South Bank London

South Bank Pre-Theatre Dining

Live performance and theatre are what South Bank is all about and there's no shortage of great pre-theatre dining options in the neighbourhood. 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

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, the menu dishes up fabulous steaks and wines and has a great value pre-theatre menu (two courses available until 7pm).

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Prix Fixe menu until 7pm, two courses £23, three courses £27
IDEAL FOR: Reliable steakhouse cuisine a stone's throw from the Royal Festival Hall


Led by Jon Rotheram, Tom Harris and John Ogier, the team behind the critically acclaimed The Marksman in east London, this glamourous restaurant at National Theatre features 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. The enticing pre-theatre menu has two courses for £32 or three courses for £38. For an extra £10 you can also opt for a sharing main of chicken, leeks and girolle pie. The restaurant is extremely popular and advanced booking is essential.

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Two courses for £32, three courses for £38
IDEAL FOR: An atmospheric dinner before a show at the National Theatre


Skylon is set inside the Royal Festival Hall building itself, making it the perfect place to head to if you're catching a classical concert at this landmark venue. Thanks to Skylon's 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 two or three-course set menu or order a la carte, and don't forget to try a cocktail at the Grand Central Bar.

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Pre-theatre menu available until 6:30pm Wed-Sat,  2 courses £30, 3 courses £35 
IDEAL FOR: Contemporary dining and cocktails in a chic location before a show at Southbank Centre or the BFI

La Gamba

La Gamba opened in March 2023 and is the first permanent South Bank venue by the Applebee brothers (who also launched the famous Applebee’s Fish in Borough Market). The menu takes its inspiration from the north-western Galician region of Spain and promises great seafood dishes sourced from top-notch local independent suppliers such as gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) and traditional Galician-style octopus. This is the ideal option 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!

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Tapas sharing menu from £25.50 per person (minimum 2)
IDEAL FOR: Breezy tapas dinners and wine before a show

Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar

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, and also had an excellent value set menu option. Pre-theatre diners can opt for the seasonal Chef's Hat Menu which comes with a starter main course and dessert, made with ingredients that aim to show off the best of British countryside produce (available every day except Saturday).

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Chef's Hat menu available Sun-Fri from £28 per person.
IDEAL FOR: A special occasion dinner and drinks in grand surroundings

The Strings

This family-run restaurant in County Hall is ideally located for a pre-theatre meal before going to see the fantastic Agatha Christie thriller Witness for the Prosecution which takes place inside the old County Hall Council Chambers. Launched in 2021 by husband-and-wife team Santy Masciaro and Elise Weber, The Strings serves Spanish tapas and Italian cuisine inspired by Santy’s Italian homeland and is known for its live classical guitar performances by Santy himself. Choose from the a la carte menu or opt for one of the three-course pre-theatre set menus.

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: tapas for two for £70
IDEAL FOR: Dinner, drinks and music before watching a show at County Hall

Santy Masciaro playing classical guitar at his restaurant The Strings
Santy Masciaro playing classical guitar at his restaurant The Strings

Côte Brasserie

For years Côte Brasserie has 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 classics like coq au vin and steak frites and there's also a children's menu.

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: Prix Fixe two or three-course menu available daily
IDEAL FOR: Reliable French bistro cuisine right next to the Southbank Centre

Brasserie Blanc

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 be able to find something to enjoy.

PRE-THEATRE OFFERS: from £17.95 for two courses or £22.95 for three, Mon–Sat 4pm–6.30pm
IDEAL FOR: Refined French cuisine in a prime location a stones throw from the National Theatre, BFI and Southbank Centre

KERB at The Understudy

The year-round kitchen is located next to Understudy, National Theatre’s riverside craft bar, presents a tasty choice of local independent street food traders. If you are coming to a show at the theatre, this independent fast food style offering can be the perfect option if you are in a rush. Options include the award-winning Bad Boy’s Pizza Soc, famous for their crispy square-shaped Sicilian-style pizza slices and Mumbai Mix, who serve delicious vegetarian Indian thalis and snacks. In the summer months KERB spreads out onto the square in front of the iconic theatre building with a variety of food trucks and pop-ups. Note that it can get very busy here just before shows so make sure to give yourself enough time to order.

IDEAL FOR: Fast-casual street food and drinks at the National Theatre


Who doesn’t love a Wahaca? This is one of South Bank’s most striking restaurants, made from brightly painted recycled shipping containers that straddle the eastern side of Queen Elizabeth Hall. Known for its speedy service and consistently tasty Mexican street food, this is a great alternative pre-theatre or pre-cinema venue, especially if you enjoy sharing. Wahaca's sharing platters for two are great value and present you with the option try all the classics such as the sweet potato and feta taquitos, the Devon crab tostadas, pork pibil tacos or the chicken club quesadilla.

IDEAL FOR: Colourful Mexican street food before heading to watch a show, film, or concert

OXO Tower Brasserie

Did you know that OXO Tower boasts two dining experiences; the famous fine dining OXO Tower Restaurant and the more relaxed but no less elegant OXO Brasserie. Both venues are located on the rooftop of the iconic Art Deco Oxo Tower building and boast great views over the river to St Paul's Cathedral. For pre-theatre dining the more casual Brasserie is the best choice. For starters look out for mouth-watering dishes like grilled mackerel, whole roasted celeriac or beetroot, confit duck wings. You can check out the full menu here.

IDEAL FOR: Special occasion dining in an iconic location

The Green Room

Located just behind the National Theatre and the BFI on Belvedere Road, The Green Room is an ideal pre-theatre destination at all times of year. In the summer The Green Room boasts a sunny garden that is the perfect venue for that pre-theatre drink while in winter the timber-framed dining room with its full-length glass walls oozes Scandinavian chic. The all-day menu features timeless classics such as fish and chips, handmade pizzas and an excellent crispy chicken burger, and from 4pm–8pm on weekdays you can indulge in Happy Hour cocktails.

IDEAL FOR: All-day dining with plenty of outdoor seating right behind the National Theatre


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.

IDEAL FOR: Classic pizza and pasta for all the family

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices.