Four tents with tables inside at Joy at Portobello

Best outdoor dining in London

Check out the best al fresco dining in the capital, from rooftop bars with heaters to hidden gardens and cosy huts

As of 12 April we (in the UK) are allowed to head to our favourite food and drink spots again. Wrap up warm and (responsibly) dine with your loved ones at one of London’s best restaurants with outdoor dining. Choose from our favourite restaurants with outdoor seating (be it covered hidden gardens, heated terraces or cosy pods for six) for a socially-distanced al fresco lunch or evening bite to eat. Check with specific venues for the most up-to-date opening information. 

Hungry for more? Check out London’s best restaurants with a view.

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Restaurant terraces with outdoor dining

Flora, JOY at Portobello, Ladbroke Grove

Stevie Parle’s latest venture combines restaurant, music venue and shop showcasing small-batch wines and brews (Howling Hops, Wiper & True, The Kernel) and an abundance of Kentish produce from Canterbury’s Goods Shed. The latter is used in the seasonal dishes at Joy’s outdoor terrace restaurant, Flora. In summer, savour clams with salty guanciale pieces and bright, fresh peas, alongside a Venetian Select spritz beneath the parasols. Come winter, book one of the stylish-yet-cosy pavilions for six nestled around an open fire pit. Tuck into swiss chard gratin, veal shin with anchovy and rosemary sauce, pumpkin sticky toffee pudding and much more. Or call ahead to order the four-course truffle menu.

joyatportobello.co.uk

Tables with white table cloths on a terrace, with white parasols

The Pilgrm, Paddington

This boutique hotel on a pretty Victorian terraced street in Paddington has a hidden secret at the top of its original mahogany staircase… A retro-chic lounge, scattered with coral and olive velvet chairs and marble tables, is the perfect hideaway for brunch or date-night cocktails. Doors open onto a cosy terrace, where you can sit under blankets with a hot chocolate or eggnog and enjoy the bustle of Paddington from a distance. Tuck into brioche brunch baps, including thick-cut bacon with house-made ketchup and smashed avocado with feta and olive salsa. Don’t forget to peruse the grocery store-cum-coffee shop on your way out, stocked with Workshop Coffee, fig jam, Cretan woodland honey and more.

thepilgrm.com

A brunch set up with a full english and an avocado on toast plate

CRATE Brewery, Hackney Wick

There are few more lovely places to spend an afternoon than on the canal outside CRATE’s tap room in Hackney. Each week there’s a selection of guest bottles from a fruity brown ale to a dark Indian pale ale as well as regular casks and kegs of zingy lemon gose, velvety Crate stout and a crisp Crate cider. They do great pizza, too, such as sage and truffle, middle eastern lamb and spicy salami.

Click here to read more about the pizza at CRATE

Crate Brewery - Courgete and Feta

Vinegar Yard, London Bridge

From the folks behind London Bridge’s popular foodie destination Flat Iron Square, this amalgamation of drinking terraces, bars and street-food trucks is a great ‘al fresco’ hangout. Choose an Atlantic IPA from the bar that shares a space with artist Joe Rush’s workshop (check out his installations made from scrap metal scattered around the space), or order a glass of fizz from the pastel-pink prosecco van.

Take your drink of choice to the covered grassy area of benches and tuck into street food from Baba G’s (chicken tikka burgers, loaded masala fries and poppadom nachos slathered in Indian salsa and fresh mint raita), Up in My Grill (perfectly pink flame-grilled bavette or picanha steak on beef dripping fries with chimichurri) or Nanny Bill’s (burgers and croquettes galore).

vinegaryard.london

A terrace of picnic tables covered with tipi awning and fairy lights

The Waterway, Little Venice

This large canal-side terrace is an ideal spot for alfresco eating and drinking. The large dining deck is well-equipped with huge parasols and patio heaters so you can sit out until late at night all year round.

Huge goblets of gin are spruced up in perfect serves – Plymouth gin comes with refreshing lemon tonic, grapefruit peel and a stalk of lemongrass – or stick to one of the many wines or craft beers. Seared tuna fillet is perfectly pink with a tomato salsa, red peppers and artichoke, half rotisserie corn-fed chicken comes with French fries and slaw, and there are plenty of burgers to choose from, including the super deluxe beef burger with foie gras, crisp bacon and tomato chutney.

thewaterway.co.uk


Hidden gardens with outdoor dining

No.16, South Kensington

As soon as you step through the door of this pristinely manicured mid-Victorian white townhouse, hidden just minutes from South Kensington tube station, co-owner Kit Kemp’s bold statements make themselves known. Textiles in the suite of drawing rooms range in colour from pistachio and pink to stylish yellow and purple, with unique artwork throughout – a huge wall-mounted birdcage marks the entranceway, books line the walls, and hand painted puppets guard the honesty bar stocked with spirits, wines and bubbles.

Continue through to The Orangery for afternoon tea in a terracotta-walled room with tribal statement vases and artwork, brightened by sunshine bursting through floor-to-ceiling French windows. 

If it’s a nice day, make the most of No.16’s hidden garden oasis and enjoy a glass of wine in a thick-cut glass goblet, or afternoon tea perched on pale green garden furniture under elegant white parasols. Vases of white flowers dress the tables and Kit Kemp’s personalised Wedgewood crockery adds a bit of fun, with dancing mythical creatures from her favourite Indian fabric that literally look like they have been stitched on to teacups and saucers. 

If you’re lucky enough to bag the tiny gazebo, you can look back on the garden, complete with stone fountain bubbling away in the rectangular fish pond. 

Click here to read our review of afternoon tea at No.16, South Kensington

No.16 Hotel

Petersham Nurseries Café, Richmond

Seasonal, Italian-inspired dishes are the focus at this charming café set within a glasshouse. Try risotto with peas, garden mint and Parmesan or spiced chickpeas with broccoli, courgette and nigella seed flatbread. Many ingredients come from Petersham itself, and, among others, you’ll find herbs, cherries and salsify growing along its walls. Supplementary produce comes from a tight-knit network of small producers such as Haye Farm, run by Harry Boglione, a son of Petersham’s founders. In summer, you can dine outside under a canopy of wisteria surrounded by roses.

petershamnurseries.com

A glasshouse filled with tables, chairs and lush greenery

Rooftop bars and restaurants

Boundary Rooftop, Shoreditch

Boundary Rooftop is the ideal spot to rise above the streetside hustle and sip cocktails as the sun sets over a slightly hushed, 360-degree view of London. Shelter under the pergola and a string of fairy lights with a seasonal cocktail and a sharing plate of octopus and chorizo skewers, or fish or meat dishes cooked on a Robata grill. Or just head up after dinner and sit by the outdoor fireplace nursing a digestive glass of vielle prune.

Click here to read our full review of Boundary hotel and restaurant

Boundary Hotel Rooftop, Shoreditch

The Culpeper, Spitalfields

There are scant opportunities to escape the concrete and grime in London, which makes the rooftop garden at this handsome Spitalfields boozer all the more precious. Its raised beds and greenhouse (which doubles as a private dining room), provide herbs, salad leaves, tomatoes and aubergines for dishes, such as heritage tomato, peach and cucumber salad, or courgette risotto with goat’s curd and mint.

theculpeper.com

The Culpeper, London

Skylight at Tobacco Dock

Head to Skylight Rooftop for some of the best views of London along with street food, après ski vibes and seasonal cocktails. Split over three levels, there are plenty of seating areas to choose from.

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skylightlondon.com

Igloos on a rooftop with a view of the City of London