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Where to eat and drink in the West End before seeing a show

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

Visiting one of London’s many and varied culinary hotspots pre-theatre makes a West End trip feel like a real night out. However, it can be challenging to find somewhere with fast service, so you’re not anxiously clock-watching; excellent food, but not too pricy; and close to your destination, without resorting to an overcrowded chain.

But if you know where to look, there are plenty of West End gems, from tapas and ramen to cutting-edge cocktails. Here are our top tips for eating and drinking in style – and in plenty of time for curtain up.

Where to eat in the West End

With thousands of restaurants in the West End, it can be difficult to decide where to dine. Here's our top recommendations for where to eat in central London. Eating in Covent Garden? Check out our Covent Garden neighbourhood guide.

Shoryu Ramen

This authentic Japanese ramen is Michelin-recommended – with rich broth, bouncy noodles and succulent char sui BBQ pork – yet the atmosphere is relaxed. You should also try the gyoza served in a sizzling cast-iron skillet, or hirata bun with wagyu beef.

Pizza Pilgrims

This slow-proved Neopolitan crust is unbeatable. The classic Marinara is perfect for vegans and those watching calories, or enjoy toppings like creamy gorgonzola, smoked anchovies, spicy Calabrian pork, or the heavenly combination of Portobello mushrooms and truffle.

Barrafina

Delicious tapas featuring Spanish regional dishes, like tortilla and bomba iberica, in mid-sized portions perfect for sharing. Service is fast and friendly, and it’s particularly fun sitting up on bar stools and watching the food prepared.

The Delaunay

Dine in grand Mittel-European style – crisp white tablecloths and baguettes on arrival – but with speed and economy. The £13.50 “menu rapide” is particularly good value, or try specialities like the schnitzel, sausage, steak, or seafood cocktail. Make sure to get reservations.

Leong’s Legend

This wood-panelled Taiwanese teahouse supplies tempting regional delicacies, like the springy Shanghai soup dumplings or the legendary slow-cooked pork buns with peanut and coriander. Get there early so you can wander Chinatown and work up an appetite.

Where to drink in the West End

There's lots of bars dotted all across the city. If you're looking for a tipple or two before a West End show, we've got must-visit bars. Did you know there's also bars in London theatres? Why not visit them before seeing a show there in the same evening.

American Bar

The Savoy’s Art Deco bar was recently named best in the world. Mixologists serve up cutting-edge themed cocktails – The Royal Welcome celebrates Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding – as well as enduring favourites, like Harry Craddock’s White Lady.

Joe Allen

This iconic Covent Garden venue remains the go-to in the West End. Grab a martini, sidecar, or rum punch, and just soak up the atmosphere: the show poster-lined walls, the background music, the theatre history, and the unrivalled celeb-spotting.

The Northall Bar

The luxurious bar at Corinthia Hotel is a refined drinking spot. As well as a quality Champagne and wine menu, there’s a wide selection of cocktails, plus the house gin and vodka are distilled locally, and the beer brewed just downriver in Greenwich.

Skylon

Head to the Royal Festival Hall for an excellent glass of wine from the extensive list or signature cocktail inspired by the four elements – such as a spicy Firecracker or citrus-infused Star Dust. Most importantly, the bar’s huge windows offer spectacular Thames views.

Photo credit: Food (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

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