Al fresco dining in London: the best outdoor spaces

Where to eat when the sun’s out

Updated on 17 July 2019 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

Al fresco dining in London: the best outdoor spaces

In London, if we are #blessed with a dose of gorgeous weather in the summer, it’s a cause for celebration. One obvious way to make the most of the sunshine is to enjoy a meal outside at one of London’s tastiest restaurants with outdoor seating.

There are plenty of al fresco spots to choose from, so to help you make your decision, we’ve whittled it down to a handful of our favourites. Put on your sunglasses, lather on some sun lotion and get booking a table.

Jurema Terrace at The Mandrake

What: When sitting out on this serene, partially covered terrace, it’s easy to forget that you are mere moments away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. Boasting walls covered in foliage and a relaxed vibe, Jurema Terrace is a great spot for post-work drinks, serving up herbaceous cocktails and a concise menu of tacos and nibbles, followed by refreshing sorbet for dessert.
Where:
20-21 Newman Street, W1T 1PG

Bar Boulud

What: The garden terrace at Bar Boulud is separate from the main restaurant, but it's more than worth the extra minute's walk. A truly serene outdoor space, the terrace benefits from lush greenery, while ice baths filled with Champagne and charming furniture remind you that you're in of the most renowned restaurants in Knightsbridge. From the three-course set menu, delight in the summery likes of a brioche lobster roll bursting with freshness, before finishing up with a seasonal fruit tart for dessert.   
Where: Mandarin Oriental Hyde ParkSW1X 7LA

Boisdale of Canary Wharf

Boisdale Canary Wharf outdoor spaceWhat: At this branch of Boisdale, you’ll find a Jamaican-inspired terrace to take you to the beach without leaving the capital. On the terrace menu, you'll find tempting barbecue food, including the likes of smoked pork sausages, skewered tiger prawns and jerk chicken. There's ocassional live entertainment too, taking the form of live reggae tunes.
Where: Cabot Place West, E14 4QT

Chokhi Dhani

Chokhi Dhani al frescoWhat: Opulent Chokhi Dhani has launched a riverside shisha terrace just in time for summer. Here, you can enjoy cocktails and tapas-style plates, alongside an extensive selection of shisha (ask the dedicated shisha sommelier if you’re struggling to make a decision). Flavours range from strawberry and apple, to red gummy bears and pistachio breeze.
Where: Unit E2, 2 Riverlight Quay, Nine Elms Lane, SW11 8AW

 

Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea

Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea terraceWhat: Part of the regenerated Battersea Power Station development, Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea is home to a riverside al fresco dining space, where guests can relax under the sun and take in the views of the Thames. Top shouts from the menu include king prawns in Bengali turmeric curry, and chargrilled achari cauliflower served with a hot garlic chutney.
Where: Arch 758, Railway Arches, Battersea Power Station, SW8 5BN

 

The Ivy Chelsea Garden

Bellanger terraceWhat: This branch of The Ivy collection comes complete with a stunning garden which is replete with greenery and flowers. Sit outside in the sunshine to enjoy the please-all international menu, which features everything from a crispy duck salad with watermelon, to traditional fish & chips served with mushy peas and tartare sauce.
Where: 197 King’s Road, SW3 5ED

Northbank

Northbank exterior spaceWhat: The sun-trap terrace at Northbank boasts 180-degree views of the South Bank and serves up lunch to walk-ins, including dishes such as pan-fried turbot with charred cucumber, yellow courgette and feta. Dinner isn’t served on the terrace, but guests can enjoy some pre-prandial drinks, ideally while watching the sun set over the capital.
Where: 1 Paul’s Walk, EC4V 3QH

Rotunda

What: Long before Coal Drops Yard, Rotunda was flying the flag for King’s Cross’ cool factor. The expansive venue benefits from a charming terrace which overlooks the canal and has a buzzy atmosphere. Rotunda’s shtick is its impressive commitment to butchering all its meat on site, resulting in some of the best burgers and steaks that you’ll find in the capital.
Where: Kings Place, 90 York Way, N1 9AG

The River Café

What: The long-standing River Café is legendary among London circles, known for its high-quality food and equally as high prices. The real jewel of the venue though is the expansive riverside terrace, which is filled with lush greenery and overlooks the Thames. Serving up rustic Italian dishes, some of our favourite orders include the ravioli with zucchini, buffalo ricotta and mint, and the oh-so-indulgent ‘chocolate nemesis’ for dessert.
Where: Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA

Chiltern Firehouse

What: Chiltern Firehouse might not have the same buzz around it as it once did, but you’ll still find this place packed most nights. The venue’s outdoor terrace is truly dreamy, decked out with a monochrome colour scheme, marble-topped tables and festooned with twinkling lights come sundown. On the weekends, you can enjoy brunch outside, with dishes on offer that include Chiltern’s signature fluffy pancake stacks.
Where:
1 Chiltern St, Marylebone, W1U 7PA

Cinnamon Kitchen City

What: Another gem in chef Vivek Singh's ever-expanding portfolio, the City branch of his Cinnamon Kitchen brand is blessed with outdoor decking. Weather-proof, thanks to its covered courtyard, the space is ideal for lunch or dinner in the sun. Tuck into a menu of tempting Indian dishes, including the likes of tandoori chicken breast with fennel and coriander, or perhaps a mutton curry served with pilau rice. Kulfi with a honeycomb crumble or the sorbet of the day are a dreamy end to a sun-soaked meal. 
Where: 9 Devonshire Square,EC2M 4YL

Angler

What: Seven floors high at South Place Hotel, Michelin-starred Angler sits in the middle of the City’s skyscrapers, rather than floating above them. It’s a romantic spot and you can eat your meal out here, but we’ve always found it’s a great spot for pre- or post-dinner drinks – a great excuse to explore Angler’s impressive collection of wines, spirits and cocktails.   
Where:
South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, EC2M 2AF

Hicce 

What: Found at hip King's Cross development Coal Drops Yard, the terrace at Hicce joins several other restaurants in the Yard with outdoor space, so on a sunny day you really feel part of the buzz here. While watching the crowds go by, you can tuck into a menu of wood-fired cooking curated by chef Pip Lacey (a finalist in 2017's Great British Menu) – we're fans of the intensely meaty lamb shoulder burger, topped with slithers of courgette, while fun cocktails are made with a base of Ketel One vodka.   
Where: Unit 102, Stable Street, N1C 4DQ

Mews of Mayfair

What: Multi-faceted Mews of Mayfair spreads itself across four floors of an 18th century townhouse, and has a little something for everyone. The charming courtyard is open for drinks, dinner and weekend brunch, and for the first time ever tables out here can be booked in advance. Reserve a spot now to try the likes of a truffle burger or a steak sandwich.  
Where:
10 Lancashire Court, New Bond Street, W1S 1EY

Dalloway Terrace

What: One of the most Instagrammable spots in London, in-demand Dalloway Terrace is a truly gorgeous space, decked out with vibrant florals for the summer season. While sitting among the lush greenery, you can enjoy a spot of afternoon tea or cocktails, as well as the usual à la carte offering – think beer-battered fish & chips or pork belly with an apple jus.  
Where:
The Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN

Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill

What: One of the buzziest outdoor dining spaces in the capital, the terrace at Richard Corrigan’s Bentley’s is a top choice for discerning Londoners looking to enjoy the summer sun. The restaurant’s full menu is available outdoors, meaning you can stay cool with the sea-faring likes of lobster spaghetti or Dover sole (with an additional side of skinny chips!).
Where:
11-15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG

Bluebird Chelsea

What: Known for its plum King’s Road location, Bluebird’s outdoor terrace is a great spot for people-watching, attracting the well-heeled local clientele. The menu majors in crowd-pleasers – stop by in the week to enjoy buttermilk fried chicken and barbequed prawns, or visit at the weekend for brunch dishes including eggs any style and avocado on toast.  
Where:
350 King's Road, SW3 5UU

Le Pont de la Tour

What: If you’re looking for an al fresco restaurant with wow-factor, Le Pont de la Tour is a worthy contender. Boasting riverside views and in a handy location, Le Pont de la Tour has legions of fans, and it’s not hard to see why. Tuck into a menu of French-leaning dishes while drinking in those hard-to-beat views of Tower Bridge.
Where:
Butlers Wharf, 36d Shad Thames, SE1 2YE

Dishoom Shoreditch

What: Ok, so this one isn’t technically outside, but dining on Dishoom’s veranda (no ‘terrace’ talk here, dahhling) feels like you are outdoors, and the retractable roof opens up on sunnier days. Decorated with quirky trinkets and works of art that have all been sourced in India, this is the perfect spot to enjoy signature Dishoom dishes, including its now legendary bacon naan.  
Where:
7 Boundary Street, E2 7JE

Frederick’s

What: Frederick’s is a true London classic, benefiting from a charming garden at the back of the restaurant and the kind of jovial service that is typical of family-run joints. While dining here, you can enjoy the likes of pan-fried duck breast with an orange and cherry jus, and a white chocolate crème brûlée with strawberry sorbet. Don’t forget to explore the 200-bin wine list.  
Where:
106 Islington High Street, Camden Passage, N1 8EG

The Lighterman

What: Found on bustling Granary Square, The Lighterman’s outdoor terrace is often packed to the rafters during the summer, so make sure to get there early. As well as the enviable outdoor space, crowds are drawn in by the seasonal cocktails and impressive wines. On the food front, expect flatbreads, sharing boards and mains from a wood-fired grill.
Where:
3 Granary Square, N1C 4BH

Villa di Geggiano

What: Villa di Geggiano is a Chiswick hidden gem which serves up a Tuscan menu, and the gorgeous terrace might lead you to believe you’ve actually escaped the capital. The kitchen here really shows its Italian prowess when it comes to the pasta. Options to try include potato gnocchi, wild boar pappardelle and lobster spaghetti.  
Where:
66-68 Chiswick High Road, W4 1SY

All that eating in the sunshine will make you thirsty, so you might as well take a trip to London’s coolest rooftop bars (well, someone’s got to do it).