If Southwark is famous for one thing above all it’s probably Shakespeare’s Globe. But between the original theatre burning down and the new one being built, this historic borough continued to thrive much as it has always done. Every pub, restaurant and attraction in our Southwark taxi driver’s guide has been hand-selected to reflect the very best the area has to offer. Even though it wasn’t officially created until 1965, it’s said that Southwark is the most historic of all London’s boroughs. The reasoning behind this longstanding claim is the ancient town of Southwark was the first to be connected to the original Roman city of Londinium by an old footbridge. Making it the first ‘satellite’ borough to what would go on to become the city centre. Over the years the area thrived and fell into disrepair in equal measure. And although today going to the theatre is considered a bit of a ‘posh’ evening out, back then it was largely the preserve of the city’s lower classes and scoundrels. As a result Southwark became better known as one of the sleazier parts of London. Prisons were built (it had three – more on that later) and the area even established itself as a popular red light district. Today of course, Southwark boast London Bridge, the Tate Modern, the OXO Tower, the Millennium Bridge, the new Globe, Borough Market and the UK’s tallest building; The Shard in its impressive repertoire. Put another way, it’s come a long way since its time as a more nefarious corner of London. Food enthusiasts flood here from all corners of the world. Real ale lovers descend on its numerous pubs and curious tourists are spoiled for choice when it comes to a great day out. Addison Lee’s Southwark taxi driver’s guide is the ideal companion to a long day out in south east London.
Where to drink
One of several great pubs within a stone’s throw of Borough Market, The Southwark Inn is also the largest. Popular with every sort of drinker, this longtime local favourite boasts an excellent range of ales, as well as a pretty solid Saturday brunch to soak them up with. Ground floor in here is as you’d expect of a London pub but head downstairs and you can burrow away with friends in one of the many hidden nooks. The only downside to the Southwark is that because of its location, it’s often busy.
22 Southwark Street, SE1 1TU
Boot & Flogger
There are a few establishments in the city which lay claim to being ‘London’s first wine bar’ but such is the antique nature of the Boot & Flogger, we’re inclined to believe them. Not only that, they’ve got such a comprehensive wine and sherry list, who could be bothered to argue? Not a wine fan? Don’t panic they also serve beer and ales, as well as some of the most phenomenal meat carved off the bone we’ve ever tried. It may not be a gentlemen’s bar, but it certainly has quite a masculine feel to the place.
10-20 Redcross Way, Southwark, SE1 1TA
The George Inn
The lovely thing about the George Inn is that for a pub with such proximity to Borough Market, there are precious few tourists to be found here. And what a relief that is. After all, its enormous courtyard can only hold so many afternoon drinkers. The pub is actually a National Trust place of interest as it’s the only galleried pub remaining in England. Although, try as you might you can’t get up to them. Nevertheless, this place is always heaving with happy revellers come a summer’s day.
The George Inn Yard, 77 Borough High St, SE1 1NH
Where to eat
If you find yourself hungry in Southwark count yourself lucky. There are so many great places to dine out here it’s almost embarrassing. At the heart of it all is the world famous foodie mecca Borough Market. Lobos is one of the many great places to eat here so if you can’t get a table, don’t panic. Just try somewhere else. That being said, it would be a bit of a shame to miss out on these excellent Spanish dishes. Nestled deep into the arches under London Bridge, Lobos keep dining casual but excellent. An ideal place to go for a relaxed dinner with friends. Or even a more intimate affair with a loved one.
14 Borough High St, SE1 9QG
Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House
If you’re going to eat oysters in Southwark – and we strongly recommend you do – then try and do it at Wright’s. These cute little seafood restaurants have started to pop up in other corners of London recently, but for us, none compare to the incredible atmosphere of the Borough Market venture. You’ve simply not eaten Oysters properly in London until you’ve been to Wright’s. Sit in front of the kitchen at the bar or at a table carved out of a barrel. Either way you’re in for a real treat. Just so long as you like seafood.
11 Stoney St, SE1 9AD
Not every meal has to be a classic three course affair – a point well made by the brunch-tastic Table. Not too long ago The Table was considered to be one of Southwark’s best kept secrets. Nowadays it’s more of a popular place for folks in the know. Based around a simple mantra of sourcing great local ingredients from independent suppliers, their all day menu is perhaps best known for its gluttonous pancakes. But there’s a whole lot more to this place than buttermilk and blueberries. They also serve terrific burgers and eye popping sharing boards.
83 Southwark St, SE1 0HX
What to do
Rebuilt in 1997 after years of haggling over its supposed original location, Shakespeare’s Globe is a life size homage to the theatre which once showed all of The Bard’s greatest plays. Reconstructed as a faithful re imagining of the original building, it features hard wooden seating (bring a cushion is our advice) and a pit where you can actually stand to watch a play (it only costs £5 for obvious reasons). The plays on offer are almost always Shakespearian but they do occasionally stage other writer’s work.
21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT
We’ve banged on enough about it already you must have got the message by now. Borough Market is the beating heart of London’s independent food scene. Buried beneath the arches of London Bridge, this sprawling home to over 100 incredible stalls is a foodie’s delight. Endless rows of wine, cheese, meat and sweet stores live its inner and outer hallways like a Dickensian dream. There are also any number of pubs, bars and restaurants set around its edge. Each as inviting as the next.
8 Southwark St, SE1 1TL
The Clink Prison Museum
One of three major Southwark prisons, The Clink is the one that gave its name to all the rest. This notorious prison was once the home to London’s most feared criminals, and operated for over 600 years. Today, it’s a museum in the vein of the London Dungeons. An interactive exploration of the city’s dark past. Great fun for anyone with a sense of the macabre.
1 Clink St, SE1 9DG