LDNGuide

The Best London Restaurants With Secret Gardens & Hidden Patios

14 hush-hush outdoor areas hidden from the street.
The Best London Restaurants With Secret Gardens & Hidden Patios image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

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. 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.

If you want to squeeze every last drop out of the good weather, we’ve got outdoor restaurants and rooftop guides too. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Toklas

Mediterranean

Strand

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDate NightDinner with the ParentsPre-Theatre Eats
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It turns out that multi-coloured rattan can give you the kind of profound reaction usually reserved for newborns. We discovered this epiphany at Toklas, a Mediterranean restaurant near the Strand that’s so artfully cool-meets-chic, it feels like a subscription to MUBI should arrive with the kumquat martini. While the dining room feels like you’ve wandered into the latest Oliver Peoples campaign, the outdoor terrace is more Bloom & Wild vision board. It’s just the place to try their seasonal small plates with summer sidekicks like ricotta salata, lemon wedges, and generous drizzles of olive oil. 

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The Garden Museum Cafe is best described as a much-needed exhale. Light floods into the paired-back room from its leafy green courtyard and the vibe is like The Secret Garden meets MasterChef. During the summer, tables and chairs are brought outside to the leafy, idyllic surroundings. Friends, academics, and thinkers of every generation clink glasses at this Lambeth spot and fork at tasty modern British dishes like umami-rich venison mince and wild garlic fritti with tarragon mayonnaise. 

Plastic foliage, twinkling fairy lights, and the aroma of chargrilled meats—Tsiakkos & Charcoal is a Greek taverna with one of Notting Hill’s most hangover-inducing atmospheres. The covered courtyard has an anarchic buzz that feeds off friends and families living in the present. Tomorrow is, well, tomorrow’s problem and nothing is safe from cheers-ing here. When it comes to the food, you should only land on one thing: the House Specialty Meze. This is code for The Lot—and as far as feasts go, this is one of the best-value in London.

The walls of this Latin American bar and restaurant are covered with knickknacks, the staff emit a happy glow that you’ll want to absorb via osmosis, and the drinks flow inside the restaurant and their hush-hush courtyard. The menu at this Elephant and Castle spot spans dinky jackfruit empanadas with a smoky serrano chilli sauce, to ceviche and tostadas, to purple corn churros. Don’t miss the cochinita pibil: four gloriously tender pulled pork tacos that you won't want to share.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

British summertime is when Rochelle Canteen, a modern British restaurant in an old Shoreditch schoolyard, is in its element. There are a handful of tables in the four walls of the shed, but most of the seating is in the connected giant greenhouse. When the sun is shining and a plate of neon radishes with cod’s roe is in front of you, this restaurant feels like a hazy daydream.

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 a brick courtyard with whitewashed walls—but that’s all part of the charm.

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.

Snackbar—a bright Dalston cafe with creative, brunchy dishes—feels like sunshine even on a rainy day. But it really comes into its own during summer, when the hidden garden, with green and white fringed parasols that are very Cote d'Azur by way of east London, opens. Order the caesar salad with a jammy egg and savour a lunch break in the peaceful garden.  

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.

Juliet’s is the kind of exceptional brunch spot that makes us desperate for a condiment WikiLeaks just so we can find out exactly what’s in their 10/10 hangover sauce. It’s on a busy stretch in Tooting, and you can expect big, balanced flavours, top-quality produce, and a sensational pork patty bun that is basically the breakfast butty in its ultimate form. The space is casual and bright, and there’s an excellent, walk-in only outdoor terrace which is perfect for soothing a biblical hangover in.

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.

As secluded terraces go, the one at Luca is pretty next-level. There’s exposed brick, some very perfectly maintained foliage, and a working fireplace. 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.

Theo’s is a restaurant that fuels jealousy before sating it. Walk past this Camberwell pizzeria at lunchtime and you’ll see a white, bright, and marble-tabled room with a smattering of serene-looking diners. Out back, things get even better, with a tucked-away garden that has big parasols and big spritz-in-the-sun potential. Order one of the Neapolitan pizzas dripping in chilli oil, follow with an ice cream panuozzo, and if the sun is shining, a rosé for the road just makes sense. 

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