Al Fresco Dining London | Your Ultimate Guide To London's Best Al Fresco Eateries
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The Ultimate London Al Fresco Dining Guide

The Ultimate London Al Fresco Dining Guide

Al Fresco Dining London | Terraces, Courtyards & More

Umbrellas.

They always seemed a little shady.

But they really come into their own when you’re dining al fresco in London, where even in the warmest months rain is never truly a stranger to our skies, and where – just occasionally – it’s actually scorchingly hot. And given that we’re currently living through one of those occasions (and have no idea how long it will last) we thought we’d let you know where the best places to eat outside were…

Last updated: 6th August 2018


JUMP TO: EAST LONDON | WEST LONDON | NORTH LONDON | SOUTH LONDON


CENTRAL LONDON

Petersham Nurseries | Covent Garden 

Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden - al fresco dining London

Credit: Paul Craig

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, appropriately on Floral Court. READ MORE

Details: Open daily noon-midnight Petersham Nurseries, Floral Court, WC2E 8JD

temper | Covent Garden 

No, that lower case ‘t’ wasn’t a typo. It’s just their branding. From BBQ legend Neil Rankin, temper’s Covent Garden operation is a huge setup, with everything geared towards pizza & vermouth. And they happen to have included some lovely outdoor seating, too. READ MORE

Details: Open daily, noon-late 5 Mercer Walk, Mercers Yard, WC2H 9FA

Lina Stores | Soho

Lina Stores - al fresco dining London

Ok, so you’d have to be exceptionally lucky to score this date-worthy fold-down table à deux. But if you do, it has to be one of the loveliest spots in Soho to sip aperitivi and munch on hand-made pasta from one of the area’s longest-standing emporia… READ MORE

Details: Open 12-2.30pm and 5-11pm Mon- Sat51 Greek Street, W1D 4EH

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: the food comes courtesy of meteorically rising kitchen star Eddie Pellicano. But eating it outside makes it taste even better. Promise. READ MORE

Details: Open 12-2.30 and 5.30-10pm Mon-Sat | 5 Clipstone Street, W1W 6BB

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… VIEW DETAILS

Details: Open daily 8am-10.30pm16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN

Bleeding Heart Bistro | Farringdon

Effortlessly romantic, and as ‘off the beaten track as they come’, BHB’s courtyard has come a long way since Lady Hatton was found murdered there 400 years ago. Now, it’s home to a secluded, 60-seater terrace built for long, rosé-fuelled lunches… READ MORE

Details: Open weekdays 12-2pm and 5.30-10.30pm, Sat 5-10.30pm | Bleeding Heart Yard, EC1N 8SJ

Yamabahçe | Marylebone

Yamabahce al fresco dining guide

Representing Alan Yau’s (Hakkasan, Busaba) second failure to retire from the restaurant business, Yamabahçe serves up Turkish pide (a kind of sizzling, boat-shaped pizza). It’s small but cosy, and in the warmer weather, the entire restaurant seems to spill out onto the street… READ MORE 

Details: Open weekdays 11am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-10pm 26 James Street, St. Christopher’s Place, W1U 1EN

Ham Yard Hotel | Soho

The Ham Yard Hotel is designed to a tee, with sumptuous furnishings, vibrantly coated 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. VIEW DETAILS

Details: Open daily 7am-11.30pm (10.30pm Sundays) Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, W1D 7DT

Boulestin | St. James’s

Boulestin al fresco dining guide

Even without mentioning its outdoor dining, Boulestin is an excellent place to grab a bite of classic French food. But they also have an enchanting-as-hell hidden courtyard (which happens to be the site of the last duel fought in England), lit by original Victorian gas lamps. It’s almost showing off. VIEW DETAILS

Details: Reservations available Mon-Fri 7am-12pm and 2.30-6pm, walk-ins possible at weekends and lunch/dinner 5 St James’s Street, SW1A 1EF

Barrafina Drury Lane | Covent Garden

Set on the edge of Covent Garden, Barrafina’s only venue with some outdoor seating might just make it the best of the bunch. You’ll find all their delicious, Michelin-Star winning tapas, plus sunshine. READ MORE

Details: Open Mon-Sat 12-3pm and 5-11pm, Sun 1-3.30pm and 5.30-10pm43 Drury Lane, WC2B 5AJ

 

EAST LONDON

Coppa Club | Tower Bridge

Coppa Club - al fresco dining guide

Coppa Club were already pretty enviable for their riverside terrace overlooking London’s most iconic bridge. But just to make doubly sure, they’ve now dotted the space with private dining igloos that change theme with the seasons… VIEW DETAILS

Details: Open weekdays from 7.30am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-10pm 3 Three Quays Walk,
Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6AH

Tapas Brindisa Shoreditch | Shoreditch

After a huge refurb, Tapas Brindisa’s eastern flagship now has its own courtyard, just to make things truly Spanish. And it’s heated. Just to make things truly British, too. READ MORE

Details: Open daily noon-12.30am (11pm Sun) 152 Curtain Road, EC2A 3AT

Boundary | Shoreditch

Boundary Shoreditch - al fresco dining guide

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. READ MORE

Details: Open daily 11.30am-11pm 2-4 Boundary Street, E2 7DD

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… READ MORE

Details: Open daily noon-10.30pm (10pm Sundays) | St. Katherine Docks, E1W 1AT

Sager + Wilde Paradise Row | Bethnal Green

Sager + Wilde - romantic restaurants in London

Flowing seamlessly into the main area of the restaurant, the al fresco courtyard at Paradise Row is both a formal dining area for S+W’s tasting menus, and a slightly less formal bar which serves an ever-changing cocktail menu centred around different spirits… READ MORE

Details: Open Mon 5pm-12am; Tues-Fri 12-3pm, 5pm-12am; Sat 11am-12am, Sun 11am-11pmArch 250 Paradise Row, E2 9LE

South Place | Moorgate

Sitting on top of The South Place Hotel is Angler, which has one of the sleeker rooftop terraces in the city. The fact that the restaurant it’s attached to has a Michelin star is just window dressing, really. READ MORE

Details: Open for lunch weekdays 12-2.30pm and dinner Mon-Sat, 6-9.30pm South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, EC2M 2AF

Dishoom | Shoreditch

Dishoom Shoreditch - al fresco dining London

Dishoom’s eclectic verandah is home to a jumble of vintage furniture, salvaged architecture and familiar-feeling bric-a-brac – as well as, most importantly, a retractable roof. READ MORE

Details: Open Mon-Wed 8am-11pm, Thurs-Fri 8am-midnight, Sat 9am-midnight, Sun 9am-11pm 7 Boundary Street, E2 7JE

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… READ MORE

Details: Open daily for breakfast 9-11am and lunch 12-3pm, plus dinner Thurs-Sat 6-9pm Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, E2 7ES

Bird of Smithfield | Smithfield

Bird of Smithfield - rooftop bars in London

The elegant Bird of Smithfield is set over four floors of Georgian townhouse; the best part of which is, naturally, the very top – where you can tuck into market-fresh food before heading down to The Birdcage below for a dance. READ MORE

Details: Open 8am-12am weekdays, 5-10pm Sat 26 Smithfield Street, EC1A 9LB

Les Nénettes | Clapton

Achingly chic monochromatic spot Les Nénettes has – like all good French bistrots – an enviable terrace out the front, where a sprawling cluster of café tables provide the perfect place for brunch, lunch and dinner. VIEW DETAILS

Details: Open Mon-Tues 10am-4pm, Wed-Sat 10am-10.30pm, Sun 10am-10pm 19 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NS

Untitled | Dalston

Untitled - al fresco dining guide

Credit: Andy Stagg

Untitled’s aluminium-plastered walls make it a pretty bright spot whatever the time of day – but if you’re after some natural light, take a pew in their intimate, Japanese-inspired back garden, with sleekly curving banquettes, a bar serving Tony Conigliaro concoctions, and a Japanese small plates menu from Rob Roy Cameron. READ MORE

Details: Open Tues-Sun from 6pm 538 Kingsland Road, E8 4AH

Casita Andina | Soho

Casita Andina’s turquoise-walled terrace has but three tiny tables. But that makes it all the more perfect a hideaway for an evening spent talking over Martin Morales’ brightly coloured, Peruvian-inspired small plates… READ MORE

Details: Open Mon-Thur 11am-11pm, Fri 11am-11.30pm, Sat 10am-11.30pm, Sun 10am-10pm 31 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7LP

The Culpeper | Spitalfields

Piculpeper - rooftop bars in London

Credit: Veerle Evens

Some of the finest al fresco dining 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, an 8ft (relatively miniature) gherkin, a view of the City’s towering skyline, AND, an intimate, 12 – 14 seater glass Greenhouse. Just in case. READ MORE

Details: Rooftop open Tues-Sun 11am-10.30pm (10pm Sun) 40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP

The Modern Pantry | Clerkenwell

Housed in an imposing brick building, the oh-so-white freshness and simplicity of the interior is put in the shade by the shaded, alfresco courtyard space. And the food is pretty spectacular, too. READ MORE

Details: Open daily | 47-48 St John’s Square, EC1V 4JJ

Bourne and Hollingsworth | Clerkenwell

B&H Buildings - al fresco dining

Okay so, bear with us here. B&H Buildings doesn’t technically have any outdoor seating. But what they DO have is a greenhouse filled with cane garden furniture, hanging baskets, fully grown trees and trailing creepers. All of which means and when you go inside, you’ll feel like you’re still outside. READ MORE

Details: Open Mon-Thur 11am-12pm, Fri 11am-1am, Sat 10am-1am, Sun 10am-6pm | 42 Northampton Road, EC1R 0HU

 

WEST LONDON

The Prince | West Brompton

The Prince - al fresco dining London

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, crucially, a retractable roof… READ MORE

Details: Open Sun/Mon 12-10pm, Tues-Thurs 12-11pm, Fri/Sat 12-11.30pm 14 Lillie Road, SW6 1TT

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. READ MORE

Details: Open daily 12.30-5pm, Mon-Sat 7-11pm Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA

Ivy Chelsea Garden | Chelsea

Ivy Chelsea Garden - al fresco dining London

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. READ MORE

Details: Open daily 12-10pm 195 -197 King’s Road, SW3 5EQ

Pomona’s | Notting Hill

Pomonas al fresco dining terrace

This Californian-inspired eatery has brought Notting Hill a little slice of LA – assuming that LA is filled with wisteria-laden pergolas, festoon lighting, leafy palms, and a dedicated gin and oyster bar. READ MORE

Details: Open daily from 9am | 47 Hereford Road, W2 5AH

Chicama | Chelsea

Chicama - al fresco dining guide

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. READ MORE

Details: Open daily from noon 383 King’s Road, SW10 0LP

No 197 Chiswick Fire Station | Chiswick

Chiswick Fire Station - al fresco dining London

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 wisteria-entwined pergola and brilliant white furnishings. VIEW DETAILS

Details: Open Mon-Thurs 9am-midnight, Fri-Sat 9am-1am, Sun 9am-11pm 197-199 Chiswick High Road, W4 2DR

Casa Cruz | Notting Hill


Photographer: Anton Rodriguez

Notting Hill’s Argentinian-inspired Casa Cruz has revamped it’s terrace for summer. Which means, after a stroll down Portobello Road or in leafy Holland Park, you can escape there – to it’s bright, emerald green seating and white marble tables dressed with fresh flowers – for a drink or two, or to try something from their new summer menu like their artichoke, avocado, rocket and grapefruit salad or chilled pea soup. READ MORE.

Details: Open Mon-Fri 6pm-12am, Sat 12pm – 12am, Sun 12pm-11pm | 123A Clarendon Rd, London W11 4JG

Feast Bar & Kitchen | White City

Arguably the best way to enjoy the former BBC Television Centre’s new look is from the outside – preferably while tucking into some of London’s best street food and summery spritzes under strings of fairy lights. READ MORE

Details: Open Mon-Tues 12-9pm, Wed-Thur 12-10pm, Fri 12-11pm 201 Wood Lane, W12 7TP

Villa Mama’s | Chelsea

Villa Mama's - al fresco dining London

They don’t come much cuter than Villa Mama’s sprightly al fresco terrace, on which you can sip botanic-infused cocktails and light Bahraini fare… READ MORE

Details: Open daily 12-10pm25-27 Elystan Street, SW3 3NT

NORTH LONDON

Oldroyd | Islington

Oldroyd - al fresco dining London

Oldroyd is a very small restaurant. And it has a very small al fresco dining space: just two tables. But that means that, conceivably, you and a couple of friends can occupy the entire thing, and be the only ones enjoying Tom Oldroyd’s magnificent modern British cooking outside. READ MORE

Details: Open Mon-Thurs 12-11pm, Fri/Sat 12-11.30pm, Sun 11am-1opm 344 Upper Street, N1 0PD

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. READ MORE

Details: Open Mon 5-10pm, Tues-Thurs 5-11pm, Fri-Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-10pm 105 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NP

Granary Square Brasserie | King’s Cross

Granary Square Brasserie - al fresco dining London

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, a killer brunch and – for this summer – a special ‘Physic Garden’ menu, which sees apothecary-inspired cocktails served up on the terrace. READ MORE

Details: Open Mon-Thurs 8-12.30am, Fri-Sat 8-1.30am, Sun 9am-11.30pm 1 Granary Square, N1C 4AB

Bon Vivant | Bloomsbury

This stylish corner bistrot serves classic French fare, alongside bottomless brunches and cocktails. All of which taste 90% better if consumed under their striped awnings. READ MORE

Details: Open Mon-Wed 11.30am-10pm, Thurs-Fri 11.30am-11pm, Sat 10.30am-11pm, Sun 10.30am-10pm 75-77 Marchmont Street WC1N 1AP

German Gymnasium | King’s Cross

German Gymnasium- al fresco dining London

Set in a vast, gorgeous, warehouse-like building next to King’s Cross (with 57ft high ceilings), the German Gymnasium is literally the oldest gymnasium in the country. It hosted all the indoor events at the 1866 Olympics. And it has two very nice, sizeable, and heated outdoor areas. READ MORE

Details: Open daily King’s Boulevard N1C 4BU

Caravan King’s Cross | King’s Cross

Set in the industrially grand Granary Square, Caravan not only has a huge outdoor seating area, but the warehouse-like space inside feels almost like you’re outdoors anyway. READ MORE

Details: Open weekdays 8am-10.30pm, Sat 10am-10.30pm, Sun 10am-4pm 1 Granary Square, N1C 4AA

 

SOUTH LONDON

Wright Brothers | Battersea

Wright Brothers Battersea - al fresco dining London

Battersea – it’s pretty much the perfect place for a seafood spot; especially when it’s the fifth in a family of well-established eateries, and comes with its own festoon-lit verandah overlooking the river… READ MORE

Details: Open daily from noon 26 Circus West Village, Battersea Power Station, SW8 4NN

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. READ MORE

Details: Open weekdays 7am-11pm, weekends 12-11pm | 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD

The OXO Tower | Southbank

Oxo Tower al fresco dining London

The Oxo Tower has been standing since the early 1900s. Apparently, people put a lot of stock in it. And that’s due in no small part to the views you can score from their lofty outdoor terrace, making it by default one of the best places in the area to grab a bite and/or a cocktail. READ MORE

Details: Open daily until late 8th floor, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, SE1 9PH

Casse-Croute | Bermondsey

Casse-Croute is probably London’s tiniest restaurant. Luckily, you can get a taste of their ultra-comforting French cuisine on London’s tiniest pavement, too… READ MORE

Details: Open Mon-Sat 12-10pm, Sun 12-4pm 109 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XB

The Exhibit | Balham

The Exhibit Balham - al fresco dining London

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. READ MORE

Details: Open Mon/Tues 3-11pm, Wed 3-12pm, Thur 3pm-1am, Fri 12pm-2am, Sat 11am-2pm, Sun 11am-10.30pm 12 Balham Station Road, SW12 9SG

Brother Marcus | Balham

With a retracting glass front and hidden courtyard out the back, this restaurant/café is almost entirely al fresco – and it has an excellent brunch offering to boot. READ MORE

Details: Open weekdays 8am-4.30pm, Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 9.30am-4pm 9 Chestnut Grove, SW12 8JA

Main image: Sager + Wilde Paradise Row/Addie Chinn


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