890, but the exposed brickwork, flickering candlelight and tobacco-stained fixtures and fittings in the low basement vaults make it feel older still. Like the crowds, which are younger and livelier than you might expect, the wine list is surprisingly modern, hopping readily from the classic regions of France to South America and beyond.

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Trafalgar Square

Lobby Lounge at the Corinthia

The Corinthia Hotel is the best new five-star hotel you’ve probably never heard of. Between Trafalgar Square and Embankment, the building looks Orwellian from the outside, but inside is all sweetness and light. In the Lobby Lounge, smiling waitresses glide around like air hostesses from 1960s adverts. Under glass cloches, killer Battenbergs await your bite. Consultant Claire Clark is the Corinthia’s cake guru.

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Trafalgar Square

Lupita

The owners of Lupita showed some savvy when choosing Villiers Street – the narrow, crowded hill that runs between Embankment tube and Charing Cross station – as the place to set up shop. By day, this good-looking, capable Mexican restaurant gets passing trade from tourists and office workers; by night, it’s descended on by commuters and revellers, many of whom are tipsy and hungry. Choose carefully, and you can construct an interesting meal here.

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Trafalgar Square

Terroirs

Terroirs positions itself as an evangelist for natural wines, but is equally valued for the quality of its informal French cooking and its buzzy atmosphere. Gastronomes, the wine trade and in-the-know pre-theatre diners fill the split-level bistro-style space. That the wine list is 27 pages long and the menu is written on a table mat doesn’t reflect the priorities here. The dozen or so small plates, plus cheese and charcuterie and main-course specials, offer good options for both hunger- and thirst-driven customers.

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Trafalgar Square

Check out our ten top marathon facts

Whether you're limbering up to take part or just out for the fun of it, discover some amazing marathon facts as Blue Badge Tourist Guide Marc Belben tells tales of marathons past

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Comments

5 comments
AriesatLarge
AriesatLarge

DOES ANYBODY KNOW IF I CAN JOIN THE MARATHON AT THE LAST MOMENT?. JUST GO THERE. JOIN THE PEOPLE AND RUN.

Oldbag
Oldbag

What would have been helpful would be to put some times as to when the leading runners and then the bulk of the runners would hit those spots.....

chrisppy
chrisppy

Great article.. Big help as my friend is a runner for scope and I had no idea what to do!well all sorted now may even squeeze a nostalgic visit to mudchute farm, as that looks like a whole lot of fun as well!

This is me
This is me

RE: Blackfriars Underpass: Mile 24 If you fancy one of the suggested restaurants, pubs or bars, remember to check first that it is open on Sunday - many City places are not.

Carol M
Carol M

No you can't. I,ve seen them pull people off on the last half mile for not having an official race number. They know all the tricks such as wearing 4 safety pins and claiming to have lost the number !!