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.

Brew House

If you can get to Hampstead Heath early, head up to the Brew House for one of its famous cooked breakfasts, then potter around the two terraces until you find the right combination of parasol shade and sunshine at one of the tables above Kenwood House’s sweeping lawn. At peak times, all 300-odd places will be occupied – and the Old Kitchen function room can only accommodate half that number in the event of sudden rain. But the staff seem well-equipped to deal with the place’s endless popularity. For best value, check out the specials and the ‘dish of the day’.

  1. Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane, NW3 7JR
More info

El Parador

The wonderfully secluded back garden at this excellent, family-run tapas restaurant isn’t exactly a secret, but it certainly feels like one. Groups of three or more can reserve one of eight larger tables, but couples who hope to stare into each other’s eyes among the flowers will have to get here early to secure one of four smaller tables. The owners try to avoid taking bookings if the weather’s looking dodgy, but there’s a new awning to keep off the rain, heaters for chilly nights, and sunshades for the warmest days.

  1. 245 Eversholt Street, NW1 1BA
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Paradise by Way of Kensal Green

The interiors of this quirky North London gastropub – all faux-gilt furniture and cherubs on the walls – may be looking a shade tired, but its outdoor spaces still get the thumbs up. On the ground floor, the original pub yard has been converted into a 30-cover ‘garden’ area, with wooden furniture, heaters, and access to the surprisingly good cooking, but we think the no-bookings rooftop is more special. Serving only a bar menu and weekend roasts, and with but a handful of tables, it attracts drinkers and grazers who sip on negronis and margaritas over slices of charcuterie. What’s more, thanks to a high, ivy-clad trellis, the space enjoys a lovely sense of seclusion, with decking, parasols and exotic palms adding to a chilled-out, summery vibe.

  1. 19 Kilburn Lane, W10 4AE
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Pavilion Café

After a stroll through Highgate Wood, Pavilion Café’s blissfully bucolic setting on the edge of the sports field certainly whets the appetite. Behind the picket fence is a cheerful garden brasserie where diners sit at generously proportioned tables amid tubs of petunias and climbing roses. The rustic Mediterranean menu is pleasingly flexible and supplemented by daily specials. The drinks list includes organic cider and beers, spirits and several wine bargains. Dessert is mostly cakes or ice-cream and good enough, though be warned: catching the waitresses’ attention later on in your meal can be a challenge.

  1. Highgate Woods, (Muswell Hill Road), N10 3JN
More info

Grain Store

Been fretting about getting your five-a-day? Look no further than this upmarket, yet unstuffy, King’s Cross restaurant. The cooking is supervised by the acclaimed French chef Bruno Loubet, who – thanks in part to eight years spent in sunny Australia – pays special attention to veggies and grains, creating vibrant, exotic dishes that are more Sydney than St Pancras. The alfresco area, with its brightly-coloured metal furniture, and is a relaxed setting to watch the world go by, or watch children (and occasionally grown-ups) scampering around in the 1,000-plus choreographed fountains of Granary Square, London’s newest square.

  1. Granary Square, (1-3 Stable Street), N1C 4AB
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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.