As the weather cools down and lockdown rules loosen, many of the best restaurants in London are adapting to the new normal with creative and weather-proof outdoor dining options ideal for groups of six. Here we round up 21 of the best outdoor restaurants right now, from pop-up outside seating spots to the capital’s classic restaurants with gardens. For more outdoor inspiration, see our edit of the best winter terraces in London plus the best things to do outside in London.
London restaurants with outside seating
Bentley’s Oyster Bar
Having fed Mayfair’s crowds for more than 104 years, Bentley’s has proven it’s quick to adapt. Celebrity chef Richard Corrigan has been at the helm of the restaurant, one of London’s oldest oyster bars, for the past 15 years. Book into its heated, covered terrace for feasts of fresh native, rock and dressed oysters, grilled fish and steaks sourced from around the British and Irish isles, with views up and down Swallow Street. Don’t skip the famous soda bread.
Address: 11-15 Swallow Street, London W1B 4DG
This new Mayfair restaurant has been drawing in the city’s foodie crowd since its opening in March 2020. Two former chefs at Dinner by Heston have created their own restaurant with a strong sustainability focus, introducing a small, ever-changing menu including dishes such as charred corn ribs, mushroom parfait with shiitake and black truffle, whole lemon sole with bacon-butter sauce and miso-heavy kombu fries. The outdoor terrace is heated, plus it is on traffic-free Heddon Street.
On the seventh floor of The Stratford hotel lies this farm-to-table restaurant run by former Chiltern Firehouse chef Patrick Powell. Muted, Scandi-style interiors place full emphasis on the food – for good reason. Starters could include pistachio choux stuffed with liver parfait and preserved kumquat, and a delicate celeriac velouté, while mains might feature perfectly cooked monkfish doused in a rich shellfish sauce and Cornish plaice drizzled with Champagne sauce. The sheltered terrace is set among an elevated meadow of wildflowers, with water features dotted around.
Address: Allegra, The Stratford, 20 International Way,
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20 1FD
Soho stalwart Quo Vadis had been delighting customers since 1926, and even more so now with head chef Jeremy Lee’s innovative dishes. Expect punchy pasties, super-fresh seafood platters and retro takes on classics (try the pie and mash). The outside terrace tables are reserved for walk-ins only, so get there early to avoid disappointment.
The original outdoor/indoor foodie haunt, Borough Market is coming into its own as we enter the colder months. And the evening supper options are also more plentiful than ever. Difficult-to-get-a-table-but-oh-so-worth-the-wait pasta palace Padella now has alfresco seating, which means there’s less wait to scoop up cacio e pepe and a warming bowl of rich ragù. Around the corner, Flor (now back to its usual incarnation after months of serving slices as ASAP Pizza) has outdoor tables and a new menu, taking walk-ins and reservations. Elsewhere, there’s also Elizabeth Haigh’s Singaporean counter-dining spot Mei Mei. Best of all, they’re all under the market’s canopy, so full of fresh air without the rain.
Brat at Climpson’s Arch
Since opening in 2018, the Basque-inspired Shoreditch restaurant from Tomos Parry has been one of our favourites – and its pop-up in nearby London Fields is as good as the original. Taking over the yard outside the arch where beloved Broadway Market coffee shop Climpson & Sons roasts its beans, the covered but breezy space is toasty, with heaters and the smell of charcoal-cooked fish. Groups of two to six can order from the daily changing menu of small sharing plates – if available, go for the grilled puffed bread with anchovies – and bigger dishes such as sizzling whole turbot with a side of smoked potatoes. Be sure to leave space for pudding: a San Sebastián-style burnt cheesecake that is too good to share.
Address: Brat at Climpson’s Arch, 374 Helmsley Place, London E8 3SB
After months of telling people to check the weather before coming as there was no protection against the elements, Rochelle Canteen has recently constructed a cosy heated gazebo within its grounds of a former primary school in Shoreditch so it can continue to serve Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson’s classic comfort food. It’s taking reservations for lunch from Monday to Sunday and supper from Thursday to Saturday, with tightly allocated table times and familiar warming seasonal fare such as beef-shin pie, roast pork belly, braised red cabbage and pavlova with pears. The best school dinners around.
For a feast that feels more like a night out, the Hoxton, Southwark’s glamorous rooftop restaurant is hard to beat. On the 14th floor, Seabird’s terrace is now coming into its own. With views across the city, palm trees, heaters and a retractable awning for wet days, it has an ample menu of oysters, seafood platters and Spanish and Portuguese-inspired dishes that will make you feel as if you’re on holiday. Book an early evening table to watch the sunset with a Caipirinha or a Sunday spot, when the lavish ‘afternoon sea’ is served – a bumper selection of fresh langoustines, razor clams, scallops, crab, prawns, whelks and more.
Petersham Nurseries Café
Although we’ve been spending more time than ever in gardens this year, none come close to the verdant surroundings of Petersham Nurseries. The flower-filled glasshouse restaurant has a heated pergola for maximum alfresco comfort and serves thoughtful seasonal dishes such as risotto with onion squash and Gorgonzola, brill with cavolo nero and pancetta, and pork with spiced carrots and plums. Go for a long lunch or an early supper to leave time to browse the nursery – closing time is 5pm – and take home some new leafy friends to enhance your own outdoor space.
Address: Petersham Nurseries Café, Off Church Lane, Petersham Road, Richmond TW10 7AB
Michelin-star hangout Hide has spilled onto the streets of Piccadilly, with views of leafy Green Park and plenty of city buzz. The outdoor space is surrounded by pampas grass, sheltered by parasols and – most importantly – heated. Where possible everything is made in-house, from the charcuterie to the bread, all plated up on smart crockery you’ll want to pinch to take home. We recommend the roast fillet of Limousin veal with white truffle, baked pumpkin and wet polenta, followed by the freshly baked lavender madeleines with Tahitian vanilla cream for pudding.
Address: 85 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7NB
La Goccia Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden
This has to be the prettiest courtyard in the West End. Complete with flower installations, huge terracotta pots and the smartest outdoor furniture we’ve ever seen, this is the second restaurant from Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden. La Goccia is more casual than Petersham next door (which also has a small number of tables outside), serving delicious plates of Italian cichetti: squid in chilli-spiked tomato salsa and white asparagus sprinkled with edible flowers. Everything on the plate is as pretty as the surroundings and really, that is why you’re here. As good for a glass of rosé and a bowl of smoked almonds as it is for a full on feast.
Smoking? Not permitted in the courtyard
Address: Petersham Nurseries, Floral Court, London, WC2E 9FB.
Telephone: +44 20 7305 7676