Yes, it’s hot.
Yes, we’ve probably just jinxed it.
And yes, we’ve refreshed our list of the very best alfresco restaurants in London featuring leafy, canalside terraces, secluded rooftop gardens, and lush hidden courtyards…
Main image: Seabird
JUMP TO: EAST LONDON | WEST LONDON | NORTH LONDON | SOUTH LONDON
Circolo Popolare | Fitzrovia
Circolo Popolare comes to us from the people behind Gloria, and she mimics her big sister where it counts, bringing a maximalist, overstated, lavishly fun vibe to everything she does. And that includes her terrace, which seats a mere 60ish people. No big deal.
Details: Open daily for lunch & dinner, plus weekend brunch | 40 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1HX | Book a table
Barrafina Drury Lane | Covent Garden
Set on the edge of Covent Garden, Barrafina’s only venue with bookable outdoor seating might just make it the best of the bunch (try Barrafina King’s Cross or Barrafina Soho for walk-ins). You’ll find all their delicious, Michelin-Star winning tapas, plus sunshine.
Details: Open from May | 43 Drury Lane, WC2B 5AJ | Book a table
Petersham Nurseries | Covent Garden
Given that this venue actually houses two restaurants, plus a bar, deli, florists, shop and wine cellar… it’s no surprise that they also found room for a huge, secluded outdoor area, hidden just off Floral Street…
Details: Open Weds-Sat 11.30am-10pm, Sun 11.30am-6pm | Petersham Nurseries, Floral Court, WC2E 8JD | Book a table
Clipstone | Fitzrovia
Despite being placed on, and indeed named after one of the nicer and quieter streets in Fitzrovia, Clipstone’s best view is probably on the plates: duck ravioli, yellow beetroot carpaccio, beef shin croquettes with truffle mayonnaise, and the like. But eating it outside makes it taste even better. Promise.
Details: Open Tues-Sat, 9am-late | 5 Clipstone Street, W1W 6BB | Book a table
Dalloway Terrace | Fitzrovia
Probably the prettiest al fresco spot in central London, the Dalloway Terrace restaurant accessorises its classic brasserie fare with a regularly changing cascade of flowers along its back wall.
Details: Open daily 12-9pm | 16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN | Book a table
temper | Covent Garden
From BBQ legend Neil Rankin, temper’s Covent Garden operation is a huge setup, with everything geared towards tacos, steaks, and BBQ’d meat butchered in-house. And fittingly for a BBQ spot, they happen to have included some lovely outdoor seating, too.
Details: Open M-W 5-9pm, Th-Sa 12-11pm, Sun 12-6pm | 5 Mercer Walk, Mercers Yard, WC2H 9FA | Book a table
Chameleon | Marylebone
Look up “beautiful al fresco dining” in the dictionary, and you’ll see this place. A recent opening, it’s a sprawling terrace wrapped around a historic church, with little dining greenhouses should the weather decide to be British.
Details: Open for dinner Wed-Sat, plus weekend brunch | 1 Marylebone Road, NW1 4AQ | Book a table
Ham Yard Hotel | Soho
The Ham Yard Hotel is designed to a tee, with sumptuous furnishings, vibrantly papered walls and its own 1950s bowling alley… So it’s quite something that the best parts are actually their outdoor terrace and the bohemian rooftop space.
Details: Open daily 7am-11.30pm (10.30pm Sundays) | Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, W1D 7DT | Book a table
Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill | Mayfair
Bentley’s is one of London’s very best seafood spots. And hell, even if you don’t like shellfish, it’s worth going and ordering the steak just so you can live it up on their covered terrace.
Details: Open daily, 12pm-late | 11-15 Swallow Street, London W1B 4DG | Book a table
Hush Mayfair | Mayfair
The clue’s in the name here. Once you’ve discovered this secluded little courtyard slap-bang in the middle of London, you won’t want to tell anyone about it either.
Details: Open daily | No.8 Lancashire Court, Brook Street, London W1S 1EY | Book a table
Bleeding Heart Bistro | Farringdon
Once the scene of an infamous 17th century murder, Bleeding Heart Bistro’s al fresco courtyard is now the picture of Provençal French serenity. Time has improved things, just like their selection of aged cheeses.
Details: Open daily 12-10pm | Bleeding Heart Yard, EC1N 8SJ | Book a table
Smokestak takes its BBQ seriously. In fact, the rusted, industrially hard-edged restaurant itself seems to resemble the inside of a BBQ oven, even extending to the rolling shutter that leads to the terrace outside. And it’s that terrace that we’re concerned with today. It’s pretty sizeable, well-heated, adequately spaced, and you can enjoy the likes of a USDA brisket bun with pickled red chilli, thick-cut pork ribs with pickled cucumber, and crispy ox cheek with anchovy mayo. Plus cocktails.
Details: Open M-F 12pm-3pm & 5pm-11pm; Sat 12pm-11pm; Sun 12pm-10pm | 35 Sclater St, E1 6LB | Book a table
Towpath Café | Haggerston
Towpath is almost exclusively outside, so an al fresco table is pretty much guaranteed. That’s if you can get one, of course. Open only for the warmer months, this cult café draws the crowds like nobody’s business, so if you want mouthwatering brunch dishes or Modern British small plates by the canal, better sharpen those elbows…
Details: 42 De Beauvoir Crescent, London N1 5SB | No bookings
Barge East | Hackney Wick
The restaurant aboard this 114-year old Dutch cargo barge has proved so popular that they’ve had to spill out onto the banks they’re moored on. And what started out as a casual picnic spot has since become a fully fledged operation, with shaded tables and chairs for groups, miniature plant beds growing ingredients for the kitchen, and even a vintage airstream caravan serving a street food menu.
Details: Open for drinks and street food daily, restaurant open Thurs-Sun | River Lee, Sweetwater Mooring, White Post Lane, London, E9 5EN | Book a table
Coppa Club | Tower Bridge
Coppa Club were already pretty enviable for their riverside terrace overlooking London’s most iconic bridge. But just to make doubly sure, they’ve made it even bigger for this summer (and yes, they still have those igloos)…
Details: Open weekdays from 11.30am-10pm, Sat 10.30am-10pm, Sun 10.30am-8pm | 3 Three Quays Walk,
Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6AH | Book a table
Boundary | Shoreditch
Shoreditch has seen it all: nuns, factory owners, criminals, and prostitutes. Now it boasts a roof terrace with 360-degree views across the chimneys of the East End. And hipsters.
Details: Mon-Thurs 4-11pm, Fri-Sun 12-11pm | 2-4 Boundary Street, E2 7DD | Walk-in only
Bravas Tapas | St. Katherine Docks
London’s own miniature riviera, perched in the shadow of Tower Bridge is exceedingly underrated. Which means you might just have a chance of scoring one of the outdoor tables at top-shelf tapas spot, Bravas Tapas…
Details: Open daily noon-10.30pm (10pm Sundays) | St. Katherine Docks, E1W 1AT | Book a table
Sager + Wilde Paradise Row | Bethnal Green
Flowing seamlessly into the main area of the restaurant, the al fresco courtyard at Paradise Row is both a dining area for S+W’s glorious Italian dishes, and a bar which serves an ever-changing cocktail menu centred around different spirits.
Details: Open Mon-Fri 5-10.30pm, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-10pm | Arch 250 Paradise Row, E2 9LE | Book a table
Eataly | Liverpool Street
Eataly has a LOT going on. But aside from the various restaurants, bars, cookery schools, coffee shops, markets, delis, and off licences that it folds into the main building, there’s also a rather nice little terrace outside with its own miniature silver Airstream trailer serving Aperol Sprizes, to go with your food.
Details: Open daily for breakfast, lunch & dinner | 135 Bishopsgate, EC2M 3YD
Trattoria Brutto | Clerkenwell
Sometime in 2021, legendary restaurateur Norman Russell decided he wanted to open an old fashioned Italian trattoria in Clerkenwell. So he did. And as with most old fashioned Italian trattorias, it’s got delicious food, reasonable prices, and a little terrace outside…
Details: Open Tues-Sat for lunch & dinner | 36-37 Greenhill Rents, Cowcross St, EC1M 6BN | Book a table
Rochelle Canteen | Shoreditch
A real secret garden, Rochelle Canteen can be found behind a brick wall facing the Arnold Circus garden with its Victorian bandstand. Ring a buzzer, and you’ll be welcomed into a hidden, terrace-toting restaurant serving gorgeous seasonal grub…
Details: Open daily for lunch, with dinner Thurs-Sat | Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, E2 7ES | Book a table
Dishoom | Shoreditch
Dishoom’s eclectic verandah is home to a jumble of vintage furniture, salvaged architecture and familiar-feeling bric-a-brac – as well as, crucially, a retractable roof.
Details: Open Mon-Wed 8am-11pm, Thurs-Fri 8am-midnight, Sat 9am-midnight, Sun 9am-11pm | 7 Boundary Street, E2 7JE | Book a table (terrace walk-in only)
The Culpeper | Spitalfields
Some of the finest al fresco seating London can offer, The Culpeper’s roof spot has its own bar serving signature cocktails, a garden supplying herbal tinctures for said cocktails, a bespoke grill from the London Log Company, a view of the City’s towering skyline, AND, an intimate, 12 – 14 seater glass Greenhouse. Just in case.
Details: Open Weds-Fri 4-10pm, Sat 12-10pm, Sun 12-7pm | 40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP | Book a table
The Prince | West Brompton
The front of The Prince comprises a pub and three restaurants housing a rotating series of street food vendors. The back, however, hides this beautiful sunken garden, topped by a pergola festooned with tumbling garlands of flowers and a retractable roof. And yes, since you ask, they are doing 2-4-1 drinks on weekdays.
Details: Open M-T 12-10.30pm, W-Sa 12-11pm, Sun 12-10pm | 14 Lillie Road, SW6 1TT | Book a table
The River Cafe | Hammersmith
It’s called The River Cafe because it’s next to the river. And if you open a restaurant next to the river and don’t provide a little outdoor seating for people then, quite frankly, you’re not going to be open for three decades. Which the River Cafe has been.
Details: Open daily 12.30-5pm, Mon-Sat 7-11pm | Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA | Book a table
Ivy Chelsea Garden | Chelsea
Technically speaking, The Ivy Chelsea Garden doesn’t have an al fresco area. It IS an al fresco area, with an indoor bit attached. Because they have a 3,500 square foot outdoor terrace and paved garden, filled with stone-clad water fountains; sandstone firepits; marble tables; mosaic chairs; and balustrade pergolas covered in creeping wisteria and red rose vine.
Details: Open M-F 11.30am-12.30am, Sat 8am-12.30am, Sun 9am-12.30am | 195 -197 King’s Road, SW3 5EQ | Book a table (inside/outside allocated on arrival)
Pantechnicon | Belgravia
Sat on the top floor of the massive tribute to Japanese & Nordic culture that is The Pantechnicon, Eldr has the look of a glamorous greenhouse with a gorgeous terrace outside. The Nordic-style food is excellent, and they do a fantastic brunch.
Details: Open daily for breakfast, lunch & dinner, plus weekend brunch | 19 Motcomb Street, London, SW1X 8LB | Book a table
Kricket | White City
Overlooking the newly redeveloped BBC Television Centre, Kricket White City’s sprawling al fresco terrace is a delightfully peaceful spot to overdo it on Chaitinis and gorge on every one of their Anglo-Indian small plates.
Details: Open Tues-Thurs 5-10.30pm, Fri & Sat 12-10.30pm | 2 Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, W12 7FR | Book a table
Chicama | Chelsea
Chicama is named after a Peruvian coastal town… something that doesn’t seem too distant if you can score a table under their awning on a sunny day, as you tuck into ceviche, popped corn monkfish cheeks, and pisco cocktails.
Details: Open daily from noon (11am Saturday) – 11pm | 383 King’s Road, SW10 0LP | Book a table
Pergola Paddington | Paddington
A bit of a street food & cocktail oasis plumped amongst the offices and busy transport hullabaloo of Paddington, Pergola combines a rooftop terrace filled with, downstairs, the pergola itself – filled with fairy lights, flowers & foliage.
Details: Open Mon-Tue 4-11pm, Wed-Sun 12-11pm | 5 Kingdom Street, Paddington Central, W2 6PY | Book a table
No 197 Chiswick Fire Station | Chiswick
Chiswick Fire Station’s jaw-droppingly suave interiors (pink velvet loveseats, beautiful artwork and cacti of an Arizonan scale) are matched only by the breezy courtyard, with its vine-entwined pergola and brilliant white furnishings.
Details: Open Mon-Wed 9am-9pm, Thurs-Fri 9am-10pm, Sat 10am-11pm, Sun 10am-7pm | 197-199 Chiswick High Road, W4 2DR | Book a table
Cha Cha | Notting Hill
A lovely sunlit nook under the shade of the Brutalist Trellick tower, where you can feast on dishes prepped by a former Zuma chef and sip cocktails in a hidden carousel lounge.
Details: Open Sun-Tue 10am-6pm, Wed-Sat 10am-10pm | 36 Golborne Road, London W10 5PR | Book a table
Casa Cruz | Notting Hill
Photographer: Anton Rodriguez
Notting Hill’s Argentinian-inspired Casa Cruz boasts an intimate balcony filled with bright, emerald green seating and white marble tables dressed with fresh flowers. Perfect for a drink or two, or a crispy jamón & lentil salad.
Details: Open Tues-Thurs 6pm-1am, Fri-Sun 12pm-1am | 123a Clarendon Rd, London W11 4JG | Book a table
Villa Mama’s | Chelsea
They don’t come much cuter than Villa Mama’s sprightly al fresco terrace, on which you can sample botanic-infused cocktails and light Bahraini fare…
Details: Open daily 12-10pm (9pm Sun) | 25-27 Elystan Street, SW3 3NT | Book a table
Bluebird Chelsea | Chelsea
An impressive old Grade II listed, Art Deco garage in the heart of Made In Chelsea country, this is a solid option for all of those times that you fancy heading down the King’s Road with Ollie, Binky & Spencer (they’re still in it, right?) for a glass of bubbles and a spot of alfresco dining in the sun.
Details: Open for breakfast, lunch & dinner daily (restaurant for lunch & dinner only; café for breakfast too) | 350 King’s Road, London SW3 5UU | Book a table
Parrillan | King’s Cross
Run by the team behind Barrafina, Parrillan doesn’t just boast a sprawling, heated, covered terrace. It also has a chef who knows exactly how you like your food – namely, you. Because you’ll be tossing their impeccably sourced Spanish ingredients onto your own tabletop grill…
Details: Open Tues-Wed 5-11pm; Thurs-Sat 12-2.30pm & 5-11pm; Sun 12-5pm | Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, N1C 4AB | Book a table
Plaza Pastor | King’s Cross
That rambunctious covered terrace you just passed on the way up to Parrillan? That’s Plaza Pastor, the colourful, tequila-soaked annexe to Casa Pastor, here for all your all-weather outdoor taco needs. Set underneath an archway, it’s always shaded, providing a little respite from the searing British weather – plus, there’s DJs Thurs-Sat.
Details: Open Tues-Thurs 5-11pm; Fri-Sat 12-11pm; Sun 12-8pm | Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DQ | Book a table for up to 14 here
The Drop | King’s Cross
A cosy, shaded, elegant yet unpretentious wine bar wedged into a brick-lined archway in Coal Drops Yard. The wine list is just long enough to make it hard to choose, and there’s an oyster cart to accompany the ‘broadly British’ small plates on offer, too.
Details: Open Tues-Sun | 2 Bagley Walk, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DH | Book a table
Granary Square Brasserie | King’s Cross
Granary Square Brasserie boasts not only the largest dining terrace in North London, but also one of the most delicious. Part of The Ivy family, it’s home to all-day modern European dining and sparkling cocktails.
Details: Open weekdays from 11.30, weekends from 11am | 1 Granary Square, N1C 4AB | Book a table
German Gymnasium | King’s Cross
Set in a vast, gorgeous, warehouse-like building next to King’s Cross (with 57ft high ceilings), the German Gymnasium is the oldest gymnasium in the country. It hosted all the indoor events at the 1866 Olympics. And now it’s about to host a lot of outdoor ones, too.
Details: Open daily from 10am | King’s Boulevard, N1C 4BU | Book a table
Lina Stores King’s Cross | King’s Cross
Fresh crab linguine. Pear bellinis. More gelato than you can shake a cannoli at. The second restaurant from the iconic 75 year-old Soho deli has all the charms of the first – plus an enormous terrace that you can actually book.
Details: Open daily 12pm – 10pm | 20 Stable Street, King’s Cross, London N1C 4DR | Book a table
Caravan King’s Cross | King’s Cross
Set in the industrially grand Granary Square, Caravan not only has a huge outdoor seating area, but stellar coffee ground in-house; a cornucopia of dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and cocktails. For breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Details: Open daily 9am-9pm | 1 Granary Square, N1C 4AA | Book a table
Coal Office | King’s Cross
100 years ago, the people inside these buildings were in charge of managing the flow of coal and fish deliveries into London. Now, they’re in charge of combining coal and fish (and meat, and veg) and delivering it straight to your table. And happily, you won’t have to wait long to taste Assaf Granit’s lauded Middle Eastern cooking, because they’ve got a raft of tables on their outdoor terrace and rooftop space.
Details: Open M-F 5.30-11pm, Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-10.30pm | 2 Bagley Walk, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4PQ | Book by emailing email@example.com
The Lighterman | King’s Cross
One-upping all the other King’s Cross spots on this list, The Lighterman’s outdoor terraces directly overlook the canals – so you can enjoy drinks, brunch or a Sunday roast while people barge past (in a good way).
Details: Open daily | 3 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4BH | Book a table
Camino King’s Cross | King’s Cross
Perched incongruously on Pentonville Road is this idyllic hidden courtyard, serving Spanish tapas (Ibérico ham, Basque-style baked crab, grilled octopus), Spanish drinks (brandy, sherry, and condensed milk espressos) and Spanish weather (not guaranteed).
Details: Open for lunch and dinner daily | 3 Varnishers Yard, The Regent Quarter, N1 9FD | Book a table
Yard Sale Pizza | Walthamstow
In spite of their name, Yard Sale Pizza’s third branch is actually the first to offer back yard dining since their pop up days, with a terrace adjoining the intimate restaurant housed in a former stained glass workshop.
Details: Open Mon-Thurs 4-10pm, Fri-Sat 12-10.30pm, Sun 12-10pm | 15 Hoe Street, E17 4SD | Walk-ins only
Smokehouse | Islington
Islington’s critically acclaimed gastropub dedicated to smoking, grilling & roasting takes up a kind of awkward stretch of land at the tip of a triangle. So they’ve done what any right-minded eatery would do, and turned it into a hedge-lined, chiminera-smoking, utterly glorious pocket of outdoor drinking & dining.
Details: Open Mon-Thurs 4.30-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 12-10.30pm, Sun 12-10pm | 63–69 Canonbury Rd, London, N1 2DG | Book here
Bourne and Hollingsworth | Clerkenwell
B&H Buildings don’t technically have an outdoor dining space. But this abundantly leafy greenhouse filled with cane garden furniture, hanging baskets, fully grown trees and trailing creepers all means that when you go inside, you’ll feel like you’re still outside.
Details: Open for dinner Wed-Sat, plus weekend brunch (10am-4pm) | 42 Northampton Road, EC1R 0HU | Book a table
Wright Brothers | Battersea
Battersea – it’s pretty much the perfect place for a seafood spot; especially when it’s the third in a family of well-established eateries, and comes with its own festoon-lit verandah overlooking the river…
Details: Open Tues-Sat 12-5pm, Sun 12-7pm | 26 Circus West Village, Battersea Power Station, SW8 4NN | Book a table
Vinegar Yard | London Bridge
Taking over a formerly disused patch of land, Vinegar Yard is now a very used piece of land, full to the brim with street food traders, outdoor bars and picnic tables.
Details: Open Wed 5-10pm, Thurs 5-11pm, Fri 4pm-12am, Sat 11am-12am, Sun 11am-8pm | 72-82 St Thomas St, London SE1 3QU | Book entry
Le Pont De La Tour | Shad Thames / Tower Bridge
Literally only just realised that le Pont De La Tour is French for “Tower Bridge”.
Eeeessentially this is a pretty old school French restaurant by D&D that’s been around forever featuring white table cloths, a pricey menu (asparagus for starters with a main course of a side of french beans will set you back £19), but also – crucially, given that we’re here to talk about alfresco dining – a lovely terrace on the river, with live jazz on Thursday evenings and a Grade A view of Le Pont De La Tour.
Details: Open daily from noon | 36D Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE | Book a table
Limin’ Beach Club | Southbank
The guys behind Limin’ Beach Club have somehow managed to recreate a small corner of their native Trinidad & Tobago right here in the capital. It’s really rather remarkable. You’ll find it at Gabriel’s Wharf, where it allllmost overlooks the Thames (you’ll have to walk literally only a few yards to see it), and consists of a large white & blue Caribbean beach hut surrounded by several tonnes of genuine sand…
Details: Open daily for lunch & dinner | Gabriel’s Wharf, 56 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PP | Book a table
Seabird | Southwark
Seabird has a wonderful sense of occasion right from the outset; to find it, you’ll head to the lobby of the mid-century chic Hoxton Hotel, and find a large gold plaque with a single button marked ‘Seabird’. This summons an elevator that’ll whisk you up to the 14th floor. And there, you’ll find a gorgeous, seafood-filled terrace looking out over South London…
Details: Open daily for lunch & dinner | 40 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8PB | Book a table
The Exhibit | Balham
Billing itself as a ‘youth club for adults’, The Exhibit is all things to all diners: part restaurant, part bar, part cinema, part studio space, part gallery, and part perfect al fresco space.
Details: Open Wed-Thur 4.30-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-1am, Sun 12-11pm | 12 Balham Station Road, SW12 9SG | Book a table
The Crown & Greyhound | Dulwich Village
Always nice to recommend a lovely local pub, particularly when it’s located in the sort of London neighbourhood that you may (particularly in summer months) wish to spend some time pootling around one lazy Sunday afternoon. Dulwich, which combines a quaint village and beautiful park (boating lake, check) with the shops and restaurants of Lordship Lane in East Dulwich, just a short walk away, is one of those places.. and the Crown & Greyhound, located in the heart of the village itself, is a nice place to go for lunch or dinner.
And most importantly – for this article, at least – it has a large outdoor courtyard complete with a retractable roof & plentiful heaters (as and when required) plus, beyond that, a large paved garden with lots of additional space for alfresco dining.
Details: Open daily for lunch & dinner | 73 Dulwich Village, Dulwich SE21 7BJ | Book a table
Little Brother Marcus | Balham
With a retracting glass front and hidden courtyard out the back, this restaurant/café is perfect for al fresco dining – and it has an excellent brunch offering to boot.
Details: Open daily for breakfast & lunch, plus dinner Wed-Sat | 9 Chestnut Grove, SW12 8JA | Book a table (weekends walk-in only)
Forza Wine | Peckham
From the team behind lots of pop ups, The Culpeper pub, a rambunctious pizza, past & cocktail joint inside an old Peckham cash & carry, and a bunch of other things we can’t remember is this little gem of a rooftop bar & snack house perfect for anyone who’s keen to enjoy some very light Italian dishes as an accompaniment to their main course of booze. Right next to Peckham Rye station, by the way.
Details: Open for lunch, dinner and drinks daily | 5th Floor, The Market, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST | Book a table
Sea Containers | Southbank
Housed in the eponymous Southbank building, SC is an American-British restaurant drawing inspiration from the “Golden Age of transatlantic travel”. And speaking of travel, there’s a river right outside too, which you can enjoy from the floor-length windows or al fresco on the riverside terrace.
Details: Open from 1st August for lunch & dinner Wed-Sat, and Sunday lunch | 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD | Book a table
Looking for outdoor activities? May we direct you to Adventure Cinema?