Looking for the best outdoor restaurants in London? On the rare occasions that the sun appears in the sky above London and decides to grace us with its warm embrace, it's important to soak up all the vitamin D you can get. Fortunately, there are plenty of al fresco spaces for outdoor dining in London, from terraces and rooftops to chairs plonked on pavements. In fact, one might even say that we're quite spoilt for choice in the capital given the reputation London has for being grey and rather lukewarm for 11 months a year.
If we can get real for a moment, we aren't blessed with the best weather in the world. For most of the calendar year Londoners are a stoic lot, and we still love to dine outside - sometimes just to stick it to the biting wind and drizzle. This is where London's real al fresco champs separate themselves - you need blankets, awnings, windbreakers, heaters to protect from the elements. Any old restaurant can get it right when it's 30 degrees with a gentle breeze, but can you get the job done on a wet and windy evening in Peckham?
That's why we've scoured the capital for a wide array of outdoor restaurants and dining spaces. Some are firmly in the summer sun-trap sector - the glorious high-rise rooftop terrace at 14 Hills, for example, or the Frederick's garden in Islington. Others are well equipped to battle the British weather all year round - head to Aqua Nueva or Aqua Kyoto and soak in the views from the heated, covered terrace with a cocktail in hand, or duck under the awning at Trivet and watch the world go by whilst in the safe hands of Jonny Lake and Isa Bal, the former head chef and head sommelier of The Fat Duck.
SKIP TO THE BEST SECTION FOR YOU
So, whether it’s in rain or shine, if you want something more appealing than a chair on the pavement, then our pick of the best al fresco restaurants has you covered. From hidden courtyards to rooftop vistas, you’ll find a ton of great restaurants with outside seating in London right here.
Best outdoor restaurants in central London
If you’re just visiting the capital, or meeting friends from all corners of the city, you might want to find a nice outdoor restaurant in central London. Luckily, the odds here are in your favour as we happen to think that across areas like Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair there are some of the top terrace spots to be found in the whole of London. Enjoy!
Aqua Nueva, Soho
What: Found just a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus station, this central spot is the perfect place to recuperate after a busy morning shopping. With a Spanish menu at Aqua Nueva you can expect tapas sharing plates like a classic tortilla with potatoes and caramelised onions as well as rich and creamy croquettes. The terrace has comfortable lounge-style seating and plenty of planting on the peripheries for a laidback garden feel. Wonderful views of central London’s skyline complete the experience.
Where: 240 Regent Street, Soho, W1B 3BR
Book now: Aqua Nueva
Aqua Kyoto, Soho
What: With a partially covered and heated outdoor terrace, Aqua Kyoto makes a great dining destination whatever the weather. With options for brunch, lunch or dinner, there are menus for every mealtime. Sushi fans will be pleased with the extensive selection from the in-house bar which makes each piece in front of diners, while the robata grill throws up more substantial fare like truffle yakitori skewers.
Where: 240 Regent Street, Soho, W1B 3BR
Book now: Aqua Kyoto
What: London isn’t short of quality Indian restaurants, but BiBi has already launched itself among the best of them by combining south Asian flavours with European techniques and the best of British produce. The mango wood and sandstone interiors are very pleasing on the eye too, as is the relaxed terrace that comes complete with heaters and blankets.
Where: 42 North Audley Street, Mayfair, W1K 6ZR
Book now: BiBi
Native at Browns, Mayfair
What: The Native team prides itself on preserving British culinary heritage and showing off lesser known wild ingredients, and that made them the perfect choice to move in with Browns - itself a proud British fashion boutique - at its new Brook Street flagship store. The Native courtyard is worth a visit on its own merits - best of all, it’s hidden away inside the store so only those in the know will even be aware it exists.
Where: 39 Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K 4JE
Book now: Native at Browns
The Orangery at Number Sixteen Hotel, South Kensington
What: Perfect for drinks or intimate dinners, the Orangery and Garden at Number Sixteen is an oasis of calm, set away from the honks of buses and taxis in South Kensington. The menu is very accessible with plenty of likeable British and European hits (courtesy of one-time Petersham Nurseries head chef Joe Fox), but it’s the beautiful tree-filled garden that most people come for.
Where: 16 Sumner Place, South Kensington, SW7 3EG
Book now: The Orangery at Number Sixteen Hotel
What: Luca has cemented its place among London’s very best Italian restaurants - no mean feat given the standard these days - but it also deserves a place among the city’s best outdoor spaces too. The cobblestone courtyard, looming trees and exposed brick are positively Mediterranean - a world away from the hustle and bustle of Farringdon outside. Be warned, this space can be hired on a private basis, so it's always best to book ahead if you want to guarantee an outdoor table.
Where: 88 St John Street, Farringdon, EC1M 4EH
Book now: Luca
What: Budgie Montoya’s exceptional Filipino restaurant is another of London’s hidden gems - the menu plays off authentic dishes but Montoya delivers them with a contemporary touch. If you want the real Sarap experience, order the lechon suckling pig between six or eight people and enjoy heavenly pork on the pleasant bamboo-lined terrace in the heart of central London.
Where: 10 Heddon Street, Mayfair, W1B 4BX
Book now: Sarap Filipino Bistro
La Goccia, Covent Garden
What: One of two Petersham Nurseries restaurants in Covent Garden (alongside The Petersham), La Goccia has a relaxed cafe vibe, offering an extensive menu of Italian small plates, aperitivi and pastas. Petersham was right at the front of the hyper-seasonal, farm to fork revolution and that natural vibe stretches through to the beautiful floral court at La Goccia - a hub of tranquillity in Covent Garden.
Where: 27-31 King Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8JB
Book now: La Goccia
Tavolino, London Bridge
What: Headed up by Louis Korovilas of Bancone fame, Tavolino is a two-storey riverside spot with an outdoor terrace offering excellent views of the river and Tower Bridge. It boasts an elegant menu of Italian delights, with practically everything - including the bread and ice cream - made on site. We recommend going the whole nine yards, or rather four courses: antipasti, pasta, secondi, dolci (with a few aperitivi to kick things off). Dishes include burrata with fig and hibiscus dressing, the famous 'silk handkerchief' pasta with walnut butter and confit egg yolk, whole baked sea bream and chocolate balsamic mousse with Planeta olive oil ice cream to finish for those who have room left.
Where: Unit 1 Riverside, London Bridge, SE1 2DA
Book now: Tavolino
Gunpowder, Tower Bridge
What: With a cracking view of Tower Bridge, Gunpowder offers some of the best terrace seats in London for soaking up the sights of the capital. When booking request one of the seats near the restaurant’s entrance, as these come complete with heaters and blankets. Fear not if you find yourself across the walkway though, the helpful team are always on hand with hot water bottles if the weather gets chilly. The Indian menu champions sharing plates, and we’d recommend one of the feasts which ensure you get a taste of everything from the kitchen. A venison doughnut has a meltingly soft meat centre and a crunchy, crisp exterior, while saag with tandoori paneer is wonderfully spiced and deeply savoury.
Where: 4 Duchess Walk, Tower Bridge, SE1 2SD
Book now: Gunpowder
What: Achingly cool Aquavit has a terrace which is quietly – and unexpectedly – tucked away just off Piccadilly Circus. This central spot is a great place to meet friends travelling from different corners of the city thanks to its proximity to all sorts of transport hubs. Here you’ll have the choice of tucking into hearty Scandi plates like the house meatballs and mash or plumping for cocktails and small plates from Head Chef Jonas Karlsson (our favourite - if you're asking - is the langoustine bao).
Where: 1 St James's Market, Piccadilly, SW1Y 4QQ
Book now: Aquavit
Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone
What: Chiltern Firehouse might not have the same buzz around it as it once did, but you’ll still find this place packed most nights. The venue’s outdoor terrace is truly dreamy, decked out with a monochrome colour scheme, marble-topped tables and festooned with twinkling lights come sundown. On the weekends, you can enjoy brunch outside, with dishes on offer that include Chiltern’s signature fluffy pancake stacks.
Where: 1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, W1U 7PA
Book now: Chiltern Firehouse
Alto by San Carlo at Selfridges, Marylebone
What: This hidden gem on the roof of Selfridges offers sweeping views across central London. Depending on which mood strikes, there’s a comfortable lounge area where you can enjoy cocktails and snacks in the sun or a full restaurant set-up for relaxed all-day Italian dining. Alto by San Carlo often hosts live entertainment too, so it's worth keeping an eye out to see what's coming up and booking accordingly (though they do hold tables for walk-ins).
Where: 400 Oxford Street, Marylebone, W1A 1AB
Book now: Alto by San Carlo
What: Having trained under the legendary Heston Blumenthal, the owners of Fallow have that keen experimental edge which lends itself to their environmental ethos. The kitchen takes oft-overlooked ingredients like dairy beef and cod’s head and transforms them into something really special. With a covered and heated terrace in the heart of St James's, and some of the friendliest staff we’ve come across recently, this is the perfect place to unwind after a long day pounding the pavements of central London.
Where: 12 St James's Market, Piccadilly, SW1Y 4RP
Book now: Fallow
The Arber Garden, Fitzrovia
What: Inspired by the botanist Agnes Arber, this relaxed, secluded garden space offers up locally sourced produce crafted into elegant dishes, wood-oven cooked flatbreads, brunch on the weekends, Sunday roasts and more. The cocktails are a must-try here, with mixes like a gin and basil spritz, fig spritz, garden mojito, oyster shell-infused martini and a bloody margarita made with Tapatio, Ilegal mezcal, tamarillo tomato, agave, lime and bitters.
Where: 1 Pearson Square, Fitzrovia, W1W 7EY
Book now: The Arber Garden
What: With quite a tight corner spot in Soho, you may not have expected Folie to have space for outdoor dining. However, proving where there’s a will there’s a way, this trendy eatery has carved out some outdoor dining of its very own, offering guests an al fresco bite to eat on its petite terrace. Meals have a Mediterranean lean, so expect dishes such as aubergine parmigiana and Côte de bœuf.
Where: 37 Golden Square, Soho, W1F 9LB
Book now: Folie
The Nest in Treehouse, Fitzrovia
What: If 360-degree views of the capital’s skyline aren’t enough to tempt you here, how about all-day dining that delivers some real crowd-pleasers to boot? Found at the top of the trendy Treehouse hotel, this spot will give you plenty of social media fodder and then some. Expect plush furnishings, serious amounts of foliage and selection of nibbles, small and large plates, including grilled king prawns with lemongrass, lime and kaffir butter, and vegan yoghurt pannacotta with poached rhubarb and honey tuille biscuit.
Where: 14-15 Langham Place, Fitzrovia, W1B 2QS
Book now: The Nest in Treehouse Hotel
What: Having positioned itself as one of London’s premiere dining destinations way back when, Scott’s has managed to stand the test of time by maintaining an old-school class which is hard to find elsewhere. Defying the laws of ages doesn’t however mean being uptight, and the restaurant’s terrace affords guests a breezier (both literally and metaphorically) experience than eating in the dining room. Take your seat at one of the crisply dressed tables under a warm heat lamp. Be warned though, with the good people of Mayfair to observe, conversation with companions can take a bit of a backseat.
Where: 20 Mount Street, Mayfair, W1K 2HE
Book now: Scott's
YOPO at The Mandrake, Fitzrovia
What: When sitting out on this serene, partially covered terrace, it’s easy to forget that you are mere moments away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. Boasting walls covered in foliage and a relaxed vibe, YOPO is a great spot for post-work drinks, serving up herbaceous cocktails and a concise menu of tacos and nibbles, followed by refreshing sorbet for dessert.
Where: 20-21 Newman Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1PG
Book now: YOPO at The Mandrake
Dalloway Terrace, Tottenham Court Road
What: One of the most Instagrammable restaurants in London, in-demand Dalloway Terrace is a truly gorgeous space, decked out with vibrant florals for each of the seasons. While sitting among the lush greenery, you can enjoy a spot of afternoon tea or cocktails, as well as the usual à la carte offering – think beer-battered fish and chips or pork belly with an apple jus.
Where: 16-22 Great Russell Street, Tottenham Court Road, WC1B 3NN
Book now: Dalloway Terrace
Circolo Popolare, Fitzrovia
What: From the infamous Big Mama group, Circolo Popolare brings the company’s signature Instagrammable interiors and an Italian menu which is just as picture perfect. Think a carbonara where your pasta is tossed hot into a wheel of cheese to create a thick, silky sauce, and a lemon meringue pie with a marshmallow-like top ten times the size of any other we’ve seen. The outdoor terrace faces onto a sweet little pedestrianised square, so is relatively peaceful.
Where: 40-41 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1HX
Book now: Circolo Popolare
Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill, Mayfair
What: One of the buzziest outdoor dining spaces in the capital, the terrace at Richard Corrigan’s Bentley’s is a top choice for discerning Londoners looking to enjoy an al fresco atmosphere. The restaurant’s full menu is available outdoors, meaning you can enjoy the the sea-faring likes of lobster spaghetti or Dover sole (with an additional side of skinny chips).
Where: 11-15 Swallow Street, Mayfair, W1B 4DG
Book now: Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill
Best outdoor restaurants in north London
There is a wealth of really good outdoor restaurants in north London which cater to this neighbourhood’s ritzy crowd. Clustered around King’s Cross and Islington, expect plush soft furnishings and modern menus from this cool crowd.
The Farrier, Camden
What: This modern pub found at the heart of Camden’s iconic market holds the accolade of being the market’s only pub. The building is a former horse hospital and stables and hides a secret courtyard out the back which is furnished with heating and a cosy fire pit. The menu offers modern pub grub, with fish, chips and mushy peas being given a modern twist with the addition of sorrel, while a rack of lamb is flavoured with foraged meadowsweet and reindeer moss for an intriguing update on a roast.
Where: 87/88 North Yard, Camden, NW1 8AH
Book now: The Farrier
Rotunda, King's Cross
What: Long before Coal Drops Yard, Rotunda was flying the flag for King’s Cross’ cool factor. The expansive venue benefits from a charming terrace which overlooks the canal and has a buzzy atmosphere. Rotunda’s shtick is its impressive commitment to butchering all its meat on site, resulting in some of the best burgers and steaks that you’ll find in the capital.
Where: 90 York Way, King's Cross, N1 9AG
Book now: Rotunda
St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar by Searcys, King's Cross
What: An iconic London bar and restaurant - you haven't really had the authentic Eurostar experience if you haven't had a glass of fizz at Searcys before departure. It's still a lovely place to hang out thanks to the open-ended nature of the platform setting and the awe-inspiring glass roof protecting you from the elements. Private booths for up to six add further appeal.
Where: St Pancras International, King's Cross, N1C 4QL
Book now: St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar by Searcys
Hicce, King's Cross
What: Found at hip King's Cross development Coal Drops Yard, the terrace at Hicce joins several other restaurants in the Yard with outdoor space, so on a nice day you really feel part of the buzz here. While watching the crowds go by, you can tuck into a menu of wood-fired cooking curated by chef Pip Lacey (a finalist in 2017's Great British Menu) – we're fans of the intensely meaty lamb shoulder burger, topped with slithers of courgette, and there's a fun cocktail menu too.
Where: Unit 102 Stable Street, King's Cross, N1C 4DQ
Book now: Hicce
What: Frederick’s is a true London classic, benefiting from a charming garden at the back of the restaurant and the kind of jovial service that is typical of family-run joints. While dining here, you can enjoy the likes of pan-fried duck breast with an orange and cherry jus, and a white chocolate crème brûlée with strawberry sorbet. Don’t forget to explore the 200-bin wine list.
Where: 106 Islington High Street, Islington, N1 8EG
Book now: Frederick's
The Lighterman, King's Cross
What: Found on bustling Granary Square, The Lighterman’s outdoor terrace is often packed to the rafters on nice days, so make sure to get there early. As well as the enviable outdoor space, crowds are drawn in by the seasonal cocktails and impressive wines. On the food front, expect flatbreads, sharing boards and mains from a wood-fired grill.
Where: 3 Granary Square, King's Cross, N1C 4BH
Book now: The Lighterman
Best outdoor restaurants in east London
Known for its trendy crowd and artsy vibe, it’s only natural that east London would be home to some buzzy outdoor terraces. From the delicious Indian plates of Dishoom to the fine-dining fare at Angler, east London has an outdoor restaurant for every occasion.
What: Barbecued meats are a natural bedfellow for warm weather, with the smell of charcoal synonymous with British summers. Bringing you summer vibes by the bucketload is Smokestak. David Carter’s cult-classic celebrates live-fire cooking, and the results are a menu stacked (if you’ll pardon the pun) with incredible smoky meats offset by house-made sauces and zingy sides. The terrace wraps around two sides of the restaurant and gives diners the perfect spot to do some people watching of the great and good of Shoreditch. Both shade and shelter are possibilities too, giving necessary protection should the weather turn.
Where: 35 Sclater Street, Shoreditch, E1 6LB
Book now: Smokestak
14 Hills, City of London
What: 14 storeys high in the City of London, 14 Hills isn’t short on wow factor - the dining room is bursting with greenery, and the menu purrs with French decadence, from creme brulee to a butter-basted cote de boeuf. If you can tear yourself away from the gorgeous interiors you’ll find 14 Hills has an enormous terrace too, with stunning skyline views of the city.
Where: 120 Fenchurch Street, City of London, EC3M 5BA
Book now: 14 Hills
SUSHISAMBA, City of London
What: SUSHISAMBA'S Nikkei sharers have become a staple of London life - if you’re London-based get ready to hear the question, ‘have you been to SUSHISAMBA?’ at least once a year. Perhaps even better than the cracking food are the literal jaw-dropping views - SUSHISAMBA still boasts one of the highest dining terraces in Europe, on the 38th and 39th floors of the Heron Tower.
Where: 110 Bishopsgate (38-39th floor), City of London, EC2N 4AY
Book now: SUSHISAMBA
Rochelle Canteen, Shoreditch
What: Margot Henderson’s iconic Shoreditch institution used to have to shift everyone’s bookings when it started raining - now they have covers and heaters, so you can feast on rustic British and Mediterranean cooking all year round. One of London’s essential restaurants.
Where: 16 Playground Gardens, Shoreditch, E2 7FA
Book now: Rochelle Canteen
Crate Brewery, Hackney
What: Crate has made a name for itself on two simple pillars - seriously good craft ale and thin-crust pizza, both made in-house from scratch. The funky, post-industrial canal-side set-up is very Hackney - suntrap al fresco tables are at a premium here but if you’re just stopping for a pint and a slice you can likely find a sunny spot somewhere along the towpath.
Where: Unit 7 White Building, Hackney, E9 5EN
Book now: Crate Brewery
What: A Japanese-Italian fusion tasting menu in distant Dalston? It sounds like a challenging proposition on the surface, but Angelina combines the two with aplomb in a 10-course kaiseki menu. As if the great food and reasonable price wasn’t tempting enough, Angelina also has a lovely terrace area where you can watch the comings and goings of local Dalstonites.
Where: 56 Dalston Lane, Dalston, E8 3AH
Book now: Angelina
What: The eclectic menu at Aviary takes in plenty of worldly influence at Aviary, but the real attraction is the rooftop where you can book panoramic glass igloos and enjoy a spectacular view of London from the comfort of a plush sofa.
Where: 22-25 Finsbury Square, Moorgate, EC2A 1DX
Book now: Aviary
Koya City, Bank
What: Shuko Oda’s gentle Japanese canteen has found a second home in Bloomberg Arcade - a nice alternative to the smooth pine counters of the Soho original. Grab a little two-seater outside the restaurant in the arcade and watch the world go by as you slurp down bouncy udon noodles.
Where: 10-12 Bloomberg Arcade, Bank, EC4N 8AR
Book now: Koya City
Yauatcha City, Spitalfields
What: Expertly crafted dim sum are the order of the day at Yauatcha, and you can now enjoy these wonderfully precise parcels from the comfort of the City branch’s newly revamped outside space. The restaurant’s double wraparound terraces have been given a makeover to allow for a comfortable spot to enjoy lunch or dinner with friends, family or colleagues come warmer days. The Soho branch also has a patio, if central London is more suitable for your get together.
Where: Broadgate Circle, Spitalfields, EC2M 2QS
Book now: Yauatcha City
COYA Angel Court, City of London
What: Escape the buzz of the city with COYA’s Peruvian inspired terrace at the restaurant’s Angel Court site. This cool, tranquil space makes a lovely spot to while away a few hours, while enjoying the popular small plates which feature modern twists on South American classic combinations. If you’re doing things properly there are pisco sours to enjoy too, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Where: 31-33 Throgmorton Street, City of London, EC2N 2AT
Book now: COYA Angel Court
Brat x Climpsons Arch, London Fields
What: Brat maintained its forward momentum when it took over a second site at Climpsons Arch - the same site that chef Tomos Parry started at with Kitty Fishers. The daily menu changes to showcase the best of British produce and sticks to the tried-and-tested combination of great ingredients and cooking over live fire. This outdoor restaurant gives diners a seat on a cosy terrace which is covered to protect guests from the elements, while still allowing for plenty of fresh air.
Where: 374 Helmsley Place, London Fields, E8 3SB
Book now: Brat x Climpson's Arch
Casa do Frango Shoreditch, Shoreditch
What: Portuguese food was made to be enjoyed outdoors. Luckily, the Shoreditch outpost of London piri piri favourite Casa do Frango benefits from an enclosed 100-seat al fresco terrace, where you can tuck into the classic chicken on offer alongside a few Portuguese-inspired cocktails. There's no doubt that this is as close are you'll get to a slice of the Algarve in the heart of London.
Where: 2 King John Court, Shoreditch, EC2A 3EZ
Book now: Casa do Frango Shoreditch
Boisdale of Canary Wharf, Canary Wharf
What: Boisdale Canary Wharf is a perfect place to enjoy the finer things in life - oyster, champagne, Himalayan salt chamber-aged beef and caviar, all on the dappled, flower-strewn outdoor terrace. Stick around long enough and you can prop yourself up at the whisky bar with a cigar and take in some live jazz.
Where: Cabot Place West, Canary Wharf, E14 4QT
Book now: Boisdale of Canary Wharf
Cinnamon Kitchen City, City of London
What: Another gem in chef Vivek Singh's ever-expanding portfolio, the City branch of his Cinnamon Kitchen brand is blessed with outdoor decking. Weather-proof, thanks to its covered courtyard, the space is ideal for lunch or dinner. Tuck into a menu of tempting Indian dishes, including the likes of tandoori chicken breast with fennel and coriander, or perhaps a mutton curry served with pilau rice. Kulfi with a honeycomb crumble or the sorbet of the day are a dreamy end to an al fresco meal.
Where: 9 Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M 4YL
Book now: Cinnamon Kitchen City
What: Seven floors high at South Place Hotel, Michelin-starred Angler sits in the middle of the City’s skyscrapers, rather than floating above them. It’s a romantic spot and you can eat your meal out here, but we’ve always found it’s a great spot for pre- or post-dinner drinks – a great excuse to explore Angler’s impressive collection of wines, spirits and cocktails.
Where: 3 South Place, Moorgate, EC2M 2AF
Book now: Angler
Dishoom Shoreditch, Shoreditch
What: Ok, so this one isn’t technically outside, but dining on Dishoom’s veranda (no ‘terrace’ talk here, dahhling) feels like you are outdoors, and the retractable roof opens up on sunnier days. Decorated with quirky trinkets and works of art that have all been sourced in India, this is the perfect spot to enjoy signature Dishoom dishes, including its now legendary bacon naan.
Where: 7 Boundary Street, Shoreditch, E2 7JE
Book now: Dishoom Shoreditch
Best outdoor restaurants in south London
The south hasn't always been London's most fashionable quadrant, but a few bougie spots in Southwark, Clapham, Balham and the likes are dragging Londoners south of the river, not to mention to the al fresco fun of Bermondsey and Borough Market.
What: Blessed with #InstaGoals interiors, Seabird is found at the very tip top of The Hoxton hotel in Southwark. Leave any preconceptions you have about hotel restaurants at the door and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The frequently tweaked menu includes flavours of Portugal and smoky cuts of chargrilled meats, as well as seafood platters and cracking cocktails. The terrace gets booked up, so make sure to plan ahead. Here you’ll find sofas, blankets and heaters all at the ready to make your meal a cosy and comfortable one.
Where: 40 Blackfriars Road, Southwark, SE1 8NY
Book now: Seabird
The Garden Museum Cafe, Lambeth
What: A bit of a hidden gem, The Garden Museum Cafe is tucked away on the south side of Lambeth Bridge and offers a cool oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Glass walls on one side look out onto the old church courtyard at the centre which is now a tumbling mass of greenery, and a spot for outdoor tables. A short, regularly changing menu keeps things interesting. Think stuffed courgette flowers or duck rillettes.
Where: 5 Lambeth Palace Road, Lambeth, SE1 7LB
Book now: The Garden Museum Cafe
What: Francesco Mazzei's relaxed Thames-side trattoria is more rustic than his flagship Sartoria, but the menu of southern Italian classics is arguably just as delicious. On warmer days, diners can take in the views of the Thames on the al fresco piazza, which is decked out with terracotta pots and lemon and olive trees.
Where: Circus West Village, Battersea, SW8 5BN
Book now: Fiume
What: When Jonny Lake and Isa Bal left The Fat Duck, there was never a question that they would be successful in their next venture. After a rocky pandemic period Trivet is finding it’s feet and then some - Lake’s wonderful cooking and Bal’s master sommelier knowledge combine to make this one of south London’s best restaurants. Grab a table on the terrace outside and relax - you’re in very safe hands here.
Where: 36 Snowsfields, Bermondsey, SE1 3SU
Book now: Trivet
The Laundry, Brixton
What: The Laundry in Brixton offers a fun menu of comfort food classics – think bavette with cafe de Paris butter, fennel and chilli meatballs and fry ups at brunch. The terrace space is large and generous, with plenty of tables for mixed groups of any size. There are umbrellas, heaters and blankets, and the friendly staff are on hand to ensure you’re cosy and comfortable throughout your visit even if the sun isn’t shining.
Where: 374 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8PL
Book now: The Laundry
What: Michelin-starred Trinity is more than it appears - not only does it boast a fantastic casual restaurant upstairs, it also has a very relaxing terrace on the corner of Clapham Common. With space for 35 covers this fun, buzzy space is perfect for watching the comings and going of the Common. To help line your stomach there are small plates and salads, as well as the occasional barbecue on the go serving up fish and meat.
Where: 4 The Polygon, Clapham, SW4 0JG
Book now: Trinity
Bermondsey Larder, Tower Bridge
What: They say when one door closes another one opens, and that’s certainly true of the Bermondsey Larder, which was Robin Gill’s next venture following the closure of his popular Clapham restaurant The Dairy. This spot, a stone’s throw from Tower Bridge, champions a produce-led menu that flexes with the seasons. Enjoy creations like Farmer Tom Jones’ lamb with Jerusalem artichokes or pulled aubergine and mushroom flatbreads. The terrace is bookable for groups of up to six people.
Where: 153-157 Tower Bridge Road, Tower Bridge, SE1 3LW
Book now: Bermondsey Larder
What: Sitting under the watchful eye of the American Embassy in Vauxhall, Darby’s is an all-day restaurant and bakery serving up Robin Gill’s wonderfully honest food. Expect seafood and dry-aged meat as well as breakfast pastries and a whole range of delicious desserts. The sweeping indoor bar will also be serving the terrace this year, so make sure not to miss out on cocktails. The small waterfront terrace has been extended to accommodate twenty guests, and places are offered on a first come first serve basis – so it is great for an impromptu date.
Where: No 3 Viaduct Gardens, Vauxhall, SW11 7AY
Book now: Darby's
Turnips, London Bridge
What: This fine-dining restaurant (which also has a casual small plates sidekick next door) has transformed its outdoor offering to give diners the chance to enjoy its unique food in a safe and comfortable space. The kitchen’s USP is that it uses the world-class produce from its Borough Market stall of the same name. This means veg is king here, with meat in the supporting role. Combinations include things like onion squash, walnuts and Iberico pork as well as borlotti beans with seaweed and shellfish
Where: 43 Borough Market, London Bridge, SE1 9AH
Book now: Turnips
The Paladar, Elephant and Castle
What: The Paladar garden is a tasty refuge away from the highways of Elephant and Castle. A passion for food courses through the whole operation while the recent construction of a temporary roof and countless heaters speaks volumes for the team's natural warmth and instinct for hospitality.
Where: 4-5 London Road, Elephant and Castle, SE1 6JZ
Book now: The Paladar
Chokhi Dhani, Battersea
What: Opulent Chokhi Dhani followed its launch by adding a riverside shisha terrace to its repertoire. Here, you can enjoy cocktails and tapas-style plates, alongside an extensive selection of shisha (ask the dedicated shisha sommelier if you’re struggling to make a decision). Flavours range from strawberry and apple, to red gummy bears and pistachio breeze.
Where: 2 Riverlight Quay, Battersea, SW11 8AW
Book now: Chokhi Dhani
Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea, Battersea
What: Part of the regenerated Battersea Power Station development, Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea is home to a riverside al fresco dining space, where guests can relax outdoors and take in the views of the Thames. Top shouts from the menu include king prawns in Bengali turmeric curry, and chargrilled achari cauliflower served with a hot garlic chutney.
Where: Arch 758 Battersea Power Station, Battersea, SW8 5BN
Book now: Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea
Le Pont de la Tour, Tower Bridge
What: If you’re looking for an al fresco restaurant with wow-factor, Le Pont de la Tour is a worthy contender. Boasting riverside views and in a handy location, Le Pont de la Tour has legions of fans, and it’s not hard to see why. Tuck into a menu of French-leaning dishes while drinking in those hard-to-beat views of Tower Bridge.
Where: 36d Shad Thames, Tower Bridge, SE1 2YE
Book now: Le Pont de la Tour
The Terrace by Megan’s, Clapham
What: Long a favourite of London’s brunching crowd, Megan’s is keeping up to date with the latest wants of its hungry customers with a new outdoor dining concept. The Terrace by Megan’s has popped-up on Clapham Common, taking over what used to be the Recovery Kitchen. Outdoors and completely covered, this makes the ideal spot for a meetup with friends al fresco and the menu covers everything from brunch and lunch through to dinner, with an alcohol license to boot. If you’d prefer to get back to nature and enjoy a feast spread out on the grass you can also grab takeaway here in the form of one of the restaurant’s picnic boxes.
Where: 10 Rookery Road, Clapham, SW4 9DD
Book now: The Terrace by Megan's
Best outdoor restaurants in west London
There’s no denying the allure of west London. This high-end neighbourhood is home to some of the swankiest and swishest outdoor restaurants in London - not to mention some really, really good people watching. From the terrace at the infamous Dinner by Heston to the green glade of the Ivy Chelsea Garden – these gorgeous spaces are the perfect spots to celebrate something special at (even if that’s just making it through Monday).
Mazi, Notting Hill
What: Notting Hill neighbourhood favourite Mazi is the place to go for Greek home cooking and hospitality. Gather as many mezze plates as you can hold, order the grilled octopus and grab a table in the beautiful courtyard before someone else does. You might have to get there early on a weekend because this tranquil Med paradise gets busy fast.
Where: 12-14 Hillgate Street, Notting Hill, W8 7SR
Book now: Mazi
Granger & Co, Chelsea
What: If you’ve ever trawled the lists of London’s best brunches, you’ll no doubt have come across Granger & Co. This Australian spot is the perfect place to enjoy a midday meal with friends, where small plates include classics like ricotta hotcakes or sweetcorn fritters. While there are a few different locations across London, the Chelsea Pavilion Road site has a terrace that is surrounded by lush planting, and makes for a wonderful base for some of the best west London people watching.
Where: 237-239 Pavilion Road, Chelsea, SW1X 0BP
Book now: Granger & Co
Dinings SW3, Knightsbridge
What: Where better to soak up that quintessential west London atmosphere than in heart of Knightsbridge at Dinings SW3's gorgeous hidden courtyard? The restaurant's small terrace area almost has the feeling of someone's back garden, with the added bonus being that you can enjoy a menu of top quality Japanese dishes here from ex-Nobu chef Masaki Sugisaki.
Where: Lennox Gardens Mews, Knightsbridge, SW3 2JH
Book now: Dinings SW3
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Knightsbridge
What: The garden terrace at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is separate from the main restaurant, but it's more than worth the extra minute's walk. A truly serene outdoor space, the terrace benefits from lush greenery, while the typically inventive menu and charming furniture remind you that you're in one of the most renowned restaurants in Knightsbridge. Serving a five-course menu, you can expect to try some of Dinner's signature dishes such as Meat Fruit.
Where: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
Book now: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Chelsea
What: This branch of The Ivy collection comes complete with a stunning garden which is replete with greenery and flowers. Sit outside in the fresh air to enjoy the please-all international menu, which features everything from a crispy duck salad with watermelon, to traditional fish and chips served with mushy peas and tartare sauce.
Where: 197 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5ED
Book now: The Ivy Chelsea Garden
Stanley's Chelsea, Chelsea
What: On the corner of Sydney Street and Fulham Road, Stanley's has established itself as a Chelsea darling thanks to its verdant and well heated garden. Evening tables are at a premium, while weekend brunch is equally as popular.
Where: 151 Sydney Street, Chelsea, SW3 6NT
Book now: Stanley's Chelsea
The River Café, Hammersmith
What: The long-standing River Cafe is legendary among London circles, known for its high-quality food and equally as high prices. The real jewel of the venue though is the expansive riverside terrace, which is filled with lush greenery and overlooks the Thames. Serving up rustic Italian dishes, some of our favourite orders include the ravioli with zucchini, buffalo ricotta and mint, and the oh-so-indulgent ‘chocolate nemesis’ for dessert.
Where: Thames Wharf, Hammersmith, W6 9HA
Book now: The River Cafe
Bluebird Chelsea, Chelsea
What: Known for its plum King’s Road location, Bluebird’s outdoor terrace is a great spot for people-watching, attracting the well-heeled local clientele. The menu majors in crowd-pleasers – stop by in the week to enjoy buttermilk fried chicken and barbequed prawns, or visit at the weekend for brunch dishes including eggs any style and avocado on toast.
Where: 350 King's Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU
Book now: Bluebird Chelsea
Villa di Geggiano, Chiswick
What: Villa di Geggiano is a Chiswick hidden gem which serves up a Tuscan menu, and the gorgeous terrace might lead you to believe you’ve actually escaped the capital. The kitchen here really shows its Italian prowess when it comes to the pasta. Options to try include potato gnocchi, wild boar pappardelle and lobster spaghetti.
Where: 66-68 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick, W4 1SY
Book now: Villa di Geggiano
Looking for outdoor dining without the risk of the weather? We've rounded up the best igloos in London, and the best heated terraces in London too. Plus, there's a whole other world of options if love a slap up brunch on the weekend - check out London's best outdoor bottomless brunches.