Outdoor restaurants London: Best al fresco dining in the capital this summer

Summer is here and the time is right for eating in the streets – or, indeed, dining on rooftops, snacking on patios or snaffling a bite by the riverside.

Lighter evenings and the dwindling need for a jacket are taking London’s diners al fresco, with plenty of restaurants across the capital happily obliging any Vitamin D cravings.

Whether you're looking for hidden gardens or bustling food courts, there's all manner of outdoorsy dining experiences to be found in the capital this summer.

From Spanish barbecues to sensational seafood, these are the al fresco restaurants you need to try in London this sunny season.

River Café


A legend of London restaurants inside and out, River Café’s light and bright interior spills out onto a pretty glorious terrace, sun-soaked at lunchtime. The name isn't for show; riverside views are found just beyond a lush garden, filled with herbs, salad and edible flowers that are used in the Italian-inspired cooking.

Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA, rivercafe.co.uk


Tapas restaurant Barrafina gives a superlative taste of Spain, but its Coal Drops Yard spin-off Parillan is your best bet for enjoying Iberian food in the sun. The outdoor restaurant is named for its small Spanish tabletop charcoal barbecues, on which diners can grill their own meat, seafood and vegetables, served alongside a selection of classic Barrafina dishes.

Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, N1C 4PW, parrillan.co.uk

Petersham Nurseries


Being perfectly literal, the restaurant at Petersham Nurseries is not exactly outdoors. The acclaimed cafe-style spot serves up its seasonally-focused food inside a glasshouse, which is filled with aromatic jasmine and bushes of bright pink bougainvillea. When the sunny weather is guaranteed to hold out, it also serves tables under its wisteria and rose-covered outdoor pergola. The whole restaurant is, in turn, surrounded by the nurseries – a garden centre, in other words – blooming with floral fun.

Church Lane, Off Petersham Road, TW10 7AB, petershamnurseries.com

Flat Iron Square

Dining out-out isn’t all about al fresco restaurants – London’s food courts offer outdoor dining with more choice, and less of a struggle to get a table. Casual dining at Flat Iron Square means choosing between the likes of fried chicken fan Motherclucker and pasta purveyor La Nonna, before enjoying it all on the communal benches with a drink from the bar.

64 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU, flatironsquare.co.uk

Le Pont de La Tour


Le Pont de la Tour offers one of the most iconic vistas in London. On its terrace, delicate French cuisine and a bountiful selection of seafood can be enjoyed looking out onto Tower Bridge – it really is a dazzling view of the world famous structure, particularly with a bit of sun on your side.

36D Shad Thames, SE1 2YE, lepontdelatour.co.uk

The Ivy Chelsea Garden

The Ivy in Covent Garden may be the original and best, but this west London offshoot is a unique gem amid the Ivy Collection’s growing portfolio. Inside, the King’s Road spot is festooned with blooms both real and doodled onto the walls, before the restaurant opens up onto an almost absurdly leafy garden – and not all of it is ivy (sorry).

195 -197 King's Road, SW3 5EQ, theivychelseagarden.com

Rochelle Canteen


Margot Henderson’s long-standing Shoreditch favourite gets even better on a sunny day: the outdoor seating surrounding the converted bike sheds of a Victorian school is an enviable spot, the sunshine dappled for some tables by overhead grapevines. You’ll need to press a buzzer to be allowed inside the grounds – ideal for a little seclusion.

16 Playground Gardens, E2 7FA, rochelleschool.org

Sea Containers

The outdoor area at this Bankside restaurant is not so much all at sea, but rather riverside. At Sea Containers, a dining spot at the hotel of the same name, the Tom Dixon-designed interior is flanked this summer by a brightly coloured Laurent Perrier terrace, which is serving up a seafood-focused menu. The views of St Paul’s and the City across the Thames are spot on.

20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD, seacontainerslondon.com

Dishoom Shoreditch


Dishoom boasts aesthetically pleasing places across the capital, but sun-seekers should head to its Shoreditch branch. At the East End location, diners can take their bacon naan and black daal on the “verandah”: an area open to the heavens (with a retractable roof just in case) which is decorated with eclectic wooden furnishings and a quirky selection of books and vintage prints.

7 Boundary Street, E2 7JE, dishoom.com


Nine Elms may not be high up on your list of summer destinations in the city, but Darby’s – the new restaurant from Robin Gill of The Dairy fame – should be. The restaurant’s glass front opens entirely, looking out onto a large, sun-trapping courtyard with a trickling pool at its centre. Later on in the year, the restaurant will also service London’s first “sky pool” – a glass bottomed pool suspended 115ft above ground.

3 Viaduct Gardens, SW11 7AY, darbys-london.com

Pop Brixton

(Camille Mack)
(Camille Mack)

If snacking on street food is your idea of a summer well spent, Pop Brixton is a sure-fire hit. The south London shipping container complex is made up of stalls from local independent businesses, with a host of food concepts including Halo Burger, Koi Ramen, Mama’s Jerk and Alpes. Grab-and-go food can be enjoyed out on the decidedly rustic-chic seating.

49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ, popbrixton.org

Sushisamba Covent Garden

Sushisamba has already dropped around 30 floors on its travels from the City to the West End, and now the new restaurant has expanded from its perch on top of Covent Garden Market to the square itself. This summer, diners can enjoy Sushisamba’s Japanese-Peruvian-Brazilian food in the famous promenade, mingling among the street performers and shoppers under orange canopies.

35 The Market Building, WC2E 8RF, sushisamba.com

Chucs Serpentine

(Kilian O'Sullivan/VIEW)
(Kilian O'Sullivan/VIEW)

Chucs Serpentine is better known for its building than its surroundings, but it’s a tough call. Its Zaha Hadid-designed architecture undulates out of the side of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery (it looks like a manta ray from most angles), making dining inside a fairly unique experience. Outside, Italian food is served up with views of Hyde Park. You decide.

West Carriage Drive, W2 2AR, chucsrestaurants.com

Vinegar Yard

While it’s tempting to say Vinegar Yard is in the shadow of the Shard, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This new street food and vintage flea market near the base of London’s tallest building is bathed in sunlight in the afternoons – pick up food and drink from the likes of Baba G’s, Nanny Bill’s and Up In My Grill, and take a pew on one of the many orange benches at the yard’s centre.

74 St Thomas Street, SE1 3QU, vinegaryard.london

Dalloway Terrace


The decor of this Bloomsbury spot may change with the seasons, but it is perennially pleasant. Dalloway Terrace is best known for its spectacular floral installations – changing from icy white and pink in the winter, to a tropical paradise in the summer – making for a highly Instagrammable brunch spot. A retractable canopy means the terrace can be used all year round – blankets are handed out in colder months, panama hats in warmer ones.

16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN, dallowayterrace.com


The terrace at Scott’s has to be one of the most glamourous street-side spots in the city. The Mayfair restaurant is no stranger to famous faces lured by its sumptuous seafood offerings. This summer, the star-studded facade has been reimagined by legendary shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who has been inspired by the garden of his 13th century Champgillion chateau. Inside, it boasts the world's most expensive restaurant interior.

20 Mount Street, W1K 2HE, scotts-restaurant.com



Let us guess – one person wants pizza, the other wants dumplings? Before the squabble breaks out, head to Dinerama, where 25 food stalls across two levels offer anything from jerk chicken to vegan tacos. Traders including Black Bear Burger, Pastaio, White Men Can’t Jerk and Club Mexicana are on offer to enjoy at tables on the ground level, with bars found on the rooftop.

19 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3EJ, streetfeast.com

Kricket White City

White City has changed more than a bit in the last couple of years, and the re-jigging of the old BBC Television Centre is at the centre of the shake up. The development is now home to a host of restaurants, including Brixton-born Indian sensation Kricket, whose latest venture looks out across the square to the iconic cylindrical building, with outdoor seating for maximum viewing. Keralan fried chicken in the sun? Don’t mind if we do.

101 Wood Lane, W12 7FR, kricket.co.uk



Inside, Chelsea restaurant Chicama is a pastel paradise, its soft pink and blue decor given a kick with zingy Peruvian dishes spilling out of the open kitchen. Outside, the neighbourhood feel of the restaurant extends onto the small terrace. Tucked just off the King’s Road, guests cuddle up under similarly pastel blankets on vintage furniture, surrounded by cascading plants.

383 King's Road, SW10 0LP, chicamalondon.com

Boundary Rooftop

The Shoreditch skyline isn’t known for being the most spectacular, but rising above the hustle and bustle of below to kick back on Boundary London’s rooftop is still a rewarding experience. Mediterranean dining can be enjoyed whatever the weather in the restaurant’s glass-encased Orangery, or outside on the heated terrace, which is peppered with both proper tables and cosy armchair set ups.

2-4 Boundary Street, E2 7DD, boundary.london

The Prince


There’s a party going on in West Brompton. Formerly the Prince of Wales pub,the Prince boasts a host of partially covered pergolas draped with the flowers and foliage of an English summer garden. Food comes courtesy of pizza purveyor Homeslice, tapas don Edu and burger master Patty & Bun, alongside its fried chicken spin-off Jeffries.

14 Lillie Road, SW6 1TT, theprincelondon.com

The Modern Pantry

Believe it or not, Anna Hansen’s Modern Pantry has been around for more than a decade now, but her innovative, Antipodean-inspired food still excites. In the summer months, visitors can kick back on a collection of tables in front of the Clerkenwell restaurant, which opens out onto pedestrian-friendly St John’s Square.

47-48 St John's Square, Farringdon, EC1V 4JJ, themodernpantry.co.uk

Chiltern Firehouse


Inside may glimmer with farmhouse-chic decor and the prospect of spotting a well-known face, but the terrace at Chiltern Firehouse has its own charm. Its discreet spot on a quiet Marylebone street makes for a cosy rendezvous already, even before adding in candlelight, a roaring fire and slick black and white furnishings.

1 Chiltern Street, W1U 7PA, chilternfirehouse.com


A little bit of Provence has come to Marylebone this summer, on the rooftop of Orrery restaurant. The French spot has transformed its terrace into a corner of the French Riviera. Littered with lavender, rosemary and olive trees, the space will serve an exclusive summer menu.

55 Marylebone High Street, W1U 5RB, orrery-restaurant.co.u

J Sheekey Atlantic Bar


A veritable legend of West End dining, J Sheekey has been serving oysters to theatregoers for more than a century. Considerably more recently, it opened Atlantic Bar next door, a more casual version of the original seafood stalwart, which boasts Paris-inflected street dining, looking out onto the stage doors of Wyndham's and the Noel Coward theatres.

33-35 St Martin's Court, WC2N 4AL, j-sheekey.co.uk