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london's best barbecues

London's best barbecues

Sizzling summer barbecues in London pubs, restaurants and outdoor spaces

By Nicola Arencibia
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Come summer, pubs and restaurants with barbecues in London are hot property. Here’s our area-by-area selection of the best alfresco grills the capital has to offer across street food hot spots, restaurants and of course, pub gardens. The only thing that can dampen the fires (and our enthusiasm for them) is the British weather, so check ahead at your barbecue of choice to see if the rain clouds are gathering.

 

East London barbecues

Angler

Restaurants British Moorgate

This high-up, high-end City restaurant is known for its fish, and its summer barbecue offering follows suit, serving flame-grilled soft shell crab tempura with punchy wasabi mayonnaise, or grilled lobster tail slathered in orange-and-marjoram butter (or stick with meat dishes such as Asian-style pork belly with green mango and gochujang sauce). Tempted? So is everyone else in the know, so plan to arrive early. The barbecue runs from 3pm until 10pm, Mondays to Saturdays whatever the weather, and on ‘Sunnydays’ (that’s ‘sunny Sundays’, guys, and you read it here first).

Venue says Due to the latest Tier 4 announcement here in London, we are closing our doors once again until further notice.

Crooked Billet

Bars and pubs Clapton

The huge garden of this friendly Clapton pub is home to The Bird Flipper, a food truck that flips the bird at Nando’s and its ilk with its own superior version of lemon- and herb-marinated rotisserie chickens, served half or whole with fries and creamy slaw. Other menu highlights include ‘too-hot hot wings’ with soured cream, pulled pork baps and burgers both meaty and veggie – all finger-lickin’ good.

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Smokestak

Restaurants Shoreditch

Serving meat the American way, Smokestak make barbecue fans weak at the knees with more-is-more meaty mouthfuls. From Thursdays to Saturdays, mammoth sticky glazed ribs line up on the massive grills waiting to be claimed by the hordes queuing at Dinerama – other cult dishes include perfectly charred, pull-apart brisket sarnies. You can catch Smokestak at Hawker House and Dalston Yard markets, too (Fri-Sat).

Yeah! Grills at The Victoria

Music Music venues Dalston

This cult collaboration sees burger-meisters Yeah! Burgers take over where Psychic Burgers left off at this proudly louche Dalston pub. On summer weekday evenings (5pm-10pm) and Saturdays (1pm-10pm), whole fish, spatchcocked chicken, homemade bratwurst and hanger steaks get the ‘low and slow’ treatment over the plum- and apple-wood flames; Sundays (1pm-10pm), are given over to whole-beast feasts, with sides of salads, slaw and sourdough. Scarf everything in the pub’s brand-new garden, complete with picnic tables, grass and potted plants.

Venue says Known for its art music and parties, a landmark Victorian pub with an infamous live room for up and coming bands hidden inside its book case

West London barbecues

The Crabtree

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Fulham

This waterside gastropub right in the sweet spot between Hammersmith and Putney Bridges does a fab gourmet barbecue on its gigantic terrace on sunny days. In early summer, it treads carefully, wheeling out the grill on Thursday nights, Fridays and weekends only, and limiting itself to dishes such as homemade burgers, hot dogs, whitebait and barbecued salmon salads. As the summer settles in, the menu gets more elaborate, with shareable dishes offered seven days a week (provided it’s not raining).

Eagle

Bars and pubs Shepherd’s Bush

From July 2016, Burger Shack will take over the barbecue offering in this popular Shepherd's Bush pub garden. Until then, tuck into tasty beef, chicken or wild boar burgers (Thursday and Friday evenings and all day on Saturday), plus a barbecued version of a roast on Sundays. Order a jug of Pimm’s, a bottle of wine or a draught beer from the garden bar and you’re all set for summer – especially if you’ve managed to grab one of the coveted deckchairs or beach huts.

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The Jam Tree, Chelsea

Restaurants British King’s Road

If the weather’s up for a spot of barbecuing, then so are the folks at this fun Chelsea pub. Every sunny summer day, out on the open-plan patio, you’ll find the barbecue in full swing, with chicken thighs, king prawns, fish steaks, homemade burgers and more sizzling away. Not that you’ll need to do anything so tedious as approach the flames – boring queues are banished thanks to friendly table service. For drinks, head to the huge outdoor bar.

Lyric Bar & Grill

Theatre Private theatres Hammersmith

Friday night is barbecue night at this Hammersmith alfresco favourite, with the curved, decked terrace filling up quickly during the summer months. Staff take to the grills at 5pm sharp, cooking up street food-inspired dishes from sticky-skinned chicken pieces with cucumber slaw to flatbreads stuffed with lamb, salsa verde and yoghurt. To add to the TFIF vibe, there’s an open-air bar serving craft beer and cocktails, and live music from a roster of DJs.

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Old Ship

Bars and pubs Pubs Hammersmith

This characterful waterside terrace in Hammersmith operates a gourmet barbecue in high summer: soft bread buns filled with wild boar sausages, caramelised onions, red-cabbage slaw and, yes, pulled pork, compete for your attentions with other equally worthy contenders, such as pulled salt-beef brisket, or spare ribs with green-chilli slaw (drool). Sides are also way above par, as are the homemade condiments such as apple ketchup. Arrive hungry.

The Roof Gardens

Bars and pubs Members' clubs Kensington

These evening group barbecues (Fridays and Saturdays, May to September) don’t come cheap – they’re £75 per person, and you have to book as a group of 10 or more. However, you get a welcome drink, plentiful BBQ dishes from the grills stationed under the climber-clad pergolas, half a bottle of wine each, and unlimited water. Afterwards, horse around with giant games on the lawns or chill in a deckchair. Perfect if your preferred barbecue role is guest rather than grill master.

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White Horse

Bars and pubs Pubs Parsons Green

The Sloaney Pony’s small garden fills quickly on summer weekends thanks to its well-loved barbecues: the charcoal grills turn out delicious burgers and bangers, while past specials have included griddled jumbo prawns and spit-roasted pork. Most punters have to take their food inside due to the lack of space, but at least they have direct access to the pub’s fantastic cask ale and draught beer selection. Tip: it’s less crowded on sunny weekday evenings.

Aragon House

Bars and pubs Parsons Green

Come summer, barbecues are the name of the game in the smart, spacious beer garden of this handsome Parsons Green pub – the flames are lit on Fridays and aren’t extinguished until late on Sundays (unless rain spoils play). The huge grills have their way with a variety of barbecue standards, washed down with quality wines by the area’s affluent punters. This is a popular spot and you can’t book, so if you hit snooze on a sunny weekend, you most definitely lose.

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White Swan

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Twickenham

The jewel in the crown of this ho-hum Twickenham pub is its gorgeous terrace, which juts out onto the Thames, offering sweeping views of its banks and boaters. The gas-fired barbecue isn’t wheeled out often – only on weekend scorchers and rugby match days – but when it is, you’ll find fairly-priced pulled-pork baps, chicken burgers and hot dogs. To cope with demand, the pub is launching an outdoor kitchen complete with grill for summer 2016.

South London barbecues

County Arms

Bars and pubs Wandsworth

Whatever day of the week, if it’s summer and the sun’s out, The County Arms in Wandsworth has a barbie on the go go go. Celebrated dishes gracing the flames include burgers made from British beef in brioche buns, minted lamb steaks, peri-peri chicken burgers with aioli, and ginger-marinated salmon fillets with salad – enjoy from a deckchair on the astroturfed beer garden and wash it all down with Young’s and guest ales, cocktails and fizz.

The Devonshire

Bars and pubs Balham

When it comes to summer barbecues, this Young’s pub is the grill with the goods south side in Balham. The huge barbecue menu ranges from pork short ribs with smoked chipotle sauce to Laverstoke Park organic buffalo burgers, steaks topped with bone-marrow butter and much more. Available on sunny days, all summer long, from the May bank holiday onwards, it’s a real draw for local families and groups who don’t want to do battle with the coals at home.

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Florence

Bars and pubs Pubs Herne Hill

When the mercury rises past 18C (which is still jumper weather in our book, but hey), The Florence revs up the barbecue on its rear patio. Local families and Brockwell Park wanderers flood in for the likes of jerk chicken, giant gambas, homemade burgers and even suckling pig (the menu changes regularly). The outdoor bar keeps punters refreshed on really hot days – alternatively, take a dip in the park’s lido to recover your cool (and work off all the food).

Mama's Jerk Station at Pop Brixton

Restaurants Brixton

Forget all about the shenanigans of the British weather: for a barbecue experience with a guaranteed dose of Caribbean sunshine, head to the Brixton incarnation of this much-loved pop-up (which also makes regular trips to Camden Lock Market and Lewisham’s Street Feast). Mama’s serves jerk favourites done well – the chicken, for instance, is marinated for 24 hours before it hits the grill, then served in a wrap with ‘tropical mayo’, pepper sauce and salad.

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The Ship

Restaurants British Wandsworth

Resident patty-peddlers Burger Shack run the weekend barbecue offering at this popular riverside pub in Wandsworth, dishing up quality burgers topped with the likes of cheese, beer-braised onions, pickles and maple-roasted bacon, or pulled pork and green chillies. The pub’s spacious decked garden also boasts a dedicated outdoor bar, and a few heated booths (get there early if you’re angling for one of these).

Tulse Hill Hotel

Restaurants Contemporary European Tulse Hill

This beautifully designed gastropub doesn’t commit to the thrill of the grill unless the weather is going to get on board, so call ahead on so-so days. If it’s sunny, the chefs turn out a regularly changing selection of upmarket BBQ grub – from pulled pork burgers and grilled chicken with lemon mayo, to crab specials or smoky roasted aubergines. The small outdoor bar serves a couple of wines and bottled beers, so you never have to leave the landscaped garden.

North London barbecues

The Garden Gate
© Jonathan Perugia

Garden Gate

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Hampstead

With its half-timbered white walls, this Heath-side pub is as Tudor as mock can be. But instead of a spit-roast suckling pig, there’s an excellent barbecue out on the comfortable, partially covered patio, which serves juicy, generously proportioned homemade burgers, plus an alfresco bar dispensing a selection of craft beers alongside the usual lagers, ciders and spirits. Grab a complimentary blanket if the weather turns chilly.

Alwyne Castle

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Canonbury

This friendly Islington pub’s huge garden can seat 300, so in fine weather its chefs are honour-bound to throw some sizeable shrimps on the barbie. Stake your claim to a seat, bench or cabana on the bunting-strewn terrace, then join the queue for a simple line-up of hot dogs and homemade burgers, available all summer from Friday to Sunday. Lager, Guinness and Aspall, plus Aperol Spritz and bloody Marys, flow at the funky outdoor bar.

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Stag

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Belsize Park

The Stag’s barbecue menu, hosted on Friday evenings and every weekend from noon each summer, means that no right-thinking person in this neck of the woods (Belsize Park, that is) would ever go to the trouble of firing up their own. Why would you, when this feast includes grilled marinated chicken pieces, burgers topped with smoky pulled pork, hot dogs, and griddled halloumi and peppers? Just settle back in the leafy beer garden with a drink and let the food come to you.

Central London barbecues

The Garden Grill at Montague On The Gardens

Restaurants British Bloomsbury

The barbecue experience is taken up a fair few notches at this opulent Bloomsbury hotel, with its smartly decked, greenery-filled covered terrace. In summer, the high-end menu offers chargrilled tuna, seafood skewers, lamb and mint koftas, bratwurst and more, all brought to you from the BBQ by smartly dressed staff. Note: for June and July 2016, the terrace will be transformed into a themed beach bar with its own barbecue menu – normal garden terrace service resumes from August 2016.

InnTheParkHB009.jpg
© Heloise Bergman

Inn The Park

Restaurants British Westminster

Want to throw a barbecue but don’t have (a) a garden, (b) a barbecue or (c) a clue? Don’t despair: delegate – the professionals at Inn the Park have got your back. Gather up 15 or more of your mates, collect £25 per head, and you’ll be taken to the rooftop balcony, where you can sip wine (included in the price), tuck into a two-course barbecue feast, and pretend St James’s Park is all yours. (6pm-11pm; booking essential).

Find London's best beer gardens

The Garden Gate
© Jonathan Perugia

London's best beer gardens

Bars and pubs

We've rounded up London's best beer gardens, some included for their bucolic atmosphere and fine foliage, some for their summery drinks or irresistible barbecue food, some for their riverside locations (although we also have those covered in our guide to London's best riverside pubs and bars) – and even a couple for their water features. We’ve organised them by north, south, east and west (and no, there aren't any good beer gardens in central London) so you can easily track down your nearest alfresco supping spot. 

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