Hot Dinners recommends

Because when the weather's great in London you're going to want our guide on London's loveliest spots to eat outdoors. 


Central London

Barrafina Drury LaneBarrafina Drury Lane

Where: 43 Drury Ln, London WC2B 5AJ

What: Some of the best Spanish tapas in London

USP: The great joy of summer is that your chances of getting a seat at Barrafina increases exponentially. And if you're out eating on the terrace here in Covent Garden you really could believe you're on holiday in Spain somewhere.

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Where: 11-15 Swallow St, London W1B 4DG

What: Top seafood, courtesy of chef Richard Corrigan

USP: Squeezed in down Swallow Street, this is one of those alfresco spots the weather can't spoil (and we know - we've had pre-Christmas drinks here and been as warm as toast). But it's better still when the sun's out and you've a platter of oysters in front of you.

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Where: 5 St James's Street, London SW1A 1EF

What: Classic French cooking in St James.

USP: Where to start? The fact that it's the largest private courtyard in central London? The fact that the last pistol duel in England was fought here? Or that those boards you see around the outside actually come from Henry VIII's tennis courts?

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Chiltern FirehouseChiltern Firehouse

Where: 1 Chiltern St, London W1U 7PA

What: Modern European cuisine in a very fancy hotel. Watch for celebs.

USP: The huge courtyard is not only wonderfully warm and snug (with an open fire to take the chill off on colder days) but there's also an oyster cart serving up rock and native oysters here. A cracking place for a fruits de mer platter or weekend brunch. 

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Coq D'ArgentCoq D'Argent

Where: 1 Poultry, London EC2R 8EJ

What: Classic French in the City

USP: Taking up a huge space on the top floor, this is one of the City's most famous alfresco spots. If you can grab a space here on a busy weekday lunchtime, you've done a good job. Also make sure to find the mini green out the back with great views of the City. 

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dalloway2019Dalloway Terrace

Where: 16-22 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3NN

What: Part of the Bloomsbury hotel, Modern European menu with a big Juicery section. 

USP: Probably one of London's most instagrammable outdoor spaces, the terrace here is redesigned every season to keep it looking as fresh as a daisy. Afternoon teas are popular and there's even a separate juice menu if wellness is your thing.

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Dominique Ansel BakeryDominique Ansel Bakery

Where: 17-21 Elizabeth St, London SW1W 9RP

What: Top NYC/French pastries. And the only place to get a proper cronut. 

USP: If you want to try top patisserie chef Dominique Ansel's afternoon tea, there's only one place they serve it - in their sun trap of a terrace.

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Ham YardHam Yard

Where: 1 Ham Yard, Soho, London W1D 7DT

What: Boutique hotel with a secluded spot in Soho (also has a great rooftop). 

USP: A rarity in central London, the titular 'yard' here is an oasis tucked in away from the traffic of Soho and Piccadilly. Created by the bombing during The Blitz it's now a super place on a summer's afternoon or evening - if you can get a table...

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Where: 8 Brook Street, London W1S 1EY

What: Classic brasserie fare in Mayfair

USP: Even though this tucked away courtyard makes you feel as if you've stumbled on a secret garden, it's about the worst kept secret in London. You'll have to fight hedge funders and other Mayfair folk for your chance to nab a coveted table on a sunny day.

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The OrreryThe Orrery

Where: 55 Marylebone High St, London W1U 5RB

What: Classic French food in Marylebone

USP: While there is a special terrace menu of small dishes upstairs at this Marylebone restaurant, what you're really after with your chilled glass of wine is a cheese plate from Orrery’s famous trolley.

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Petersham Nurseries Covent GardenPetersham Nurseries Covent Garden

Where: 31 King St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8JD

What: Richmond nurseries cafe's Covent Garden branch

USP: Given they have a full blown nursery down by the river, you'd expect any alfresco space by the Petersham Nurseries crew to be rather lovely. This new courtyard space they say "combines English country charm with Italian elegance". We say it provides a rare opportunity to eat alfresco in the heart of London without cars whizzing by.

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Le Pont de la TourLe Pont de la Tour

Where: 36D Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE

What: French cuisine next to Tower Bridge.

USP: One of the classics of the south bank of the Thames, this restaurant's terrace has unparalleled views of Tower Bridge. And pop into their shop if you fancy a smoothie for a post-lunch riverside walk. 

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The Ritz Restaurant TerraceThe Ritz Restaurant Terrace

Where: 150 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9BR

What: Classic French dining at a London institution

USP: John Williams cooking is great any time, but we can't think of a more beautiful spot for a lunch than overlooking the gardens at The Ritz. And don't worry - there are plenty of parasols to go around if you're not after a suntan.

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Where: 20 Mount St, London W1K 2HE

What: Classic seafood restaurant in Mayfair

USP: The terrace at this Mayfair establishment has long been a spot where you'll find yourself sitting downwind from unrepentent smokers like Ronnie Wood or Charles Saatchi and getting your photo taken by passing paps.

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Selfridges rooftopalto by San Carlo on the Selfridges rooftop

Where: 400 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1A 1AB

What: Italian cooking on the top of the famed Oxford Street store.

USP: The retractable roof up on the top floor of Selfridges' flagship Oxford Street shop means that the minute the British summer decides to make an appearance, you can enjoy the full benefit.

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East London

The CoachThe Coach

Where: 26-28 Ray Street, London EC1R 3DJ

What: Henry Harris' Clerkenwell pub

USP: This sheltered courtyard is rather tucked away, set at the back of the ground floor dining room.Enjoy some of Henry's French dishes like Saucisson Noir de Bigorre, celeriac rémoulade and toast and make like you're in the Loire Valley somewhere.

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crateCRATE Brewery

Where: Unit 7 Queen's Yard, Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN

What: Beer and pizza in Hackney

USP: If you can grab one of the coveted outdoor seats at this Hackney brewery, you'll want to stay there all night. Not only can you work your way through the beer but you can always think about a cocktail cruise on the Alfred Le Roy, moored outside. 

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The MarksmanThe Marksman

Where: 254 Hackney Rd, London E2 7SJ

What: Modern British cooking in Hackney. Also, amazing tarts. 

USP: The terrace leading off the upstairs dining room at this East London gastropub could feel a bit like climbing out on to your flat roof, were it not for how beautiful it looks with all the greenery.

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Modern PantryModern Pantry

Where: 47-48 St John’s Square, London EC1V 4JJ

What: Once Anna Hansen's place, this continues in the same vein

USP: Enjoying the fusion brunch out on this terrace in the heart of Clerkenwell is a weekend goal for Londoners.

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Rochelle CanteenRochelle Canteen

Where: Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, London E2 7ES

What: A favourite of chefs, with cooking by Melanie Arnold & Margot Henderson

USP: Once you've found your way in, which is harder than you'd expect, nabbing a table out in the walled garden at the original Rochelle Canteen feels like a total blessing.

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Where: Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E1 6JJ

What: top barbecued meats in Shoreditch

USP: There's only one way to avoid having to dry clean your clothes after a trip to Smokestak and that's by eating outside. Happily there's a large terrace here to enjoy their punchy cocktails and that beef brisket bun.

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West London

Bar BouludBar Boulud

Where: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA

What: Daniel Boulud's Knightsbridge casual restaurant

USP: If the sight of the Royal Horseguards trotting by on their way to and from the Changing of Guard at Buckingham Palace doesn't sell an outside space in London to you then what would? This gloriously-situated new terrace has fabulous views over Hyde Park.

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ChucsChucs at the Serpentine

Where: Serpentine Sackler Gallery, West Carriage Drive, London W2 2AR

What: Italian food in Kensington Gardens

USP: The first Chucs to do takeaway, the real draw here - other than their great Italian food - is the marvellous backdrop of the late, great Zaha Hadid's Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

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Ivy Chelsea GardenIvy Chelsea Garden

Where: 195 -197 King's Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 5EQ

What: Floral Ivy Cafe branch

USP: An Instagrammer's dream spot (and popular with the Made in Chelsea crew too) the Ivy Group brought in an award-winning designer to create the space at their King's Road restaurant. There's a covered upper terrace and a cosy firepit when the weather's not all that, but really it's just an evergreen dream out here.

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Number SixteenNumber Sixteen

Where: 16 Sumner Place, London SW7 3EG

What: Boutique hotel in Chelsea.

USP: The tree-filled garden at the back of this South Kensington hotel (part of the Firmdale group) is a super place to enjoy afternoon tea, or a sundowner.

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Where: 55 Exhibition Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2PN

What: Polish cuisine in Kensington

USP: It's hard to think of a more pleasant way to spend a summer's evening than downing ice-cold shots of vodka under the billowing canopy of Ognisko's terrace, looking out over Prince's Gardens, while pondering what kind of pelmeni to have

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The River CafeThe River Cafe

Where: Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, Hammersmith, London W6 9HA

What: One of London's best with truly next-level Italian food

USP: As long as you don't think about the bill, sitting out on the banks of the Thames enjoying super Italian food here really is a case of life doesn't get much better than this.  

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South London


Where: Circus West Village, Battersea Power Station, London SW8 5BN

What: Italian by the Thames

USP: Enjoy cracking riverside views at Francesco Mazzei's outpost at Battersea Power Station and watch out for weekend yoga and brunch sessions.

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The Lido CafeThe Lido Cafe

Where: The Lido Cafe, Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PA

What: Poolside Modern British with a focus on vegetarian and vegan.

USP: There aren't many (if any) other spaces in London that you can sit out by a pool and drink negronis with your smashed avo and eggs for brunch.

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Peartree CafePear Tree Cafe

Where: Lakeside Cafe, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ

What: Battersea park cafe run by well-seasoned restaurateurs

USP: This park cafe punches way above its weight - the owners here are ex-Petersham Nurseries and Spring with Skye Gyngell, via stints at Chez Panisse and more. With beautiful views over the Thames, this is a top spot for a steak sarnie or squash salad.

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The Lido CafeSan Lorenzo

Where: 38 Wimbledon Hill Road, London SW19 7PA

What: Independent Italian restaurant in Wimbledon

USP: When you're not spotting the world's top tennis stars enjoying dinner during the tennis championships the garden at this longstanding neighbourhood restaurant is just lovely. There's a retractable roof if the weather's iffy and when the lights go on at nighttime it's quite magical.

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Where: 4 The Polygon Clapham, London SW4 0JG

What: Seasonal menus in Clapham

USP: Adam Byatt's Clapham restaurant is a neighbourhood favourite and, come summer, tables looking out towards the common are the perfect spot to try his Michelin-starred, seasonal food.

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North London

parrillanCoal Drops Yard

Where: Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4DQ

What: King's Cross restaurant collection

USP: Many of the restaurants at Coal Drops Yard have great outside spaces, including the Hicce terrace and The Drop wine bar, but a few specifically stick out. There's the first-floor grill-it-yourself Parrillan, part of Barrafina, and Plaza Pastor, the all-outside section of Casa Pastor for some great Mexican food. And margaritas, of course. Also look for the first-floor terrace at Coal House, which is a perfect spot for a drink. 

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Where: 106 Camden Passage, The Angel, London N1 8EG

What: Longstanding Islington spot.

USP: The narrow frontage of this Camden Passage restaurant gives no hint of what's to be found at the back. One of London's great garden restaurant spaces, part of it's laid out in patio but there are also mature gardens too. It's popular as a wedding space though, so check ahead to see if it's booked out.

More about Frederick's

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The LightermanThe Lighterman

Where: 3 Granary Square, London N1C 4BH

What: Pub with plenty of outside space on Granary Square

USP: Apparently one of the most profitable spots in KX and it's not hard to see why - the first floor has a wrap-around terrace, the ground floor pub has a lovely terrace overlooking Granary Square and there's a canalside bar terrace too.

More about The Lighterman

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Michael NadraMichael Nadra

Where: 42 Gloucester Ave, London NW1 8JD

What: Contemporary food in Primrose Hill. Plus martinis. 

USP: The sunken garden area at Nadra's Primrose Hill restaurant is totally protected from any nasty draughts. Perfect for trying one of the 30+ martinis on their Martini Bar menu.

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Where: 63–69 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2DG

What: Smoked and grilled food in Islington

USP: In London's least green borough, the pretty garden squeezed into an intersection between two roads at an Islington BBQ restaurant is super popular come summer.

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