Best-of Guides London

The Best Pre-Theatre Dining in London

7 Restaurants
With the bright lights and palpable excitement of London’s West End, the capital continues to lead the way for theatre, ballet, opera and concerts the world over. What better way to make your visit into a real occasion than to have lunch or dinner before or after the show? Here are some of our favourite theatreland spots, all offering sensibly priced and accessible menus that will help to make the occasion a memorable one.
Updated on 25 April 2024
Cora Pearl
30 Henrietta Street, Strand and Covent Garden, WC2F 8NA London
££ · British Contemporary

Named after a 19th century courtesan who lived nearby before becoming the queen of Parisian nightlife, this bistro-like restaurant has a buzzing yet cosy atmosphere. It sits inside a characterful Covent Garden townhouse and offers a menu that pushes British produce like Wiltshire truffles and Portland crab to the fore. The team recommend a cocktail to go with your pre-show meal, before visiting one of the several theatres nearby, including the Adelphi, Lyceum and Vaudeville.

Did you know that Michelin also recommends hotels? The St Martins Lane Hotel is just a stone’s throw away from Cora Pearl.

55 Aldwych, Strand and Covent Garden, WC2B 4BB London
£££ · Modern Cuisine

Like its older sister, The Wolseley, the inspiration for this bustling restaurant, set just round the corner from The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, is the grand cafés of Europe. As such, the menu is a roll-call of classic dishes from Central European cuisine – so expect schnitzel, sachertorte and plenty of sausages. The affordable fixed price menu is a great option for pre-show dining and there’s a wonderfully grand feel to the interior. Look out for future dates of ‘The Delaunay Presents’, when you are invited to join a star of stage and screen for dinner.

Michelin recommends a stay at One Aldwych hotel, just a two-minute walk from The Delaunay.

National Theatre, Upper Ground, Southwark, SE1 9PX London
££ · Modern British

There are few places better for a pre-theatre meal than in the theatre itself. Situated on the upper floor of the National Theatre – which is actually a collection of several performance spaces inside one big, Brutalist building – it is a large and lively brasserie serving full-flavoured modern British cooking. Much of its business is conducted pre-show, with a sensibly priced pre-theatre menu for the purpose. If you’ve arrived late and only have time for a drink before your play starts, there’s also a large bar on hand to satisfy.

Little Social
5 Pollen Street, Mayfair, W1S 1NE London
££ · Modern British

Whilst slightly less central than some other options, it’s well worth considering this intimate and clubby bistro from the Jason Atherton stable. Tucked away on Pollen Street, over the road from its older sibling, Little Social feels sheltered from the busy West End crowds but is still just a short walk away from the Piccadilly and Criterion theatres. There is a reassuring appeal to the short 'prix fixe' menu which champions British ingredients and French techniques.

Little Social is not far from the famed Claridge’s, which is part of the MICHELIN Guide hotel selection.

45 Great Queen Street, Holborn, WC2 5AA London
£££ · Italian

If it’s a touch of glamour and elegance you’re looking for before taking your seat in the stalls, then Margot will certainly fit the bill. Classic, regional Italian cooking comes in the form of dishes like beef carpaccio and veal Milanese, which are delivered with authenticity, a rustic edge and plenty of flavour. The lunch/pre-theatre menu allows the flexibility of dining before a matinee or evening performance, with The Royal Opera House less than 5 minutes’ walk away.

A mere two minutes’ walk separates Margot from the Michelin-recommended Middle Eight hotel.

5th Floor, Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Strand and Covent Garden, WC2E 9DD London
£££ · Modern British

A visit to the Royal Opera House is always an eagerly anticipated occasion, whether for an opera or ballet, and the experience has only been enhanced since they opened Piazza in 2022. Located on the 5th floor of the famous theatre, the restaurant is decorated with sketches and costumes related to previous performances. A convivial atmosphere runs alongside carefully prepared dishes that evolve with the seasons, ensuring that the dining experience is comparable to the delights of the theatre itself.

Staying the night? Michelin recommends NoMad London for your overnight stop.

47B Great Marlborough Street, Soho, W1F 7JP London
£££ · Latin American

There was much excitement when Argentine chef Fernando Trocca announced he was to open a branch of his famed Buenos Aires restaurant in London. The building he chose is, appropriately enough, a 300-year-old former concert hall and is almost as appealing as the cooking itself. A pre and post theatre menu includes dishes cooked over the open fire of a parrilla – and Alma, their basement cocktail bar, is the perfect way to round off an evening.

The Michelin-recommended Ham Yard Hotel, a Firmdale Hotel, is a short walk from the restaurant.