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Leake Street and The Vaults
Photograph: Jansos/Alamy Stock Photo

22 must-go places in Waterloo and the South Bank

Londoners spill the beans on their favourite things to eat, drink, see and do in the Waterloo and South Bank neighbourhoods

By Time Out Tastemakers
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Want to dodge the commuters and tourists and discover another side of the riverside? Check out these local insider tips from Time Out Tastemakers.

Best cheap eat

Mamuśka is now in Leake Street and does fabulous Polish food!’ Melissa Goldsmith

Marie’s Café for an insanely good pad thai.’ Ioanna Laskari

Yamagoya’s signature ramen never disappoints, with gooey boiled eggs, perfect pork chashu and delicious broth.’ Hannah Summersfield

GoGo Pocha serves Korean food, piping hot at best-value prices.’ Manmeet Singh

Best pub

‘The Mulberry Bush. Such a lovely, homely feel!’ Leena Shah

Vaulty Towers is a great find, with crannies decorated like tree houses, military bunkers and spaceships!’ Debbie Hopper

‘The King’s Arms is a tiny Georgian pub on the corner of a terrace on Roupell Street, a pocket of old London hidden in plain sight.’ Sarah Blaikie

Best bar

Bar Elba. Who doesn’t love a rooftop bar, especially one open in winter?’ Sophie Berkoff

The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden bar is the best place to have a few drinks with friends, with stunning views of the Thames.’ George Christodoulakis

Topolski has a great atmosphere, a good happy hour and delicious cocktails.’ Emily Parsons

Cubana: head there in the wee hours and get acquainted with the cocktail menu and the dancefloor.’ Sarah Blaikie

Tonight Josephine has neon signage, mirror ceilings, French sass and a flamboyant cocktail list.’ Annette Boateng

Best thing to Instagram

‘Without a doubt, Leake Street graffiti tunnel. Every time you go it’s different, and I love watching people spray-painting.’ Emily Parsons

‘At sunset, stand in the middle of Waterloo Bridge and face the City for an epic view of London.’ LeeLee Seah

Best place for coffee

Scootercaffè, where cappuccino is served in authentic Italian cups and there’s the occasional cat chilling on a chair.’ Marianna Meloni

Travelling Through bookshop has a cute little café in the basement where you can enjoy some stories with a cup of joe.’ Manmeet Singh

Best place for culture

‘At the BFI Mediatheque you can watch old silent movies, war propaganda films, Hammer horror… there is so much choice!’ Julie Ramsden

‘The Old and Young Vics feel like playgrounds for the most celebrated actors and directors in London.’ Sarah Blaikie

‘Book a backstage tour at the National Theatre to stroll through the dressing rooms and see where the props are built.’ George Christodoulakis

The Vaults, with its glorious theatre festival and many other cool events throughout the year.’ Marianna Meloni

Best place for fun

‘Indulge your inner six-year-old with rounds of air hockey, a bucket of Slush Puppie and reams of worthless tickets at Namco Funscape, the biggest arcade in London.’ Sarah Blaikie

Your essential guide to Waterloo

Waterloo area guide

Things to do

Waterloo isn't just a train station, or a path to the buzzy South Bank. Far livelier than it was a decade ago, this well-connected south London area is home to a couple of world-famous theatres, the BFI IMAX, the London Eye, quality food markets, hip coffee shops, and plenty of great pubs and bars.

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