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.

Greek Affair

This relaxed and relaxing little Greek bistro near Notting Hill’s Gate cinema has a sweet first-floor terrace above the restaurant, with parasols, heaters and little plants around the ten tables. The menu is a celebration of Greek meze, from dips and stuffed peppers to grilled octopus and spicy sausage. Although the terrace umbrellas give some protection against the elements, if a downpour strikes, the owners will herd everyone into one of two function rooms inside.

  1. 1 Hillgate Street, W8 7SP
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Princess Victoria

This gastropub has an adorable herb garden in a walled courtyard. There are, however, drawbacks: the garden’s in shade after around 6.30pm; the ten tables, seating up to 42 people, can’t be booked; and the fact that this is where you retire for a puff on one of the fine Cuban stogies from the pub’s Wine & Cigar Shop will put some people off dining. But arrive early for a lunch, and you could just have the last laugh.

  1. 217 Uxbridge Road, W12 9DH
Book online

Petersham Nurseries Café

Although not strictly speaking alfresco – you’re dining under a glass roof – this place feels as outdoor as can be, set in an idyllic garden centre just past Richmond. Few London dining rooms can match this one: a magical hothouse alive with palm trees and scented jasmine, the mismatched tables ornamented with terracotta pots of sage and lavender. After eating, you can potter around the plants in the nurseries outside, then walk back to Richmond across the fields. Reservations are essential, but can be made a month in advance.

  1. Church Lane, off Petersham Road, TW10 7AG
Book online

Blue Elephant

The Fulham original relocated to these premises (formerly Saran Rom) back in January 2012 and has continued its tradition of upmarket Thai cuisine. The menu has intriguing and well-executed dishes, as well as classics confidently and attractively served. The view of the Thames from these 28 riverside tables, with sun umbrellas and heaters, is certainly better than the view the other way: Blue Elephant is part of a soulless modern complex in ‘built-by-developers’ Imperial Wharf. But we love those helicopters.

  1. Waterside Tower, Imperial Wharf, Townmead Road, (The Boulevard), SW6 2UB
Book online

Stein's

If you’ve never been to a German beer garden, Stein’s is good place to start. Set along a stretch of the Thames towpath, just a short walk from Richmond town centre, the large riverside garden can seat up to 300 alfresco diners at shared wooden tables, around half of which offer some shelter from the elements. Food is the best of Teutonic stodge, ignoring the fripperies of starters and going straight for no-nonsense mains, with generous plates of regional sausages with sauerkraut, fried potatoes or dumplings the order of the day. Lighter bites come in the form of salads (though many of these still have sausages hiding in them) and there’s a range of traditional Bavarian puds, like apple strudel with whipped  cream. Complete your meal with an eponymous stein (the name of the one-litre glass beer tankard) frothing with the golden nectar from two of Bavaria’s best-loved breweries, Erdinger and Paulaner. If you’re a hops weakling or can’t stomach the £9.90-a-stein price tag, there are pints and half-pints too.

  1. 55 Richmond Towpath, TW10 6UX
More info

Polpo Notting Hill

Have you always fancied watching the world go by the Italian way, while drinking negronis and shouting ‘Ciao bella!’ as pretty girls walk by? Well now you can (if you don’t mind the occasional slap), as this new branch of this Venetian-inspired small-plates bar has opened in Notting Hill, with 20 alfresco seats to assist in your admiration of W11’s beautiful people. It serves the same menu as indoors (cicchetti, fritto misto and meatballs, plus summer dishes such as crab & chickpea crostini or grilled lamb, caponata and basil), and will share the reservations policy too (you can book for lunch, but not dinner). Andiamo!

  1. 126-128 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3QG
More info


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.