The best restaurants in London Bridge
A handsome and fashionably modern enclave of genuine Middle Eastern cooking on Borough Market, Arabica is a world away from Edgware Road’s Levantine cafés or the marble palaces designed to attract Gulf money. Originally a stall selling imported provisions, it now peddles a huge menu of native and international hits – think za’atar-spiced flatbreads, mezze, pide, creative kebabs, etc. The coffee’s good, but so are the cocktails. Table-turning is strict, although Levantine-style hospitality means you won’t feel rushed.
Overlooking Borough Market, Arthur Hooper’s was originally a greengrocer – but don’t be fooled by the English moniker. The main contenders on the menu are mouth-watering Italian small plates, ranging from handmade pappardelle with duck ragù and orange pangrattato to mussels with ’nduja and chickpeas. Continental cheeses, cured meats and heaps of veggie options add variety, and AH also cuts it as a dark, moody wine bar – although it’s best to sit outside during the day.
Venue says Cheese and wine pairing evening at Arthur Hooper's, Monday 30 September at 6.45pm. Click website for tickets.
Many of Yotam Ottolenghi’s one-time cooks are doing it for themselves these days – witness this clubby Tel Aviv-style rendezvous from chef Eran Tibi. Set in a Southwark railway arch, Bala Baya is a bakery, a fast-paced pitta kiosk at lunchtime and a buzzy restaurant in the evenings. Come here for astonishing little Middle Eastern-inspired dishes such as king prawn baklava with bitter lime syrup and nori dust or ‘aubergine tea’ with date purée and citrus buttermilk.
It may be holed up in a former underground car park on hot-ticket Bermondsey Street, but this asphalt-floored venue really does feel like a proper restaurant – and has the seasonal menu to prove it. The trendy bare-brick ambience is just right, and the cooking throws up some wonderful moments – despite high-ish prices and the odd misfire in the kitchen. Cocktails, craft beer, DJs and live music pull the crowds, and there’s an open outdoor space for chilling.
A teasing shot of warm, villagey France in Bermondsey, this infectiously cosy eatery works to a daily blackboard menu of smartly executed bourgeois classics scrawled up in the native tongue. There are just three choices per course, but prices are sensible and flavours are true (sardines escabèche followed by veal marengo, say). You can even come here for a plate of cheese or charcuterie with a shot of pastis. Either way, you’ll leave feeling oh-so satisfied.
Batik textiles, colourful masks, incense and acres of carved teak spell exotic romance at this self-styled ‘Thai-Malay’ favourite in the shadow of The Shard – so book the private table à deux on the mezzanine if you’re feeling flirty. To eat, inventive vegan and veggie dishes sit alongside hawker classics, curries and east-west mash-ups such as spiced lamb neck with tamarind and sweet-potato mascarpone or red snapper with Malaysian sambal and squid-ink linguine (the restaurant’s name means ‘mix and match’).
Sizzling steaks and sustainably sourced fish cooked over coals are the headliners at this London offshoot of Brighton’s Coal Shed – a handsome space of smoky mirrors, metal and dark wood, with a jazzy laid-back soundtrack as accompaniment. Although the big plates hold centre stage, don’t ignore their memorable smaller cousins (short-rib croquettes with punchy gochujang mayo, for example). Brilliant service seals the deal.
Venue says Celebrate in our private dining room with a delicious feasting menu!
If you need cheering up, head down to this hit Mexican hideaway beneath a railway arch next to Borough Market. Owned by the Hart brothers (of Barrafina fame), Pastor is a taco joint with pedigree and a rollicking fiesta vibe. Order the mighty ‘al pastór’ pork taco, the DIY short rib (with a steamer of tacos on the side) or the dirty and delicious ‘gringa’ quesadillas served ‘open-faced’ with fresh salsas. Just add some frozen margaritas and a blast of loud Latin music.
Close to Borough Market, this busy little spot is regularly jam-packed with tourists, dates and business folk. At lunchtime, just about everyone goes for the juicy, pink-middled cheeseburger, but also check out seasonal stars ranging from palourde clams with samphire and devilled butter to fazzoletti pasta with lamb ragù and parmesan. The honey-bricked, half-rustic, half-industrial dining room has loads of natural light and a great buzz, but in summer the pavement tables are perfect for enjoying the market’s bustle.
The Borough branch of the ace Hawksmoor chain delivers more of its standard-bearing steakhouse nosh, and follows the house style to the letter – so expect best-in-show British beef (including guest breeds), bone marrow, belly ribs and more, all served in the butch, leather-flecked surrounds of an old hops and fruit warehouse. ‘Market’ specials add a new twist to the set-up, and the rollicking atmosphere is fuelled by some incredibly moreish cocktails.
You’ll probably be able to see Chinatown from Hutong’s lofty perch on The Shard, but that’s where the similarities end – this glitzy venue swaps wipe-clean tables, picture menus and grouchy staff for glamorous oriental-inflected dark-wood interiors, beautifully presented Sichuan and northern Chinese dishes, and on-the-ball service. The standard of the food almost surpasses the wow-factor of the skyline views, making Hutong a shoo-in for the ‘expensive but worth it’ section of your restaurant hit-list.
Spawned from José Pizzaro’s namesake restaurant further along Bermondsey Street, this tapas bebé has the genuine feel of rustic Spanish hangout – all plain brick walls, timbers, tiles and stools. Food-wise, expect fantastically fresh renditions of the classics at easy-to-swallow prices (deep-flavoured tortilla, crispy/creamy croquetas, patatas bravas, perfectly flash-fried prawns al ajillo etc). You can’t book, but José’s doors-wide-open attitude is bang-on for the neighbourhood, especially when the sherry is flowing.
As modern Thai restaurants go, Kin + Deum (literally ‘eat + drink’) is the full shebang: a laid-back, minimalist space serving up big helpings of thrilling, Bangkok-inspired food with the aid of some genuinely lovely staff. Our top picks? The crunchy, chewy ‘red rice curry salad’, the soft aubergine with a tangy tamarind dip, the pitch-perfect som tam and the eye-wateringly fiery pad spaghetti prawn kee mao (spiked with ferocious bird’s eye chillies).
There’s a real frisson to this brooding tapas joint beneath the arches leading to Borough Market, with its moodily lit bar and tunnel-like first-floor dining room rumbling to the rhythm of trains passing overhead. An all-Spanish team has filled the menu with specialities from their homeland – everything from monkfish with romesco sauce and crispy leeks to braised pork cheeks with mash and horseradish. Enjoy it all at one of the two-person booths, over a bottle of Spanish vino.
Venue says Sink your teeth into a carnivorous menu of meat and tapas beneath the railway arches leading into Borough Market.
Bang outside Flat Iron Square, pocket-sized Lupins is in the small-plates business – and boy does it know how to deliver. Expect eclectic seasonal flavours maxed out for colour, vibrancy and zing – full marks for the roast hake with ’nduja risotto and the pigeon breast with smoky chipotle butter, charred baby gem and green chilli yoghurt. Amazingly, everything comes from a kitchen that’s no bigger than the cooking area in your average Londoner’s flat.
A grown-up gorgeous Southwark reboot of the charmingly pokey Covent Garden original, Native celebrates all things wild and just-plucked from these fair isles – although the kitchen’s efforts are slicker and showier than before. Everything’s spot on, from the line-up of clever ‘wasting snacks’ (made from ingredients destined for the bin) to the home-cured meats and seasonally bagged game. It’s not exactly cheap, but it’s magnificent – and you can book.
The interiors of this glitzy, eye-wateringly priced venue could belong to any international destination, but the stunning views tell you that this is London in all its glory. Book a seat near a window, then splash out on dishes from an eclectic, international menu noted for its line-up of Josper-grilled meat and seafood. The final bill may be scary, but if you’re in the mood to go for excess all areas, Oblix might just be your golden ticket.
Just minutes from Borough Market, this sleek, speedy pasta joint (related to Islington’s Trullo) serves up dishes that are small enough and cheap enough to let you overindulge. Down-to-earth service is swift without being rushed, while the daily menu might run from tagliarini with crab and chilli to fettuccine with violet artichokes – although pappardelle with eight-hour beef-shin ragù is a fixture. You can linger over the wines and desserts, but everyone queuing outside will hate you.
From the folks behind Casse-Croûte, this charming restaurant in a mock-Tudor pavilion on the edge of Tanner Street Park is affably Gallic right down to its untranslated menu and French-speaking staff. Flavours are gutsy, rustic and traditional to the core – asparagus with a poached egg and charcuterie on toast, soupe au pistou, braised lamb neck with barley. They also do rotisserie black-leg chicken with roasties to takeaway (order at least one hour in advance).
The genial José Pizarro has a thing for Bermondsey Street – he opened his first two restaurants just a few doors down from each other before branching out to the City. Pizarro is more grown-up than José – there are squishy, curved leather booths, a cava list and more elaborate Spanish dishes on the menu. However, the place still has a neighbourhood vibe – locals start their night here with a round of vermút cocktails and some high-rolling bar snacks before moving on.
Don’t expect to be given a menu at this Michelin-starred outpost of modernist cuisine. Instead, tattooed wunderkind chef Tom Sellers wheels out a cavalcade of playfully artistic plates – the self-proclaimed ‘chapters’ in a gripping gastronomic tale that requires your uninterrupted sensory attention for a goodly amount of time. It’s easy to digest, although the full extent of this seriously weighty tome is only revealed once the bill arrives.
Despite its first-floor location overlooking Borough Market’s throngs, Roast’s wall-to-wall arched windows give it a conservatory feel. Don’t expect a relaxed vibe, though: the dining room thrives on its busy, clattering atmosphere as tourists, visiting business types and fans of reinvented British food get their chops around well-made dishes ranging from pork belly with mash and apple sauce to goosnargh chicken and quail’s egg pie. Breakfast and Sunday lunch are the big occasions here.
Venue says Game season is upon us! Our chef has created a new game recipe: grouse tikka masala available from 27th August in our restaurant.
Crowdfunding does it again. Having wobbled in Shoreditch, the new incarnation of Santo Remedio near London Bridge is simply brilliant. Low-lit, inviting and spread over two floors, it seduces punters with easy-listening Latin grooves, flickering tea lights and some inspired food – guacamole sprinkled with tiny grasshoppers, wholemeal quesadillas, Mexican-style prawn ceviche, charred lamb chops with tangy mole. There are punishing shots of mezcal too.
Venue says A vibrant Mexican restaurant with an upstairs tequila and mezcal bar, serving authentic regional Mexican cuisine and cocktails.
While his three offspring are making headlines at nearby Kin + Deum, Suchard Inngern Snr is still holding the fort at this modest neighbourhood Thai restaurant – a Tooley Street favourite that just keeps rolling on. The dining room may be small but the menu’s huge, covering everything from chicken satay, tom yum soup and som tam salad to curries, stir-fries, noodles and so on – just remember to ask for a fried egg on top of your rice.
Opened in 2004 as a spin-off to Brindisa’s Spanish food-importing business, this original branch of the tapas chain serves as a gateway to the delights of Borough Market. The queues have calmed down, but it’s still an affordable and charmingly buzzy spot if you fancy some pretty decent tapas – although the food is more hit and miss than it was back in the day. Our advice: go off-peak or on Sundays when the market is closed.
Founded by a real-life Texan (he’s the one in the stetson – no, really), this place has such a self-explanatory name that we don’t really need to add much more. On the menu is everything your cardiologist has ever warned you not to eat (even down to the white bread accompanying the mains): deep-fried chicken wings, fatty cuts of meat oak-smoked to melting perfection, cheese-stuffed jalapeños wrapped in bacon… Clean-eating it ain’t, but for one night only, it’s worth loosening that belt buckle.
Younger sibling of the Farringdon wine bar/restaurant, this London Bridge branch of Vivat Bacchus trumpets its South African connections via a carefully chosen global wine list that gives preference to Cape growers and producers. South African cuisine is also represented on the international menu, with contributions from biltong, ostrich burgers and malva pudding (a rainbow take on sticky toffee). Whiffy selections gleaned from the impressive walk-in cheese room are another highlight.
You don’t have to wait till Shrove Tuesday comes around for your pancake fix – thanks to this bright, buzzy venue squeezed into one corner of Flat Iron Square. Sweet and savoury buttermilk varieties abound (anyone for ‘1,000 baby greens’ or a combo of banana, praline and marshmallow?), and the owners also have what they call ‘another batter’ for those who require gluten-free and dairy-free versions.
Venue says A not so traditional pancake house serving good, honest sweet and savoury food and beautiful craft ciders.
Wright Brothers’ bustling, olde-worlde interiors and location next to historic Borough Market conspire to take you back to a time when oysters were poor man’s victuals in London. Unfortunately, the selection on offer here is priced for the modern pocket but, on the plus side, you’ll be swallowing some of the best bivalves in town, alongside other seafood classics such as devilled whitebait, dressed crab and fish pie. Perfect for a quick, satisfying and atmospheric lunch.
Snap up exclusive discounts in London
Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...