It has been scientifically proven that twirling cacio e pepe while looking directly at a river is good for the soul. Okay, so we’re not scientists, and we’re pretty sure that even if we were, we wouldn’t be able to measure how good something is for the soul, but there’s just something about summer and water that puts everyone in a good mood. So whether you’re looking for somewhere to eat after a stroll by the river, or a meal overlooking one of London’s most famous landmarks, here are our favourite spots to eat near the river Thames.
THE RIVERSIDE SPOTS
The fact that Tavolino’s terrace overlooks one of London’s quintessential landmarks - Tower Bridge - means this very well might be one of the best terraces in the whole of London. Serving handmade pasta and proper negronis, their huge, rattan-chaired terrace has something very dolce vita about it. There are big views of the river. There are little kids frolicking in the nearby fountains. And there’s a whole lot of ricotta on the menu. By the way, if you come here without getting involved in the nduja tagliatelle or the cacio e pepe, then you’re doing it wrong.
Kingston prides itself on being ‘upon’ the Thames. And we can see why when we head to the Riverside Walk on a sunny day. The scenes are filled with people strolling down the river, watching people row by, and a strip of chain restaurants and proper pubs. And at the start of this strip is Chakra, An excellent Indian spot serving everything from Desi classics like kake da lamb rogan josh and fish moilee, to lamb chops and mixed grill platters. You pretty much can’t go wrong with anything here, but our go-to order is butter chicken and goan prawn curry, with saffron pulao and garlic naan. If the weather’s nice, you just definitely try to sit outside.
It would be impossible not to include London’s most famous riverside restaurant in this list because, really, this is where you want to be eating if you want a view of water in London. This is London’s most famous Italian restaurant with good reason, and it comes into its own on a summer’s day. Of course it’s expensive, but split every dish with a friend and it won’t break the bank completely. Basically, if you want waterside dining in London, look no further.
Admittedly, The Cross Keys doesn’t actually have a view of water, but this Chelsea pub is about as close as you’re going to get to the Thames without ending up somewhere that serves deconstructed burgers. It’s 30 steps (or one short daydream) away from the river, and is the perfect pitstop to cool off, or to fuel your wander/pub crawl down the Thames. Not all the food is great, but stick to the classics and you’ll be fine.
If you imagine yourself eating in a marina, you’ll probably picture Capri, St Tropez, or Portofino before somewhere between East Smithfield and the Thames. Nonetheless, Emilia’s at St Katherine Docks will serve you a decent plate of food with a peaceful view of boats, and on a sunny summer’s day, what more do you really need? The pasta here isn’t the best we’ve had in London, but it’s good enough, and a bowl or two alongside a very tasty tomato and burrata salad makes for an inexpensive dinner or lunch by the water.
There’s something deeply panic-inducing about having a lovely Thames-side walk along the Southbank and realising you’re actually quite hungry. Mainly because you turn around and see a row of glassy chains full of children attempting calligraphy with breaded chicken and katsu sauce. This is where Spiritland comes in. It’s a cool and casual restaurant in the Royal Festival Hall, serving things like ham and eggs for breakfast, tofu and roasted squash bowls for lunch, and grilled meats and fish for dinner. All with a fine soundtrack from a roster of DJs who regularly play till late. It may not be directly on the water, but do you really want to go to Yo Sushi because that is?
[n.b. Spiritland is currently temporarily closed. Check their website for opening details before heading over.]