Stretching down from London Victoria to the river Thames, Pimlico is about as exclusive an area as you’ll find in London. Follow our Pimlico taxi driver’s guide to all the best places to eat, drink and explore while you’re here. Pimlico sits in the elegant shadow of Westminster, and was originally built as an extension of neighbouring Belgravia. Prior to being the rather flash district it is now – and hard as it may be to imagine – it was once little more than swampy marshlands. Designed by the famous London architect Thomas Cubitt (he of St Pancras Station fame), Pimlico only really came to life in 1825. In fact, in order to build on the area, soil had to be brought in from St. Katherine’s Dock in Tower Hamlets. Today Pimlico boasts around three hundred and fifty Grade II listed buildings as well as two separate Grade II listed churches in its relatively compact area. No mean feat for a district that only came into existence around two hundred years ago. Famous for its white stucco façades, this area has become the playground of the rich and famous. Head to the notorious Dolphin Square apartments and you’ll find a complex that’s said to house hundreds of Members of British Parliament among its wealthy residents. Unsurprisingly, it’s a place that’s not been without its fair share of scandal over the years either. Pimlico may not be the cheapest place to rent or buy in London (the average rental cost of a two bedroom flat is around £750 per week), but it doesn’t mean it’s a place not worth a visit. And you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune for the privilege. Follow our Pimlico taxi driver’s guide to gain some true local insight into the area’s best restaurants, pubs, bars and attractions. All you’ll need now is an Addison Lee.
Where to drink
Most places that are associated with wealth and aristocracy tend to lack in edgier pubs and bars and rely on more traditional drinking grounds. Which is why it’s such a surprise to discover a place like Cask in Pimlico. And not just that, but to hear that it’s been here since 2009. Long before the hipster craft beer revolution. Wedged in beneath some unattractive flats, Cask doesn’t just have few interesting beers on offer – it has a whole menu. Feeling unqualified to make a choice? Just speak to the staff who are as friendly as they are knowledgeable. They also serve an excellent range of burgers to keep their customers happy.
6 Charlwood St, SW1V 2EE
Talk about a Pimlico institution. The Morpeth Arms not only boast the best view of the MI6 building over the river in Vauxhall, they’re also the only pub we know of that can lay claim to being haunted by long deceased prisoners. The reason for this dubious assertion? They were once the favoured pub of nearby Millbank Prison’s wardens – now the location of the Tate Britain. Underneath this ancient pub there are even old holding cells where the ghosts are said to roam. Of course that’s not the only reason to visit. They also serve a great selection of ales and wine, as well as some rather excellent pub grub.
58 Millbank, SW1P 4RW
The Queen’s Arms
Very much the modern gastropub, we could just as easily recommend you go here for a lovely dinner or lunch as for a pint. Built in 1846, The Queens Arms has been part of the Pimlico furniture as long as anyone can remember, and although it’s been through a bit of a spruce-up over the past decade or so, it still remains an incredibly popular place for locals and visitors to drop by for a drink. Decked out with lovely oak tables and dark panelled flooring, The Queens Arms retains all the feel of a pub without surrendering its modern and comfortable feel. Incidentally, the food here is exquisite – a massive step up on your standard gastropub fare.
11 Warwick Way, SW1V 1QT
Where to eat
“Going for a Chinese” has become a rather sad catch-all term these days. To most of us it means choosing our old faithful – sweet and sour something or boring in black bean sauce. It rarely means trying something new and exciting. A Wong is the kind of place that doesn’t allow you to rest on your laurels. It challenges you to try dishes from all over China. And bearing in mind just how huge a place China is, don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of 90% of the things on the menu. For the ambitious there’s an eight course tasting menu that will take you to heights you’ve never before imagined from a Cantonese restaurant.
70 Wilton Rd, SW1V 1DE
Another type of food that seems to have strayed from stylish family run restaurants to the high street with an alarming lack of panache is tapas. Which is why it’s such a pleasant surprise to find places like Goya continuing to succeed in such an unmistakably independent fashion. Opened in 1993, Goya specialise in dishes that retain all the earthy originality of their motherland. There are two floors to this popular Pimlico restaurant; a light and breezy upstairs, and a more bodega-esque basement. Frankly, it doesn’t matter where you sit, the experience is always as enjoyable as the food is delicious and the the service is friendly. Great for lunch or dinner with friends.
34 Lupus St, SW1V 3EB
Proving that you don’t have to chuck money at a meal to get a good feed in Pimlico is About Thyme. The menu here flicks through Mediterranean cuisines with such wanton abandon you can’t help but feel more places should embrace a less discriminate motif. Choose between a tapas menu for sharing (or not), and a short list of hearty but creative mains. There’s also a set dinner menu and even a sharing menu. The restaurant itself is heartwarmingly casual with a warm glow to it that invites you to spend a long evening over food and wine with friends.
82 Wilton Rd, SW1V 1DL
What to do
There are few places in London, or even Britain that hold your attention quite like the Tate Britain. As the home to the country’s finest artworks, this incredible museum was opened in 1897 to house the work of some of the world’s foremost artists. Like all major London galleries, the Tate is free to enter (for the most part), and features paintings by Turner, Picasso, Dali and Bacon (amongst a deluge of others). Surprisingly, most Londoners never ‘find the time to visit’. Be one of the few to buck the trend.
Millbank, SW1P 4RG
At the absolute northernmost point of Pimlico, right next to Victoria station, you’ll see the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Built in 1930 as a rather glamorous cinema, the Apollo was converted into a theatre in the 1980s. It was most famous for showing the Andrew Lloyd Webber rollerskating bonanza Starlight Express between 1984 and 2002, and at the time of writing has been putting on the hit musical Wicked since 2006. Proving that you don’t have to be in the West End to catch a good show. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.
17 Wilton Rd, SW1V 1LG
Tachbrook Street Market
Although they are increasingly abundant these days, Pimlico is not exactly the kind of place you’d expect to find a street food market. Nevertheless, Tachbrook Market continues to flourish. Open throughout the week, this is an ideal place to come if you’re feeling peckish but can’t quite make up your mind what to eat. The stalls range from Turkish to Jamaican with everything in between. There are also a number of traders here too; butchers, greengrocers and fishmongers are all happy to fill your grocery basket.
42 Upper Tachbrook St, SW1V 2JS