South Bank London

South Bank Pre-Theatre Dining

Live performance, theatre and cutting edge film is what South Bank is all about, so naturally there is no shortage of brilliant pre-theatre dining options to choose from! 

Whether you are catching the latest play at the National, a live classical concert at Royal Festival Hall, a film premiere at the BFI or something a bit edgier and underground, South Bank has a wide variety of places to enjoy drinks and dinner before (or after) a show. 

The Archduke

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Prix Fixe menu until 7pm, two courses £24, three courses £28
IDEAL FOR: Reliable steakhouse cuisine a stone's throw from the Royal Festival Hall

The Archduke was among the first restaurant and wine bars to open in South Bank in 1979 and remains to this day a neighbourhood institution. Just a stone's throw from the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre, the restaurant is located inside one of the railway arches underneath the Hungerford Bridge. Owned and operated by Black and Blue Steakhouse, there's a great value pre-theatre menu and steak and wine of course features prominently.


PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Two courses for £40, three courses for £45
IDEAL FOR: An atmospheric dinner before a show at the National Theatre

Led by the team from east London's critically acclaimed The Marksman, this glamourous restaurant at the National Theatre serves timeless brasserie-style dishes. Lasdun’s menu is brought to life through a classic yet contemporary lens, featuring seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and showcasing the very best of British produce, served in a brooding and atmospheric dining room that overlooks the theatre's Brutalist lobby. Advanced booking is highly recommended!


PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: 2 courses £30, 3 courses £35. Available Wed-Sat, until 6:30pm, and as post-theatre 9pm–10pm  

Skylon is set inside the Royal Festival Hall building itself, making it ideal if you're catching a concert at this landmark venue - thanks to their prime location, you don't have to worry about rushing your food! The floor-to-ceiling windows provide stunning riverside views and early evening makes for a magical time to visit and watch the sunset over the city. Indulge in the restaurant's contemporary cuisine with a pre-theatre set menu or order a la carte and if there's time indulge in cocktails at the Grand Central Bar.

La Gamba

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Tapas sharing menu from £29.50 per person (minimum 2)

Led by the Applebee brothers from Borough Market, La Gamba is a bright and breezy Spanish bistro at Southbank Centre that takes its inspiration from the north-west Galician region of Spain and promises great seafood dishes sourced from top-notch local independent suppliers. Perfect for casual pre-theatre group dining, especially in the summer when you can make the most of their large terrace. Simply order a selection of tapas and some wine and dig in!

A plate of haddock fish cake with a poached egg on top

Brasserie Blanc

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Available Mon–Sat 4pm–6.30pm, two courses £19.15, three courses £24.50

A great option for those wanting proximity to the National Theatre, the BFI or Royal Festival Hall, Brasserie Blanc serves a dedicated pre-theatre menu Monday to Saturdays from 4pm–6.30pm. As with everything they serve at Brasserie Blanc, there's a rich influence of French cuisine, made with the freshest, locally sourced seasonal ingredients. With a raft of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options included on the menu, everyone will find something to enjoy.

Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Available Sun–Fri, from £27 for three courses.

Set in the iconic County Hall building behind the London Eye, the London Marriott Hotel County Hall's elegant steakhouse restaurant Gillray's serves up some of the best steak in South Bank. Pre-theatre diners can enjoy a three-course set menu that changes with the seasons to show off the best of British countryside produce (available every day except Saturday). For an extra supplement, you can upgrade the set menu to include Gillray's famous 32-day aged rump steak.

Photo by Adam Luszniak

Côte Brasserie

Côte Brasserie has long been known for its delicious and great-value French food. Their regular two or three-course Prix Fixe menu is served between midday until close Monday to Thursdays and from midday to 7pm on Fridays and weekends, making this a great option for a pre-theatre meal before a show at Southbank Centre. The dishes on the fixed menu include all-time French classics like coq au vin and steak frites and there's also a children's menu.

KERB at The Understudy

Year-round KERB has a fast-food style residency at The Understudy, National Theatre’s riverside craft bar showcasing the hottest London street food brands. This is a great option if you are in a rush and don't want anything too fancy, but still value food that's a bit different. Current options on the KERB menu at National Theatre include the award-winning Sicilian-style pizza slices from Bad Boy’s Pizza Soc, the mouthwateringly good Meltdown Cheeseburgers and Armenian flatbreads and mezze by Sireli. It can get very busy just before shows, so make sure to give yourself enough time to order.


Made from brightly painted recycled shipping containers that straddle the eastern side of Queen Elizabeth Hall next to the BFI cinema, Wahaca is known for its speedy service and consistently tasty Mexican street food. Although they don't have a set pre-theatre menu, the sharing platters for two are great value with the option to try lots of different dishes. Their multiple balconies and terraces that look right down onto the river, make this one of the best al fresco dining spots in the area.

Dining room at PizzaExpress restaurant with view of the pizza oven


You can't go wrong with pizza and pasta, and PizzaExpress's timeless menu is always a winner! You'll find the classy South Bank branch of PizzaExpress on Belvedere Road just behind the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall. If you are taking small kids to a show it's an especially good option as the space is very neatly contained and far from traffic, and PizzaExpress does a great value children's set menu.

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