The best outdoor restaurants in London for eating alfresco

From sun-dappled rooftops and leafy gardens to charming courtyards and riverside terraces, here’s our pick of the best outdoor restaurants in London for alfresco dining

Words by Lydia Winter
Last updated: April 11, 2024

The sun is shining (maybe), you’ve got a chilled glass of wine to hand and you’re sitting beneath a parasol on a flower-festooned terrace: it’s officially alfresco dining season in London.

There’s something special about eating delicious food outdoors on a warm day and London’s line-up of outdoor restaurants does not disappoint. But not all spaces are created equal and a wonky table on a street corner just won’t cut it. Here we take you from a canalside address in King’s Cross to an open-air rooftop in Peckham in our guide to London’s greatest outdoor restaurants.

The best places for outdoor dining in London | Joia near Battersea Power Station
Joia restaurant at Art'otel, Battersea. Photo by Rebecca Hope

South London

Joia at Art’otel, Battersea

Best for: Rooftop cocktails and Iberian tapas
Address: 1 Electric Boulevard, Nine Elms, London SW11 8BJ

Joia is the Iberian restaurant and bar on the 15th and 16th floors of the Jaime Hayon-designed Art’otel, right next door to Battersea Power Station. The menu is inspired by chef Henrique Sá Pessoa’s heritage (the name means ‘jewel’ in Portuguese), and blends Iberian and Mediterranean flavours with British produce. Designed by Russell Sage studio, restaurant interiors nod to the history of the power station with art deco elements and a retro colour palette. Head to the rooftop terrace for alfresco small plates and cocktails, and be sure to grab a seat in one of the comfy sofas by the bar so that you’re in easy reach of the cocktails. The pan con tomate with ibérico ham washes down nicely with a glass of sparkling wine – the Pere Ventura gets our vote. Hotel guests can also take advantage of the infinity pool at the back of the terrace.

Where to eat al fresco in London | A table in the Garden Museum Café's courtyard, surrounded by greenery and next to a tombsotne
The courtyard at the Garden Museum Café

Garden Café at the Garden Museum, Lambeth 

Best for: Seasonal cooking in verdant surrounds
Address: Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7LB

This award-winning cafe has interiors inspired by the Garden Museum’s leafy surrounds – but spring is when it comes into its own, when you can sit in the beautiful verdant courtyard while eating an equally sublime meal. Chef George Ryle cut his teeth at Primeur and Padella, whose influences can be seen in the cafe’s seasonal menu. Top seasonal picks include a delicate salad of artichoke, ricotta and courgettes, mushrooms with polenta or rabbit with beans and pancetta in a mustard sauce – not forgetting the house-made raspberry ripple ice cream.

The best outdoor restaurants in London | The red brick exterior of the Laundry in Brixton
The exterior of The Laundry, Brixton

The Laundry, Brixton

Best for: Seasonal cocktails, independent wines and a first-class Sunday roast
Address: 374 Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8PL

Occupying a prime position on Coldharbour Lane – bordered by Brixton Village – this all-day bistro flaunts a stellar outdoor space. Rattan bistro chairs, oyster-white parasols and chalkboard menus etched with seasonal cocktails make for a welcomed go-slow vibe. The Laundry has a strong focus on independent wines, with floor-to-ceiling shelves celebrating bottles from around the world, which are available to go should you prefer date night at home. The best bit? On Tuesdays guests can bring their own booze with no corkage charge. Save your visit for the weekend, that way you can tuck into the Sunday roast menu. There’s four mains to choose between: leek and mushroom pie, roast pork belly, Hereford sirloin and spatchcock chicken – each served with plenty of golden roast potatoes and glazed vegetables.

The best outdoor restaurants in London | The outdoor terrace at Trivet in Bermondsey
The outdoor terrace at Trivet, Bermondsey

Trivet, Bermondsey

Best for: Michelin-starred dining on a sophisticated terrace 
Address: 36 Snowsfields, London SE1 3SU

Two Michelin-starred restaurant Trivet in Bermondsey is where south London’s finest flock once the temperature soars. Streetside dining is made stylish with earth-tone fabrics, solar-powered lanterns and a smattering of fresh flowers. Head chef and co-founder Jonny Lake works his magic in the kitchen; highlights include: red mullet risotto, lobster linguine, cauliflower mushroom and sourdough broth, and cured sea bass with red gurnard – and that’s just the starters menu. The real showstopper, however, is the Hokkaido potato – think mille-feuille potato meets white chocolate mousse, butter and saké gelato.

The best restaurants in Peckham | London's skyline seen from the rooftop of Forza Wine
Forza Wine, Peckham

Forza Wine, Peckham

Best for: Casual drinks and rooftop views
Address: The Rooftop, 133A Rye Lane, London SE15 4BQ

Among our nominations for the best rooftop bar in London, Forza Wine sits atop Market Peckham – the plant-filled co-working space that’s been a melting pot for London’s creatives since 2019. A concise menu of Italian-leaning grazing plates and flatbreads is accompanied by an excellent selection of aperitivo-style cocktails and wine, to be enjoyed as you gaze over South London’s crane-peppered rooftops. The team’s equally brilliant sister restaurant, Forza Win, is based in nearby Camberwell, while a recent opening at the National Theatre has seen Forza Wine taking over the iconic brutalist riverside balcony – a spot that becomes a suntrap in the evening.

Discover more of the best restaurants in Peckham with ROADBOOK’s insider guide

Outdoor restaurants in London | A pasta dish and a spritz served on a sunny table at Ombra
Ombra's Milan-influenced food. Photo by Rebecca Dickson

East London

Ombra, Hackney

Best for: Silky pasta and cured meats inspired by regional Italian cuisine
Address: 1 Vyner Street, Bethnal Green, Hackney, London, E2 9DG

Anywhere that throws a mortadella party is alright in our books and Ombra, down near the canal in Bethnal Green, is well known for its seasonal celebration of the cured meat. Here it’s served draped over gnocchi fritto, but there’s plenty of other things to love here, too, like grilled squid with monk’s beard, sea beet and wild garlic, or rocket and ricotta ravioli with spinach, pomegranate and pine nuts. As for outdoor dining, there’s a spacious terrace overlooking Regent’s canal, while its wooden mezzanine – originally built for the London Festival of Architecture – is wrapped with pendant lights, making a great spot to sink a spritz with friends.

Best outdoor restaurants in London | A spread of seasonal British cooking at Rochelle Canteen
A seasonal feast at Rochelle Canteen, Shoreditch. Photo by Patricia Niven

Rochelle Canteen, Shoreditch

Best for: Seasonal plates in a former bike shed
Address: 16 Playground Gardens, London, E2 7FA

Occupying a former bike shed and hidden by the old red-brick walls of Rochelle School in Shoreditch, the courtyard at Rochelle Canteen is a plant-lined, sun-drenched oasis that feels a world apart from London’s grit and grime – and the food lives up to the promise. The kitchen is helmed by Margot Henderson, wife of Fergus (chef-proprietor of another of our favourite London restaurants, St John Bread & Wine), and there are shared influences when it comes to whole-animal dining and a focus on beautiful seasonal produce. If the pecorino, girolles and onion tart is on the menu, order three.

Best restaurants with outdoor seating in London | Grey wooden floors and brown-wood tables and benches outside Acme Fire Cult in Dalston
Acme Fire Cult's capacious outdoor seating area

Acme Fire Cult, Dalston

Best for: Open fire cooking with great craft beers
Address: 40FT Brewery, Abbot Street, London E8 3DP

Outdoor dining and barbecues go hand in hand, naturally, and Acme Fire Cult restaurant at Dalston’s 40FT Brewery is a temple to fire cooking (not to mention a repository of great craft beers). Food is served on biodegradable bamboo plates and the line-up is delicious: cold roast lamb from ethically minded Swaledale Butchers, served with trombetta courgettes, fennel, buttermilk and seasonal herbs, or coal-roasted celeriac with chickpea puree, green chutney and cashew cream. On warmer days, cooking takes place in the outdoor courtyard, while a rotation of local DJs provide killer sounds. There’s an izakaya menu available on weekends, too – the lamb skewers with wild garlic miso and grilled aubergine with grated daikon are a visiting point in their own right.

The best outdoor restaurants in London | The rooftop terrace of the Marksman pub, Hackney
Marksman Public House on Hackney Road

Marksman Public House, Hackney

Best for: British fare and an exceptional bottle list
Address: 254 Hackney Road, London E2 7SB

The Marksman is a much-lauded restaurant on London’s Hackney Road, co-created by Tom Harris (ex-St John) and Jon Rotheram. It has long been a favourite for piled-high Sunday roasts and upmarket pub grub. What is lesser-known is that it has a small rooftop terrace, perfectly positioned for enjoying British fare in the sunshine, while the hubbub of Hackney Road thrums below. Begin with a rhubarb margarita, followed by chicken and wild leek pie, mussels and chips, or a signature beef and barley bun. The team champion independent and low-intervention wines and regularly house limited-edition bottles, too.

The best outdoor restaurants in London | the verdant rooftop on The Culpeper
The Rooftop at The Culpeper, Aldgate East

The Culpeper, Aldgate East

Best for: A verdant rooftop oasis on the edge of Spitalfields Market
Address: 40 Commercial Street, London E1 6LP

From the outside, The Culpeper looks like a classic City of London boozer. But walk through the ground floor bar and upstairs to the rooftop, and you’ll realise it’s anything but. Not only will you have a lovely spot to admire Spitalfields and the city’s skyline, but you’ll be sat beside the greenhouse that grows much of the kitchen’s ingredients – which should give you an inkling of how seriously The Culpeper takes its food. The restaurant seating is inside on the first floor, but you can enjoy a short set menu on the roof, with dishes like wild garlic hummus flatbread, herb-marinated pork steak with salsa verde and a top-notch salted caramel chocolate brownie.

Best restaurants with outdoor seating in London | a roast chicken on a bed of new potatoes, on a white oval plate, in front of several other dishes
Royale's Provençal-style rotisserie chicken. Photo by Joe Woodhouse

Royale, Bow Wharf

Best for: Provençal-style rotisserie chicken on a wisteria-covered terrace
Address: East London Liquor Co, 221 Grove Road, Old Ford, London, E3 5SN

For a slice of the south of France in east London, make tracks to Royale, whose menu revolves around Provençal-style rotisserie chicken. Except you’re not in the south of France – you’re sat on a terrace under clouds of fragrant wisteria next to the East London Liquor Company in Bow, sipping regional French wine and delicately grazing your way through breads dipped in aioli or braised chickpeas with artichokes and olives, marinated courgettes with pine nuts and ricotta, and of course, Anjou-style chicken. You know what? It’s a trade we’ll take.

The best outdoor restaurants in London | A flavour-packed spread at The Roof Terrace at TT, Shoreditch
A flavour-packed spread at The Roof Terrace of TT, Shoreditch

The Roof Terrace at TT, Shoreditch

Best for: Wood-fire plates and mouth-wateringly good cheesecakes
Address: 17B Kingsland Road, London, E2 8AA

This Hoxton address is known in local circles as a top spot for a cocktail or three, but things have just got that little bit better with the opening of its permanent rooftop restaurant. Decked out with a wood-fire oven and grill, its tables are lined with bamboo pendant lights and snug seats are topped with plush cushions, while a retractable roof is on standby for when the weather decides to not play ball. as include barbecued mackerel with pickled chilli hot sauce, succulent dry-aged ribeye drizzled in chimichurri and a juicy pineapple whipped cheesecake – all praise to head chef Sam Lone.

The best outdoor restaurants in London | A plant-framed table at Toklas restaurant in the Strand
The terrace at Toklas, Strand

Central London

Toklas, Strand

Best for: Freshly baked sourdough, spritzes and small plates
Address: 1 Surrey Street, Temple, London WC2R 2ND

Just a short stroll from 180 Strand, Toklas is a peaceful retreat from the fast pace of central London. Potted plants border the tables on the terrace, while an elevated position makes the bustle of The Strand seem miles away. A dedicated alfresco food menu and a collection of spritzes are served here by an attentive team. The white negroni sbagliato is particularly refreshing and pairs perfectly with small plates like courgette fritti and mozzarella arancini. The main restaurant is on the same level and on warmer days the doors are flung open and you can order from the full menu. Downstairs, Toklas bakery offers freshly baked sourdough, pastries and a fine selection of sandwiches.

Best outdoor restaurants London | The rooftop at Sessions Arts Club, with a row of tables and chairs under white umbrellas and with light-green cushions
A parasol-clad corner at the rooftop of Sessions Art Club, Clerkenwell

Sessions Arts Club, Clerkenwell

Best for: Long, lazy lunches on the rooftop of a Grade II-listed building
Address: Old Sessions House, 24 Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0NA

Housed in England’s oldest courthouse, Sessions Arts Club serves Venetian-inspired food in a decadent design-led space. Interiors see stripped-back plaster walls flanked by olive and rosemary trees, while tables are dressed in white tablecloths and topped with pastel-hued candlesticks. It’s the small touches that we think you’ll love the most, from hand-illustrated menus to a pop-up poetry library and regular art installations, this place is just as much a creative hub as it is a neighbourhood restaurant. Dine alfresco at the parasol-clad rooftop, where lime-green banquets and rattan chairs make for an idyllic lunch spot.

The best outdoor restaurants in London | The plant-lined, open-air terrace at rooftop restaurant Seabird located in The Hoxton, Southwark
A look inside Seabird at The Hoxton, Southwark

Seabird, Southwark

Best for: London’s longest oyster menu and an unmissable happy hour
Address: The Hoxton, South Bank, 40 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NY

There are sunset views – and then there are sunset views at Seabird – perched on the rooftop of The Hoxton in Southwark. Menus here look to Spain and Portugal for their bold flavours: the grilled octopus on a bed of saffron, potato pureé and jalapeños is a standout, but small plates like sea trout ceviche and dressed crab on toast are ideal for sharing. Visit at 5pm for the oyster happy hour, before tucking into your food as golden light basks the terrace and surrounding skyscrapers at sunset.

Best outdoor restaurants London | A view over the river Thames and people dining outside under globe-shaped lights at dusk, in front of the lit-up Tower Bridge
Tavolino's riverside spot. Photo by @onehungryasian

Tavolino Bar & Kitchen

Best for: Low-key Italian in an impressive riverside location
Address: 2 More London Riverside, London, SE1 2DB

Right on the doorstep of Tower Bridge, Tavolino pairs a neighbourhood vibe with glorious views over the River Thames and the Tower of London. Head chef Louis Korovilas honed his craft at London’s best-loved pasta group Bancone, so it’s no surprise the kitchen makes its own dough fresh each day and sources fine produce from Italy and the UK. Outside, Parisian-style chairs provide a perfect perch for a night spent grazing through plates of vitello tonnato and spicy ‘nduja and saffron arancini.

The best outdoor restaurants in London | The outdoor tables at Parrillan King's Cross
Outdoor seating at Parrillan, King's Cross. Photo by John Carey

North London

Parrillan, King’s Cross

Best for: Authentic Spanish cooking in a canalside setting 
Address: Coal Drops Yard, Stable St, London, N1C 4AB

The sibling restaurant to London’s best-loved Barrafina, Parrillan is slap bang in the centre of the hot-and-happening Coal Drops Yard. Forty covers are split between canal-side seating and a sun-dappled pergola that offer a welcome retreat from the summer sun. Serving up an authentic taste of Spanish cuisine, each dish is carefully cooked over a wood fire or grill, resulting in succulent beef sirloin, spice-topped oysters and premium lamb cutlets. If you’re after something lighter, an impressive small plates menu is on standby.

The best outdoor restaurants in London | The low-lit bar at The Farrier in Camden Market Stables
The low-lit bar at The Farrier, Camden

The Farrier, Camden

Best for: Seasonal British fare in the heart of Camden Market 
Address: 87-88 North Yard, Chalk Farm, London, NW1 8AH

It wasn’t until 2021 that Camden Market Stables welcomed its first ever pub, but The Farrier did not disappoint. Helmed by The Langham and Wild Honey alumni Ash Finch, food here is a celebration of seasonal British produce with a menu that is designed to be shared. We recommend the torched octopus with spiced squash puree, pickled baby carrots and charred corn, paired with the millionaire shortbread, which is served alongside an extra-sweet honeycomb ice cream. The vodka-steamed Cornish mussels don’t miss either. Housed in a former stables, features from the original structure can be traced in the exposed brick and wooden detailing, while brass touches, hanging loudspeakers and a marble bar create a contemporary finish.

Best outdoor restaurants London | Mazi's terrace, with wooden tables and blue-accented furniture against white-washed walls, and greenery in the form of olive trees
The courtyard at Notting Hill's Mazi. Photo by @jadesarkhel

West London

Mazi, Notting Hill

Best for: A modern take on Greek food in the pastel-hued streets of Notting Hill
Address: 12-14 Hillgate Street, London, W8 7SR

Small in size but large in ambition, Mazi in Notting Hill has long turned heads for the way it delivers a contemporary take on the flavours found in a traditional Greek taverna. House-baked breads, grilled aubergines and lobster orzo are just a few of the locally loved favourites on the menu. The back patio in the sunshine is a taste of pure escapism that will transport you to a rugged Greek island. And if it doesn’t, the expertly researched wine list brimming with Grecian bottles should help. Mazi has outposts in Abu Dhabi and Morocco, too.

Best restaurants with outdoor seating in London | Princess Royal's terrace with marble tables, red-and-white striped cushions, shaded by greenery
The green and glorious garden at The Princess Royal, Notting Hill. Photo by We The Food Snobs

The Princess Royal, Notting Hill

Best for: Moorish-influenced cooking in a leafy garden
Address: 47 Hereford Road, Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5AH

Following a sensitive refurbishment by the design masters of Cubitt House group back in 2022, The Princess Royal was reborn as a grown-up gastro pub with the addition of four individually designed bedrooms. The kitchen is captained by chef Ben Tish (formerly of Norma in Fitzrovia) and beats the drum for Britain’s natural larder – think Cornish crab served in the shell with lemon, pangrattato, radish and lemon. As for the interiors, a green and glorious theme is traced throughout, from its bottle-green facade and printed wallpapers to an outdoor courtyard that feels somewhat reminiscent of a botanical garden – all overgrown plants, pristine planter boxes and white benches lined with pinstriped cushions.

The best outdoor restaurants in London | The open-air rooftop at The Broadcaster in White City
The open-air rooftop at The Broadcaster, White City

The Rooftop at The Broadcaster, White City

Best for: DJ takeovers and sublime sorbets 
Address: 89 Wood Lane, London, W12 7FX

From the team behind Kings Cross staple The Lighterman, The Broadcaster delivers a slower-paced slice of hedonism into White City. The contemporary pub and dining room sprawls across four airy floors characterised by terracotta tiles, wood panels and warm plaster walls, but it’s the open-air rooftop you’ll want to bookmark for summer. There, views of London’s skyline juxtapose with sofas decorated with colourful cushions, hanging plants, bamboo pendant lamps and sailcloth awnings. Lots of events happen here, too, including roasts on the roof and Thursday night DJ sessions. The food? Grilled tiger prawns, hazelnut-topped burrata, traditional fish and chips and fresh sorbets.

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