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 laidback rooftop bars and 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.
City views, wide open spaces, shiny cube-shaped furniture… Omotesando's Two Rooms Bar & Grill is a restaurant that has it all. Enjoy top-notch steaks, fresh teppan-grilled fish and a fine bottle of plonk with a side of cooling breezes and cityscapes, or head back for more of the same at one of their famous weekend brunch sessions. Bliss.
Xex by name, Xexy by nature – this romantic restaurant/bar complex combines a heady mix of sultry jazz and quality cocktails, resulting in a romantic, beachy vibe. The terrace knocks it up another notch with a potent mix of flickering lanterns and reflective water features that'll bring out the holiday spirit in even the most hardened workaholic.
Although they're right there underneath you, the love hotels and host clubs of Kabukicho feel a million miles away from the Shinjuku Granbell’s 13th-floor bar. Renovated last summer, it’s become even more comfy thanks to the addition of exotic-looking plants and other greenery, while the views of Nishi-Shinjuku’s sparkling skyline are as spectacular as ever. Happy hour, when all drinks go for ¥500, is every day from 5pm to 7pm.
Just a few steps away from the bustle of Asakusa, the Amuse Museum's rooftop bar overlooks Sensoji and its iconic five-storey pagoda. Wine and Belgian beers can be combined with quality pizza – try the pesto one flavoured with sansho pepper – while the Skytree views are well worth a look as well.
A comfy café and bar found on the rooftop of a well worn building right next to Sangenjaya Station, A-Bridge charms with an anti-commercial ethos befitting its neighbourhood close to the local jumble of izakayas and small bars known as Sankaku Chitai. Catch the sunset early in the evening and stick around for a DJ set or indie gig.
The wealth of nearby attractions include Parco, Loft and the Onitsuka Tiger flagship store, so you might be forgiven for overlooking this stylish rooftop restaurant in the building next to Shibuya's Modi. Its popular rooftop terrace beer garden is open between mid-May and the end of summer.
Where better to enjoy a satisfying fix of Mexican cuisine than on a rooftop? Hacienda del Cielo's ninth-floor terrace is a perfect setting to chomp on freshly prepared guacamole and spicy fajitas, washed down with fiery chilli-infused Cajun martinis. Inside is no less impressive, mind – lounge-style furniture, high ceilings and a chandelier modelled on Kukulkan separate it from the pack.
Worth consideration especially for those special occasions, Casita has that luxury resort feel right in the heart of the city. The main dining area with its upscale Italian fare is suitable for an intimate date, while the terrace is more laidback with its colourful tapas and free-flowing plonk. On sunny days, consider heading out to the deck for lunch (on weekdays) or brunch (on weekends), while warm evenings are when to catch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Sitting pretty in the middle of Kagurazaka, this chic, modern Italian restaurant is best known for its spacious and comfy terrace. Stagione serves very respectable fare, including well-prepared Neapolitan pizzas, while the rooftop area turns into a beer garden in summer. Suds and spumanti go for ¥650 a glass, just so you know.
Walk through Futako-Tamagawa's monstrous new shopping complex and head east to find this lone four-storey house hidden out by the Tama River. The third and fourth floors of the French restaurant have terrace seating with nice views of the gently flowing river and the passing Den-en-toshi line. The out-of-the-way location ensures tranquility, with most patrons arriving on foot. Rooftop barbecue is available during the summer months.
Offering some of the city's best Rainbow Bridge views, this restaurant and bar on the sixth floor of the InterContinental Tokyo Bay hotel is a spot that always impresses. The champagne and organic wines are best sipped on the outdoor terrace with its refreshing sea breeze. Bring a date or a business associate from out of town and watch the magic happen.
Sitting on landfill surrounded by canals in the Shibaura area, this spacious and dog-friendly restaurant boasts a tranquil terrace and lush lawn area, which is open for patrons' pooches. After your meal, you can head to the nearby pier and board the water bus for Odaiba and the Toyosu area.
Nothing says premium outdoor spot like a view over the water. Head to Tennozu Isle for some tasty canal-side dining, washed down with a range of Californian-style ales that are brewed on site. TY Harbor underwent a significant facelift in 2015, adding a bunch of seats in the upstairs area and spicing up the food menu.