London’s Best Restaurants For Outdoor Dining guide image


London’s Best Restaurants For Outdoor Dining

Oysters on the terrace, gardens with pizza, jerk chicken on a patio—here's where to dine alfresco.

For a majority of the year Londoners take shelter at home or in pubs, taking off layers, putting layers back on, before taking them off again. Our climate makes for an extremely indecisive strip tease. But, in the brief moments it’s hot and glorious outside, you need to be ready to take advantage. Which is where we can help. This is our guide to London’s best restaurants with outside seating.


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Outdoor Situation: Front Patio

When the sun’s out, Bright is one of our favourite places to be. This London Fields wine bar and small plates spot has large sharing tables out front and it’s an extremely easy place to while away several hours. Sit down, ask the excellent staff what they recommend to drink, and get yourself comfortable.

Outdoor Situation: Pavement Seating

Campania probably has the most romantic outside seating in London. It’s a handful of tables on a cobbled street, candlelit, and (preferably) piled with risotto and pappardelle. The setup is perfect. And your organisation or luck will have to be the same. Menu-wise, just make sure you ask them to send gnudi.

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Outdoor Situation: Greenhouses

Terrace. Negroni. Octopus. Za’atar. Sorbet. These are all words that make that little vitamin D deprived sunshine gremlin in our heads very happy. You’ll find all of the above in Chameleon's ‘God’s Garden’ where the greenhouses are less Alan Titchmarsh, more finally I am living the life Samantha Jones always wanted for me. Fabulous and, importantly, the bread slaps.

Outdoor Situation: Covered Pavement Terrace

A meal outside at Ciao Bella is one of London’s great pleasures, mainly because you kind of don’t feel like you’re in London. The outside terrace is best suited to early evening meals with a bottle of wine, nicotine, and even more wine. It’s a rare restaurant that’s bang in the middle of London, and just the right balance between comfortable and crowded. Plus, when do you ever not want a good plate of pasta?

Outdoor Situation: Back Garden

The Sicily on steroids Italian trattoria has a cute (and of course, very curated) little back garden-cum-patio. Sure, a lot of the food won’t necessarily blow you away, but the evening-only Gran Carbonara is an entirely loveable cheese-fest, and is - crucially - served out of a giant wheel of pecorino.

Outdoor Situation: Covered Market Seating

Outside, but also protected under the sometimes leaky arches of Borough Market, is Elliot’s. Everything from their sourdough pizzas to their mussels to their biodynamic wines is done nicely and deliciously, and they’re a reliable choice for picky and passionate diners alike.

Outdoor Situation: Roof Terrace

Forza Wine is way up high on Rye Lane, and it leans more restaurant than bar. Once you see a couple happily sharing an oil-drenched panzanella on a roof in the sun, you’ll understand why. Even the inside seats feel kind of outside here and it’s one of London’s most glorious summertime eating and drinking locations.

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Fish, Wings & Tings

Outdoor Situation: Front Patio

The much-loved Caribbean spot in Brixton is a dreamy setting for a summer’s day. There’s plenty of seating, rum and Ting on the menu, and perfect summer nibbles like codfish fritters or pepper prawns. If you’re in a group, share the lot alongside some roti and jerk chicken as well.

Outdoor Situation: Covered Terrace

J Sheekey’s street-side patio, is, even though you’re in a touristy part of London, relatively sheltered from the crowds. If you’re going to splurge on a fancy seafood tower, it should be here. But even if you’re not looking to flash the cash, it’s great for a few oysters and a glass of champagne before heading elsewhere.

Outdoor Situation: Garden Seating

Kudu’s little oasis out back was very much previously the bin-and-cheeky-cigarette area. Now, the South African-inspired spot in Peckham has transformed the space into a colourful, covered, and altogether idyllic looking garden. You can book too, so prepare to settle in and break some of that lardon butter bread with friends.

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La Goccia



open table

Outdoor Situation: Patio Seating

We once described La Goccia at Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden as ‘the beautiful lovechild of a spa and a florist’. With tables set up outside on Floral Court, it makes for a serene spot to enjoy a few Italian small plates and a bottle of wine.

Outdoor Situation: Pavement Seating

Oh Llewelyn’s. Lovely, lovely Llewelyn’s. This Herne Hill restaurant is the kind of place you expect to see in a Richard Curtis film. It’s popular, so it’s worth booking ahead for the chance to eat some delicious food, sit in the shade of the square’s tree, and get in some top people watching.

Outdoor Situation: Pavement Seating

Morito remains one of the most reliably delicious places to eat on pretty much any occasion. The menu changes, but it’s hard to go wrong. Roast quail, seafood rice, any croquette, and cheese fritters are favourites. Oh, and roast cauliflower salad. You’ll more than likely be perfectly happy with everything. The Exmouth Market spot is still the best, with tables out on one of London’s nicest pedestrianised roads.

Outdoor Situation: Garden Seating

If seafood manti and crispy calamari in a secret and Santorini-feeling patio (with Santorini prices) sounds like just the ticket, then Mazi’s your place. The upmarket Greek spot in Notting Hill has a lovely white-walled back garden that’s made for couples and groups looking to be transported.

Outdoor Situation: Front Patio

Sunsets and siu mai dumplings: a match made in heaven. The people who run My Neighbours The Dumplings clearly thought similarly, as the front terrace of their Clapton location is made for this combo, and the veranda in their Victoria Park branch is similarly lovely on a summer’s day. Their chocolate spring rolls with ice cream and a glass of ice cold sake aren’t too shabby either.

photo credit: Jamie Lau

Petersham Nurseries Café review image

Petersham Nurseries

Outdoor Situation: Covered Glasshouse

Petersham is arguably the most charming restaurant in all of London. Set inside a giant greenhouse in Richmond, it feels a million miles away from the city and all the noise and discarded hot wings that come with it. Yes, the seasonal Italian food here is expensive, but it’s also fantastic and worth splashing out on for a special occasion.

Outdoor Situation: Covered Terrace & Pavement Seating

It doesn’t get more Soho classic than Quo Vadis. A few glasses of wine, their smoked eel sandwich, a little eavesdropping. Sign us up any day, any week, and any lifetime. Plus their outside seating, a mixture of attached boothy type things and straight tables on Dean Street, is great.

Outdoor Situation: Riverside Garden

If there’s a big occasion coming up for you, then suggesting The River Cafe would be a very good idea. Even if you’re a devout atheist, nabbing one of the garden tables and praying for the sun to shine feels like the way to go. Sure, you’ll need to book way ahead. And it’ll be very pricey. But eating some of London’s best Italian food in an idyllic space that looks over the Thames is, almost, priceless.

Outdoor Situation: Covered Garden Seating

Rochelle Canteen is, without doubt, one of the top restaurants in London for eating in the great outdoors. Buzz yourself into the old Shoreditch schoolyard and enjoy a long lunch or a relaxed supper filled with cod’s roe, chatter, and a glass of something bubbly. We like to think of it as London’s little Garden of Eden.

Outdoor Situation: Covered Terrace

Sager & Wilde’s outpost on Paradise Row ticks all the boxes you’d expect of an east London restaurant. It’s housed in an old railway arch, with scuffed furniture, small plates of French and Italian-leaning food, and a nice list of wines by the bottle or glass. Come summer, the spacious terrace is excellent to lounge around on with a group of mates.

Outdoor Situation: Rooftop

If you like your oysters with a side of ‘check out that view’, then you’re going to be really into Seabird. This isn’t another rooftop cocktail bar masquerading as an overpriced restaurant. No, it’s actually home to some of London’s best oysters and with their roof terrace it’s a special combination.

Outdoor Situation: Fully Covered Terrace

If you’re looking for some high quality sushi, you should head to Sumi. The second restaurant by chef Endo, this Westbourne Grove spot is more down-to-earth than his eighth-floor omakase counter in White City, with a calming interior and a covered front terrace offering a mix of big sharing tables and tables of two. Despite being a lot more lowkey, the sushi is still the same sky-high standard, and with a small-ish à la carte menu of main dishes like mushroom gohan, and a sushi menu of nigiri, sashimi, and hand rolls, you can’t really go wrong. The nigiri is exceptional, and if you’re not in the mood to spend £100+ on lunch, then stick to the raw fish and steer clear of the ‘main’ section. The sushi is more than enough to leave you feeling satisfied anyway.

Outdoor Situation: Pavement Seating

Towpath Café is so summery that it’s, quite literally, only open when the season is right. The Hackney canal-side spot is always rammo when the sun is shining, and that’s not just because it’s a lovely place to be. The sandwiches and salads and things on toast - from confit garlic and goat’s curd, to enormous Bull’s hearts tomatoes - are all simple and delicious.

Outdoor Situation: Pavement & Garden Seating

Restaurant gardens - especially leafy ones - are fairly special spots in London. So combine a Camberwell green space with a saucy Neapolitan pizza, a pot of some of the finest homemade chilli sauce around, and a strong drink and you’re onto a foolproof winner in the shape of Theo’s.

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Suggested Reading

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