The best restaurants for outdoor dining in London


Spring sunshine is finally here – and London’s top restaurants are determined to make the most of it. Having upgraded with repurposed pavements, redecorated rooftops and more outdoor heaters than you can shake a restaurant-branded blanket at when they were forced to offer al fresco-only dining during the pandemic, in 2022 the capital’s best bars and restaurants will one again be making good use of their newly found outdoor space. Book your table at our pick of London’s best outdoor dining spots and al fresco terraces now.

Wagtail, City of London

wagtail london

Best outdoor dining space in London for: impressing out-of-towners.

Situated high above the City of London with enviable views of the Shard, Gherkin and St Paul’s, dining at Wagtail is like the Hollywood version of London living. Happily, the food lives up to the hype, with seasonal fine dining menus celebrating the best British produce across long lunches, business dinners and late-night suppers. Wagtail also happens to be home to one of London’s best bottomless brunches, with free-flowing wine, prosecco and cocktails accompanied by dishes such as beef carpaccio, lobster and crayfish roll, and eggs Benedict every weekend.


Toklas, Temple

toklas restaurant

Image: Kyle Caddey

Occupying a beautiful but understated location down a side street just behind 180 The Strand, diving on the terrace at Toklas feels like you’ve just discovered a true hidden gem in the capital – if, of course, you can block out the other 50 or so diners who have also been lucky enough to nab themselves table. The fare here is Mediterranean-inflected and weekly changing so as to make the most of whatever’s freshest with dishes built on the premise that great ingredients don’t require messing around with. Expect to be simply but extremely well fed.


Cavo, Tottenham Court Road

The latest culinary addition to Denmark Street’s Now building, Cavo is a Mediterranean restaurant and wine bar promising sophisticated entertainment in the heart of London’s busiest shopping district. Rise about the hustle and bustle down below to discover an elegant roof terrace where everything from lunch and brunch to pre-theatre and a la carte dining is on offer. There’s also a rather stellar cocktail menu. Ours is a Selene, with Malfy gin, pomegranate, orgeat and lemon, since you’re asking.


Petersham Nurseries Café, Richmond

petersham nurseries cafe

Best outdoor dining space in London for: leisurely lunches in a tranquil greenhouse.

Want to get out of London without, well, actually leaving the city? Petersham Nurseries Café is the capital’s worst-kept secret and, while it looks lovely all year round (the restaurant is in a greenhouse), it comes into its own in spring and summer. Bougainvillea blossoms and British ingredients such as asparagus and peashoots increasingly appear on the ‘slow food’ menu, garnished with garden-grown edible flowers and washed down with Sussex-brewed beer. Book ahead and clear some space on your camera roll before you arrive.


Scott’s, Mayfair

scott's mayfair

Best outdoor dining space in London for: oysters, caviar and seafood in all its glory.

The terrace at Scott’s is a celebrity magnet during the summer months so don’t be surprised if you find yourself seated next door to Tom Hanks or Ronnie Wood (or in paparazzi photos the next day). That said, with only a handful of prime al fresco tables up for grabs, you might need VIP-level connections to get one in the first place. But, once safely ensconced behind the meticulously trimmed lemon trees, what should you order? Well, this is Scott’s – so seafood of course.


The River Café, Hammersmith

river cafe london

Best outdoor dining space in London for: Italian cuisine in a sun-dappled garden.

The River Café is stretched leisurely across a lawn overlooking the Thames, just like we’d like to be after a bottle of rosé and one or two courses more than was strictly necessary. Since this London institution was founded by chefs Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray in 1987, it has become a byword for easygoing, excellent Italian food, with easygoing, excellent people at its helm. People would flock here even if the location wasn’t so inviting, such is the ingredients-driven expertise in the kitchen, but it just so happens that the sun-dappled garden has a dreamlike quality, too. An evening at the River Café is truly restorative (although that second bottle won’t be).


Trivet, Bermondsey

trivet restaurant

Best outdoor dining space in London for: oenophiles and voyeurs.

Having secured its first star in the 2022 Michelin guide, now is the time to join a waiting list for a table at Trivet – especially as its intimate outdoor dining area boasts some of the best people-watching in the capital. Food and wine take equal importance here, with chef Jonny Lake and sommelier Isa Bal working in tandem to create a concise food menu and expansive, eclectic wine list that pair harmoniously. There are few afternoons better spent than lingering over plates of chicken in vinegar sauce, braised celeriac and roasted pigeon while quizzing the knowledgeable staff on the most appropriate wine pairing.


Jurema at The Mandrake, Fitzrovia

jurema at the mandrake

Best outdoor dining space in London for: greenery hanging from every angle. You’ll come for the view and stay for the food.

The foliage-filled Mandrake in Fitzrovia will reopen its Jurema Bar for spring, adjoined to the Yopo restaurant on the first floor of the five-star hotel. Flanked by hanging jasmine and passionflower, this mesmerising urban oasis serves an impressive offering of summer-perfect cocktails, alongside moreish bar snacks with a Mexican twist. Upstairs, there is a charming glasshouse of medicinal and botanical plants, which can be booked for private dining.


Luca, Clerkenwell

luca terrace

Best outdoor dining space in London for: private parties and last-minute plans.

Luca’s secluded courtyard terrace may just be one of the most romantic spots for dining in the capital – but you’ll need to be lucky to bag yourself a table. The space is primarily reserved for private dining, with a la carte bookings released each day depending on availability. Should you be quick enough to secure a spot, you’re in for a treat. Luca’s USP is fine British ingredients reimagine with an Italian lens – which is every bit as delicious as it sounds. Start with negronis and grappa paired with parmesan fries and salumi before moving on to signatures of agnolotti carbonara, lamb with wild garlic and Cornish monkfish with mussels.


Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone

chiltern firehouse terrace

Best outdoor dining space in London for: seeing and being seen (and the renowned oyster cart).

Helmed by famed hotelier André Balazs, the sizzling Chiltern Firehouse matches elegance and sophistication with a mischievous dash of ‘anything goes’ attitude. Settle in on the secluded yet lively terrace for platters of fruit de mer, signature crab doughnuts and tender Ibérico pork. The stylish al fresco space is framed with greenery and finished with striped parasols overhead, ensuring complete discretion and privacy.


Hush, Mayfair

hush mayfair

Best outdoor dining space in London for: cocktails with a continental spirit.

Think al fresco socialising in the heart of the capital has to mean hanging out on the pavement and resting your pint on a pub windowsill? Think again. Tucked away in a hidden enclave behind Brook Street, Hush has long been a go-to for those in the know (or who’ve heard whispers of its famed Aspen fries with parmesan and black truffle). This year it’s teamed up with Engine gin to give its pretty outdoor courtyard a touch of la dolce vita. Alongside a menu featuring the likes of beef ragu pappardelle, chicken Milanese and burrata with violet artichokes, there will be a refreshing Engine gin cocktail list of enticing concoctions such as the Mayfair Rocket (Engine gin, Luxardo aperitivo, raspberry, lemon and prosecco) and Remember the Star (Engine gin, St Germain, grapefruit, ginger, bergamot and blackberry).


The Chelsea Gardener Cafe, Chelsea

chelsea gardener london

Best outdoor dining space in London for: a secluded suntrap near the King’s Road, filled with pretty flowers.

Nestled on Sydney Street, the Chelsea Gardener Cafe, formerly known as the Chelsea Courtyard, is open seven days a week serving all-day food and drinks. Away from the bustle of the King’s Road, this hidden courtyard is a showcase for the neighbouring Chelsea Gardener flagship and is suitably decked out with planters, cascading foliage, cushions and parasols. It is also available for private hire throughout the year.


J.Sheekey, Covent Garden

j sheekey terrace

The best outdoor dining space in London for: pre- and post-theatre dining.

The fire-engine-red facade of J.Sheekey needs no introduction. Situated in the heart of Covent Garden it is, after all, practically a tourist destination in its own right. Boasting strong ties with the local theatre community, don’t be surprised to find the stars of the latest West End smash hit celebrating post-show over champagne and oysters on its small but perfectly formed terrace. Happily, its expert front-of-house team deftly make every guest feel like the centre of attention.


Kutir, Chelsea

kutir chelsea

The best outdoor dining space in London for: a mid-shopping spree recharge.

A stone’s throw from the Saatchi Gallery and the boutiques of the King’s Road, this modern Indian eatery from Rohit Ghai and Abhishake Sangwan is the perfect place for a pitstop while sampling the highlights of Chelsea. Housed in one of the area’s gorgeous period townhouses, dining in Kutir’s al fresco space is somewhat akin to a very chic dinner party, with cosy tables arranged on a lawn area surrounded by lightly landscaped foliage. If it’s your first visit, opt for the Expeditions tasting menu to really get an idea of what the kitchen can do. Highlights include black cumin tandoori lamb chop, salmon mooli and squid ink jheenga.


The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Chelsea

the ivy chelsea garden

Best outdoor dining space in London for: the ‘gram, comfort food and cocktails.

The outdoor terrace at The Ivy Chelsea Garden on King’s Road is an obvious choice on a warm day, decked out with antique pots, lush greenery and a smattering of Instagram starlets. Tuck into the restaurant’s signature menu of high-end comfort food, spanning signature shepherd’s pie, steak sandwiches, zucchini fries and truffle chips, complemented by a colourful cocktail menu and considered wine list.


Native at Browns, Mayfair

native at browns

Best outdoor dining space in London for: sustainable fare in seriously chic surrounds.

Browns’ Mayfair boutique is best known as a destination for the latest from the world of high fashion so it makes sense, then, that its in-house restaurant, Browns, is quickly becoming the fashion set’s favourite place for a quick coffee or lavish lunch. During the summer the restaurant throws open the doors to the Courtyard, a chic space protected on all sides from the hustle and bustle of the city, making it the perfect place for a business lunch or a few too many cocktails (or both). The even better news? Native also ranks as one of London’s most sustainable restaurants.


Chicama, Chelsea

chicama chelsea

Best outdoor dining space in London for: South-American flavours and chic, charming interiors.

Colour, flavour and style abound at Chicama, the sleek sister to Peruvian favourite, Pachamama in Marylebone. Tucked away on a quiet corner off the King’s Road, Chicama dishes up meat-free meals with a bold, South American twist. Think gleaming sea bream ceviche, tangy green papaya salad and plump grilled prawns with a razor-sharp yazu kosho dressing. Beautifully presented cuisine can be enjoyed on the charming alfresco terrace, which is the perfect spot for whiling away a sunny afternoon in Chelsea.


Garden Terrace at The Hari, Belgravia

the hari

Best outdoor dining space in London for: exclusivity, champagne and rainy days – thanks to the slick retractable roof.

The intimate Garden Terrace at The Hari hotel in Belgravia has been transformed into a flower-filled paradise for spring. Lounge with a Pisco Punch or British Bulldog cocktail while grazing on Korean chicken, gyozas and pinsa Romana. The hotel’s cool, contemporary interiors stand out against the postcode’s more traditional offerings, while a retractable roof ensures that it is suitable for all forms of British weather this summer.


Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury

dalloway terrace

Best outdoor dining space in London for: Bloomsbury Group devotees and décor – you’re literally immersed in Dalloway Terrace’s silk flowers and ferns.

Named after the famed, high-society Virginia Woolf character, Mrs Dalloway, Dalloway Terrace is an outdoor space in the heart of Bloomsbury, hidden away from the clamour of Tottenham Court Road. The al fresco terrace has been transformed to resemble an English wildflower meadow thanks to a stunning floral design from Early Hours, with a new list of cocktails curated by The Botanist gin. On a sunny day, nestle amid silk flowers and ferns and take a moment of peace courtesy of its new partnership with Belvedere. Indulge in afternoon tea, £1 from which will be donated to mental health charity CALM, or choose from a range of new cocktails created with Belvedere Organic Infusions, all designed to instill a sense of peace and serenity,


Nobu Shoreditch

nobu shoreditch

Best outdoor dining space in London for: calm, cool architecture and Nobu’s greatest hits (black cod with miso, anyone?)

Nobu Shoreditch fuses Nobu’s signature Japanese minimalism with east London’s concrete-cool aesthetic. Behind an enigmatic, dark façade, the five-star property boasts 143 rooms and a lower-ground Nobu restaurant, with a four-level stepped terrace. Visit this secluded al fresco dining space for a relaxed breakfast (try the matcha waffles) or late-night cocktails accompanied by live DJs. The sleek restaurant also operates bottomless brunch, which you can read about here.


The Laundry, Brixton

the laundry brixton

Best outdoor dining space in London for: great food with a side of historical charm.

This all-day dining spot on Coldharbour Lane, in the heart of Brixton, takes its name from the building’s former life as Walton Lodge, a commercial steam press laundry that opened in 1904. Converted by entrepreneur Melanie Brown in 2019, it also boasts one of Brixton’s largest covered and heated terraces, where everything from casual brunches to hearty Sunday lunches is served. Under the command of head chef Sami Harvey, the kitchen’s highlights include Devon crab with pickled cucumber and a mean chicken Kyiv, while The Laundry’s side hustle as a wine shop means there’s also an extensive drinks menu to choose from.


American Bar at The Stafford, Mayfair

american bar at the stafford

Best outdoor dining space in London for: European classics in the heart of the West End.

The American Bar at The Stafford may be best known for its world-class cocktails curated by Bar Director Benoit Provost but, thanks to the stylings of Culinary Director Ben Tish and chef Josef Rogulski, it also offers a menu of sophisticated British and Mediterranean-inspired dishes served from dawn to dusk. This spring, the restaurant will be spilling out onto the hotel’s pretty cobbled terrace. Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of St James’s, order a glass of something ice cold and tuck into the signature chicken Milanese with borlotti beans and salsa verde.


Allegra, Stratford

allegra stratford

Best outdoor dining space in London for: upscale dining in sophisticated Scandi-style surrounds.

Housed in one of East London’s most striking new buildings, and with interior design from the team behind Noma, Allegra has been receiving rave reviews since it fully-reopened post-pandemic, with the full menu available on its Scandi-inspired seventh-floor terrace. And it’s quite the menu. Devised by chef Patrick Powell, stand-out dishes include confit chicken wings with parmesan dumplings and wild mushrooms and juniper roasted venison loin with red cabbage, pear and parsnip.


Devonshire Terrace, Liverpool Street

devonshire terrace

Best outdoor dining space in London for: convivial cocktails and relaxed dining in a weather-proof City terrace.

Housed under a soaring domed glass roof to protect diners from the elements, the vast al fresco space at Devonshire Terrace is one of its main draws. Of course, being run by London hospitality stalwart Drake & Morgan, the food and drink offerings are pretty great, too. A crowd-pleasingly informal menu, featuring classics such as chicken yakitori skewers, crayfish linguine and gnocchi mac ‘n’ cheese, is supported by a vast cocktail menu perfect for making up for those missed celebrations.


La Poule au Pot, Belgravia

la poule au pot

Best outdoor dining space in London for: French staples from a long-time London favourite.

If you have yet to discover the delights of La Poule au Pot, where have you been? Literally. The restaurant has barely changed since it opened in the 1960s and is famed for its annual struggle with Clos Maggiore to be voted the capital’s most romantic dining spot. Served on its pretty heated terrace, food comes via a two- or three-course set menu, as well as daily-changing specials, and features all the classics you’d expect of an old-school French restaurant. Think steak frites, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin and tarte tatin.


Wild by Tart, Pimlico

Best outdoor dining space in London for: seasonal, sustainable dining that’s big on flavour without any pomp and circumstance.

Jemima Jones and Lucy Carr-Ellison’s vast multi-purpose eating, drinking, retail and events space housed in a former power station in Pimlico is the place to see and be seen, especially if you secure a spot on its 24-seat terrace in the quaint Ecclestone Yards. The grill and wood-fired oven feature heavily on the menu, with highlights including marinated poussin, grilled mackerel and an array of flatbreads, while an extensive wine list with options by the glass and bottle will help stretch those much-anticipated reunions out for hours.


The Garden at The Corinthia, Whitehall

Best outdoor dining space in London for: Pretending you’re actually sunning yourself on the Cote d’Azur.

Set among the lemon tree and jasmine-strewn surrounds of The Corinthia hotel’s David Collins-designed courtyard, The Garden is a Mediterranean-influenced sanctuary just moments from Trafalgar Square. A truly romantic spot perfect for wiling away long afternoons over a bottle of Domaines Ott rosé, food is by executive chef André Garrett and comprises a series of seafood dishes, woodfired pizzas and salads perfect for sharing. Signatures include fritto misto, grilled brill with fennel and champagne and fraises des bois with whipped vanilla crème Chantilly.


Sam’s Riverside, Hammersmith

Best outdoor dining space in London for: the freshest seafood and excellent cocktails.

Sam Harrison, proprietor of Sam’s Riverside in Hammersmith, plans to welcome lifting restrictions in style. The restaurant’s terrace dining space offers chef Ashley Tinoco’s full food menu, which features a riot of decadence and indulgence with Carlingford Lough and Morecambe Bay oysters in abundance, the restaurant’s signature seafood platter and a Hereford aged ribeye tartare with dripping toast and quail egg to satisfy the appetite of even the keenest carnivore.


Double Standard at The Standard, King’s Cross

double standard at the standard

Best outdoor dining space in London for: American classics and casual cocktails

The most vibrant new hotel in King’s Cross is also home to one of the capital’s buzziest rooftop bars. The Standard’s TfL-inspired Double Standard roof terrace has proved an irresistible draw to London’s cool crowd with its retro 70s vibe, American-inflected menu and cosy outdoor area. Food runs the gamut from superfood salads to pretzels and hot dogs but it is the signature burger, finished with blue cheese, bacon, Branston and truffle aioli, that has become somewhat legendary. Pair with an Aperol spritz slushy or drop in for bottomless Sunday brunch safe in the knowledge that a good time is guaranteed.


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