Be it on a warm and sunny spring day or on a balmy summer night, outdoor dining is one of the very best ways to enjoy Tokyo. But as every city resident knows, not all terraces are created equal. To make sure you don't squander your special moment languishing in a cramped courtyard or taking in a view of the traffic, we've picked out the city's very best al fresco restaurants and bars, from fancy dinner spots to waterfront hangouts. Try them all this summer, and make sure to also check out our pick of Tokyo's best bars with a view.
The Royal Garden Cafe chain's flagship outpost sits pretty along Jingu Gaien's ginkgo-lined main avenue, pulling in the crowds with its expansive terrace and views of the surrounding greenery. The edibles range from light café fare to heartier dinner options. Taste bread fresh from the oven at the in-house bakery.
Maintaining a lengthy mental distance from the buzz of nearby Roppongi, this tranquil oasis on a quiet side street has a loyal following – not least due to the excellent terrace, which offers lush green vistas during the day while bathing in the cool summer breeze and candlelight at night. The holiday brunch is a winner, while the original pancakes are served in limited amounts each day.
This descriptively named third-floor café and bar in Shinagawa's Goos building, just a quick stumble from the big hub station, opens in time for a late breakfast and keeps going until midnight. When the weather's good, the action spills out onto the eponymous terrace, which turns into a beer terrace for those long summer evenings.
Channelling the spirit of Paris with its mammoth steak frites, frosty beers and excellent street-side terrace, Aux Bacchanales Kioicho brings a bar full of continental bonhomie to the Kioicho area. The outdoor seating – some of it covered – looks out over Shimizutani Park, providing an enviable view of the beautiful double-flowered cherry trees for its springtime patrons.
Nirvana has two things that make any dining experience great – a top-notch lunchtime curry buffet, and a magnificent terrace on which to enjoy it. The outdoor patio even comes equipped with sofas for you to lounge around on as you feast – though good luck getting up out of them when you awaken from your feeding frenzy of curry, pickles and garam masala potatoes.
Walk a few blocks north from Harajuku's busy Takeshita-dori and you'll spot this little wooden café on a calm back street. As the name suggests, house-roasted Joe and homemade pies are the main attractions here. Whatever your choice, the café's terrace is always nice for a quick stop on a sunny day.