HOME > Chowhound > U.K./Ireland >


London: Lunch time near museums

Since all museums open up at 10am, I'm thinking that we're going to be in/around museums many days of our trips when hunger strikes!

I know that most museums have cafes/bars/restaurants, but sometimes a captive audience doesn't make for a good food experience.

So, I throw it open to the Board for your recos on lunch places near the following:

1) V&A
2) Tate Modern
3) Tate Britain
4) National Gallery
5) Wallace Collection
6) British Museum.

Thanks in advance!


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. (1) V&A -- I live around the corner so have the most experience. I would definitely recommend Tartine on Draycott St which is in a 10 min walking distance from the V&A. La Bouche on Old Brompton Rd. is great as well, and offers a good steak frite lunch special for around 11£

    (2) Tate Modern- Sort of a culinary wasteland so I recommend eating at the museum itself. The view is great and the food is good as well. Try a Wokka Saki -- the kick of vodka with the taste of sake. I had 7 shots last time I was there and the staff were fab, despite my increasing obnoxiousness!

    (6) British Museum -- lots of places right near by... there is a cafe that only serves bibimbap (korean rice bowl with veggies) which is fairly good for a cheap price. If you haven't had it before, ensure you add lots of gochujang sauce and then mix away! There is another pretty good Korean at Holborn tube called Asadal which I frequent often.

    3 Replies
    1. re: brokentelephone

      Tate Modern area a culinary wasteland? You either have ridiculously high standards or are speaking from ignorance. Just to name a few places nearby that are decent to great and are either right near the Tate Modern or are a short walk away in Waterloo: RSJ, Anchor and Hope, Tsuru, The Table, Master's Superfish. Then there is the other places in Bankside like Leon and Tortilla and a few other decent places. Also, Borough Market isn't far and depending on the day it's always good to visit and grab a sausage roll from the Ginger Pig.

      Thank you.

      1. re: Ibrahim.Salha

        Wow! Amazing response!

        In any event, I sort of assumed the OP was a tourist, and Anchor and Hope is a bit of a trek form the TM, albeit highly recommended.

        1. re: Ibrahim.Salha

          To add a couple: Viva Verdi next to Tsuru for hams and cured meats from Emilia-Romagna as well as pasta, all excellently made, and without any fuss.

          Best Italian at Borough market is one of more notable places that opened there this year, with honest, well made soups and other savouries, as well as good cakes. Their espresso are more rounded and less acidic than Monmouth's.

      2. The Wallace Collection has a very nice restaurant - if you're there later in the day, they also serve tea with the usual goodies. If not, walk up Marylebone High St. and you'll find lots of choices. It's a busy street with lovely shops and every restaurant chain known to man - Paul, Patisserie Valerie, Pret A Manger. There are other places nearby - the famous Golden Hind for fish and chips, Providores for tapas etc.

        1. The V&A cafe is actually pretty good and also beautiful. As well as brokentelephonme's suggestions, Brindisa is two minutes walk from the V&A and has good and inexpensive tapas. Tate Britain is a problem - the cafe is so-so and there's nowhere nearby that I know of. In addition, the restaurant and cafe at the National Gallery are excellent, though often crowded at lunchtime.

          1. Thanks to the responders so far -- keep 'em coming. Looking forward to any hidden gems!

            1. Hi John

              I used to live next to the British Museum for many years. Some nearby spots for lunch are:

              - Saffron Lebanese Cafe: on Sicilian Avenue, which can be accessed from Southampton Row or Bloomsbury Way, about 7 or 8 minutes from the BM.

              Really good lamb, kofta, hummus and other middle eastern food, also some wraps and salads, with indoor and outdoor seating (if you are there in the one or two weeks of 'British Summer').

              - Hummus Brothers: on Southampton Row, about 5 minutes from the BM. If you walk down Great Russell Street to where it dead ends into Southampton Row, and then make a right, Hummus Brothers will be just a minute down the road on your left hand side.

              Hummus Bros does lots of jazzed up varieties of tasty hummus with piping hot pita bread, with chicken, grilled vegetables, avocado, beef, etc. They also have other sides and plenty of seating. Not as authentic as Saffron, but still very good and filling.

              - Abeno Okonomiyaki: on Museum Street, just across the street from the BM.

              A small Japanese okonomiyaki restaurant for a longer sit-down lunch. Here's a quick blip if you are not familiar with it:


              Your clothes will come out reeking of grilled okonomiyaki, and it is not completely authentic in that the servers cook it for you, but it is delicious and tastes like the real deal. More expensive than it should be, but still mid-range.

              - I second the Korean Bi Bim Bap restaurant for a quick lunch, also located on Museum Street. There are only two little tables (seating two each, if I recall), so this is more of a takeout place.

              - Princess Louise Pub: on High Holborn, just across the street from Holborn Tube Station.

              If you the time, or inclination, for nice pint of Samuel Smith beers, lagers and ales, swing by this beautiful pub. Lots of private nooks and crannies to drink in, and was recently refurbished with lovely decor. I have never eaten there, so can't vouch for the food.

              TO AVOID

              Steer clear of any of the restaurants on Southampton Row other than Hummus Brothers Cafe. You may walk along this road to reach the British Museum if you are coming from Holborn Station, but the restaurants on Southampton Row itself are tourist traps and are not worth a look, especially the Hason Raja Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant and the pizza places.

              Also avoid the Thai restaurant on Museum Street - the worst attempt at Thai I have ever experienced. I am actually writing this in Thailand right now, and the locals here wouldn't even recognise it as Thai food!

              Enjoy the British Museum, one of the best in the world! Don't try to see it all in one day though.......I was in London for 7 years and just about managed to see every room and exhibit, some several times, but I'm sure there is more to discover.

              1 Reply
              1. re: unagi11

                Had a drink in Princess Louise -- very nicely decorated pub and the Smith lafge and cider were tasty!

              2. Terroirs isn't far from the National Gallery, and is fab. You are right in the heart of London so there are lots of good choices within a few minutes walk. Giaconda Dining Rooms would be a good option, or Great Queen Street on the road of the same name. You could also head up to Chinatown or Soho.

                1 Reply
                1. re: greedygirl

                  Just looked at the Giaconda Dining Rooms menu: Stewed Southern Right Whale Blubber????

                2. I'd suggest afternoon tea at the Mandeville after a visit to the Wallace Collection. I have a long tea post I need to write that includes 2 of the Peyton and Byrne outlets (they have one at the Wallace Collection), and aside from the preserves, they don't received my endorsement. I'd place the Mandeville at the top of the sub £25 per head afternoon tea. They offer a gentlemen's tea and now have a Christmas tea that I hope to try early next month.

                  1. I live a block away from the British Museum.

                    I do second the suggestion that you avoid anything on Southampton Row. I sometimes feel sorry for the lost tourists wandering up and down eyeing menus. They should have done just a little research though.

                    Anyways, I suggest the following:

                    The London Review of Books Cafe
                    Great cafe on Bury Place serving inventive sandwiches, tasty desserts and coffees. Tiny place so best to get there early.

                    Wild & Wood on New Oxford St.
                    I'd use this place for a quick lunch on the run. Their sandwiches are delivered but good and cheap. The standout here is the coffee though and the cute tiny place.

                    Savoir Faire on New Oxford St.
                    A cute and authentic French bistro. Most stuff made in-house. Lunch special is £10 for 2 courses.

                    Abeno on Museum St.
                    Okonimayaki is both tasty and filling. Huge range of interesting side dishes too most of which are superb.

                    If you feel like walking a bit further you could head:

                    East to Lamb's Conduit
                    Both the Lamb pub and Perseverance serve basic honest pub food. Cigala the Tapas place on the street is also good. The whole street is suprisingly non-touristy.

                    West to Giaconda Dining Room on Denmark St.
                    Mentioned here many times. Its really not far away.

                    South to Covent Garden
                    I recommend Rock and Sole Plaice if you're after Fish and Chips

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: r.vacapinta

                      Drank at the Lamb, eat at Perseverance and Cigala. Liked all three!! Thanks for the recos.
                      Probably liked Cigala the best as tapas hit the spot that evening.

                      We also ate at Ciao Bella. The food there was pretty good and reasonable, but boy, it that a hopping place. Full, full, full - even the outside tables under the heater were usually occupied at all hours of the night.

                    2. For the National Gallery, I would suggest the Portrait restaurant: "The National Portrait Gallery's newly-refurbished roof-top restaurant boasts spectacular views over London" and yummy modern British food. They expect you to be leisurely (lots of ladies who lunch), so don't plan it if you're after a quick bite.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Shivaun

                        Just had high tea there in the cafe but was pretty good. The tea service could have been a made a little more elegant than just bags with tags.

                      2. I've heard that the afternoon tea at the British Museum is very good, hoping to try it for myself next month.

                        1. Noodle Bar in Leiscester Sq/Covent Garden area for Lanzhou style hand pulled noodles.

                          1. I live near the V&A and I would recommend Little Japan which is right next to South Kensington Tube, Bosphorus Kebabs on Old Brompton Road, and House of Coffees (name may be slightly different) on Gloucester Road does a great pizza deal between 4 - 8 (I think) where you get 2 pizzas for the price of one. All of these are pretty much 'cheap' deals but I think still very tasty.