When the temperature starts creeping up, finding a nice spot to grab a bite by the river can be just the thing to get your mind off the everyday urban jungle. And with the River Thames and numerous canals running across the city, London certainly isn't lacking options when it comes to waterside relaxation and enjoying a lovely al fresco meal. If you're looking for dining spots near the canal or riverside restaurants, read our guide to discover the best waterside restaurants in the capital.
The best waterside restaurants in London
In this guide
The best waterside restaurants in London
- Peggy Jean – Charming restored barge in Richmond
- Sam's Riverside – Top-notch views of the Thames
- Caravel – Floating restaurant on Regent's Canal
- Barge East – On a 120-year-old Dutch barge
- The Ivy – Tower Bridge on full display
- The Lighterman – Riverside dining across several levels
- Hawksmoor – Floating steakhouse
- Rick Stein – Seafood master's riverside sanctuary
- Darcie & May Green – Vibrant pop art on Regent's Canal
- The River Café – Michelin-starred Italian garden
- Le Pont de la Tour – Riverside classic
- The Breakfast Club – Breakfast with a view
- Coppa Club – Pods for riverside dining throughout the year
- Crate Brewery & Pizzeria – Craft beers and pizza
- High Timber Restaurant – Sophisticated South African dining
- Steven Edwards – Gerogian townhouse with riverside igloos
- Rotunda – Farm-to-table-to-deckchair
- The Narrowboat – Smart pub with several floors of river views
- London Shell Co – Canal cruisin'
- Tavolino Bar & Kitchen – Italian food in sight of the Tower
- Tapas Brindisa – Authentic Spanish tapas
- Bread Street Kitchen & Bar – Views from former dockmaster's house
- Number 90 – Vibrant art spot by the canal
- Ombra – Venice bar life in Hackney
- The Cheese Barge – Canalside dining with a cheesy view
- Stein's – Bavarian beer garden
- Beit El Zaytoun – Best Lebanese restaurant in the country
- The Summerhouse – Laidback summer holiday vibes
- Mala – Riverside Indian food and cocktails
- Scoff & Banter – Relaxed riverside dining
- Maria G's – 20th-century Italian elegance
- Sam's Waterside – All-day dining by the River Brent
- Sushi Salsa – Sushi and cocktails by the canal
The best waterside restaurants in London
Charming restored barge in Richmond
River-top rather than riverside, Peggy Jean is a restored barge on the Thames with marvellous views of the river and the surrounding Richmond area. A new venture from the Daisy Green folks, it combines Oxford College Boat Race charm with a relaxed beach club atmosphere, serving barbecue specialties and freshly baked pizzas with Australian-inspired toppings. Decked out in soft blue and pink colours, it’s a pleasant spot to catch some rays or even romantic sunsets.
Top-notch views of the Thames
With a name like that, Sam’s Riverside is a shoe-in on this guide – and justly so, as it boasts some of the best river views in London. The Hammersmith restaurant has a covered outdoor terrace in addition to its tastefully appointed interior area, serving modern British cuisine made with carefully sourced ingredients.
Floating restaurant on Regent's Canal
Caravel was launched during the pandemic lockdown as a way for Studio Kitchen to get more space. The converted Dutch barge on Regent's Canal draws inspiration from France and Italy for its changing European menu, with dishes ranging from duck croquettes to tagliatelle or hearty braises. And if you want to just sip on a refined cocktail while watching the river go by, you can hop on one of the waterside barstools.
On a 120-year-old Dutch barge
Barge East is a laid-back restaurant located on a 120-year-old Dutch barge, with an adjoining canalside garden where you can enjoy a separate street food menu. This award-winning Hackney spot serves seasonal British food prepared with ingredients sourced from sustainable suppliers. Opt for a seat on the barge for the best views of the river.
Tower Bridge on full display
Of the Ivy Collection’s many outposts around the city, their location in full sight of the landmark Tower Bridge has arguably the best views, especially from its verdant outdoor terrace or lush private dining room. The all-day dining menu includes hearty breakfast fare such as eggs royale and hot buttermilk pancakes, followed by British classics such as shepherd’s pie, fish cakes and chargrilled halloumi later in the day.
Riverside dining across several levels
With both a waterside bar and patio and an upstairs wraparound terrace with panoramic views of Coal Drops Yard and Regent’s Canal, The Lighterman has boatloads of riverside vibes and alfresco dining opportunities. The stylishly designed gastropub serves refined takes on classic British pub grub such as burgers and fish ‘n’ chips, flatbreads with intriguing toppings, weekend brunch fare and Sunday roasts. You can pair your meal with different beers, wines and cocktails.
This branch of one of the best steakhouses in the country is a pavilion floating gently on the Thames, surrounded by the urban setting of Canary Wharf. The steaks, ribs and burgers from grass-fed, ethically sourced British beef on the menu are joined by sustainable seafood. The restaurant is complemented by a dockside bar, The Lowback, which also has a terrace with views across the water.
Seafood master's riverside sanctuary
Acclaimed British seafood expert Rick Stein's eponymous location in Richmond looks out over the Thames, letting you take a beautiful panorama as you enjoy your meal. The menu at this riverside spot focuses on fine Cornish seafood, as well as offering Stein’s signature dishes such as Dover sole and lobster thermidor. On weekends, they also serve breakfast.
Vibrant pop art on Regent's Canal
From the team behind Peggy Jean, Darcie & May Green are restored barges that trade in the former’s quaint charm and Richmond surroundings for a striking exterior in an urban setting. The barges are covered in bespoke art by renowned British pop artist Sir Peter Blake and serve an array of international dishes for brunch, lunch and dinner.
Michelin-starred Italian garden
A long-time London icon when it comes to quality Italian food and riverside zen, the River Café has a Michelin star for its daily changing menus, warm ambience and authentic Mediterranean flavours. You can enjoy freshly made dishes such as nettle tagliatelle or whole wood-roasted pigeon here, then take on the infamous Chocolate Nemesis cake for dessert.
Located in a converted tea warehouse by the Thames, Le Pont de la Tour is one of London’s better-known riverside spots. At the elegant restaurant with an enclosed terrace and spectacular views of Tower Bridge, you can enjoy classic French cuisine, accompanied by a luxurious cocktail and wine list.
Breakfast with a view
This award-winning café is an extremely popular breakfast and brunch spot thanks to offering flavourful takes on more or less every classic breakfast dish there is, from the Full English to American pancakes and French toast. You’re almost certain to have to queue, but with the River Lea right there, you can take a stroll along the canal while you wait, then sit at one of the outdoor tables and relax while you feast.
Pods for riverside dining throughout the year
The Coppa Clubs in London are buzzy spots that keep popping up on social media thanks to their transparent igloos. Set up by the river, these pods offer a romantic dinner setting regardless of the weather. The Coppa Clubs’ riverside locations boast great views of the Thames and the surrounding area, with ordinary outdoor and indoor seating available as well. You can accompany the Mediterranean-inspired menu with refreshing cocktails or fine wine.
Craft beers and pizza
Pizza and beer and sun, what more could you want? The craft brewery next to the River Lea complements its quality beers with freshly prepared pizzas, including several vegetarian choices. Just grab one of the picnic tables at this scenic location and relax.
Sophisticated South African dining
Set on the north banks of the Thames, High Timber boasts a sunny terrace with panoramic views of the Thames, Tate Modern and other landmarks in the area. It offers refined contemporary dining with a South African twist, with the menu featuring specialties such as homemade biltong, rooibos smoked salmon and steaks, accompanied by regional and international wines.
Gerogian townhouse with riverside igloos
Masterchef winner Steven Edwards is in charge of the restaurant at Bingham Riverhouse, a luxurious hotel in Richmond. The seasonal set menus at Edwards’ eatery use quality British produce to prepare an evolving range of contemporary dishes, which you can enjoy on the riverside terrace with splendid views of the Thames. The hotel also offers idyllic garden domes for private dining.
A laidback and modern British restaurant, Rotunda is equipped with a large, comfy waterside garden terrace with deckchairs and lovely views of Regent’s Canal. The internationally inspired farm-to-table menu features British cuisine, as well as weekend brunch options and the Sunday Beef Club for roast dinner aficionados. You can also book a private dining area with its own terrace.
Smart pub with several floors of river views
Providing respite in Islington, The Narrowboat is a pub with several floors of bright, sunshine-drenched seating by the canal, including outside balconies. Its dedicated Bloody Mary menu is just the thing for enjoying warm sunny weekends, and you can grab some classic British pub fare while you're at it.
London Shell Co offers dining on Regent’s Canal – quite literally, as their Prince Regent barge cruises up to the Camden Lock and back while you dine on a five-course menu of some of the freshest seafood in the city. If you want something a bit more traditional yet still on a barge, choose the Grand Duchess instead, which remains moored in Paddington and serves an à la carte menu as well.
Italian food in sight of the Tower
Whether you’re seated inside or outside at this classic Italian restaurant, you’re able to enjoy the picture-perfect views of the Thames, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Tavolino serves favourites such as pizza and pasta, as well as placing an emphasis on cocktails and fine Italian wines in its bar area.
Authentic Spanish tapas
Perfect for sharing light bites in the sun while catching up with friends or for watching the Thames go by with a glass of Spanish sherry in hand, the outdoor terrace at the relaxed Tapas Brindisa in Richmond boasts panoramic views of the river. You can enjoy an array of authentic tapas plates here, from classic Padron peppers and marinated anchovies to charcuterie, grilled specialties and more.
Views from former dockmaster's house
The Limehouse branch of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen concept is located at a bend in the Thames, providing it with sweeping views of the river. It boasts a large outdoor terrace and a bright conservatory with floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as an elegant boathouse-inspired interior. The menu at this Grade II listed eatery features various British staples and a touch of Mediterranean freshness. The venue can also be hired for weddings and other events.
Vibrant art spot by the canal
Highlighted by a memorable mural on its façade and a large waterside terrace, Number 90 is a popular spot by the River Lee canal. There’s a selection of international favourites such as chicken wings and hummus to choose from, along with different burgers and sides. Number 90 also regularly puts on entertainment such as DJs and live music, as well as featuring a small in-house gallery for local artists.
Venice bar life in Hackney
Ombra brings the Venetian bacaro culture of bars that offer small plates to go with your glass of wine to Hackney. On the covered and, if need be, heated outdoor terrace, you can enjoy seasonal cicchetti and antipasti such as burrata, courgette flowers and cold roast pork, as well as some mains. On certain days, you can try the tasting menu, and there are always plenty of Mediterranean wines to choose from.
Canalside dining with a cheesy view
The Cheese Barge expands the single-minded obsession of the folks behind The Cheese Bar, applying their dairy-focused dining on a barge moored in Paddington. The seasonal menu features creative cheese pairings, different British cheeses to sample, and show-stopping dishes such as the half-kilo baked Baron Bigod. You can also stop by for the so-called afternoon cheese menu, as well as enjoy warm weather on the open rooftop terrace.
Bavarian beer garden
Not to be confused with Rick Stein’s eponymous restaurant a few bends up the river, Stein’s offers a taste of Oktoberfest in a verdant setting with views towards Richmond Hill. Sit at one of the many wooden trestle tables on the terrace and enjoy a stein of authentic Munich beer, or dig into hearty German fare such as wursts, schnitzels and pretzels.
Best Lebanese restaurant in the country
Next to the canal in Harlesden, Beyt El Zaytoun features a covered outside area with views of the canal. It's surrounded by verdant greenery, reflected in the decor of the place. The restaurant serves food throughout the day, from breakfast options such as Lebanese eggs and flatbreads, to the full range of Middle Eastern mezze, grilled delicacies, home-cooked stews and more. At the 2023 British Kebab Awards, Beit El Zaytoun took home the top honour in the Best Lebanese Restaurant category.
Laidback summer holiday vibes
The Summerhouse invokes summer vibes with nautical-themed decor, sunny seating by the canal in Little Venice and plenty of fresh seafood, salads, dips and other light dishes. There’s always a catch of the day in addition to main courses such as homemade fishcakes and baked sea bass, with drinks such as watermelon coolers, Pimm’s and sangria on hand to provide refreshment. You can also stop by for brunch or Sunday roast on weekends.
Riverside Indian food and cocktails
Mala Indian Kitchen & Bar first opened in 1987. Now it's a chic place for Indian food and signature cocktails with large windows, and an outdoor terrace for great views of the skyline and the Thames. The menu is primarily influenced by cuisine from Punjab, featuring tandoori dishes, curries, biryani, and thali meals. Authentic desserts and a full choice of drinks round off a meal.
Relaxed riverside dining
Enjoy modern European food in a laid-back space next to the Thames boasting fab views at Scoff & Banter. There's an outdoor garden around the restaurant as well as an airy interior with floor-to-ceiling windows. Food is ingredient-led and made with carefully-selected produce. Dishes include French onion soup, chicken Milanese, and Eton mess, plus draft beer and a considerable range of wines from the bar.
20th-century Italian elegance
Having established itself as a stylish Italian eatery in Kensington, Maria G's went riverside for its second branch. Using fresh produce, the creative kitchen team crafts a daily changing menu that spans the classic Italian range of small bites or cicchetti, antipasti, primi and secondi with sides to go along, and dessert to finish. The setting is going for an elegant 20th-century retro feel.
All-day dining by the River Brent
Sam's Waterside, located at the Brentford Project redevelopment, is a modern eatery by Sam Harrison that showcases stunning views of the River Brent. This stylishly designed restaurant encompasses a bar and an inviting outdoor terrace. The all-day brasserie boasts a lively ambiance and serves a menu filled with beloved international dishes, accompanied by fine wines and cocktails.
Sushi and cocktails by the canal
Savour a Japanese meal with attractive canal and market views in Camden Town at Sushi Salsa. This well-established restaurant is right next to the water and has an outside terrace. There's a tempting all-you-can-eat buffet but you can also choose from the à la carte menu. As well as delicious Japanese cuisine, this place is known for its colourful cocktails.