Aside from the street-food market behind the Royal Festival Hall, Waterloo isn’t really known as a foodie hotspot. But don’t overlook the area. The Cut is a hotbed of gastropubs and cafés, and there are some fab Waterloo restaurants if you know just where to look.
Cubana knows how to have fun, with a plethora of drinks offers and cocktails on the menu, but it also serves up a mean range of Cuban food and Latin American tapas. It’s also one of the best restaurants near Waterloo Station. Most of its ingredients are organic or free range and it’s a good social pit stop at the weekend. Try ropa vieja, a standout Cuban dish of slow-cooked beef with black beans, or pollo frito al escabeche con sésamo y salsa – battered chicken bites with salsa. It’s a good spot for dinner before seeing something at The Old Vic, too.
Tas is a small chain of Turkish restaurants spread out around south London, and Tas The Cut was the original spot. Pop in for lashings of homemade hummus and fresh bread, pide (Turkish pizzas), borek and huge mixed grills. The service is friendly and this is everything a local restaurant should be.
Flying the flag for fine dining around Waterloo is Skylon in the Southbank Centre. It overlooks the Thames and features huge windows, so book a lunchtime table and settle in for a long afternoon of wonderful British cooking from Kim Woodward. Oh, and the cocktails aren’t bad either.
The Cut Bar is the area’s go-to gourmet burger joint. The airy, industrial space houses a restaurant, bar and café and is packed on Saturdays with brunchers and long-lunchers. Pop by for sustainable and organic burgers, and don’t miss the tandoori chicken version with yoghurt and crushed avocado.
Gordon Ramsay does Italian in this charming little Waterloo restaurant filled with olive trees. It’s all about sharing dishes and hearty Mediterranean food at Union Street Café, which has both a casual area and a dining room for more formal occasions. It also runs masterclasses in pasta making and other Italian delights. There’s a huge menu of antipasti, cocktails, pastas, meat and fish, and it’s a great spot to take the parents.
One of Southwark’s best gastropubs is also on The Cut in Waterloo. The Anchor & Hope is a proper British boozer that’s been given a makeover and has a pretty decent menu. There’s a set ‘worker’s lunch’ menu during the week, as well as posh British pub food, with dishes like roast chopped mustard rabbit, chips and Béarnaise. Book if you want a Sunday lunch – it’s an incredibly popular spot.