34 of the best outside restaurants in London with terraces perfect for al fresco dining

It's not true what your mum said, sometimes it is what's on the outside that counts

Updated on 20 October 2020 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

34 of the best outside restaurants in London with terraces perfect for al fresco dining

We know there are many reasons you might fancy booking an outdoor restaurant in London. One obvious catalyst is that the sun is shining, because frankly we need to make the most of the good weather when it’s there, don’t we? But what about when winter rolls around (or actually any other time of year aside from August)? Although we aren’t blessed with the best weather in the world, for the majority of the calendar year London’s diners are a stoic lot and like nothing more than enjoying a meal outside, even during those ever-present cooler days. It’s here that the true merit of an outdoor restaurant in London is exposed. Are there heaters, blankets and rain covers on hand to make dining out in the depths of December feel more of treat than torture? Also, is the full menu available to diners, or is it a shortened offering? All very important questions we hope you’ll agree.

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And then – of course – there are the events of 2020. Since lockdown more and more people have been searching for the best outdoor restaurants in London as a safe haven in which to socialise with friends and family. In this vein many of our favourite al fresco restaurants have added measures in place to make sure guests are not only warm and comfortable, but also safe. Some of our top picks have widely spaced tables and strict diner limits in place, while others have had special screens installed to help guests feel relaxed when choosing to eat with them. Below you’ll find notes on all of the above, so you can easily make the best choice for you. We’ve also tried to include options for all kinds of occasions, from fine dining spots to the perfect place for small plates.

SKIP TO THE BEST SECTION FOR YOU

So, whether it’s in rain or shine, if you want something more appealing than a chair on the pavement, then our pick of the best alfresco restaurants has got you covered. From hidden courtyards to rooftop vistas, you’ll find a ton of great restaurants with outside spaces in London right here.

Best outdoor restaurants in central London

If you’re just visiting the capital, or meeting friends from all corners of the city, you might want to find a nice outdoor restaurant in central London. Luckily, the odds here are in your favour as we happen to think that across areas like Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair there are some of the top terrace spots to be found in the whole of London. Enjoy!

Fallow

What: Having trained under the legendary Heston Blumenthal, the owners of Fallow have that keen experimental edge which lends itself to their environmental ethos. The kitchen takes oft-overlooked ingredients like dairy beef and cod’s head and transforms them into something really special. With a covered and heated terrace just off Regent Street, and some of the friendliest staff we’ve come across recently, this is the perfect place to unwind after a long day pounding the pavements of central London.
Where: 10 Heddon Street, W1B 4BX

Folie

What: With quite a tight corner spot in Soho, you may not have expected Folie to have space for outdoor dining. However, proving where there’s a will there’s a way, this trendy eatery has carved out some outdoor dining of its very own, offering guests an al fresco bite to eat on its petite terrace. Meals have a Mediterranean lean, so expect dishes such as aubergine parmigiana and Côte de bœuf.
Where: 37 Golden Square, W1F 9LB

The Nest at Treehouse

What: If 360-degree views of the capital’s skyline aren’t enough to tempt you here, how about all-day dining that delivers some real crowd-pleasers to boot? Found at the top of the trendy Treehouse hotel, this spot will give you plenty of social media fodder and then some. Expect plush furnishings, serious amounts of foliage and sharing plates like meze platters or crispy squid with a jalapeno, coriander and avocado sauce.
Where: 14-15 Langham Place, W1B 2QS

Scott’s

What: Having positioned itself as one of London’s premiere dining destinations way back when, Scott’s has managed to stand the test of time by maintaining an old-school class which is hard to find elsewhere. Defying the laws of ages doesn’t however mean being uptight, and the restaurant’s terrace affords guests a breezier (both literally and metaphorically) experience than eating in the dining room. Take your seat at one of the crisply dressed tables under a warm heat lamp. Be warned though, with the good people of Mayfair to observe, conversation with companions can take a bit of a backseat.
Where: 20 Mount Street, W1K 2HE

Quo Vadis

What: Somewhat of an institution, Quo Vadis’ allure lies in its historically focused dishes and seamless service. Both the food and the service translate well to the outdoor dining offering which finds its home out front, on Soho’s Dean Street. If of an adventurous nature, stick with the perennially popular eel sandwich or for a safer bet choose something along the lines of the restaurant’s hake with lobster in a tomato and tarragon broth served with a punchy rouille.
Where: 26-29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL

Mo Diner

What: Momo’s little sibling, Mo Diner comes with a novel American diner twist (interiors are designed by the man responsible for Sketch’s infamous pink dining room). Here, however, we’re more concerned with that’s on the outside. Settle onto Mo Diner’s Soho terrace and pick from a Mediterranean menu with a distinct Middle Eastern edge. Mains include the likes of chicken giros, falafel or beef-filled brick pastries.
Where: 23 Heddon Street, W1B 4BH

YOPO 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, YOPO 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

Kolamba

What: A riot of colour, Kolamba’s menu offers up the tastes and textures of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine with a contemporary twist. Small plates are designed to share, and the helpful team are always on hand to explain any unusual options. Think hot butter cuttlefish fry or a Ceylon chicken curry. The outdoor dining space here spills onto pedestrianised street Kingly Street – which means great people watching comes as a complimentary extra.
Where: 21 Kingly Street, W1B 5QA

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 each of the seasons. 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

Circolo Popolare

What: From the infamous Big Mama group, Circolo Popolare brings the company’s signature Instagrammable interiors and an Italian menu which is just as picture perfect. Think a carbonara where your pasta is tossed hot into a wheel of cheese to create a thick, silky sauce, and a lemon meringue pie with a marshmallow-like top ten times the size of any other we’ve seen. The outdoor terrace faces onto a sweet little pedestrianised square, so is relatively peaceful.
Where: 40-41 Rathbone Place, W1T 1HX

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 an al fresco atmosphere. The restaurant’s full menu is available outdoors, meaning you can enjoy the the sea-faring likes of lobster spaghetti or Dover sole (with an additional side of skinny chips!).
Where:
11-15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG

Best outdoor restaurants in north London

There is a wealth of really good outdoor restaurants in north London which cater to this neighbourhood’s ritzy crowd. Clustered around King’s Cross and Islington, expect plush soft furnishings and modern menus from this cool crowd.

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

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 nice 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

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 on nice days, 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

Best outdoor restaurants in east London

Known for its trendy crowd and artsy vibe, it’s only natural that east London would be home to some buzzy outdoor terraces. From the delicious Indian plates of Dishoom to the fine-dining fare at Angler, east London has an outdoor restaurant for every occasion.

Casa do Frango Shoreditch

What: Portuguese food was made to be enjoyed outdoors. Luckily, the Shoreditch outpost of London piri piri favourite Casa do Frango benefits from an enclosed 100-seat al fresco terrace, where you can tuck into the classic chicken on offer alongside a few Portuguese-inspired cocktails. There's no doubt that this is as close are you'll get to a slice of the Algarve in the heart of London.
Where:
 2 King John Court, EC2A 3EZ

Boisdale of Canary Wharf

What: 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

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. 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 an al fresco 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

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

Best outdoor restaurants in south London

Seabird

What: Blessed with #InstaGoals interiors, Seabird is found at the very tip top of The Hoxton hotel in Southwark. Leave any preconceptions you have about hotel restaurants at the door and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The frequently tweaked menu includes flavours of Portugal and pleasantly smoky cuts of chargrilled meats, as well as seafood platters and cracking cocktails. The terrace gets booked up, so make sure to plan ahead. Here you’ll find sofas, blankets and heaters all at the ready to make your meal a cosy and comfortable one.
Where: 40 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8NY

Turnips

What: This fine-dining restaurant (which also has a casual small plates sidekick next door) has transformed its outdoor offering to give diners the chance to enjoy its unique food in a safe and comfortable space. The kitchen’s USP is that it uses the world-class produce from its Borough Market stall of the same name. This means veg is king here, with meat in the supporting role. Combinations include things like onion squash, walnuts and Iberico pork as well as borlotti beans with seaweed and shellfish
Where: 43 Borough Market, SE1 9AH

Chokhi Dhani

What: Opulent Chokhi Dhani followed its launch by adding a riverside shisha terrace to its repertoire. 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

What: Part of the regenerated Battersea Power Station development, Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea is home to a riverside al fresco dining space, where guests can relax outdoors 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

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

Best outdoor restaurants in west London

There’s no denying the allure of west London. This high-end neighbourhood is home to some of the swankiest and swishest outdoor restaurants in London - not to mention some really, really good people watching. From the terrace at the infamous Chiltern Firehouse to the green glade of the Ivy Chelsea Garden – these gorgeous spaces are the perfect spots to celebrate something special at (even if that’s just making it through Monday).

Ayllu

What: Ayllu is one of London’s most unique outdoor restaurants in London, boasting a menu that fuses Peruvian and Japanese flavours. These two cuisines are deftly combined to produce light, vibrant plates of food. From cevice to sushi, this is the perfect sharing-style food to enjoy with friends on the restaurant’s little terrace oasis.
Where: 25 Sheldon Square, W2 6EY

Dinings SW3

What: Where better to soak up that quintessential west London atmosphere than in heart of Knightsbridge at Dinings SW3's gorgeous hidden courtyard. The restaurant's small terrace area almost has the feeling of someone's back garden, with the added bonus being that you can enjoy a menu of top quality Japanese dishes here from ex-Nobu chef Masaki Sugisaki.
Where:
 Lennox Gardens Mews, SW3 2JH

Terrace at Harry's Dolce Vita

What: Want a true slice of Italy in the heart of London? Knightbridge's Harry's Dolce Vita has a glorious outdoor seating area where you can enjoy the tempting menu, packed full of hearty Italian classics. Whether you want a big bowl of pasta followed by the famous Harry's toadstool dessert, or simply want to sip on a spritz after a day shopping in Harrods, you'll be sure to quickly slip into a holiday mood at this spot.
Where:
 27-31 Basil Street, SW3 1BB

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 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

 

The Ivy Chelsea Garden

What: This branch of The Ivy collection comes complete with a stunning garden which is replete with greenery and flowers. Sit outside in the fresh air 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

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 Street, W1U 7PA

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

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

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