When I first moved to London, I couldn’t get enough of the sightseeing trail. From the Houses of Parliament to the British Museum, I wanted to see everything. But sightseeing is exhausting, and inevitably I found myself hungry. Not knowing any better, I usually found a touristy restaurant with disappointing food, only to discover that there was a great place nearby that I didn’t know about. To help you avoid my pitfalls, today I bring you A Lady in London’s guide to the best places to eat near London’s top attractions.

British Museum in London

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is one of London’s most beloved landmarks, but can be a bit of a no-man’s-land when it comes to food. Thankfully, it’s right near Belgravia, which has no shortage of restaurants and cafes that are perfect for a light meal or tea and cake. My favorite restaurant near Buckingham Palace is the Thomas Cubitt, a great pub with classic food like fish and chips and bangers and mash. It’s also near Peggy Porschen, which has the best cupcakes in London. If tea and cake are on the agenda, it’s the perfect place to stop.

Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in London

British Museum

After my first trip to the British Museum in 2007 I ended up at a crowded Subway on Oxford Street eating an uninspiring sandwich and wanting to cry. Little did I know that just up Rathbone Place was Charlotte Street, one of the best foodie streets in London. Now my favorite place to eat near the British Museum is Lantana, a great Australian cafe on Charlotte Place with excellent food and high quality coffee. If I need a drink afterwards, I love getting a glass of wine at the Charlotte Street Hotel, which has cozy chairs and a stylish ambiance.

British Museum in London

South Kensington Museums

The Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, and Science Museum are three of London’s top attractions, and are all located next to one another in South Kensington. This is one of the few London neighborhoods where many of the good restaurants are in plain view. The pedestrianized area around the South Kensington tube station has some great offerings, my favorite being Le Comptoir Libanais. It’s my go-to for good, reasonably priced food in a fun, colorful atmosphere. The service can be dismal, but it’s still worth a trip. For coffee and cake, I like Le Pain Quotidien next door, and across the way Fernandez & Wells is great for sandwiches and a cheeky glass of wine.

Natural History Museum in London

Tower of London

When I’m at the Tower of London, I like to cross Tower Bridge to Bermondsey and explore Bermondsey Street, which has great cafes and restaurants. Jose is one of London’s most famous tapas bars, and is always a favorite for casual Spanish food. The beer garden at the Woolpack pub is perfect for post-sightseeing pints on sunny days, too. If I’m in the mood for something a bit more formal, Restaurant Story is just across Tower Bridge from the Tower of London, and is one of the best places to eat in the area.

Tower of London

Westminster and the London Eye

Over in Westminster, the famous attractions get no shortage of visitors. There are a lot of touristy places to eat around Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, but it’s worth seeking out better options. Just across Westminster Bridge in Waterloo, Scooter Caffe on Lower Marsh is one of the funkiest little places I’ve ever come across in London. It has quirky decor that involves no shortage of vintage scooters, and a great little terrace for sipping Pimm’s on summer afternoons. For more substantial fare, I like walking over to the South Bank Centre and having lunch at the outdoor food market behind the Royal Festival Hall. There’s street food there from all over the world, and there’s always something that appeals.

Big Ben

The National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery

The National Gallery and adjacent National Portrait Gallery are right in the heart of central London, and surrounded by Soho and Covent Garden. While there are plenty of places to choose from, I like to head over to Dishoom if I want a fun Bombay cafe-style Indian meal. And if my inner American is feeling homesick, it’s nothing a little Shake Shack can’t cure.

National Gallery in London

Tate Modern and St. Paul’s Cathedral

The Tate Modern and St Paul’s Cathedral are two of London’s most visited attractions, and their position across the Thames from one another means that they’re close to the city’s most famous food market. Borough Market is a great place to graze after sightseeing, and if my legs are tired, I head to Brindisa, a famous Spanish restaurant on the edge of the market that has great tapas and good wine. If I just want coffee, Monmouth is arguably the most famous coffee shop in London, and it’s right in the heart of the market.

St Paul's Cathedral

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is one of the most famous wax museums in the world, and it’s just steps away from Marylebone High Street, one of my favorite places in London for dining and shopping. The street is the best place to find restaurants and cafes after a visit to the museum, and there’s no shortage of offerings. I love going to La Fromagerie, a famous cheese shop and cafe, to indulge my inner cheese lover. A friend recently introduced me to a secret little place on Moxon Street called Le Vieux Comptoir, too. It’s a wine shop with a great basement cafe, and we’ve whiled away the afternoon there indulging in champagne and sharing platters. If I want classic fish and chips, The Golden Hind is one of London’s most famous fish and chip restaurants, and is great for a casual meal after a day of sightseeing.

Madame Tussauds in London

34 Comments on Lady’s Picks for Eating near London’s Top Attractions

  1. Thanks for these ideas! I have friends visiting me regularly in London and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself wishing I knew of a place nearby that isn’t a Pret! I’m sending this article now to my relatives who are visiting me from the States in a few weeks, so they won’t go hungry as they tour around. Cheers!

  2. Oh, this is so helpful! It’s the kind of research I always mean to do ahead of time if I’m going somewhere touristy but somehow usually end up winging it. Also, I love Kopapa! I found it by accident one day and was SO excited that it carries Monteith’s, my favorite cider from my NZ days!

  3. Usually when you put up a list of choices I like to try picking one. In this case I would just start at the top and work my way down! The bangers and mash at Buckingham Palace – yes please! And the British Museum looks absolutely amazing. Great post as always, Julie, and have a great day! 🙂

  4. I bought a peanut butter milkshake at Shake Shack while I was Christmas shopping in Covent Garden in December. It was freezing outside, but I couldn’t resist (I hadn’t had a milkshake in a year). And thanks for all of the other great recommendations. I’m going to send this to my sister who will be visiting London for the first time in August.

  5. Great ideas! I always try to plan out good places to eat near tourist attractions while travelling. I hate being in a great food city and having to resort to eating mediocre food.

  6. What a creative angle! Despite having been in London 5 times now, I never get tired of the tourist hotspots. They are a hotspot for a reason. But indeed, I always find myself at the nearest Pret a Manger or Costa Coffee. Easy but boring! So thanks for these tips 🙂 I will check some of them out when I’m in town next week.

  7. Really great recommendations – all you need to do is go a bit away from the main crowds and you find some of London’s best food. Kopapa is a favourite of mine when I’m taking visitors around London.

  8. Julie, yes, great angle – I could describe a frantic dash for food while visiting the new Exploratorium in San Francisco but that would be a little off-topic – suffice it to say I’ll pass these suggestions along to my brother – he seems to be in London at least once a month now. Thanks

  9. Very useful article.

    Central London has so many great restaurants and cafes but it can be really hard working out which ones to visit.

  10. I just came across this post, and thank you so much for the great info! I am planning a trip to London this spring, and love to find places to eat that are a little bit more off the beaten path 🙂

  11. I absolutely loved this post, its the perfect guide to a day out in London, so much time can be wasted in finding a decent restaurant near where you have planned to enjoy your time in the city.

  12. I wish I had this list when I was in london this month! I was trying to avoid all american chains for a quick bite. I did end up at a le pain quotidien, which we have in Chicago, but the ambiance and food is always good there. I also found pret a manger to be good 🙂

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