From elegant gardens running down to the Thames, to restaurants actually floating on the canal, we pick some of London's loveliest waterside gems to dine at.
Butlers Wharf, 28 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD
With smashing views over to Tower Bridge and the river, this longstanding riverside spot serves up a very British seasonal menu. It was closed since the first lockdown, but is now open for hiring out and events.
8 High Timber Street, London EC4V 3PA
Once you've found this Thameside restaurant, hidden away off the north elevation of the Millennium Bridge, you'll consider yourself pretty lucky. Settle down with a glass of Jordan Chardonnay - the restaurant is owned by the winery - this is a good place to watch the sun go down. There's a distinct South African focus to the menu - with plenty of grilled meats and homemade biltong.
36D Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE
One of the more famous riverside restaurants in London, this institution has a series of head chefs over recent years, but one thing that hasn't changed is one of the most spectacular views of the Thames. There's usually a good platter of fruits de mer to be enjoyed alongside the river views.
Also in Central London
Coppa Club by Tower Bridge (above) has some pretty amazing igloos looking out over the river that have been given a spring design update.
The restaurant at Sea Containers London opens out onto the South Bank for the kind of riverside view any visitor to London would love. Reopens 16 April - with bookable sessions at the weekends.
The Ivy Tower Bridge has a lovely riverside setting, but if you manage to get into their private dining room upstairs, the views of the river are wonderful.
Grab an outside table at Emilia's Crafted Pasta and gawp at the spendy yachts moored in St Katharine Dock.
1-2 Canalside Walk, Paddington, London W2 1DG
The newest, and flagship location for the Daisy Green company, Bondi Green, opened very briefly before the Christmas lockdown. But the April reopening should see its extensive, heated terrace at Paddington Central be quite the draw. Brunch will be particularly good here, with their in-house patisserie.
Grand Union Canal Sheldon Square, London, London W2 6DS
Not so much waterside as actually on the water, these two barges, designed by British pop artist Peter Blake, form the floating restaurant from the Daisy Green people, parked out at Paddington. There's an Australian/Pan Pacific feel to the menu, and if you're after an Aussie brunch on the canal, this is always a good place to come to.
Sheldon Square, London W2 6PY
Why eat by the water, when you can eat ON the water? The second craft to take to the water from the London Shell Co. is on a permanent mooring by Paddington. It serves up a mainly seafood menu with dishes like lobster cocktail and a must-try Coronation crab and mustard cress roll. A strong sparkling wine list includes a great English own-label one that you definitely should try. And it now has a large seating area on the canalside for alfresco dining.
29 Ransoms Dock, 35-27 Parkgate Rd, London SW11 4NP
Run by the Gladwin Brothers, this restaurant with a large terrace overlooking Ransoms Dock is all about seasonal British food with much of it coming from their family's estate. Enjoy queen scallops with garlic butter and garden herb crumb along with a glass of fizz from their family vineyard in Sussex.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, Hammersmith, London W6 9HA
Ruth Rogers' riverside restaurant began life as a work canteen but is now one of London's loveliest (and spendiest) Italian restaurants. As for the food, there might be vitello tonnato, or Taglierini al Bosco with wild asparagus, hops, herbs and Pecorino. What it definitely will be, is both pricey and delicious.
Where: 1 Crisp Rd, Hammersmith, London W6 9DN
Making full use of its riverfront location by Hammersmith Bridge, this newish riverside restaurant also has a large terrace with room for more than 30 diners. They're serving up a seafood menu with oyster platters and dressed crab alongside frozen margaritas.
Find out more about Sam’s Riverside @samsriversidew6
Opposite 60 Blomfield Road, London W9 2PA
Run by the folks behind local Waterway restaurant in Little Venice, this canal-fronting cafe began life as a summer pop-up but now runs all year round. Seafood is the thing here (naturally) so lobster with potato salad, watercress and aioli or half a dozen oysters should do the trick.
Also in West London
Thai Square Putney Bridge (above) has been designed to make the most of its riverside views. Reopens 17 May.
Cottons at St Georges Wharf has a super spot by the Thames, allowing you to knock back one of their super daiquiris as the sun sets.
The Old Ship in Hammersmith has a decent sized terrace right on the riverside and serves up a good brunch.
In Brentford Rye By The Water overlooks the River Brent and does a mean line in great pastries and sarnies.
Unit 7 Queen's Yard, Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN
The canalside terrace at this East London brewery is always busy, and no wonder when the pizzas (and the beer, obviously) are this good. You could go for the usual margarita, but why would you when there are options like the Kashimri Dahl with cumin seeds, chili flakes, crispy shallots and mango chutney?
44 Narrow St, Limehouse, London E14 8DP
Gordon Ramsay's East London gastropub has a cracking spot here in the Docklands. If you're not lucky enough to secure a spot on the actual terrace, the conservatory restaurant also has a retractable roof.
What's on the menu? It's an elevated pub menu here, so beer-battered haddock with chips and mushy peas sounds perfect.
One Vyner Street, London E2 9DG
Perched on the south side of the Regents Canal as Mare Street crosses over it, Ombra is what would happen if you plonked a Venetian bacaro down in East London. The food marries British produce with Italian recipes.
What's on the menu? There's usually a good set lunch deal with a wide range of cicchetti and antipasti.
Victoria Park, Old Ford Rd, London E9 7DE
There are now four Pavilion Cafes (including one in Cornwall) but this is the original and the best one for an urban waterside experience with its beautiful terrace overlooking the West Boating Lake in Victoria Park. Their alfresco terrace will be the first part to open, but a brand new BBQ that was installed during lockdown promises good things for the summer.
42 De Beauvoir Cres, De Beauvoir Town, London N1 5SB
This little cafe down on the canal in Hackney is one of London's best waterside spots. They also published their first cookbook last Autumn. Expect a daytime reopening first, with dates of supperclub dinners to follow Reopens 15 April.
Also in East London
Number 90 - (above) is it a bar, a restaurant, an arts venue? It's all these things.
The Gun - This Docklands pub has a super Gin Garden right by the river and this summer's menu includes an enticing sounding Cornish crab roll with fries. Reopens 17 May
The Princess of Wales - this Clapton gastropub serves out thoughtful food with a nice pub garden overlooking the River Lea.
Royal China Westferry Circus - the Royal China group boast that this waterside restaurant in Canary Wharf has "perhaps the best view of any Chinese restaurant in London".
Hampton Ct Rd, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9BN
This boutique hotel boasts several restaurants and bars, but the one you need to know about is this, their riverside brasserie with a lovely terrace overlooking the river (which is covered during the winter and spring). There's also a Whispering Angel riverside rose shack for summertime drinking.
61-63 Petersham Rd, Richmond TW10 6UT
Head way out west to Richmond and you can find one of the best waterside spots in London at the idyllic Bingham. Expect a high-end food experience to match the view with MasterChef The Professionals winner Steven Edwards running the show.
What's on the menu? Expect a menu chock full of seasonal goodness. The restaurant's terrace reopens on 12 April with a menu of small plates.
Lakeside Cafe, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ
With an ex-Petersham Nurseries team on board, this is definitely several steps above your average park cafe. It's also very popular for private events.
What's on the menu? It changes regularly but you can always rely on great BBQ burgers and sourdough pizzas here.
Tideway Yard, 125 Mortlake High Street, Barnes, London, SW14 8SN
South London may be a long way from Cornwall, but Rick Stein has swapped seaside for riverside with his first London restaurant. There's a wonderful view over the Thames here - the spot to covet is the central section with the tables by the window. Reopens for courtyard dining on 12 April.
What's on the menu: As you can imagine from a Rick Stein restaurant, there's a strong focus on seafood. The Indonesian fish curry is amazing - pair that with a lovely glass of wine chosen by Rick's son Charlie.
Park Row, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 9NW
This Victorian pub is a super place to bookend any riverside walk around Greenwich. The menu got a fairly recent overhaul so while there's a ploughman's on there - this one features Keens cheddar, Beauvale, ham hock terrine, sourdough and a beetroot pickled egg. There's also a rather nice terrace if you can get a table.
Also in South London:
The Stable Kew Bridge does decent pizzas when it's open and, as the name suggests, is slap bang on the riverside.
3 Granary Square, London, N1C 4BH
Taking up a large part of King's Cross's Granary Square this restaurant was named after the Victorian Lightermen who worked on flat-bottomed barges, known as “Lighters” here on the Regent's Canal. This three-floored restaurant makes the most of its position with terraces galore.
What's on the menu? It's a broad modern British/European menu. We've had the crispy squid with chilli and lime a few times now and it's always good. But the foraged wild mushroom tart with watercress salad sounds very enticing.
90 York Way, Kings Cross, London N1 9AG
If farm to table is your thing, then this King's Cross restaurant is the perfect spot for you - all their beef and lamb comes direct from their own farm in Northumbria. Their waterside setting is pretty impressive too, there's a massive wraparound terrace overlooking the Regents Canal.
What's on the menu? How about the Goat’s cheese soufflé with crispy kale, spiced pecans and wild herbs?
Also in North London
Cafe No 5 - This towpath cafe in Islington overlooking City Basin is a favourite with local workers, serving up great coffees and pastries along with the trad smashed avo on toast for breakfast.
The Narrowboat - as the name suggests, this Young's pub is perched overlooking the Regent's Canal with two handy terraces for alfresco dining and drinking.
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