The Ultimate London Al Fresco Dining Guide
Features

21/09/20


The Ultimate London Al Fresco Dining Guide

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. So here are the best places to eat outside in London, with updated post-lockdown opening hours…

Main image: Sager + Wilde Paradise Row


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


CENTRAL LONDON

Circolo Popolare | Fitzrovia

Circolo Popolare eat outside

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. READ MORE

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 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: Still temporarily closed 43 Drury Lane, WC2B 5AJ

Petersham Nurseries | Covent Garden

Petersham Nurseries al fresco dining

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 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. READ MORE

Details: Open Tues-Sat, 9am-late | 5 Clipstone Street, W1W 6BB | Book a table

Dalloway Terrace | Fitzrovia

Dalloway terrace outside dining

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. READ MORE

Details: Open daily 12-9pm16-22 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. READ MORE

Details: Open M-W 5-9pm, Th-Sa 12-11pm, Sun 12-6pm 5 Mercer Walk, Mercers Yard, WC2H 9FA | Book a table

Ham Yard Hotel | Soho

Ham Yard Hotel al fresco restaurant

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. VIEW DETAILS

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

Details: Open daily 12-10pm | Bleeding Heart Yard, EC1N 8SJ | Book a table

The Garden at The Berkeley | Knightsbridge

Berkeley al fresco London

The Berkeley are known for their envelope-pushing rooftop pop ups, like their intimate outdoor cinema for six, or last summer’s Italian beach bar. But now they’re also about to make a name for themselves in al fresco dining, thanks to the candle-lit, olive tree-filled terrace they’ve just unveiled.

Details: Open weekdays 6-10pm, weekends 12-10pm The Berkeley, Wilton Place, London, SW1X 7RL Book a table

EAST LONDON

 

SMOKESTAK

Smokestak open again outdoor seating

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 at table

 

Barge East | Hackney Wick

Barge East alfresco

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. READ MORE

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 al fresco terrace

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)… READ MORE

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

Tapas Brindisa Shoreditch | Shoreditch

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: Not open again yet – watch this space 152 Curtain Road, EC2A 3AT

Boundary | Shoreditch

Boundary Shoreditch bar

 

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: 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… READ MORE

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

Sager + Wilde Paradise Row | Bethnal Green

Sager + Wilde al fresco

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. READ MORE

Details: Open Mon-Fri 5-10.30pm, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-10pmArch 250 Paradise Row, E2 9LE | Book a table

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: Still temporarily closed – watch this space South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, EC2M 2AF

Rochelle Canteen | Shoreditch

Rochelle Canteen eat outside London

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 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. READ MORE

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)

Untitled | Dalston

Untitled outside area

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 the intimate, Japanese-styled back garden, with its sleekly curving banquettes, Tony Conigliaro cocktails, and Korean snacks from Bombom. READ MORE

Details: Open Thurs-Sat from 6pm 538 Kingsland Road, E8 4AH | Book a table

The Culpeper | Spitalfields

Culpeper outdoor dining

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. READ MORE

Details: Open Weds-Fri 4-10pm, Sat 12-10pm, Sun 12-7pm 40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP | Book a table

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: Still temporarily closed – watch this space | 47-48 St John’s Square, EC1V 4JJ

Bourne and Hollingsworth | Clerkenwell

B&H Buildings outdoor dining

B&H Buildings have recently popped a couple of tables and chairs on the kerb outside, overlooking a leafy park. But if you can’t score yourself one of those, the alternative is this abundantly leafy 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 for Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch for now | 42 Northampton Road, EC1R 0HU | Book a table

 

WEST LONDON

The Prince | West Brompton

The Prince al fresco 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 a retractable roof. And yes, since you ask, they are doing 2-4-1 drinks on weekdays. READ MORE

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. READ MORE

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

Ivy Chelsea Garden | Chelsea

Ivy Chelsea Garden outdoor seating

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 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)

Kricket | White City

Kricket white city al fresco west London

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. READ MORE

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 al fresco London

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 (11am Saturday) – 11pm 383 King’s Road, SW10 0LP | Book a table

No 197 Chiswick Fire Station | Chiswick

Chiswick Fire Station outdoor dining

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. VIEW DETAILS

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

Casa Cruz | Notting Hill

Casa Cruz outdoor eating

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. VIEW DETAILS

Details: Open Tues-Thurs 6pm-1am, Fri-Sun 12pm-1am | 123a Clarendon Rd, London W11 4JG | Book a table

Villa Mama’s | Chelsea

Villa Mama outdoor seating

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… READ MORE

Details: Open daily 12-10pm (9pm Sun)25-27 Elystan Street, SW3 3NT | Book a table

NORTH LONDON

Parrillan | King’s Cross

Parrillan al fresco

Run by the team behind Barrafina, Parrillan doesn’t just boast a sprawling 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… READ MORE

Details: Open Tues 5-10pm, Wed-Sat 12-3pm & 5-10pm, Sun 12-8pm | Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, N1C 4AB | Book a table

Oldroyd | Islington

Oldroyd al fresco north 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: Not yet reopened 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-Thurs 4-10pm, Fri-Sat 12-10.30pm, Sun 12-10pm 105 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NP | Walk-ins only

Granary Square Brasserie | King’s Cross

Granary Square brasserie outside drinks

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. READ MORE

Details: Open weekdays from 11.30, weekends from 11am 1 Granary Square, N1C 4AB | Book a table

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 daily for lunch and dinner, plus weekend brunch 75-77 Marchmont Street WC1N 1AP | Book a table

Caravan King’s Cross | King’s Cross

Caravan al fresco north london

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 from 9am, weekends from 10am-late 1 Granary Square, N1C 4AA | 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 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 Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-9pm King’s Boulevard, N1C 4BU | Book a table (terrace tables allocated on first-come, first-served basis)

 

SOUTH LONDON

Wright Brothers | Battersea

Wright Brothers battersea riverside dining

Toby Keane

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 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. READ MORE

Details: Open Wed 5-10pm, Thurs 5-11pm, Fri 4pm-12am, Sat 11am-12am, Sun 11am-8pm 72-82 St Thomas St, London SE1 3QUBook entry

The OXO Tower | Southbank

Oxo tower terrace

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: Not yet reopened 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 12-11pm, Sun 12-5pm 109 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XB | Book on 0207 407 2140

The Exhibit | Balham

Exhibit Balham al fresco

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 Wed-Thur 4.30-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-1am, Sun 12-11pm 12 Balham Station Road, SW12 9SG | 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. READ MORE

Details: Open daily for breakfast & lunch, plus dinner Wed-Sat 9 Chestnut Grove, SW12 8JA | Book a table (weekends walk-in only)

Sea Containers | Southbank

Sea containers al fresco terrace

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 from 1st August for lunch & dinner Wed-Sat, and Sunday lunch | 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD | Book a table

 


Looking for more places to eat now? See the best London restaurants that have reopened post lockdown




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