Olive Magazine
People eating outdoors at Hicce

Best outdoor restaurants in London

Published: October 11, 2021 at 2:14 pm
Our content is updated regularly but it’s advisable to check opening times and availability with the venue before you plan to visit. Please follow government guidelines regarding social distancing

Check out the best al fresco dining in the capital, from rooftop bars to hidden gardens and sun-soaked terraces

As of 12 April we (in the UK) are allowed to head to our favourite food and drink spots again. Wrap up 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 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, then check out our London street food guide


Restaurant terraces with outdoor dining

As seen on tv show 

The garden at the Corinthia, including sink-into seating and a striking flower display

Tavolino, London Bridge

Tavolino is a relaxed, modern Italian with a killer riverside view and a crowd-pleasing menu. On the overcast, drizzly afternoon we visited the buzzy outdoor terrace was packed (inside there is a two-floor space with the same sweeping views across Tower Bridge to The Tower itself). The menu follows the classic Italian model of antipasti, pasta, secondi and dolci. There is also a short pizza menu and daily chef specials.

An antipasti of crab on bitter endive with ricotta is crunchy, creamy and sweet, with a generous amount of white crab and a nutty pistachio dressing. Burrata comes with a slick of basil oil and a chunky sweet-sour caponata of olives, courgette, celery and pine nuts to cut through the richness of the cheese. Fresh tagliatelle has a lovely al dente bounce and comes tossed with a spicy slow-cooked pork and ’nduja ragu – it’s a deeply comforting hug of a dish. Delicately cooked nuggets of saffron-glazed monkfish are served with tiny gnochetti in a brothy fennel-spiked sauce and little zingy pops of sea herbs. We finish with an amaretto panna cotta – rich and fudgy with little zesty segments of torched mandarin and a quirky ‘liquid dessert’ tiramisu – a heady cocktail of coffee liqueur, vodka, cream and chocolate.


An outdoor table at Tavolino with a view of London Bridge

Hicce, King’s Cross

Hicce’s large, parasol-covered terrace brings a touch of the Mediterranean to Coal Drops Yard. There are planters to shelter from the elements, and blankets and cushions to keep you warm. A large outdoor bar boasts a dramatic backdrop of Victorian brick arches, from which cocktails are shaken using artisan spirits and small-batch brews and wines are poured. Order the Hicce cocktail with refreshing sake, elderflower and yuzu notes, or a punchy, saffron-infused ‘flogroni’, poured dramatically from a chunky glass bottle. Food is all about grazing – start with a DIY appetiser board of duck rillettes, cured salmon slices with wasabi and giant couscous with green harissa, alongside jars of homemade pickles with squidgy beer bread. Move on to more substantial dishes such as crisp tempura paneer on a salad of raw cauliflower, apple and raisins, or bavette steak on a bright bed of multicoloured tomatoes, popping peas and anchovies. Time your visit with the sunset to watch the sky turn orange and purple behind the canalside Victorian gas holders-turned-luxury apartments.


People eating outdoors at Hicce

Skylight Canalside, Tobacco Dock 

Skylight Canalside, Tobacco Dock's newest sister spot to the Skylight roof terrace, is filled with booming music, food trucks and has a contagiously fun atmosphere – think a beer garden with benches and parasols but with the added bonus of a cool street food market. KERB is at the forefront of this operation, and lives up to its name as a 'street food pioneer'. The two food trucks that are currently available, Fundi Pizza and Tongue ‘N Cheek, boast an array of classics with a twist, like chunky bavette steak, crispy rosemary fries and smoky mayo and an honorary mention to the 'nduja pizza, which has a soft golden crust, loaded with stringy cheese and pieces of peppery 'nduja – a salty spicy dream. If you’re looking for killer street food and a lively atmosphere, all with a backdrop of a canal and picturesque ‘pirate ships’, this is the place for you.


A plate of chips topped with meat

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.


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).


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.


Westerns Laundry, Holloway

A residential road in Drayton Park might not seem the obvious choice for a restaurant with a view, but come summer Westerns Laundry (from the team behind north London’s Jolene and Primeur) outdoor area is the perfect spot to settle down with punchy negronis and bowls of olives among the olive trees. Long wooden benches come strewn with blankets, while trees and lush greenery add a sense of calm. Floor-to-ceiling doors draw back, so, even those sat indoors have natural light and warmth.

Small plates and seafood are the focus on the daily changing menu, so expect dishes such as salted sardines, turbot, pickled mussels, baked cuttlefish fideo pasta and crispy ray wing with aioli.


White washed walls with long sharing tables. Vases of flowers are sat on the tables

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.


A glasshouse filled with tables, chairs and lush greenery

Rooftop bars and restaurants

Skylight Peckham

In recent years, Peckham has become home to many renowned rooftop restaurants and bars. Skylight Peckham, on top of theatre school Mountview, is the newest in the fleet of rooftop restaurants and boasts a striking sweeping city-wide view. The impressive interiors, including a zinc-topped bar are second to their signature list of cocktails – including a south London iced tea, packed with Hennessey and cranberry juice. A comforting and spacious interior makes this a perfect place for warm summer evenings on the terrace or even somewhere to sit and have lunch while working. A highlight on the menu was the burrata topped with smoked aubergine and nduja, or visit on Sundays for a rotating BBQ menu featuring South African, Portuguese and Jamaican dishes. skylightbars.com/peckham/

The exterior at Skylight, boasting sweeping city-wide views

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.


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.



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

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