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Haydon Perrior

12 awesome places for eating and drinking outside

From bars on boats to legendary pub gardens, we pick the best (hopefully) sunny places to eat and drink alfresco this summer

By Charlie Allenby

London isn’t short on lovely green spaces, but if you want to eat and drink alfresco and can’t be arsed with the faff of barbecuing or trying to keep your beers cold in the shade, it’s time to take things up a notch. From ace pub gardens to street food spots, we’ve got you covered with the best places to eat and drink outside.


David Clack

The pub garden proving that size doesn’t matter

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Hackney

Securing a table in The Chesham Arms’s walled beer garden requires either military-style planning or pure luck. But if you do manage it, you can look forward to a session in the lee of the neighbouring railway arches. Sausage rolls and pork pies add picnic vibes, or you can order in from nearby Yard Sale if you fancy massive slices of pizza to accompany your pints (and who doesn’t?).

The huge Bavarian boozer

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Richmond

The Germans know how to do a beer garden. Come summer, hoppy brews and sunburnt noses take over the country’s biergärten. At Thamesside Bavarian restaurant Steins, you can get a taste of the action on the river terrace. Opt for the Munich-style bratwurst with fried potatoes and wash it down with Paulaner Helles. Lederhösen are optional; red noses are inevitable.

Charlotte Moulder

The brunch joint with canal views

Restaurants British Haggerston

A low-key spot on Regent’s Canal near Whitmore Bridge, Towpath Café is the perfect place for people-watching. Bag one of the canalside seats in the sunshine and watch as walkers, runners and cyclists whizz past, while ducks bob on the water. Look out for cracking breakfast dishes, seasonal salads – and don’t miss the toasties.

The vermouth-peddling Italian stallion

Bars and pubs Café bars King’s Cross

Every hour is aperitivo hour at all-day café Vermuteria in King’s Cross, where the walls are adorned with cycling paraphernalia and Italian posters of yesteryear. Score a place on the terrace, choose a vermouth or spritz from the extensive list and graze on small plates (think burrata, cured meat and crab croquettes). You’ll feel like you’re in the Med (almost). Saluti!

Exterior shot of People's Park Tavern, Hackney
Jack Latimer

The one that’s so close to a park it’s basically in it

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Victoria Park

Victoria Park-hugging watering hole The People’s Park Tavern is well worth a visit. Its sprawling garden, decked out with bunting, is always full to the brim with a welcoming summertime crowd (and their furry four-legged friends). Sip on a creation from the in-house microbrewery or an exotic G&T, order a burger and fuss the locals (the dogs, anyway).

Haydon Perrior

London’s newest A-grade street-food spot

Things to do London Bridge

Don’t be put off by the name – there’s not a stinky chip wrapper in sight at Vinegar Yard. The new open-air hangout has everything you could want for chilling in the sun. Food options include ‘naanwiches’ (that’s a naan bread sandwich, not one made by your nan) from Baba G’s and Sugo’s Italian street food. A beer selection from local breweries should keep you hydrated.


Peckham’s groundfloor outdoor drinking spot

Bars and pubs Café bars Peckham

Peckham might be known for its sky-high boozing but Social in Copeland Park proves there’s plenty of action at ground level too. Cocktails, wine and beer are well priced (even more so during the happy hour on Wednesdays and Thursdays) and there’s plenty of outdoor seating – picnic benches nestle up against metal dumpsters which have been turned into flower beds. Who needs a rooftop?

The ‘rooftop’ bar on a canal boat

Restaurants Global Paddington

A rooftop drinking spot on a barge? It might sound like an unlikely combination, but floating all-day restaurant Darcie and May Green really works. Head there for a brunch of shakshuka and charcoal bread below decks before taking your prosecco topsides. The jazzy paintwork of the brightly coloured boat will guarantee you some nautical Insta likes too.


The Highgate pub with TWO gardens

Bars and pubs Highgate

Things are always better when they come in pairs (fish and chips, G&T… erm, Ant and Dec) and the historic Red Lion and Sun is no different, with not one but two beer gardens to choose from. The first is a large area at the front of the pub, while the other is a secluded courtyard at the back. Wherever you take a pew, you can expect great pub grub and a solid selection of drinks.

Faltering Fullback
© Greg Whitescaver

The rugby pub with a secret garden

Bars and pubs Pubs Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park’s The Faltering Fullback is renowned for its game-day atmosphere during rugby matches, but those in the know swerve the chino-ed and gingham-shirted lads and head out into its multi-storey garden oasis. Find yourself a leafy cranny to enjoy a balmy evening of reasonably priced drinks and surprisingly good Thai food, leaving the #ruggerbantz firmly inside.


The sun-trapping brewery that does top-notch pizzas

Bars and pubs Breweries Hackney Wick

Forget drinking rubbish bitter at your local old man pub. The beer at Crate Brewery is brewed on site so it’s super-fresh and you can sample everything from IPA to stout. The brewery opens on to the banks of the Lea Navigation, and serves up super-crispy pizzas to accompany the large amounts of beer you’ll inevitably neck (it’s literally a piss-up in a brewery).

The alfresco party palace that’s perfect for after-work drinks

Things to do Hackney

Having perfected the mix of chill bar-meets-underground rave haven, the Night Tales team have opened up their aptly named Bohemia Place terrace again for another summer of fun. Whether you’re looking for an all-day hangout space with craft beer and street food on tap or somewhere to let your hair down after hours, you’ll be guaranteed incredibly good vibes.


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