Where To Go For A Summer Date
16 spots that are ideal for a summer date.
The winter is for hibernating with a pack of hobnobs and seeing how long you can use your ex’s Netflix password without them noticing. But the summer? Well, the summer is for romance. Or at the very least, seeing how many of London’s terraces you can tick off under the guise of Hinge dates. Here’s where to eat and drink on summer dates, where you can capitalise on the good weather, or, let’s face it, bond over the lack thereof.
When you want to see if you still fancy this person in the daylight, sober and pre-caffeine, bring them to Ottolenghi Chelsea. Natural light and their coffee order can be very eye-opening indeed. Pick a few cakes from the display—our favourites are the moist carrot cake covered in criminal amounts of tangy cream cheese icing, the blueberry cupcake that looks almost too perfect to bite into, and the mocha cheesecake tart that would even impress that friend who brags about not needing caffeine to function.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
As cute little neighbourhood spots go, Minnow is definitely up there. This all-day place overlooks Clapham Common and has a small patio out back, complete with fairy lights, fresh flowers, and the kind of pastel colour scheme that makes eating brunch here feel like you live in Edward Scissorhands’ neighbourhood. It’s also worth knowing there’s a cool, old-school bar downstairs, so your date, and your affair with the courgette gnocchi, doesn’t have to be cut short if the rain starts.
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photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
Goldfinch is one of those bars that makes everyone look really, really great. You know what we mean, right? Maybe it’s the light, maybe it’s the 10/10 negronis, or maybe it’s the ever-forgiving moody lighting, but everyone here always looks like they’re living in a filter called something like xxx_BrooklynSexy_xxx. Which makes it the perfect place to bring a date. They’ll fancy you, you’ll fancy a vermouth frosé, and if you get a table in the garden, neither one of you will want the date to end.
photo credit: Forza Wine Serving Us Glorious Sunset Realness
A rooftop earns you instant points on an early-in-the-game date. Especially if that rooftop has cauliflower fritti with aioli, a cheesestring-like fontina toastie with hot sauce, and as the name suggests, a solid and natural-filled wine list. Even the inside seats feel kind of outside here and it’s one of London’s most glorious summertime eating and drinking locations, so come for some nibbles and drinks, and let golden hour be your wingman.
photo credit: Rob Greig
Love is in the air. Actually, it might just be pollen. Either way, upmarket Italian spot Luca is a great place for a date when you’re looking for something on the less casual side of romantic. This place isn’t cheap but the marble bar, parmesan fries, and secluded outdoor terrace, make it worth the big price tag. Come here for a full-blown night of low light and handmade pasta, or just for a couple of homemade limoncello highballs and parmesan fries.
photo credit: Rob Greig
Going on those early-in-the-game dates is all about getting to know someone. And what do you need when you’re meeting up with someone you don’t really know yet? Options. And Mercato Metropolitano near Elephant and Castle has plenty. This open-air spot has everything from booze, to hot dogs, to pizza, to a cheesemonger. Basically, there’s something for everyone as well as live music, and indoor and outdoor seating.
Sure, going on an outdoor summer date sounds romantic. That is, if you want to attempt making small talk while using the Evening Standard as an umbrella and fending off hailstones from your date’s unsuspecting face. No, British weather cannot be trusted. But, Aqua Shard’s bar is on the 31st floor of The Shard so if the weather’s good you can enjoy a view of London looking her absolute best. If the weather’s bad, well, you’re inside and armed with a cocktail list. Be warned, this place is very expensive so it’s better suited for dates where you definitely, probably, already like them.
Morito in Exmouth Market doesn’t have any outdoor seating, or a roof garden, or even a skylight. So if you’re looking for summer date spots where you’ll potentially find love and a vitamin D boost, then move along. But we think this place is still one of your best options for summer dating. Everything from the seasonal tapas dishes to the happy, energetic feel of the place make it perfect for creating that holiday romance feeling, where you both look fit because of your sun tans and the waiter who keeps free-pouring the vermouth. This place is a small corridor of a restaurant and is generally pretty busy, so it’s best to book ahead.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
The Anchor & Hope
On balance, surviving the Central Line when it’s roughly as hot as the surface of the sun is completely worth it if you can utilise a summer sunset from Waterloo Bridge on dates. The Anchor & Hope in Southwark is one of London’s best gastropubs, but it’s also a decent spot to hit for a couple of pints before heading for a stroll along the South Bank. Or stick around and share some Mediterranean dishes—the excellent pasta is just as likely to win them over as that sunset.
Frank's Café & Campari Bar
You know how the saying goes: there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, as romantic as a car park. OK, maybe people don’t say that, but you shouldn’t hold the fact that Frank’s is at the top of a multi-storey car park against this place’s date spot potential. ThE rooftop bar in Peckham serves cheap and cheerful cocktails and has one of the best views in the whole city. At peak times there can be a queue but just think of it as time for getting all of that “So, you think dogs are pretty great too, huh?” baseline chat out of the way.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Sager + Wilde
Sager + Wilde is the kind of summertime date spot that will work whether it’s the first time or thousandth time you’re meeting this person. This relaxed restaurant and wine bar is housed in an old railway arch in Bethnal Green and you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time, whether it’s a sixth date spent slurping up the crab and chilli pasta, or a low-key anniversary sat outside on the terrace by candlelight. And if the weather turns, don’t worry, there’s an equally excellent mezzanine upstairs.
The Pineapple is one of those old-school backstreet drinking dens that is equal parts classy and casual. Just like you, right? This Kentish Town local also happens to have a big conservatory and garden out back that’s peak ‘first date in the sunshine’ material. You’re mostly here for a couple pints that might turn into cocktails, but there’s some decent Thai food on offer if all that wooing makes you peckish.
Pergola Paddington Central
If you’ve lived in London for a few years and been on a date between the months of May and September, chances are that you’ve already been on a date at Pergola. But there’s a reason for that. This open-air food court has lots of foliage, easy-drinking cocktails, and a relaxed, could-be-at-the-beach-if-I-sprinkled-some-sand-in-my-shoes feel. This place is also massive which helps to keep things feeling casual and avoids the issue of having 10 people listen in on that endearing anecdote about how you thought you could speak cat until you were 14. Actually, maybe just stick to sipping their frozen palomas and leave that story for a later date.
photo credit: Jack Pasco
Go for a picnic, they said. It’ll be really romantic, they said. Flash forward to asking your date whereabouts in Somerset they’re from while internally panicking that you have, in fact, sat on an ant’s nest. No, what you want is The Prince. This pub, outdoor drinking hall, and food market has lots of nature. It’s like an English garden designed by Pinterest and Thumbelina. It also has casual benches and that low-key boozy picnic feel, without the risk of too much nature. This place works just as well for a getting-to-know-you date over botanical cocktails, as for a night out with your partner, a bottle of wine, and some pizza.
Let’s be honest, if Pride And Prejudice was set now, good old Lizzy would have been a graphic designer who swiped right on Darcy_28, and they would have met on a roof garden. And that roof garden would probably be the very charming roof garden at The Culpeper in Spitalfields. This place is perfect for a one-two punch date, or for an early-in-the-game rooftop view and accidental beer fest.
Sure, some people might think the secret to a successful first date is laughter, openness, and honesty. But more likely, the secret is easy access to strong booze if required. NT’s is an open-plan warehouse style bar in London Fields with a heated rooftop terrace, views across east London, and plenty of that strong booze we were talking about. This place gets busy and loud come the weekend, but it’s a great spot for a weeknight date where a little dutch courage won’t hurt.