Where to Eat Outside in London
I know that it’s been a long, cold, and lonely winter but, look, here comes the sun. And it’s bringing with it a renewed sense of hope for the future. Hope hasn’t exactly been easy to come by over the last year or so and reasons for celebration have been as scarce as hen’s teeth. The imminent return of hospitality, however, is grounds to breathe a sigh of relief and get excited about life once again.
Because I’m not saying that lockdown has completely broken my spirit or anything, but if I have to eat my own cooking one more time I might actually scream. That’s why the prospect of being able to eat outside from April 12th (once it has been deemed as safe to do so) is something that fills me, personally, with joy. Yet, in spite of all the excitement of restaurant bookings and long overdue catch-ups with mates, it’s important to remember that the hospitality industry is nothing without the hard-working staff that keep those restaurants running.
Everyone from the kitchen porter rinsing their hands raw in the back to the waiting staff juggling two tops out-front play a vital role in making your dining experience as comfortable and seamless as possible. With the current situation still being a little “weird,” to say the least, it’s important to be conscientious of the vital work that those people are doing. They are essential workers, and we shouldn’t take the risks that they are taking (or are being forced to take in order to earn a living) lightly. So, when you do dine out, make sure to tip generously and adhere to all of the safety measures that have been put in place. Oh, and don’t forget to have a good time, too.
It’s okay to not be okay with dining out just yet but if you are ready to eat outside, these are the London hotspots where you should book yourself a seat, order a few (read: many) plates of delicious eats, a glass (read: bottle) of good wine, and try to pretend that everything is back to normal for a couple of hours.
It’s not an exhaustive list by any means but these are some of the best restaurants to eat outside in London from April 12th; the places where you can find out if you’ve been cat-fished by your lockdown boo and finally meet your work colleagues face-to-face over a plate of freshly-made pappardelle. Book yourself a lunch or dinner at any of these excellent outdoor dining spots, MOB. You’ve earned it.
This Shoreditch icon has a covered 60-seater terrace on Redchurch Street and enough fish sauce chicken wings to feed an army. The food that comes out the pass at Smoking Goat is all about carefully-sourced ingredients and the punchy plates of fried whiting with fermented soybean and whole grilled plaice with nahm jim infuse traditional Thai herbs with local, seasonal vegetables that have been grown in Cornwall and Dorset. All of the seafood, which you’ll find lovingly charred on the open barbecue, is sourced from Cornish waters and as fresh as it gets. And the meat? Well, it’s all top-notch, too.
64 Shoreditch High Street, Shoreditch, E1 6JJ
Westerns Laundry isn’t just one of the best places to eat outside in London. It’s one of the best places to eat in London, full stop. The seafood-forward menu at this north London locale places a razor-sharp focus on seasonal, sustainable produce while championing a host of regenerative producers across the UK. The dishes that Westerns Laundry serve are constantly changing, constantly fresh, and constantly stunning. Pay a visit to their courtyard this spring for a dining experience you won’t forget.
34 Drayton Park, Highbury East, N5 1PB
Brat @ Climpsons Arch
Good news, MOB: Michelin-starred Brat is reopening its popular dining terrace at Climpsons Arch. Even good-er news: that means you can finally take your crush out on a date there. The daily-changing menu from chef Tomos Parry will continue to showcase the best of British seasonal produce sourced from seminal producers like Dan Cox’s Crocadon Farm and Calixta Killander’s Flourish Farm. Along with your standard Brat favourites (hello there, anchovy flatbread!), you can expect new dishes of roasted game rice, fried pork chops with anchovy and hay butter, and tomatoes with aged mutton and grilled cep mushrooms. Go and book yourself a table before it’s too late. Seriously.
374 Helmsley Place, Hackney, E8 3SB
Angelina’s covered terrace reopens on 12th April. That means it’s not long now before you can get your hands on the tender fusion of Japanese and Italian flavours that comes out of their Dalston Lane kitchen. The fact that the terrace is covered means you won’t have to be fannying about with your weather app beforehand but, between you and me, the food at Angelina is so good (we’re talking about melty mozzarella and anchovy en carrozzas and crunchy ebi katsu here) that you won’t even care about a bit of drizzle.
56 Dalston Lane, Dalston, E8 3AH
Robin and Sarah Gill’s restaurant in Embassy Gardens is also an oyster bar, bakery, and grill. Which are, like, three of my all-time favourite things. The central oyster bar is the perfect perch for sipping on an ice-cold pint of Guinness and necking back a couple of plump Dooncastle oysters before you get down to some serious eating. The bar menu at Darby's – which is rounded off by plenty of native seafood, mussels and pickles – won’t disappoint. The circa 20-cover terrace has been extended and is open on a first-come, first-serve basis. Chop, chop.
No. 3 Viaduct Gardens, Nine Elms, SW11 7AY
JAE at Untitled
JAE is a Korean-inspired permanent residency that you can find at the chic, minimalist Untitled cocktail bar on Kingsland Road. What’s the difference between a permanent residency and a restaurant? I don’t know. But bookings for the outdoor seating area are open from 14th April onwards and you really shouldn’t be sleeping on this one, MOB. Chef Jay Morjaria is an immense talent and the punchy, drinks-friendly food he serves at JAE is the kind of thoughtful cooking you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in London. Whether he's serving up a pork belly ssam or a spicy tteokbokki, Jay’s respect for the traditions of Korean cuisine – along with his willingness to push conventions by putting his own twist on those classic dishes – makes JAE a must-visit for al fresco dining.
538 Kingsland Road, Dalston, E8 4AH
Barrafina Dean Street
Spilling its gorgeous guts out onto the streets of Soho once again this year, Barrafina Dean Street has opened up its outdoor terrace for reservations from April 12th. Barrafina ran a strict no-reservations policy pre-COVID, so this really might be your final chance to book ahead and get your chops around some of the very best tapas that London has to offer. It’s got a Michelin star for a reason, folks.
26-27 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 3LL
The Drapers Arms
I've missed pubs. I've missed pubs so much that I've had multiple daydreams about paying £8.50 for a pint and actually felt grateful for the honour. Out of all the pubs I've missed, The Drapers Arms is fairly high up on that list. Bookings are open for the garden at this north London staple via email only so you’ll have to fire off a very polite enquiry to email@example.com if you’d like to nab yourself a spot in the sun. Don’t worry, MOB – it’s definitely worth getting out your “Kindest Regards” for. The Drapers Arms is one of the best food pubs in London (their fish and chips is, quite frankly, ridiculous) and somewhere you should try and eat outside as soon as it’s safe to do so.
44 Barnsbury Street, Islington, N1 1ER
Good news, meatheads: on Monday 12th April, SMOKESTAK will re-open its terrace and welcome diners to its Shoreditch home once again. Leave the vegans at home and be prepared to feast on SMOKESTAK’s signature smoked meats under a snazzy, specially-built new canopy. Just a few of the dishes to expect from founder David Carter and his team include calcot fritti; chipotle caramel wings; glossy buns packed with pastrami, pickles, mustard and dill; lamb merguez with fresh mint dressing; charred pork belly rib with pickled cucumber; and beef brisket with mustard barbecue. Yep. I'll meat you there.
35 Sclater Street, Shoreditch, E1 6LB
I, for one, cannot wait to bag myself a bougie table at Double Standard’s eye-catching terrace when it reopens on 12th April. Slushies, cocktails, and some of London’s best burgers to boot? Yeah, you’re not gonna want to miss this one, MOB. Get your reservations in now to avoid disappointment. And don’t forget to invite me along for the fun, too.
10 Argyle Street, The Standard, WC1H 8EG
Gunpowder Tower Bridge
Gunpowder is going to be opening the terrace at their tidy restaurant on Duchess Walk from 12th April. That means that you should really be getting yourself down to Tower Bridge anytime after that date to feast on Gunpowder’s famous lamb chops and other classics from the menu including their Karwari soft shell crab and spicy venison doughnut. Featuring a series of individual dining pods, the terrace can accommodate groups of up to six. As for drinks, you can find a series of Indian-ish cocktails and London’s largest Portuguese wine list. Lovely.
4 Duchess Walk, Tower Bridge, SE1 2SD
Allegra is an east London gem that boasts enviable views of London’s skyline from its 50-seat rooftop terrace. Set amid an elevated meadow of wildflowers, this outdoor seating is vastly underrated and definitely one you should be visiting if you’re after a bit of a “wow” factor. Food-wise, you can expect some sublime sharing dishes and small plates from head chef Patrick Powell that are so good they might actually be capable of distracting you from the view. From 15th April, they'll even be a four-week Happy Burger pop-up at the rooftop featuring a more concise and playful menu of burgers and sides with guest appearances from top London chefs including Sertaç Dirik and Seb Meyers. That's your spring sorted then, MOB.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 20 International Way, E20 1FD
Fancy some beers and burgers this April? Of course you bloody do. And that's exactly why Mondo Brewing will be opening up their courtyard every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 15th April. Snag an outdoor table in advance for up to 6 people and enjoy a selection of beers on tap with your mates in the sunshine. Or the pouring rain. Mondo is fully equipped with heaters and awnings to keep you warm and dry. As for the food, you can order Bleecker Burger's signature burgers and classic sides to Mondo Tap or get a couple of slices from nearby Detroit Pizza London or Joe Public ordered to your table. Book your table today by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. See you there.
86 Stewart's Road, Nine Elms, SW8 4UG
Emilia’s Crafted Pasta
Al fresco dining will be back at both of Emilia’s Aldgate and St Katharine Docks restaurants with bookings now live for dates from 12th April onwards. Both outdoor seating areas will be fully covered (so, there’s no need to worry about the weather) and the staff will be on hand with plenty of blankets and heated cushions should you need them. That being said, the brilliant plates of fresh pasta that Emilia serves should be enough to warm you up from the inside-out.
London’s biggest outdoor drinking and dining space is reopening on 12th April and you should definitely make sure to book yourself a big feed there in the upcoming months. There’s still a few details that are under wraps at the moment but you can expect food from the likes of Nanny Bill’s, Baba G’s, Nik’s Kitchen, Sugo, and more. Honestly, MOB, what more could you possibly want from Vinegar Yard?
72-82 St Thomas Street, Bermondsey, SE1 3QX
Seabird, the snazzy rooftop restaurant that's perched on the 14th floor of The Hoxton hotel, is reopening on 12th April for terrace bookings. Not only are they back with a bang but they've also gone and given their menu a refresh with head chef, Javier Duarte, combining old favourites with some fresh new creations. Seabird’s signature octopus roll – in which plump chunks of chargrilled octopus are nestled with Padron peppers and smoked aioli in a brioche roll – will still be in attendance along with newcomers like charcoal-grilled John Dory and baked manchego cheesecake. Combine all that great grub with an enviable view of the London skyline, and your summer is pretty much set, MOB.
40 Blackfriars Road, South Bank, SE1 8NY
Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill
Located just off Regent Street, Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill has been serving oysters and champagne to the masses for over 100 years. If you haven’t already been there yet, you probably should. It’s a classic, MOB. Bentley’s 60-seat terrace will be serving the works, including their signature fish pie, shellfish cocktail, and Cornish dressed crab. All very ‘grammable and all very delicious. The space is completely covered and heated, too.
11-15 Swallow Street, Mayfair, W1B 4DG
If you’re after oodles of noodles this spring, you’re in luck. Koya City’s 50-seater covered terrace in Bloomberg Arcade is set to reopen on 12th April. If you’ve never been before, just know that this Japanese udon noodle hotspot is an ideal outdoor hangout with both hot and cold noodle dishes on offer to suit all types of weather. We’d recommend getting a bowl of each. Y’know: just in case.
10-12 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR
Eating pizza on your sofa while wearing nothing but your underwear is great and all but, considering how many times I’ve done that over the last year, I’m pretty keen to sit down outside a nice restaurant and eat a pizza while I’m wearing some nice clothes instead. Homeslice is all about combining traditional pizza technique with innovative flavour combinations and it’s that precarious (and delicious) balancing act that makes them one of our favourite pizza spots in the city. Their Shoreditch and Marylebone restaurants feature terraces where you’ll be able to enjoy some 20” pizzas from 12th April.
The Laundry Brixton
Set in the heart of Brixton on Coldharbour Lane, The Laundry is a bustling all-day bistro, wine shop, and café that also so happens to be home to one of the most pleasant terraces in London. The only thing they won’t do is wash your dirty underwear. Bookings for that fully-covered and heated terrace from the 12th April onwards are now open and you’d be a fool not to get involved ASAP. We’ll see you there with a glass of something great.
374 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8PL
Beer and BBQ go hand-in-hand and Prairie Fire in White City is a nifty little spot to get your fill of both those really, really lovely things. Prairie Fire's urban beer terrace spills down both sides of their restaurant and taproom in the Wood Lane railway arches; it's the ideal place to eat outside in London and enjoy a range of Kansas City-style BBQ. 16-hour oak-smoked USDA brisket? Applewood-smoked pork and chicken? Smash burgers? That all sounds pretty great to me. Book a table for you and your bubble via ResDiary.
Arches 88/89, Wood Lane Arches, W12 7LH
This wood-fire obsessed restaurant (from chef Pip Lacey) has got a whopping 70-seater terrace on the ground floor of Coal Drops Yard and an 80-seater terrace upstairs to match. The seasonal menu (which features dishes like tempura parsnip with curry sauce and raisins or monkfish with radicchio, hazelnuts, and nasturtium) is a great showcase of how fun small plates can be. Hicce's food is exactly what you want to be munching on while you dine al fresco with a strong cocktail in-hand.
Unit 102, Stable Street, N1C 4DQ
Many of us resorted to trying to make our own pasta at some point over lockdown but I think we can all agree that it’s never quite as good as when someone else makes it for you. If you do want to treat yourself to some hand-made fresh pasta, that’s been made by actual pastaficios, then you need to make tracks to Holloway Road and hit up Berto. The popular pasta restaurant is opening up its outdoor seating from 12th April. It’s one of the friendliest neighbourhood spots around north London, MOB.
55 Holloway Road, N7 8LX
Carnaby’s iconic Kingly Court is a three-storey alfresco food and dining destination that's situated right in the heart of London’s West End. The vibrant, open-air courtyard is home to 20 of the best international concept restaurants, bars and cafés. The ground floor has a diverse mix of traders including chicken and craft beer specialists Whyte & Brown, whole food deli and café The Detox Kitchen and Tel Aviv-inspired street food The Good Egg. If none of those take your fancy, there's always Pizza Pilgrims, tonkatsu ramen from Shoryu Carnaby and the newly opened vegan Mexican joint Club Mexicana. It's basically the food court of your dreams, MOB.
Kingly Street, Soho, W1B 5PW
JOY at Portobello
If there’s one thing that we’ve all been missing over the last year or so, it’s joy. Thankfully, this pop-up from Stevie Parle on the terrace at Portobello Docks is capable of providing plenty of that. JOY’s restaurant, FLORA, should hopefully be open up again this summer to ply you with feel-good plates of fresh produce and some snappy aperitivos. The vibe is Mediterranean-ish (think lobsters cooked over a wood fire served with salty, fatty lardo) and absolutely what the doctor ordered after a tough few months.
Portobello Dock, 344 Ladbroke Grove, W10 5BU
The Hawk’s Nest
Located just a brief stroll from Shepherd’s Bush Market, The Hawk’s Nest will be reopening its outdoor dining space and bar from 12th April. It’s a fun venue that’s super well-prepared for social distancing with up to 180 seats with heaters and coverings for those brisk spring evenings. Order a round of cocktails and pizzas for a guaranteed good time.
Goldhawk Road, Shepherd's Bush, W12 8DF
Oklava’s al fresco dining option is going to be up-and-running from 14th April and trust me when I tell you that this is going to be one of the hottest reservations around town. It’s only got a limited run with limited availability (because there’s only so many actual seats available… duh) but it’s the unlimited flavour potential of the excellent Turkish food cooked by Selin Kiazim that you’re going to want and need. There are awnings and heaters to ensure you’ll be comfortable whatever the weather but this is only going to be available for five weeks. So book it now. Like, right now. Seriously.
74 Luke Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 4PY
Lady of the Grapes
This organic wine bar and restaurant (which works tirelessly and admirably at supporting female winemakers) is taking reservations from 12th April for its picture-perfect outdoor terrace. All the food is made from scratch by chef Eliott Buchet using carefully-selected artisan ingredients and the wine list is, unsurprisingly, banging. Lady of the Grapes is a bijou little post-lockdown date spot. Check it out.
16 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7NJ
Channel your inner Jamie Laing this spring and book yourself a table on Vardo’s sun-dappled terrace. Located smack-bang in the midst of Chelsea's Duke of York Square, Vardo nails all-day eats and their new menu promises to be full of exactly what you’re craving after 12 months of your own shoddy cooking. Dine with Vardo from 12th April and the drinks will flow, the sun will shine, and the good vibes will seep into your tired and embittered soul.
9 King's Road, Chelsea, SW3 4LY
April 12th is the date that Fare will finally reopen its swish doors, so mark that down in your Google Calendar if you fancy a bit of grub in Old Street around that time. The spacious terrace is the ideal nook for enjoying a bottle of wine and a few cheeky cocktails over a pizza. Or two. It’s been a while since we’ve all been out and I will not judge your eyes for being bigger than your stomach. Spots are going to go fast, though, so make sure you book now to avoid missing out on the fun.
11 Old Street, EC1V 9HL
Big Jo’s new outdoor eating area (which is going by the catchy name of “Big Jo Outside”) should be your first port of call for thoughtful dishes come rain or shine. The terrace, which will be under a permanent canopy with additional natural cotton canvas awnings, will only have 36 covers available for lunch and dinner from April 13th. That means you’re going to have to be quick off the draw to make sure you can get yourself a table. And, honestly, mate – if you get a chance to dine there and I don’t, I will hold a grudge against you for eternity. Just a warning!
18-326 Hornsey Road, Finsbury Park, N7 7HE
The Drop is a wine bar and restaurant that pours carefully-sourced wines and serves broadly British bistro dishes. It also might just be the best thing about Coal Drops Yard. With an outdoor seating area that’s covered and heated, The Drop is the perfect place to go and finally meet your work colleagues over a plate of roast chicken breast with chicken fat mash. You won’t even have to worry about being on mute.
Unit 22-24, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DH
Sri Lankan short eats specialist Hoppers will have their King's Cross terrace open from 12th April for you to get your fill of some of the freshest and fiercest food in London. Chow down on a portion of mutton rolls and lamb kothu roti in the sunshine and you'll forget how many countless hours you've spent over the last 12 months staring at your own mug on Google Meets. Hoppers' original Soho branch will also be open as part of the Soho al fresco evenings with the St Christopher's Place getting involved in the pedestrianisation scheme in that part of town, too
10 Heddon Street is home to Fallow: a sustainably-minded restaurant with a nose to tail and root to stem menu designed by clever head chefs Will Murray and Jack Croft. Unsung ingredients like chicken scratchings, veal tail, and cod’s head are made the stars of the show at Fallow as Croft and Murray exhibit a lucidity in their cooking that’ll put any of your own attempts at fine dining to shame. In the most delicious way possible, of course.
10 Heddon Street, Mayfair, W1B 4BX
Peckham local Kudu has opened up bookings for its spring terraces from April 14th and – you know what, MOB? – that’s something that has really put a spring in my step. Make a booking and you’ll be sat in the bucolic garden at the back of the restaurant where you can comfortably make doe eyes at someone you fancy over a heaping plate of pork belly. Or you could just make doe eyes at the pork belly. Whatever floats your boat. Do make sure you order the signature Kudu bread with bacon and baby shrimp butter, though. It’s good enough to bathe in.
119 Queen's Road, Peckham, SE15 2EZ
Wild by Tart
Tucked away in an awfully quaint area of Pimlico, Wild by Tart has got a 24-seat terrace that’s just begging for a catch-up with your bezzie mate. The relaxed all-day dining menu focusses on big, bold flavours and seasonal, sustainably-sourced ingredients. Highlights include goat’s curd, nettle, and heather honey pizza and a banging spring salad of Dorset crab, broad beans, radish, wild asparagus and dill.
3-4 Eccleston Yards, Belgravia, SW1W 9AZ
The question of “where should I eat outside in London this April?” can easily be solved in two simple words: Rochelle Canteen. Rochelle Canteen is reopening its lovely tent to punters on 12th April and I really can’t emphasise enough how much of an utterly lovely, utterly brilliant restaurant it is. The food is impeccable, the vibe is lush and comfortable, and it’s exactly what your soul has been craving after so many nights spent staring into dead space as you wait for your Tesco Finest tortellini to boil. Please eat at Rochelle Canteen, MOB. You will not regret it.
16 Playground Gardens, Shoreditch, E2 7FA
Even the most ardent hater of small plates and pét nat would find it hard to find a fault with Ducksoup. This Dean Street natural wine bar and restaurant is as achingly sincere as it is achingly trendy and it’s the care that’s put into all the food and drink on offer which makes it a spot to remember. Outside bookings are now open for April and you should nab yourself a cheeky table if you’re keen to re-discover just how pleasant wining and dining in London can be.
41 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 4P
The El Pastor family is a small group of Mexican taquerias in London and Plaza Pastor is the fiery, red-headed middle-child of the bunch: a covered, heated terrace in Coal Drops Yard where you can find a cracking menu of tacos, tostadas, and sharing plates. The vibe at Plaza Pastor is fun with live music and a DJ programme on weekends being par for the course pre-pandemic and you’d be remiss not to grab a few cheeky cocktails here for a much overdue date night. Good tacos and good company? What could be better?
Unit 25-27, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DQ
If the one thing you’ve been craving more than anything is Antipodean brunch eats served in a super-relaxed atmos, then Milk Beach should absolutely be on your post-lockdown hitlist. From 13th April, the all-day Australian restaurant will be taking bookings for the covered tables that sit happy as Larry outside their Lonsdale Road premises. Plonk yourself down there to get your fill of everything from smashed avo to buttermilk hot chicken wing. Don’t worry if you’re not the sort who likes booking ahead, either – Milk Beach will be putting plenty of tables out on the mews for walk-ins. Bozza.
19-21 Lonsdale Road, Queen's Park, NW6 6RA
I know that the last thing you probably want to have to do when you're finally allowed to go out for a meal again is cook for yourself, but just trust me that manning one of the mini-grills at Parrillan in the spring sunshine is a lot more fun than doing it in your own musty kitchen. The Coal Drops Yard grill-it-yourself joint is re-opening its covered and heated outdoor dining area from 12th April. And don't worry if you're not up for getting your hands dirty: there's plenty of Spanish para picar, arroces, soups and stews that are prepared by the actual chefs at Parrillan to go around.
Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, N1C 4AB
Tacos Padre is both the name of this excellent Mexican spot in Borough Market and the only appropriate answer to the question of, "what do you want for dinner?". Nick Fitzgerald – who used to work at Pujol in Mexico City – will be taking over the covered space outside his already-popular taco stall and serving an expanded menu of tasty, tasty dishes. Expect tacos stuffed to the gills with everything from pork carnitas to cauliflower al pastor. You're not gonna wanna miss this one.
The Borough Market Kitchen, Winchester Walk, Jubilee Place, SE1 9AG