Looking for the best restaurants with a view in London? Want the best riverside restaurants in west London? Read on for the best rooftop restaurants, alfresco dining spots and courtyard cafés. Click here for the best rooftop bars in London.
Best restaurants with a view in West London
The River Café – for lunch by the river
Since opening in 1987, The River Café has become one of London’s most popular riverside restaurants to enjoy long lunches during the summer. Overlooking the Thames in Hammersmith, the Italian restaurant serves a daily changing menu featuring antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci.
Share plates of crab spaghetti with fennel herb and lemon before digging into chargrilled leg of lamb with Italian spinach and braised chicory. Its signature chocolate nemesis is a must order, a generous slice of squidgy flourless chocolate cake-cum-chocolate mousse, served with a dollop of sour crème fraîche. All wine is Italian, so enjoy a glass of Sicilian Etna Bianco on the leafy terrace.
Petersham Nurseries – for greenhouse vibes
For keen gardeners and foodies alike, Richmond’s Petersham Nurseries Café is the place to relax. Set within a glasshouse and adorned with jasmine, antique mirrors and Indian blinds, the café serves seasonal Italian-inspired dishes following the slow food philosophy.
Dig into roast chicken with king cabbage, pancetta and hazelnut before a dessert of coffee mousse with hazelnuts and crème fraîche.
London Shell Co. – for a cruise up the canal
Eat and explore at the same time with London Shell Co., a canal boat restaurant serving British seafood while travelling along Regent’s Canal. Enjoy Dorset Estuary oysters, battered mackerel with tartare sauce and baked brill with crab bisque while cruising past some of London’s most iconic landmarks, from London Zoo to Regent’s Park.
If you fancy something a little more static, you can eat on the boat Tuesday to Friday lunchtime when it’s docked at Paddington Central.
Galvin at Windows – for an iconic restaurant with city views
Chef Patrons Chris and Jeff Galvin’s award-winning Galvin at Windows, on the 28th floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane, has been one of the capital’s most iconic restaurants since it opened 15 years ago. With uninterrupted views across the city from floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s possible to spot most of London’s major landmarks. It all makes for a spectacular backdrop for the seasonally inspired menus from head chef Marc Hardiman. Expect refined, beautifully presented dishes whether you choose to have dinner, lunch, Sunday lunch or afternoon tea.
Best restaurants with a view in East London
Boundary – for rooftop drinks
Opened in 2009, this rooftop bar is an east London institution, offering 360-degree views of London come rain or shine. In the cooler months, cosy up in the heated glass orangery adorned with strings of twinkling lights, while the outdoor terrace is perfect for sipping gin and tonics as the sun sets.
Share boards of charcuterie, squidgy chunks of warm focaccia and bowls of olives, or keep things light with simple salads.
Pavilion Café – for park views
For breakfast, brunch and lunch with a view, grab a spot at Pavilion Café in east London’s Victoria Park. With a decked terrace perched on the edge of the river, it’s the ideal place to spend a few slow hours.
Locally-grown produce is given a Sri Lankan twist, with string hoppers, dal, coconut sambol and beetroot curry served for breakfast. Stock up on loaves of bread while you’re there, or, head over to the bakeries on Broadway Market and Columbia Road for sourdough croissants and cinnamon buns.
Rochelle Canteen – for garden views
Housed in a converted bike shed of a Shoreditch Victorian school, Rochelle Canteen is a must-visit for lunch in a lush garden under the dappled shade of vines and trees.
Pop in for breakfast to enjoy bowls of granola with yogurt and poached fruits, and stay until lunch when the menu serves British classics. Expect chicken and leek pie, fish stew and steamed treacle sponge with custard.
Duck and Waffle – for city views
Head to the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate for 24 hour views of London. Open seven days a week, this all-day dining spot takes British cuisine and gives it a playful twist, with waffles taking focus.
Book one of the squidgy leather window booths for the best views, and tuck into waffles topped with caramelised banana, hazelnut chocolate spread, vanilla ice cream and peanut crunch, or, go for the signature savoury one with crispy duck let confit, fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup.
If you’re there late at night (we’re talking 11.30pm till 5am), order snacks of bacon wrapped dates and smoked eel croquettes, washed down with Kir Royales.
Crate Brewery – for beer by the river
For laid-back vibes and plenty of pizza and beer, Crate Brewery on the River Lea is the place to spend a long summer evening. Previously an old print factory, the industrial white-washed building is light and airy, with old crates acting as tables and chairs.
With outdoor seating all the way around the building, grab a table and dig into Middle Eastern lamb pizzas washed down with pints of Summer Pale, or the limited edition Citra Sour.
Lily Vanilli – for cake in a courtyard
Away from the hustle and bustle of Sunday’s Columbia Road Flower Market is Lily Vanilli’s bakery (a spot open only on Sundays) serving juicy sausage rolls, blood orange chocolate tarts, banana loaves and rye cookies to name a few. Pastel pink walls, strings of fairy lights and succulents decorate the inside, while picnic-style tables scattered on the cobbled courtyard are the place to sit, soak up the buzz and dig into gooey brownies.
Best restaurants with a view in South London
Gillray’s – for steak overlooking the London Eye
Situated on the banks of the River Thames, Gillray’s steakhouse offers diners spectacular views of the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. There are more than 100 gins to choose from and a range of English steaks, burgers, fish dishes and old-school puddings – it’s a quintessentially British dining experience.
Blueprint Café – for a riverside lunch
Blueprint Café opened in 1992 as part of the now relocated Design Museum. It’s something of a veteran of London’s modern British restaurant scene. Overlooking the Thames in a former banana warehouse, this bright and airy riverside restaurant has its own terrace with unbeatable views of Tower Bridge to the west and Canary Wharf to the east.
Pear Tree Café – for a lakeside brunch
This café run by Annabel Partridge and Will Burrett (previously of Petersham Nurseries) boasts picturesque views of Battersea Park boating lake.
Open every day from dawn to dusk, there’s an extensive brunch menu ranging from buttermilk pancakes to soft scrambled eggs on sourdough with maple and paprika bacon.
Come lunchtime, there are loaded burgers with chipotle jam, Lincolnshire Poacher cheese and roasted garlic aioli, washed down with mango lassis.
Tavolino – for river views
Tavolino is a relaxed, modern Italian with a killer riverside view and a crowd-pleasing menu. The buzzy outdoor terrace is often 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.
Garden Museum Café – for museum garden views
Filled with artwork, tools and artefacts, this south London museum is one for keen gardeners and foodies. After exploring the collections, head to the café (the best seats in the house go to the ones that look out through the bi-folding glass doors onto the tranquil paved garden).
A daily-changing menu highlights seasonal produce, so expect poached brill with asparagus and bottarga butter, porchetta, bean and celery salad and courgettes, borlotti beams, rainbow chard and basil followed by apricot and almond tart or a plate of Saint Nectar (semi-soft cow’s cheese).
Hutong – for city views
For some of the best Chinese food and striking skyline views, head to level 33 of The Shard and enjoy a feast of peking duck and shrimp dumplings at Hutong. Go in the evening to make the most of it as the city lights shine bright through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Best restaurants with a view in North London
Plaza Pastor – for views over Coal Drops Yard
Coal Drops Yard – the latest King’s Cross development – has a striking design, with shops, restaurants and bars tucked away in Victorian brick viaducts. Plaza Pastor, an alfresco Mexican restaurant, serves smoky rotisserie chicken and mezcal negronis on the paved terrace.
Coming covered and heated, the terrace is perfect for hunkering down on in winter and digging into meaty mushroom tacos, while in the summer months, sip on a negroni rosita while Latin beats play on in the background.
Towpath Café – for canal views
Tucked away south of De Beauvoir on the Regent’s Canal is Towpath Café, a restaurant that literally celebrates the seasons (it’s open spring and summer only). Grab one of the colourful metal chairs scattered on the path and spend your day sipping coffee while cyclists and runners whizz on beside you.
A succinct menu scribbled on a blackboard lists classics such as grilled cheese sarnies and runny fried eggs on toast, or sharing plates of mozzarella with pickled radicchio and hummus with crispy lamb.
Words by Ellie Edwards and Mark Taylor