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London’s best riverside restaurants

Discover the best places to eat near the Thames, for great food as well as an ace view

Written by
Time Out London Food & Drink
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There’s something magical about dining beside water, whether it’s the silvery Thames or London’s intricate network of canals. By day, riverside diners can delight in watching the passing boats and the odd duck or two, while at night, the water becomes a mirror that reflects the city’s sparkling lights. Here are some memorable options from riverside dining, whether they’re plush South Bank restaurants, casual pitstops, or even cafés on boats. Cast your eyes south for a round-up of our favourite waterside restaurants in London (a few of which can also be found, inevitably, on our best outdoor dining and restaurants with a view lists).

Recommended: Sip a pint by the water at the best riverside pubs

Riverside restaurants in east London

  • Restaurants
  • Global
  • Paddington
  • price 2 of 4

Moored on the Grand Union Canal outside Paddington Station, Darcie Green and May Green aren’t simply floating barges; they’re also floating pieces of art designed by the legendary Sir Peter Blake. With owners from Down Under, it’s no surprise that there are flat whites and slices of banana bread for breakfast, plus bottomless Aussie brunch and a menu of fair dinkum Antipodean-inspired dishes. The combined 50-metre upper deck is perfect in summer.

The Bingham
  • Restaurants
  • Haute cuisine
  • Richmond

For a waterside dining experience straight out of ‘Downton Abbey’, head to this stately, country house-style hotel bordering the Richmond towpath. The spacious, gold-accented restaurant is lit by impressive chandeliers and has huge windows overlooking the river, while a decked patio brings you closer to the water’s edge in fine weather. The modern European menu is as highbrow as the surroundings; dishes such as halibut with jersey royals, confit fennel and fennel velouté are priced accordingly.

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Summerhouse
  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Little Venice

From the owners of nearby Waterway, this atmospheric canal-side gem originally launched as a summer-only pop-up, but became so popular that it’s now a permanent, year-round fixture. It’s easy to see why this place is so popular: the menu majors in flappingly fresh fish, while punters in the open-sided part of the dining room find themselves effectively right on the canal – just remember that this section is closed to the elements during colder months.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Breweries
  • Hackney Wick
  • price 2 of 4

Things don’t get much more bucolic in London’s East End than at this totally hip warehouse-style pizzeria-cum-brewery on the banks of the Lea. In summer, arrive as early as decency allows, bag a reclaimed riverside bench, then proceed to order your first pint of Crate’s own craft beer, lager or cider (with perhaps a pizza on the side). After that, sun yourself, watch the birds and gaze at the boats bobbing past until last orders.

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Duke's Head
  • Bars and pubs
  • Putney

It may date back to Victorian times, but this 150-year-old Putney institution has moved with the times – note the spruced-up parquet floors, dangling metal lamps and gallery of modern artworks. It’s not quite on the water’s edge, but it certainly gets into the riverside spirit – especially when the Boat Race is on. Seasonal dishes go down the gastro route: think home-smoked duck breast with chicory, bobby bean and walnut salad or hanger steak with bone marrow and tarragon butter.

Emilia’s Crafted Pasta
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Tower Bridge
  • price 2 of 4

You guessed it: handcrafted pasta takes centre-stage at this charming little restaurant overlooking St Katharine Docks – and they take the whole business of rolling, shaping and cooking very seriously indeed. The menu is short and familiar, but the results are so unpretentiously delicious you’d think they’d come straight from nonna’s hob. Staff are sweet, the vibe is cosy, and prices are south of £15 per plate.

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The Crabtree
  • Bars and pubs
  • Gastropubs
  • Fulham
  • price 2 of 4

Given its location right by the banks of the Thames, it’s no wonder that the Crabtree’s extensive beer garden gets jam-packed with drinkers on sunny weekends. However, locals don’t just come here for the river views: regular comedy nights, beer-tasting events and quizzes also tempt people inside once in a while. The menu pushes the envelope on pub grub, with the likes of teriyaki-glazed aubergine or stone bass with Israeli couscous alongside ale-battered haddock, burgers and steaks.

Gunpowder
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Tower Bridge
  • price 2 of 4

Sitting glamorously beside Tower Bridge, this is the second branch of Gunpowder, the home-style Indian sharing-plates joint. Split over two floors, this riverside spot is much bigger than the Spitalfields original, features stylish design, an old-school Indian soundtrack, and best of all, a delicious menu of both traditional and more innovative spicy dishes.

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Number 90
  • Restaurants
  • Eclectic
  • Hackney Wick

Billed as a ‘bar and kitchen’, this all-rounder sits right beside the Regent’s Canal – no wonder Hackney Wick hipsters crowd around rough-cut communal tables and lounge in old-school deckchairs within a toe’s dip of the water (you wouldn’t dare, would you?). Popping here for a well-priced Sunday roast can herald the start of a lost afternoon, with craft beers, cocktail coolers and a full programme of leftfield cultural events on offer to keep punters entertained.

Le Pont de la Tour
  • Restaurants
  • Grills
  • Tower Bridge

The folks at D&D London know a thing or two about dress-to-impress London dining, and this classy Thames-side beauty is a looker inside as well as out – thanks to a luxe refurbishment that bears all the hallmarks of its owners. As well as sweeping views of Tower Bridge and beyond, Le Pont de La Tour touts a sought-after terrace, a conventional brasserie-style Bar & Grill and a posh restaurant majoring in elaborately plated modern dishes with an international flavour.

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The Lighterman
  • Bars and pubs
  • Gastropubs
  • King’s Cross
  • price 2 of 4

With its first-floor wraparound terrace and an alfresco area overlooking Regent’s Canal, this capacious bar-restaurant hybrid is a magnet for waterside drinkers and diners. The Lighterman’s alfresco spaces all operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so prepare for a bun fight on hot days. Happily, the canal views from inside the beautifully decorated dining rooms are just as soul-restoring, while menu highlights include wood-grilled meats, superfood salads and flatbreads topped with thoughtful, seasonal combinations.

OXO Tower Restaurant
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4

Oxo Tower is a bona fide London landmark, so it’s no surprise that its eighth-floor restaurant, brasserie and bar emanate a sense of occasion. A glass frontage makes the most of the river views, and the plum vantage point allows you to fully appreciate the splendour of St Paul’s (note that it’s first come, first served for terrace tables). The food has an adventurous global slant, with accompaniment from a jazz trio in the evening.

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London Shell Co.
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Paddington

Climb aboard The Prince Regent for a posh lunch and a cruise, accompanied by some sweet-voiced jazz and the odd sea-related poem. Moored up next to Paddington station, the barge chugs along the Regent’s Canal to Camden Lock and back again, taking in sights such as London Zoo and Regent’s Park while guests partake of the classiest seafood boozathon in town. Alternatively, they do a ‘static lunch’ in Paddington Central (Tuesday-Friday).

  • Bars and pubs
  • Gastropubs
  • Limehouse
  • price 2 of 4

Gordon Ramsay’s Limehouse gastropub makes the most of its Thames-edge location with a bright conservatory complete with retractable roof, plus a handful of pleasant alfresco tables overlooking the wharves of Rotherhithe. Drinkers can enjoy a glass of superior wine or a real ale right by the river, plus some gussied-up Ramsay-style pub grub. And did we mention the weekend barbecues on the terrace in summer (weather-permitting)?

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The Gun
  • Bars and pubs
  • Gastropubs
  • Isle of Dogs
  • price 2 of 4

Way out east, far away from the City’s maddening crowds, this 250-year-old gastropub (now owned by Fuller’s Brewery) nevertheless gets rammed with people who have made the pilgrimage and are ready to fall for its many charms: the vast outdoor terrace (nearly opposite the O2 complex in Greenwich), washed over by bracing breezes; the smart gastro menu and seriously good bar bites; the globe-trotting wine list, the beers and the riverside views unspoilt by tourists.

Swan at Shakespeare's Globe
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4

What’s in a view? A great deal, judging by this restaurant attached to Shakespeare’s Globe on Bankside. Bag a seat facing the window if you can – by night, the riverside aspect of St Paul’s in all its illuminated glory is stunning. As well as making the most of its watery backdrop, this venue also allows visitors to feel part of the bustling walkway. It’s a win-win situation.  

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  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Haggerston
  • price 1 of 4

Breakfast on the towpath overlooking the Regent’s Canal near Whitmore Bridge is a cracking way to start the day, and once you’ve bagged a table you may be tempted to linger for hours – especially if the sun is shining. This self-consciously low-key café has always been a favourite with passing dog-walkers, runners and cyclists, who stop off for coffee and snacks, rustic but skilfully cooked hot lunches and light-as-air cakes.

  • Restaurants
  • Bethnal Green
  • price 2 of 4

There may be a touch of the ‘bacaro’ about this easy-going bar/eatery in a one-time art gallery by the banks of the Regent’s Canal, but don’t expect to see any gondolas floating by – this is Bethnal Green, not Venice, after all. Edgy interior design, tall windows and tables painted in garish high-gloss colours set the scene for cicchetti nibbles, plates of pasta and a tip-top selection of traditional spritzes.

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Rick Stein
  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Barnes
  • price 3 of 4

Ok, it’s not a bracing Cornish seascape, but we doubt you’ll be disappointed by the views from this first London outpost of Rick Stein’s ever-burgeoning empire, right by the river in well-to-do Barnes. Ask for a window table to make the most of the Thames-side vistas while gorging on plates of messy, finger-lickin’ Singapore crab, Indonesian seafood curry, hake alla carlina and other fabulous seafood favourites from the TV chef’s worldwide travels.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Battersea
  • price 2 of 4

As part of the swanky Battersea Power Station redevelopment, stylish restaurant Fiume knocks out proper southern Italian nosh, with a menu designed by Francesco Mazzei.

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River Café
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Fulham

Set back from the Thames Path, the River Café is a celeb in its own right, and something of an icon when it comes to riverside dining in the capital. Warm, buzzy and casually expensive, it’s dedicated to serving unfussy yet stunning Italian food based on artisan seasonal ingredients. Ok, the prices are excruciating, but portions are generous – so go for a summer lunch, sit on the terrace, order a plate of pasta and live like the A-listers do.

The Waterway
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Little Venice
  • price 3 of 4

Just a stone’s throw from its sibling Summerhouse, this modern, whitewashed gastropub stands out on the canal’s towpath – head to the terrace for the best views of the water. On sunny weekends, locals pile in for upmarket brunches complete with virgin cocktails, while alfresco Sunday roasts are another big draw. Otherwise, dip into a menu that offers salads, sharing platters and pastas alongside various grilled specialities including ‘super deluxe’ burgers.

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Royal China
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Canary Wharf
  • price 3 of 4

Nestled on Canary Wharf’s stark waterfront, this branch of the Cantonese restaurant looks glamorous against the modernist-esque riverside. It’s big and airy inside – there are hanging lanterns, golden decorations, and plenty of mirrors strapped to the walls. And the food is delicious too, with fragrant dim sum, memorable satay chicken, and majestic roast duck. 

Sea Containers at Mondrian London
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • South Bank

Looking for a stylish Thames-side riverside restaurant that promises equally stunning views inside and out? Then try this Tom Dixon-designed dining room, where the shipping-themed decor nods to London’s docklands and you can watch the joggers while ticking off the notable sights on the opposite riverbank. You can also roll with the watery theme by ordering some fresh from the ‘sea’ section of the cosmopolitan menu. Don’t miss a pre- or post-dinner cocktail in mixology maestro Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Dandelyan, either.

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Coppa Club
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Tower Hill
  • price 2 of 4

Boasting one of the biggest riverside terraces in London, Coppa Club occupies a prime spot with Tower Bridge in near-sight and The Shard just opposite. Whether you’re in the restaurant, café or central bar, tall windows mean you can soak up the view even when it’s too chilly for alfresco. To eat? Sourdough pizzas, pastas and grills, plus a few nibbles – if you’re just here for the views.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4

A fail-safe on the first floor of the Royal Festival Hall, Skylon’s wow-inducing views of the Thames and the South Bank make it a permanently spectacular venue, day or night. The restaurant’s menu is sufficiently fancy to underscore those vistas, offering dishes such as turbot with golden beetroot, seaweed butter and lovage that are several cuts above your average South Bank filler. If your finances won’t stretch to a three-course extravaganza, opt for a drink in the chic cocktail lounge.

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Rotunda Bar & Restaurant
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • King’s Cross
  • price 2 of 4

Rotunda was one of the first swanky restaurants to see the potential of its Regent’s Canal location: the dining room gives wide-angled views of the aquatic action outside, while the large shaded terrace is a lovely spot on warm evenings. In the kitchen, the focus is on quality meat from the owner’s Northumbrian farm (think Josper-grilled sirloin steak, rib of beef and slow-cooked shoulder of lamb) backed by elaborate desserts and excellent wines. 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Gastropubs
  • Richmond
  • price 1 of 4

If you’ve never been to a German beer garden – and don’t fancy a trip to Munich – you could do worse than Stein’s, a live-wire ‘outdoor’ restaurant promising ‘the Bavarian experience’ beside a stretch of the Thames towpath. Its huge riverside space can seat up to 300 alfresco diners at shared wooden tables, many of which offer some shelter from the elements. Don your lederhosen for the menu, which features doughy pretzels, gigantic wurst and steins of Continental beer.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • London Bridge

A riverside Italian restaurant with Bancone’s ex-head chef running the kitchen. The new outdoor 100-seater terrace has some commanding views of Tower Bridge. Chuck in a new Sicilian menu and you’re laughing. 

Waterhouse
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Hoxton

It may be surrounded by industrial units just off Kingsland Road, but this aptly named venture also benefits hugely from its location overlooking the Regent’s Canal. The outdoor tables are prime spots for people- (and duck-) watching, as Haggerston’s cyclists and dog-walkers parade along the waterway. The restaurant is part of a charitable scheme that trains underprivileged locals in the catering trade – so don’t be surprised to hear the chef putting apprentices through their paces in the open kitchen.

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Beit el Zaytoun
  • Restaurants
  • Lebanese
  • Park Royal

Enjoy Lebanese delights in a riverside garden at this appealing Harlesden restaurant. If you go in the morning you can enjoy breakfast items like labneh, eggs and balilah (lemon and chickpeas), while later in the day you can get your hands on hot and cold mezze, salads, kebab platters, burgers and wraps. 

Find more interesting outdoor options

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