Best outdoor restaurants and bars in London

On long hot summer afternoons and balmy evenings, there's nothing better than drinking and dining al fresco. From hidden gardens to rooftop bars and riverside views, the Decanter team share their favourite London hotspots...

Updated with more recommendations in 2019

Le Pont de la Tour, Shad Thames

Opened by Terence Conran back in 1991, PDLT is still one of my favourite alfresco spots offering views of Tower Bridge from its riverside terrace. Seafood is a speciality here – the fruits de mer platter with oysters, crab, prawns and langoustines is a decadent treat, washed down with a bottle of Champagne or English fizz from the extensive wine list. For more vinous choice you can explore the Wine Shop at the back of the restaurant. And dessert has to be the signature crêpes Suzette of course. Julie Sheppard

  • 36D Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YE
  • Tel: 020 7403 8403

Frank’s, Peckham

With stunning views looking north towards central London, Frank’s is an outdoor bar situated on the top of a multi-story car park. The bar itself is at one end, with row upon row of picnic benches and tables spreads across the space, ready and waiting for you to soak up the sun. The other half of the space is used by the non-profit art gallery Bold Tendencies who commission site-specific art to fill the space. Offering affordable beers and cocktails, Frank’s also offers restaurant-quality food in the form of Mediterranean inspired small plates. Expect a real buzz when the sun is out and the Negronis are flowing. Natalie Earl

  • Bold Tendencies, 7th-10th Floors Multi-Storey Car Park, 95a Rye Lane, London SE15 4TG

The White Hart, Barnes

Classy and beautifully decorated, I stumbled across this 19th century pub whilst walking the Thames path. It is hard to miss because the path goes right past it, and even harder to avoid stopping for a well-deserved pint mid-walk. The outside seating area is spread across two levels; a terraced area right outside the pub, and a clutch of picnic benches down on the edge of the river. I only stopped for a swift pint, but the whopping great big plates of roast Sunday lunch streaming down towards the hungry walkers sat next to the river looked delicious. An excellent gin selection too. NE

  • The Terrace, Riverside, Barnes, London, SW13 0NR
  • Tel: 020 887 65177

The Culpeper, Spitalfields

The rooftop garden at The Culpeper is a real rustic gem, just a stone’s throw away from London’s Spitalfield’s Market. Fresh produce grown in the rooftop garden is often found on diners’ plates. This summer The Culpeper has had a focus on English wine, including a selection from Davenport Vineyards and Tillingham. Pét Nat wines have also replaced Champagne throughout the summer. Try with the whole grilled mackerel. Alex Layton

  • 40 Commercial Street, London E1 6LP
  • Tel: 020 7247 5371

Pop Brixton, Brixton

For an eclectic alfresco experience, pass Electric Avenue and head to Pop Brixton, a set of shipping containers occupied by independent and mainly local businesses. While there are excellent eat-in restaurants on site, your best bet is to grab something from one of the street-food-style vendors – everything from Caribbean, Greek, all things Asian and more, including vegan burgers – and sit in the central open-air communal space (covered in winter), often featuring a diverse selection of music and entertainment. And you won’t go thirsty either. In addition to a bar, there’s award-winning The New Zealand Cellar – the UK’s only dedicated Kiwi wine merchant and a regular Decanter Retailer Awards winner – to tempt you with an amazing range of wines to drink in or take away. Tina Gellie

  • 49 Brixton Station Road, London SW9 8PQ
  • Tel: 0203 879 8410

The Roebuck, Richmond

If you are after a leafy stroll followed by a pint with a view, this is the place to come. Situated just minutes from the gates of Richmond Park, this proper pub is perched atop Richmond Hill and as a result looks out west over the River Thames, the Surrey Hills and further afield. They do not have a beer garden per se, but miraculously they let you take your drinks just across the road to sit on the public benches and absorb the verdant views. NE

  • 130 Richmond Hill, Richmond, TW10 6RN
  • Tel: 020 8948 2329
outdoor restaurants London

Barge East. Credit: Ellie Douglas / Decanter

Barge East, Hackney

Enjoy canal side views in Hackney on a converted barge at Barge East – there’s both outdoor seating on the barge itself or at riverside picnic tables. Local beers, lovely staff and great food – go on a Sunday roast for the great value two courses for £22 or three for £27. Dishes include chorizo and pork scotch egg with aioli and pea cress, and beef rib, miso and honey roasted carrot, purple sprouting broccolini and parsnip puree (with roast potatoes, of course). Follow up with a two minute walk to the other side of the canal for a beer at Crate Brewery. Ellie Douglas

  • Whitepost Lane, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN
  • Tel: 020 3026 2807

La Famiglia, Chelsea

Traditional and understated, La Famiglia in southwest London’s Chelsea district was a favourite among the aristocracy and glitterati back in the day – VIP guests included Brigitte Bardot, Michael Caine and Princess Margaret. Chef Alvaro Maccioni passed away in 2013, but his daughter Marietta took the reins in a seamless transition, and the restaurant remains a destination for classic Italian dishes, lovingly prepared. Marietta recently revamped the courtyard at the back, which provides a discreet outdoor dining area – perfect for a summer’s evening in town. To start, you really can’t miss the minestra d’ova, a light lemony, eggy broth with cheese on toast floating on top – it’s more of a winter dish, but it’s a taste of heaven (and great for a hangover). More seasonally appropriate would be the tonno alla san carrado, thinly sliced raw tuna sprinkled with chopped tomatoes, peppers, onion, lemon and olive oil. If you have a sweet tooth, the old-fashioned dessert trolley is a must. Amy Wislocki

  • 7 Langton Street, The Worlds End, Chelsea, London SW10 0JL
  • Tel: 020 7351 0761

Pomona’s, Notting Hill 

This colourful restaurant in the heart of Notting Hill has a lovely terrace, surrounded by leafy planters and wisteria trailing over a shady pergola. Talented young British chef Ruth Hansom heads up the kitchen, serving up seasonal sharing plates that look as good as they taste. Recent summery favourites have included zingy beetroot ceviche and the veal tartare with pickled fennel and garden herbs. The wine list has some big names (Sassicaia, Château Léoville Barton) plus a globe-trotting selection of grapes and styles from South African Chenin to Argentine Malbec via Chablis, Albariño, Vinho Verde, Beaujolais and Brunello. Though cocktails here are top-notch too! JS.

  • 47 Hereford Rd, London, W2 5AH
  • Tel: 020 7229 1503

Winerama, Shoreditch

Set atop of the street food hot spot, Dinerama in Shoreditch, Winerama is an outside dining and drinking spot with Tuscan-style tables. Choose from an ever-changing wine list of old- and new-world favourites including Jim Clendenen’s renowned Wild Boy Chardonnay from Au Bon Climat. Perfect alongside a yum bun fried chicken steamed bun. AL

  • 19 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3EJ

Levan, Peckham

A South-London take on a Parisian bistro. A small space but with a wine list that packs a punch, this pocket-rocket of a restaurant transforms effortlessly between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their outside seating area has a distinctly French vibe and abuts a characterful Peckham street. The wine list focuses on minimal intervention, organic and biodynamic wines – with a particular proclivity towards wines of the Jura – and a seasonal and sustainable food menu. This forward-thinking restaurant is the perfect place to watch the hustle and bustle of a local area whilst exploring distinctive wines and hearty, quality food. NE

  • 12-16 Blenheim Grove, London SE15 4QL
  • Tel: 020 7732 2256
outdoor restaurants London

Levan, Peckham. Credit: Natalie Earl / Decanter

Flat Iron Square, London Bridge

A favourite of the Decanter.com team, this street food venue was dangerously close to Decanter’s old office. There’s something to please everyone here, from thai food to fried chicken,  Lebanese style salads to dumplings. Live sports are shown on screens in the summer, and it’s also been the main hub for London Wine Week. On a sunny day, claim your spot early. It’s also in the same spot as one of our top London wine bars, Bar Douro. ED

  • Flat Iron Square, London SE1 1TD
  • Tel: 020 3179 9800

The Ivy, Chelsea Garden

Situated on London’s famed King’s Road, The Ivy’s iconic Grade II listed building dates back to 1722. But where the restaurant really comes to life is in its stunning garden and outside spaces (pictured top), encompassing wisteria and roses alongside fountains and trellises, it’s the quintessential English courtyard garden. The wine list covers all bases, but when the sun shines a rich and decadent white such as Milton’s Riverpoint Viognier ticks a lot of boxes – especially when paired with the miso black cod fillet. AL

  • 195 -197 King’s Road, London SW3 5EQ
  • Tel: 020 3301 0300

Vista at the Trafalgar, St James’s

I think soaking in a good view is paramount (along with the company) while sharing a bottle of something fabulous. Head to the epicentre of London, and try the Vista open-air rooftop bar at The Trafalgar Hotel – with magnificent views of the bustling square below. (For 360° bird’s-eye panoramas of the capital from the inside, the Vertigo42 Champagne Bar is also a treat.) TG

  • 2 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2TS
  • Tel: 020 7870 2900

The Dove, Hammersmith

The Dove is a great little pub, which makes you feel as though you’ve gone back in time when you walk through the door. It’s tucked away in Hammersmith, so take a riverside stroll to reach it. There are cosy corners, a dining area and then an outdoor space right on the river. It has a strong wine list, local Fuller’s ales and guest beers. Be warned, it gets full when the sun shines, so claim your seat early and enjoy your day there. ED

  • 19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London W6 9TA
  • Tel: 020 8748 9474

The Havelock Tavern, Hammersmith

This is a pub that does incredible contemporary cuisine and has a gorgeous little walled garden out the back.  There’s a daily changing menu, and they bake their own bread on site. Laura Seal

  • 57 Masbro Road, Hammersmith, London W14 0LS
  • Tel: 020 7603 5374

Franco’s, St James’s

I visited Franco’s, an Italian restaurant tucked away on Jermyn Street, just off the buzzing Piccadilly after a visit to the Royal Academy of Arts. Greeted by a friendly ‘Buongiorno!’, reminding me of a typical ristorante waiter when I visited Italy last, we sat down at one of their outside tables. Between people-watching and admiring the shop displays across the street, we enjoyed a glass of Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene Extra Dry from Col Vetoraz – refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day. For a little something extra, order their sicilian cannolo with pistachio ice cream. Beatrice Ng

  • 61 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6LX
  • Tel: 020 7499 2211

Sager + Wilde, Bethnal Green

Sager + Wilde on Paradise Row in Bethnal Green, has rows of picnic benches and one of the largest outdoor spaces. It has an extensive wine by the glass list as well as a newly designed tasting menu that changes every day. Whether you want a glass of wine, a cocktail or a four-course menu – there is something for everyone and every occasion here. Christelle Guibert

  • Arch 250 Paradise Row, London, E2 9LE
  • Tel: 020 7613 0478

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