Arguably London’s most famously grisly historical site, the Tower of London sees hordes of tourists and Londoners alike flocking to the castle every day. But checking out the Crown Jewels can be hungry and thirsty work; luckily Tower Hill, St Katharine Docks and this side of the City has a plethora of tasty options to refresh you. From independent specialist coffee shops, fancy dining destinations, old-fashioned pubs and a healthy smattering of cheap eats, there’s no need to resort to a Beefeater. Here’s where we’d go after a hard day’s sightseeing….
Where to get breakfast near the Tower of London
We’re fans of Coppa Club any time of day, but their breakfasts are especially good. This glam riverside all day bar and restaurant is famed for those eye-wateringly expensive igloos, but if you don’t have £600 to spare, take a seat at the sweeping brass bar instead and order up eggs royale or a veggie breakfast for a fraction of the cost. For a more casual bite, try the Natural Kitchen (we like their homemade vegan pancakes) for a roster of delicious healthy options, or grab and go at Paul.
Where to eat lunch near the Tower of London
The Tower itself has a couple of options, from sandwich kiosks to cafés up to the proper restaurant, Sargeant’s Mess from chef Mark Sargeant where you can take in views of the Tower while dining on a weekly changing selection of British classics: think Scotch eggs, burgers and sausage and mash.
Elsewhere nearby you’ll find plenty of chain lunch places mixed with indy shops such as WrapChic for Indian/Mexican fusion burritos and bowls, plus hole in the wall fish and chip places like Great British Fish & Chips and Josef Fish and Chips (named after Josef Jakobs, the last person executed at the Tower in 1941) – both of which offer decently hot, fresh and tasty cod and chips.
Personally, if the weather’s on your side we’d pick up a crispy pork banh mi packed with pate and pickles from Banh Mi City and picnic in the grounds of St Dunstan in the East amidst the remains of Christopher Wren’s steeple and tower.
Pubs, gastropubs and bars near the Tower of London
This area is not short of watering holes. The Princess of Prussia over in Whitechapel is one of the best pubs around with its lovingly restored Victorian charm; on cold days cosy up in the comfortable bar with a pint of real ale, or enjoy the pretty courtyard come summertime and you may as well treat yourself to a Smithfield pork pie while you’re at it.
Down in St Katharine Docks, The Dickens Inn is always a popular spot for drinking or casual dining. Housed in an original 18th century timber warehouse festooned with hanging baskets, it’s a nice spot to watch the boats with a craft beer (standard pub fayre menu also available).
Other pubs nearby worth a punt include the very traditional Minories in the railway arches and Fullers’ Hung, Drawn and Quartered, or try Brewdog’s Outpost just moments from the Tower of London which boasts over 25 craft beers on tap. For something more refined, head back to Coppa Club for a champagne cocktail.
Restaurants near the Tower of London
No longer a dining desert, this side of Tower Bridge now has plenty of good restaurants worth the trip to the Tower. Whether you’re in the mood for down and dirty American barbecue at Bodean’s – get the ribs, obviously – or dim sum at Ping Pong, there are various crowd-pleasing eateries around in addition to the usual Cotes and Wagamamas.
We rate Emilia’s Crafted Pasta, which has two nearby branches (St Katharine Docks and Aldgate) where fresh handmade pasta comes nestled in authentic Italian sauces like the Ligurian creamy walnut with chestnut mushrooms, four-hour bolognese or organic lamb with parsley, parmesan and sage butter (yes please) for around £10 a go.
Don’t forget about Café Spice Namaste either. It’s a colourful, fun foray into Indian food with a European twist from Cyrus Todiwala (you’ll recognise him from the TV) and family housed in a former magistrate’s court. It’s been around for an impressive 25 years now, serving carefully spiced authentic dishes like their Frankie Goat Dosa — a traditional daal pancake enveloping rich, fiery goat and cooling raita.
Special occasion restaurants near the Tower of London
The breathtaking Ten Trinity hotel is the place to head for special occasions. If you’ve got deep pockets you should advance directly to Anne-Sophie Pic’s incredible La Dame De Pic, a Michelin-starred French destination restaurant, to feast on one of the three tasting menus. Example dishes include delights such as Brittany pigeon in a batak berry and Nikka Whisky marinade with beetroot and blackberry or Wagyu steak tartare with smoked pike caviar.
For a special dinner without a second mortgage, we like The Coal Shed in the plush One Tower Bridge development which serves seasonal, sustainable meat and seafood in inventive, exciting ways — try the zingy sticky pork belly with gochujang and ash baked celeriac small plates before sharing a native British breed porterhouse steak; word is that their Sunday sharing roast is phenomenal too.
Coffee shops and cafes near the Tower of London
White Mulberries in St Katharine Docks is situated within the only original warehouse there, and serves a daily menu of cakes, savoury bakes, sandwiches, soups and salads all made in house or sourced from local bakeries. The coffee is ethically-sourced and constantly changing to reflect the best beans of the season; enjoy a cup while taking in the river views.
Further towards the City, Flock is a good call where you’re guaranteed a great cup of coffee from baristas who know their beans, plus brunches and burgers in highly Instagramable surroundings. CanteenM at CitizenM is another handy and stylish pitstop for those in need of a cuppa, croissant and some reliable wifi – plus they have spare iMacs should you need.
Late night food and drink near the Tower of London
Tower Hill isn’t an area especially known for its nightlife, but there is still some after-hours fun to be had in the handful of good bars round here. Try Simmons, a diminutive cocktail bar and dance floor with colourful retro styling and cheekily named drinks — a Basic Beach, anyone? — open until 1am. Prosecco House at One Tower Bridge serves up over 20 types of DOCG prosecco and is open until midnight if you fancy a bit of fizz, or try Dirty Martini — the Minories branch is nearest, but there are a few more over in the City too — which ticks the box and is open until midnight. Finish the night with a slap up Indian at The Empress in Whitechapel which has regional Indian and Bangladeshi classics plus some surprises.