London's best outdoor dining

Discover London's best places to wine and dine outdoors

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London has plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants that let you take it outside. Though for every rose-trimmed terrace there's a caff with tables plonked next to traffic lights – so it helps to know where the good ones are. Here's our area-by-area outdoor guide. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.

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Amphitheatre Restaurant

The third-floor terrace at the Royal Opera House may not be well known to ordinary Londoners, but it’s actually open to the public most days (call first to check), and only surrendered to ticket holders come evening. The food comes courtesy of Company of Cooks caterers. Lunch prices start from £11 for mains and £7 for desserts.Views are impressive from both the indoor and alfresco areas: you dine opposite Covent Garden’s covered market, and the Eye can be seen over the rooftops.

  1. Royal Opera House, Bow Street, WC2E 9DD
Book online

Caravan Exmouth Market

The only thing better than getting a table inside this Exmouth market hotspot is getting one outside. You can request one of the 20-odd alfresco seats, but there are no guarantees, so arrive early to snag a plum spot. The three large communal tables, rough-hewn from reclaimed scaffolding, sit under a retractable awning, providing shelter should the heavens open – with the other four, you’ll just have to take your chances. There’s an extensive selection of deservedly popular small plates and a handful of mains. The vibe is laid-back, and service is invariably warm and sunny, even if the weather isn’t.

  1. 11-13 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QD
Book online

Clerkenwell Kitchen

Although Clerkenwell Kitchen no longer takes bookings for its six outdoor tables, it’s still well worth trying your luck by just showing up. The alfresco area, in a quiet courtyard surrounded by tall office buildings, has a lovely flowerbed and perky sun umbrellas to enhance your enjoyment of the daily changing, seasonal, organic fare. The Kitchen is licensed (a glass of house wine costs £5.50), the service friendly and the atmosphere relaxed.

  1. 27 Clerkenwell Close, EC1R 0AT
More info

Coq d'Argent

If breathtaking panoramic views are high on your wish list, you can’t go far wrong with the Coq d’Argent. St Paul’s, the Gherkin, the Shard – they’re all in plain view from its large rooftop terrace, and on a clear day you can even see all the way out to Crystal Palace. The covered seating areas (one for the restaurant, one for the brasserie) each seat 50 and are open throughout most of the summer; for the exposed seating (a further two areas, each holding 70 diners), phone ahead to check availability.

  1. No.1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ
Book online

The Modern Pantry

Anna Hansen’s Clerkenwell restaurant, situated in a magnificent Grade II-listed Georgian building, boasts 13 alfresco tables deployed on St John’s Square. Far enough from the noise and exhaust fumes of Clerkenwell Road but still close enough to people watch, this is a great option for a spot of outdoor dining, particularly now that tables have parasols to provide shade when called for. The globetrotting menu is particularly suited to dining in the sun – Hansen’s signature sugar-cured prawn omelette speaks of South-east Asian sunshine.

  1. 47-48 St John's Square, EC1V 4JJ
Book online

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Users say

4 comments
Terence Fane-Saunders
Terence Fane-Saunders

The Surrey Quays/ Canada Water patch is something of a wilderness for restaurant hunters. But tucked around the corner from Surrey Quays station, perched on the edge of Southwark Park is the Yellow House bar and restaurant. The food is exceptional - seriously good cooking , but not taking itself itself too seriously. So the Friday fish & chips offer just happens to be sea bass with handcut chips, the light, crispy batter made with hoegarden beer. More formal fish dishes include seared hake, or spiced crab risotto. Meats range through the usual grills and an impressively constructed house hamburger to new season lamb. But most locals understandably target the pizza range. For anyone used to the mass-produced offerings of the pizza chains it can come as a shock to discover just how good a properly made pizza can be. And here, the pizzas sit alongside the rest of the dishes as "serious food". The Yellow House loses points on decor, which is a touch drab and dreary, but friendly and professional staff provide compensation. But in the Summer the decor doesn't really matter, if you can secure one of the outdoor tables in the enchanting little secret courtyard , nesting under the shade of the trees of Southwark Park. One of London's most perfect outdoor eating spots.

Martina
Martina

This is great but where are the central london ones? Do they exist?

Michael
Michael

The Metro Garden Restaurant in Clapham is a great place for dining outdoors. The ambiance in the garden is fantastic in the evenings. They have a delicious Sunday Brunch as well.

Byron
Byron

The Water Poet, I think its called, near Brick Lane and Liverpool Street station. The best outdoor meal/environment. Sort of a gastro pub, they have barbeque's on the weekend in the sun. If I'm not mistaken there are some pictures signed by famous footballers there too.