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Outdoor Dining - Dishoom Shoreditch
Photogaph: Dishoom

London’s best outdoor dining

The unbeatable combination of fresh air and fine food.

By Time Out London Food & Drink
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Thar she blows! April 12 2021. The start of the new ‘good times’, people. This hitherto unassuming date (hopefully) marks the start of us Londoners being allowed to eat and drink outside in restaurants and pubs again. Bring on a spring-summer of epicurean alfresco excellence! Whether you’re in the mood for spaghetti in the sun or schnitzel by starlight, our big ol’ list should have you covered. Just be sure to book ahead, yeah? A lot of people are going to want to eat, drink and be merry outside soon.

For those planning a mainly liquid meal, our list of rooftop bars might also come in handy. Not fussed about the whole ‘sky’ thing? Dig into our directories of Time Out-approved cafés, bars and restaurants. Either way: you’re getting fed and watered.

London’s best alfresco restaurants

James Bedford
James Bedford
James Bedford

Angler

Restaurants British Moorgate

Bordered by lavender bushes and olive trees, Michelin-starred Angler’s chic outdoor terrace has a retractable roof that shields diners from summer rain and winter chills. Sip premium cocktails while scoffing big-money seafood snacks – Porthilly oysters, Cornish sea-bass tartare, Alaskan king crab cromesquis. Or push the boat out with a pot of oscietra caviar.

Open from May 18. Booking now.

Venue says Discover our partnership with No.3 Gin this summer and explore our botanical garden on Angler terrace.

Barrafina King’s Cross

Restaurants Spanish King’s Cross

This Barrafina outpost is on the top floor of Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross has – in a Barrafina first – a few tables for four inside and some decent space for outdoor dining (every other restaurant has been counter seating only). The signature long dining counter, bustling open kitchen and menu packed with flavour all remain.

Food-wise, the classic dishes continue to shine. Like the tortilla: a perfectly eggy, oniony, round potato dish that looked delightfully like a giant Ritz cracker on the outside, but was gooey and delicious on the inside. Or the must-order crispy morcilla croquetas filled with rich, Spanish-style blood pudding, and the green salad: four heads of baby gem lettuce topped with aromatic diced onion and a super-fresh vinaigrette. Be warned, though: some dishes (like the gambas rojas a la sal – salt-baked prawns) are small for the prices, so the bill will creep up quickly.

Barrafina isn’t doing anything particularly new here, but this, its fourth branch, is just as great as the others. In London, that kind of consistency counts for a helluva lot.

Booking from May 17.

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Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill

Restaurants Seafood Mayfair

Richard Corrigan’s immensely civilised but not-at-all-stuck-up seafood stunner has a chic, heated and covered terrace on a surprisingly quiet street just off the artery that divides Soho from Mayfair. It’s a year-round alfresco alternative to the restaurant’s clubby wood-and-leather cosiness, while the short menu offers highlights from the Oyster Bar menu (seafood platters, sushi salad bowls and fish pie). 

Back in biz, booking from April 12.

Booking.com

The Berkeley

Hotels Boutique hotels Knightsbridge

Inspired by the seafronts of Whitstable and Southwold, the rainbow-coloured beach huts will open up on April 12. They’ve really taken their theme and run with it, too: seafood, whole grilled lobster and chips, oysters, scampi, octopus, ice-cream sandwiches and ‘gourmet 99s’. Hey, don’t fuck about with 99s, The Berkeley!

The beach hut menu will be available on the terrace and at an outdoor countertop for added capacity. Bookings are taken for up to six and counter-top dining will be available for walk-ins on the day.

Noon-9.30pm, daily.

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Bleeding Heart

Restaurants Holborn

Reputedly the scene of a gruesome crime passionnel that wouldn’t seem out of place in a TV costume drama, Bleeding Heart Yard is now home to a buzzy bistro, elegant French restaurant and an informal tavern aimed at famished City types. Tables on the secluded courtyard terraces are bookable.

Thomas Alexander

Bluebird

Restaurants Contemporary European King’s Road

The main dining room of this King’s Road branch of Bluebird Café looks like it’s actually outside; it has a conservatory-style glass roof and loads, we mean loads, of plants. If you want to really get some fresh air, there’s a massive outdoor dining area with fake grass, umbrellas and garden-style furniture serving a Mediterranean menu. It’s the whole alfresco shebang. 

Café and courtyard open every day, 9am to 9pm. 

 

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The Botanist Broadgate Circle

Restaurants Broadgate

Sit on The Botanist’s huge (bookable) terrace and you’ll get the full force of Broadgate Circle’s pumped-up ambience, plus a dose of vitamin D if the sun shows up. City boys and girls descend in droves to soak up some rays (and the bottomless brunch) and the terrace is open throughout the year. 

Booking from April 12, seven days a week. 

Butler’s Wharf Chophouse
Butler’s Wharf Chophouse
Photograph: Butler’s Wharf Chophouse

Butlers Wharf Chop House

Restaurants British Tower Bridge

This Butler’s Wharf spot boasts some cracking views - Tower Bridge is merely the hurl of a meat-cleaver away. And if you need further proof of its proximity to the Thames? The alfresco terrace is furnished with lifebelts. Best to stay the right side of the wall, all the same. 

Meat plays an important role on a menu celebrating all things British. Think Gloucester old spot pork chops with a bramley apple and cider sauce, salt-marsh lamb cutlets, British charcuterie and eight cuts of steak. 

The wine list features a good number by the glass and the carafe, with options from well-known regions of France, Italy, South Africa, Argentina and South Africa. The by-the-bottle list is extensive and divided by country and region. Keep an eye out for ‘enliveners’, too. 

Booking from April 12. 

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Café Bohème

Restaurants Brasseries Soho

Boasting a prime position in the heart of Soho, Café Boheme also finds just enough room for a few alfresco pavement tables for those who want to check out Old Compton Street’s frisky goings-on. Come for breakfast, morning coffee, small plates and French-focused wines – or sip an evening cocktail with the sounds of live jazz wafting out on to the street (it’s open till 3am, Mon-Sat).

Booking from April 12 now.

Caravan Exmouth Market

Restaurants Australian Exmouth Market

The only thing better than getting a table inside this Exmouth Market hotspot is snagging one of the 20-odd alfresco seats. There are tables sheltered by an awning, although others are prey to the weather. You can’t book them at the moment, so trust to luck. Either way, this is a top shout for a ‘well-travelled’ breakfast, post-work cocktails, small plates and anything in between. The vibe is laidback, the house-roasted coffee is ace and service is warm – even if the weather isn’t.

Outdoor from April 12; indoor from May 17.

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Ceviche-web-size_Rob-Greig.jpg
Ceviche-web-size_Rob-Greig.jpg
© Rob Greig

Ceviche Soho

Restaurants Peruvian Soho

The Peruvian party hasn’t stopped on Frith Street since Ceviche showed up: Martin Morales’s restaurant-bar (and his joie de vivre) seems to have struck a chord with Londoners. Ceviche may not quite take you to Cusco, but friendly South American staff provide more warmth than Inti, the Inca sun god. The outdoor seating is back from April 12, and indoor tables from May 17. Booking now.

Claridge’s Bar
Claridge’s Bar
Photograph: Claridge’s

Claridge's Bar

Bars and pubs Mayfair

Claridge’s bar terrace is back on April 12, with a menu of top cocktails and some light, spring-like food: beef carpaccio with rocket, tuna tartare with tomato, lemon and olive, and spaghettini with lemon cream sauce and red prawns. It’s fancy, it gets booked out quickly, but you’re so worth it, darling.

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The Coach
The Coach
Andy Parsons

The Coach

Restaurants French Clerkenwell

The Coach is an enormously elegant gastropub with a lovely garden space to dine in. Like a cross between a cottage and a conservatory, glass walls separate the garden, decked out with mirrors and winding plants, from the dining room. Expect a menu filled with proper French food.

Booking now for outdoor tables from May 1, and dining room space from May 17.

The Connaught
The Connaught
Photograph: The Connaught

The Connaught Bar

Bars and pubs Hotel bars Mayfair

With views of Tadao Ando’s ‘Silence’ fountain, The Terrace at The Connaught is a posh people-watching spot. Along with the drinks, this spring/summer menu includes black truffle and fontina pizza, crispy salmon sushi (not sure how that works, but hey) and a burrata salad with crushed rhubarb, kaffir lime, black pepper and basil. They take bookings are being taken for tables of up to four and there are tables available for walk-ins on the day.

Mon-Sat, 8am-9.45pm; Sun 9am-8.45pm.

 

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Coppa Club Tower Bridge

Restaurants Contemporary European Tower Hill

Boasting one of the biggest riverside terraces in London (now extended!), plus its famous igloos, Coppa Club occupies a prime spot with Tower Bridge in near-sight and The Shard just opposite. Whether you’re in the restaurant, café or central bar, tall windows mean you can soak up the view even when it’s too chilly for full alfresco. To eat? Sourdough pizzas, pasta and grills, as well as a few nibbles – if you’re just here for the vistas.

London skyscrapers viewed from the Coq d'Argent rooftop garden
London skyscrapers viewed from the Coq d'Argent rooftop garden
© Andrew Brackenbury

Coq d'Argent

Restaurants French Bank

Accessed by a lift, like a supervillain’s lair, the Coq’s chichi heated terrace has panoramic City views, a fine selection of drinks and some classic French dishes.

It’s now taking bookings for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch for up to six people, from April 12. We like The Coq! (to paraphrase The Rebel).

 

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Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
Paul Winch-Furness

The Culpeper

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Spitalfields

The famous (bookable) rooftop garden/bar attached to this excellent City gastropub-with-rooms has been reborn as Piculpeper – an enterprise dedicated to seasonal pickling and preservation, complete with an eight-foot gherkin installation and a growing cast of veg destined for the jar. While the cooks do wondrous things with cucumbers and the like, visitors can sip herb-laden cocktails and graze from a menu of sharply seasonal pickle-themed ideas.

Outdoor Dining - Dishoom Shoreditch
Outdoor Dining - Dishoom Shoreditch
Photogaph: Dishoom

Dishoom

Restaurants Indian Shoreditch

When you’re dining alfresco in old Bombay, it’s called a verandah, dahling, not a terrace. And this stylish Shoreditch canteen has its own all-singing, all-dancing version dedicated to the serious business of lounging – complete with brocade fabrics and heavy vintage furniture, plus a retractable roof just in case the sun goes all subcontinental on us. Plus, they now take bookings! Kick back and order from the eclectic line-up of classic Indo-Irani dishes and East-West mash-ups. 

Reservations ‘from May onwards’.

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The Dynamo

Restaurants Cafés Putney

Outdoorsy folk who like cycling can stay outside and eat alfresco at this laidback cycling caff in Putney. A big terrace dining area out front soaks up the sunshine (if any), and it’s regularly packed with punters. It does brunch Friday to Sunday and classic Neapolitan pizzas in the evenings.

Farm Girl

Restaurants Cafés Portobello Road

This casual Aussie-inspired café in a Notting Hill terrace house comes equipped with a quaint, leafy outdoor garden for dining in the sunshine. The food tastes as it looks: pleasantly healthy. Expect icy acai bowls and don’t miss the ‘immune-system-boosting’ Liquid Gold latte laced with turmeric. It’s walk-up only for now. Good luck!

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Fiume
Fiume
Photograph: Fiume

Fiume

Restaurants Italian Battersea

In a beautiful Battersea riverside location, Fiume knocks out proper southern Italian nosh, with a menu designed by Francesco Mazzei (ex-L’Anima, also overseeing Sartoria and Radici). Its terrace is back in business from April 12 and booking now.

Flat Iron Square

Things to do Southwark

Flat Iron Square is a hub for drinking, dining and dancing in the shadow of The Shard. The outdoor space is host to a flea market at weekends and various events throughout the year, as well as home to a winter ski chalet, Apres, designed for hot cocktails and cosy times. Under the arches you’ll find street food stalls spanning world cuisines, while next door is live music venue Omeara, its sister tequila bar Cantina and slightly-hidden-away wine bar Tap & Bottle.

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400 Rabbits

Restaurants Contemporary European Herne Hill

A brunch and pizza spot at the Brockwell Lido Café from the sourdough specialists. A waterside venue with a difference, this lovely alfresco space nudges up against the 1930s art deco splendour of the lido. Make no mistake: poolside seats just a splash away from the azure water are snapped up fast. Check out their ‘Tenner Tuesdays’ – a pizza and a beer for, you guessed it, ten quid.

Garden Museum Café
Garden Museum Café
Image: Garden Museum Café

The Garden Museum Café

Restaurants British Bankside
Booking now
The award-winning Garden Museum Cafe, at the Garden Museum in Lambeth, has launched its outside summer terrace and alfresco garden courtyard spaces. It’s open Thursday-Sunday. The terrace seats 12, while the garden atrium has space for 22. The menu comes from head chef George Ryle (Primeur, Padella). 
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Frederick's

Restaurants Contemporary European Angel

There’s no denying that Frederick’s lush garden and expertly tended plants are a thing of beauty for those who sit outside at alfresco tables. However, the owners of this Islington classic have also struck gold with a spacious conservatory-style Garden Room that offers the same gorgeous outlook, but with the bonus of a roof that keeps unwelcome rain, excessive sunshine and wind at bay. Appropriately, the menus change with the seasons at this dapper local treat.

German Gymnasium

Restaurants Contemporary European King’s Cross

This polished, all-day ‘grand café’ has a gigantic L-shaped terrace and a plum location on the pedestrianised bit between King’s Cross and St Pancras stations. There’s a year-round approach to alfresco dining too: the outdoor space is thoughtfully equipped with heaters, blankets and umbrellas.

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The Good Egg Soho

Restaurants Middle Eastern Soho

The second branch of Stoke Newington’s hit Israeli joint is smack-bang in the middle of Carnaby Street, with a big terrace space in Kingly Court that’s heated in winter, heaving in summer. And while we don’t think the Middle Eastern-style food here is as strong as at the original, this is still one of the best spots on the courtyard, and certainly near Oxford Circus. Plus you can book.

Granger&Co_RG011.jpg
Granger&Co_RG011.jpg
© Rob Greig

Granger & Co

Restaurants Australian Notting Hill

This was the first UK outlet from Australian Bill Granger. Notting Hill has taken to this simply decorated, no-bookings eaterie with a passion – queues form at weekends for brunch, and even early in the week the tightly packed tables and stools along the bar are fully occupied. It’s no wonder: the room is appealing and light-filled, the global menu inventive without being alarming, and the cooking assured.

There are snacks (crispy salt and pepper squid with lime aïoli), starters (ceviche salmon with grapefruit, avocado and sesame), pasta dishes, a steak and a burger, plus a range of globe-trotting dishes; lunch sees more soups, sandwiches and salads. At dinner, both the beef burger (which came with tomato relish and pickled courgette, and had a proper meaty taste) and fried brown rice packed with crab, chorizo and kimchee (punchy in all the right ways) passed with flying colours; the next table enthused about tumeric-spiced chicken with ’slaw, and lime and coconut dressing.

Prices are on the high side, but portions are generous – especially the puddings. A heap of banana fritters were perfectly matched with caramel and honey ice-cream, and a bowl-like white chocolate and pistachio pavlova groaned under a mass of strawberries and rosewater cream.

 

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Ham Yard Hotel

Hotels Soho

The leafy garden of this swish boutique hotel is a prime Soho oasis complete with stone floors, gleaming modern sculptures, mature oak trees and cream parasols; there are even a couple of beehives tended by a dedicated beekeeper. What’s more, the tables are bookable (hooray!) – although you’ll be moved indoors if the weather’s bad. There’s also a cool terrace on the fourth floor. Check the hotel’s website for special ticketed pop-ups.

Harry’s Dolce Vita

Restaurants Italian Belgravia

Directly behind Harrods, Harry’s is a glamorous Italian bistro with a breezy European-style terrace out front that’s often packed with people enjoying a spritz and a plate of pasta after a day of shopping across the road. Foodwise, stick to the simple Italian things: seafood spaghetti and fresh antipasti plates.

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hicce
hicce
Photograph: Hicce

Hicce

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Contemporary Global King’s Cross

On the upper concourse of Coal Drops Yard, above Wolf & Badger, Hicce is a buzzy, good-time place. It’s a large, vibey space complete with affable service and a handsome industrial-chic setting that is buffed-up King’s Cross at its best: glorious arched windows, exposed brick and vaulted ceilings. Crucially, there is a terrace (which you can’t book as such, but can request) so you can nosh and people-spot. 

The cooking is from Pip Lacey, she of ‘Great British Menu’-winning fame, who trained at Murano. To kick off, you’re meant to choose a bread (we liked the delicately yeasty beer bread), then a little cheese or cured meat, some pickled veg and perhaps a pincho-esque bite or two, like vibrant honey-drizzled, goat’s-cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers.

Hoppers Soho
Hoppers Soho
Hoppers Soho. Credit: Hoppers

Hoppers

Restaurants Indian Soho

All three branches of this ace Sri Lankan restaurant mini-chain are back in business for outdoor dining. The King’s Cross one, facing the canal has a partially covered, heated terrace, full of plants. The Marylebone branch is in pedestrianised St Christopher’s Place, for a spot of chichi dining, while the original Frith Street outlet is going all Continental as part of Soho Al Fresco, which – like last year – will see tables spilling out across car-free streets. Lovely.

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Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
Paul Winch-Furness

The Ivy Chelsea Garden

Restaurants British King’s Road

Given its name, you’d expect this horticulturally themed venue to tick all the alfresco boxes, and the Ivy’s terrace doesn’t disappoint. By day, its leafy trellises, bloom-filled terracotta pots, water feature and velvet chairs will put you in an off-duty mood faster than you can order an Ivy Garden Royale; at night, fire pits, roaring hearths and lap blankets keep diners toasty and the vibe as chic as can be.

New_LARDO textures 5.jpg
New_LARDO textures 5.jpg
© Stephen Barber

Lardo

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Italian London Fields

If a restaurant is named after the cured back fat of a pig, you can expect that charcuterie is among its specialities – and so it is here. Sit indoors and you can watch the pizzas being fired, meanwhile the outdoor space has a good amount of seating for those wishing to watch the world go by while chowing down on tomato and parmesan-covered eggs. Drinks run from cocktails to builders’ tea plus a brief, mainly Italian wine list. Hackneyites love this place – rightly so – and cram in from breakfast to late, so it’s wise to book.

 

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The Lighterman

Bars and pubs Gastropubs King’s Cross

With its first-floor wraparound terrace and an alfresco area overlooking Regent’s Canal in King’s Cross, this capacious bar-restaurant hybrid is a magnet for waterside drinkers and diners. The Lighterman’s alfresco spaces all operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so prepare for a bun fight on hot days. There are parasols and heaters, so grab seasonal dishes, craft beers and on-trend cocktails all year round.

Llewelyn's
Llewelyn's
Andy Parsons

Llewelyn's

Restaurants Contemporary European Herne Hill

There are pavement tables on the newly extended terrace outside this gastro-magnet next to Herne Hill railway station; if you get one, you’ll enjoy not only the chichi ambience of Station Square and Railton Road but peerless cooking and spot-on service from a trio whose joint CV includes The Anchor & Hope, St John and Rochelle Canteen. Hell, we’d even sit out at this place in the rain. 

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Mercato Metropolitano

Things to do Event spaces Elephant & Castle

A 45,000 square foot market space offering a mixture of Italian and London based artisan producers, including ‘the best pizza maker’ from Naples, supposedly.

Modern Pantry

Restaurants Global Clerkenwell

Situated in a magnificent Grade II-listed Georgian building on St John’s Square, fusion queen Anna Hansen’s Clerkenwell flagship has some delightful alfresco tables tucked in among the resident mandarin trees. It’s back open and you can book tables now.  

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Moro

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Fusion Exmouth Market

Sam(antha) and Sam Clark’s Exmouth Market restaurant and cookbook set the benchmark for a distinctly British style of Iberian-with-a-North-African-twist Mediterranean cooking, and they’re still in the front rank 15 years later. Channel Continental vibes on one of its pavement tables, and expect bright, attentive service, a spectacular showcase of modern Spanish and Portuguese wines, and vibrantly fresh food that throws out surprising and pleasurable flavours at every turn.

Nutbourne
Nutbourne
Credit: Andy Parsons

Nutbourne

Restaurants British Battersea

With Rabbit and The Shed already under their belts, the go-getting Gladwin brothers have rolled out Nutbourne – yet another faux-rustic eatery with a similarly green and pleasant feel. If you’re in alfresco mood, take advantage of its 40-seater terrace and courtyard overlooking Ransome’s Dock – a space that really shines when the sun comes out. Where better to really enjoy some farm-picked seasonal ingredients and wines from the family’s namesake Sussex vineyard?

Venue says Our terrace is now open! We are serving our seasonal signature menus including fire-roasted beef & pork, weekend breakfasts, & Sunday Roasts

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Ognisko

Restaurants Polish South Kensington

Hidden between Hyde Park and South Ken’s many museums, this revamped Polish veteran is a world away from the area’s tourist-packed mass-market joints. Its light-filled dining room is all old-school elegance with chic, modern touches, but you can also eat on the marquee-style covered terrace overlooking the peaceful tree-lined greenery of Prince’s Gardens (tables are first come, first served).

Venue says The beautiful Ognisko in South Kensington is open seven days a week and offers amazing, critically-acclaimed cuisine.

Old Bengal Bar
Old Bengal Bar
Photograph: Old Bengal Bar

Old Bengal Bar

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Liverpool Street

New Street, a cul-de-sac directly opposite the main sluice into Liverpool Street Station, surprisingly contains a secluded high-walled courtyard that forms the Old Bengal Bar’s garden. It boasts comfy outdoor seating and custom-made awnings.

The cocktail list is long and well considered, divided by spirit, while food runs along meaty, fishy, pubby lines. The outdoor terrace is back on April 12. Get the scotch eggs in, Guy!

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The Open Kitchen at Mare Street Market

Restaurants Global London Fields

Inside Hackney’s Mare Street Market is The Open Kitchen: a food hall-style, big, vibey and beautiful dining space with a huge beer garden attached. Order your wood-fired pizza, hearty pasta or fresh salad at the counter inside, then take yourself outside among the fairy lights to eat and while away the afternoon with a bevvie.

London - Sunset View
London - Sunset View
Jonathan Reid

Oxo Tower Brasserie

Restaurants British South Bank

Eight floors above the South Bank, Oxo Tower’s restaurant and brasserie might not dish up rooftop dining per se, but it offers more height, fresh air and feelings of space than many of the capital’s rooftop terraces. It’s first-come, first-served for alfresco tables, so arrive on the dot for lunch and take your pick – there are corking views of the Thames and its landmark buildings, plus a menu of modern European food. As there’s no heating out on the terraces, you may need to time your visit carefully.

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Peckham Bazaar

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Balkan Peckham

Pan-Balkan neighbourhood restaurant Peckham Bazaar is one of SE15’s stars. It’s hugely atmospheric and a genuine feast for the senses, with loud folk music from the region (which stretches loosely from Greece and Turkey up to Croatia and Serbia), plus rustic woods, flickering oil lights and smoke from the open kitchen. There’s a leaft, pavementside terrace, while the daily-changing small-plates menu is packed with equally sunny flavours.

Pergola Paddington Central

Restaurants Pop up restaurant Paddington

Billed as a ‘botanical alfresco dining destination’, this summery rooftop behemoth accommodates 850 covered/heated seats, seven day-beds, two bars on different levels, weekend DJs and a rockin’ foodie offering – all in a luxuriant setting of trellises and heavy foliage, with communal tables and a roof in case it rains. 

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The Petersham

Restaurants Italian Covent Garden

Eating in this grand Covent Garden offshoot of Petersham Nurseries in Richmond feels a bit like dining alfresco – what with the palm trees in massive pots, the posies of flowers on each table and the general air of light and space. But the Petersham also has a splendid courtyard for that genuine outdoor vibe – complete with even more trees, plant-filled urns and other horticultural paraphernalia. Ideal for those rare moments when the sun peeps out.

Petersham Nurseries Café

Restaurants Contemporary European Richmond

Open, with service extended until sundown on selected evenings. 

Although not strictly alfresco – you’re dining under a glass roof – this magical hothouse alive with palm trees, fragrant bougainvillea and scented jasmine feels as outdoorsy as can be. After joining the ladies who lunch for some seasonal Italian-inspired food, check out the adjoining nurseries, then walk across the meadows to Richmond. Reservations are essential and should be made up to three months in advance: this is no ordinary garden-centre restaurant.

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Pop Brixton

Restaurants Brixton

Pop Brixton is community initiative in the heart of Brixton, run in partnership with Lambeth Council, showcasing a selection of young businesses (with plenty of restaurants).

Developed in reaction to high street brands dominating storefronts across London, Pop Brixton covers over 1,400 sq m and features a selection of traders – all of which are independent, and a majority of which are local. Operating out of an eclectic jumble of shipping containers, the site is home to serveral bars and street food stalls as well as a number of permanent restaurants, including the highly rated Smoke and Salt. There’s also a large greenhouse space for communal dining. Alongside all this there's a changing schedule of music and entertainment events.

Pop Brixton is currently open all year round, with an open-air look in the summer, and weather-proofing to keep visitors warm and dry during the winter. Entrance is free but, of course, the food and drink isn't.

Thomas Alexander

Le Pont de la Tour

Restaurants Grills Tower Bridge

Day or night, summer or winter, this French fancy by the river has everything you could wish for in an alfresco terrace. A jaunty striped awning is rolled out in strong sun, while luxurious sheepskin chair covers taking the chill off during the evening. In hot weather, it’s perfect for sipping St Germain cocktails as you gaze out over Tower Bridge, while the chilly months herald furry blankets and fondues.

Booking now from April 12.

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Pop Brixton

Restaurants Brixton

Combining the best bits of a street-food market, event venue and shopping destination, this motley collection of converted shipping containers is a Brixton innovator housing restaurants, stalls and bars galore. Pop has an open-air look in summer, with a large greenhouse space for communal dining, while weather-proofing keeps the punters toasty in winter. Weave past the trendy hordes and explore the foodie offerings as music pumps in the background. Who needs festivals?

La Poule au Pot

Restaurants French Belgravia

A classic French restaurant in Belgravia, La Poule au Pot has oodles of charm and a very summery white-tableclothed outdoor dining area that’s open during the warmer months. The food is gloriously old-school: think pan-fried scallops and foie gras terrine to start; tender, slow-braised beef bourguignon to follow.

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The Ritz

Restaurants Haute cuisine Piccadilly

Yes, London’s ultimate name-drop restaurant is for trust-funders or special-occasion spendthrifts, but on hot days, the sedate terrace is still one of the best alfresco lunch spots in London, with vast parasols, mosaic floors, floral boxes and (if you’re so inclined) buckets of champagne on ice. You can’t book a terrace table, but you can request one. Note: the Ritz’s strict dress code still applies, although gentlemen are permitted to remove their jackets. Result.

River Café

Restaurants Italian Hammersmith

Despite its name and riverside location, The River Café’s gorgeous gardens are what make dining alfresco here such a treat. If you snag an outdoor table (request this when booking), you’ll either eat under the awning on the heated terrace, surrounded by fruit trees, herbs and edible flowers, or in the garden itself – amid shady trees on neatly trimmed lawns. The menu is a study in seasonal Italian deliciousness, with some ingredients sourced direct from the growing patch.

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Rochelle Canteen

Restaurants British Shoreditch

Converted from the bike sheds of an old Victorian school, this unassuming canteen for Shoreditch creatives (and others) has half a dozen outdoor tables on its plant-filled patio within the grassy walled garden overlooking Arnold Circus. This chilled-out alfresco space is at the mercy of the elements, but whatever the weather, you can depend on the kitchen for a daily menu of colourful yet homely dishes featuring seasonal ingredients.

Saatchi Gallery Bar & Brasserie

Restaurants Contemporary European King’s Road

You can sit inside the Saatchi Gallery’s delightful brasserie surrounded by modern art, but on sunny days you can’t beat a seat in the museum’s equally well-curated grounds, with their first-come, first-served tables overlooking the green expanses of Duke of York’s Square. The menu is full of crowdpleasers (crisp plaice and chips, burgers) and it’s equally enticing for a sparkling sundowner come Pimm’s o’clock.

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Sager + Wilde Paradise Row

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Contemporary European Bethnal Green

Reopening April 12

Having enlisted the talents of Sebastian Myers (formerly of Chiltern Firehouse), Sager + Wilde produce British dishes with European flourishes. For dinner think grilled cuts of Iberico pork, black trompettes, beef-shin ragù and hispi cabbage, while brunch provides all kinds of egg dishes, sausage baps and salads. Combined with the cobbled alley-setting and a spectacular wine list, well, you’re on to a winner here. 

Shoryu Carnaby

Restaurants Japanese Soho

We thought you couldn’t sit outside in an upmarket Soho setting and eat well without paying through the proboscis. Yet that’s precisely what the Carnaby branch of this ramen mini-chain allows you to do. A cut above its courtyard neighbours, it offers great-value bowls of its swoon-worthy signature tonkotsu amid the elegant parasols and outdoor heaters of its terrace – although you’ll miss out on the funky vibe and pumping rock soundtrack.

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Thomas Alexander

Skylon

Restaurants Contemporary European South Bank

Located on the first floor of the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre, Skylon takes its name from one of the original structures built for the 1951 Festival of Britain, but the culinary fare is far from stuck in the past.

It’s currently accepting bookings for its outdoor terrace from April 12 for parties of one or two households or a maximum of six guests where the party is of three households or more. (NB cashless payments only).

Smokestak
Smokestak
Photograph: Smokestak

Smokestak

Restaurants American Shoreditch

Just off Brick Lane, Smokestak’s ‘medieval nightclub’ (as we described it when it opened) sits at the foot of an unassuming block of flats, but, cue corny trumpet fanfare, has a massive terrace on both sides of its corner frontage, with a fancy new awning in suitably robust army-green canvas to protect meat-chompers from summer downpours. 

Cos Smokestak is all about meat – brisket, pastrami – in great smoky chunks or shoved, peasant-style – into buns with pungent sauces and sharp sides.

It’s a calorific indulgence, for sure, but you’re super-lither after all that long yoga, so go for it.

Smokestak’s terrace is back open from April 12. Bookings for groups of four to six people can be made from Monday March 29. Walk-ins will also be available.

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Stein’s

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Richmond

If you’ve never been to a German beer garden – and don’t fancy a trip to Munich – you could do worse than Stein’s, a live-wire outdoor restaurant promising ‘the Bavarian experience’ beside a stretch of the Thames towpath. Its huge riverside space can seat up to 300 alfresco diners at shared wooden tables, many of which offer some shelter from the elements. The name refers to the huge vessels (stone or otherwise) from which you glug litres of ‘bier’.

Taproom SE8

Bars and pubs Breweries Deptford

It’s easy to forget you’re in south-east London when sitting in the warm glow of this laidback boozer. Full of twinkling lights, reclaimed wine barrel tables, and saucy smells from a little domed pizza oven, the vibe is more Continental than cockney at Taproom SE8. It’s one of many bars and eateries huddled in Deptford Market Yard – a spot that’s quickly making a name for itself thanks to quirky joints like Little Nan’s Bar. A blackboard by the bar lists Hop Stuff’s own IPAs and an impressive selection of guest kegs from much-loved UK breweries – like Lost & Found and Wild Beer Co – as well as Deptford’s Villages and Hackney’s Five Points. We opted for a sweet yet tart glass of Mad Hatter’s grapefruit sour and a lip-smackingly citrussy Siren White Tips IPA, recommended by the chatty bar staff. 

Outdoor tables from April 12.

 

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The Victoria

Restaurants Contemporary European Mortlake and Sheen

The Victoria’s Richmond Park location alone makes it well worth a visit. However, with TV chef Paul Merrett overseeing the show, plus a leafy walled garden complete with supersized heated parasols and an open-air bar, as well as a conservatory for in-between days, you’ll see why this smart gastropub is almost permanently packed to the rafters. The garden even has its own kitchen, fired up for summertime grills. Arrive early to guarantee an alfresco perch.

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