The Best London Restaurants With Secret Gardens & Hidden Patios
photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
London doesn’t have many secret, hidden, hush-hush, wink wink, outdoor eating and drinking spaces. There are, after all, nine million people here. You think there’s going to be a patio that only you and your mates know about? One that serves Aperol on tap with a complimentary bucket of Calippos as well? That, my friend, is just your front garden with private catering.
Instead, what we have is a lot of little spaces that not absolutely everybody knows about. Which is about as good as you can ask for in this city. These are the best secret outside spaces in London. No password or membership required. Just make sure you don’t tell anyone else about them.
Rita's is a taste of Americana in the heart of Soho where cocktails and chilli water-laden jalapeño gildas are served all summer long. Inside, it’s all candlelight and an excellent playlist, but it can get pretty crowded. Which is where the backyard garden comes in. It’s simple—essentially still very much a brick courtyard with little bits of graffiti on the whitewashed walls—but that’s all part of the charm.
There are three things you should know about Maria G’s. Firstly, it’s got some dangerously good focaccia. Secondly, it’s the kind of out-of-the-way, relaxing place you’ll want to take your time in. And thirdly, it’s got an outdoor terrace by the river that feels a lot more like a private garden. A changing menu of Italian-inspired dishes means one day you’ll enjoy borlotti bean stew, and other days you’ll focus on the mackerel bolognese. FYI there's an even more secluded table for groups within this Fulham spot’s hidden garden. Perfect for a low-key, private dinner situation.
Goldfinch is quite the secretive little jewel of a neighbourhood cocktail bar. The Tooting favourite also has a small, fairy light-strewn, covered, and heated garden area that you can access via a side entrance and a wink and a nod.
From the outside, Snackbar is a low-key looking, trendy little Dalston cafe. And on the inside you’ll find a sleek space that serves everything from mortadella focaccia to tahini banana bread to kimchi croque madames. But it’s only once you mooch around that you’ll find a brilliant suntrap of an outdoor patio waiting for you and your brunch-loving buddies.
You wouldn’t expect that the Victoria Park location of My Neighbours The Dumplings has an outside area and that’s because, well, sometimes it doesn’t. The interior patio of this buzzy dim sum spot has a roof in winter but in warmer months they whip it off. It makes for a lovely in between on sunny days. Not quite totally outside, nor totally inside either. Basically, it’s perfect for a British summer.
Does a fancy McMuffin-inspired breakfast sound like exactly the kind of brunch you want to get back in the groove with? It should do and our previous experience with it suggests that it will absolutely have you grooving towards a slice of pistachio cake with yuzu icing as well. Excellent brunch and ingeniously named ‘hungover sauce’ aside, this Tooting cafe has an excellent walk-in only outdoor terrace which is something not everyone knows about, but you should.
Lost Souls is a vampire-themed pizza joint and absinthe bar in Camden. OK, we hear you, anyone who’s seen Interview With The Vampire knows that sun rays and blood suckers do not mix. But bear with us because this place has a garden situation that is completely hidden from the street, has heaters, and is chilled enough to feel like you’re at your mate’s place. There’s probably one too many bloodsucker puns on the menu, but who cares when the pizza is great, there’s a banging playlist of ‘80s classics, and the cocktails are cheap.
If you’re looking for somewhere grown-up then look no further than Mazi. The upmarket Greek spot in Notting Hill has a lovely little white-walled patio space that screams a-bottle-too-many-but-who-cares. It’s got a Santorini feel (and Santorini prices) and, though it may not literally transport you there, their seafood manti does a pretty good job.
Newcomer Wines is a very low-key wine shop and bar in Dalston. We're likely to be spending lots more time here when the weather’s right because they have a suitably low-key patio out back. It’s perfect for two, or a few of you, and feels like your cool mate’s back garden. Plus glasses start at very reasonable prices.
Italian small plates, botanical cocktails, and fresh seasonal produce—that’s what La Goccia is all about. Even the interiors of this restaurant feel very garden of Eden and their large courtyard has several tables for twos and fours with plants, trees, and flowers all over the place. On a sunny day with a bowl of ricotta gnudi and some courgette fritti in front of you it’s very easy to forget you’re in the middle of Covent Garden.
As secluded terraces go, the one at Luca is pretty next-level. There’s well-worn exposed brick, there’s some very perfectly maintained foliage, and yes, you better believe it, there’s a working fireplace too. Basically, when celebrities get ‘secretly wed’ in their back gardens, this is what we picture. A meal at this Italian spot in Farringdon can be expensive but sharing the pork sausage ragu pasta, a portion of the parmesan fries, and a bottle of wine? You’re golden.
Authentique is a wine shop, bar, and restaurant in Tufnell Park, and it was already one of our favourite spots in north London for a casual glass of wine and some ham and cheese before we discovered they had a little patio at the back. They’re open all day Tuesday through Sunday, but if you want to use the patio you’ll have to do it before 8pm, because neighbours.
Unfortunately Theo’s is one of the best places for pizza in London. We say unfortunately because not only is there a risk of them running out of dough when you need your late-night munchies, but also because their perfect summer garden has become a busy Camberwell hot spot. The reason why? You can’t beat the combo of excellent pizza and beer in the sun. You just can’t.