Best-of Guides Greater London

The Best London Restaurants for Outdoor Dining

8 Restaurants
“Summer's lease hath all too short a date” – yes, time may have been called on meteorological summer, but making the most of warmer days while we still can means eating outside as often as we’re able. London is lucky to have many different options for eating alfresco, from hidden courtyards to riverside spots – and some even thrown in a great view too. Here are just a few of our favourites:
Updated on 18 September 2023
47 St John's Square, Finsbury, EC1V 4JJ London
££ · Mediterranean Cuisine

Sitting in something of an oasis within the hustle and bustle of modern day Clerkenwell is this bright and cheery eatery in St John’s Square. Formerly known as The Modern Pantry, it sports an extensive pavement terrace that benefits from being in a sheltered and sunny spot. The Mediterranean-inspired dishes, which are bursting with colour and flavour, are just what the occasion demands when dining al fresco. Open weekdays from breakfast through till dinner, Compton even comes complete with a tiny deli next door that’s perfect for picking up a grab-and-go bite.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
66 Knightsbridge, Hyde Park and Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA London
££££ · Traditional British

Although you’ll miss watching the chefs in action through the glass wall of the kitchen, sitting outdoors overlooking the neatly manicured lawn of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel does come with plenty of benefits too. You might, for example, catch a glimpse of the horses and riders of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment on South Carriage Drive: one could say a thoroughly British view to match the re-imagined historical British dishes.

Le Pont de la Tour
36d Shad Thames, Butlers Wharf, Southwark, SE1 2YE London
£££ · French

A table overlooking Tower Bridge, the most iconic of all the London bridges, must be one of the most glorious riverside locations in the city. The late Sir Terence Conran certainly recognised a good thing when he opened his Butler’s Wharf gastrodome back in 1991. Their famous ‘plateau de fruits de mer’ and a bottle of chilled white Burgundy surely make the perfect alfresco afternoon.

Ritz Restaurant
150 Piccadilly, St James’s, W1J 9BR London
££££ · Modern British

When they have one of the most opulent dining rooms of any London hotel, one might wonder why anyone would wish to sit outdoors. However, that same air of luxury pervades through to the smart terrace overlooking Green Park; start with a pre or post lunch cocktail in the Ritz Garden which is situated below. Luxury really is all around – and that includes the sumptuous ingredients on the menu.

River Café
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, Hammersmith & Fulham, W6 9HA London
££££ · Italian

Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray can surely never have imagined what an iconic place The River Café would become, so securing a reservation – and that all important seat on one of London’s most sought-after terraces – requires some forward planning. Once seated, kick off with a glass of Prosecco and enjoy the daily changing Italian-inspired menu – leaving room, of course, for the famous Chocolate Nemesis.

151 Sydney Street, Chelsea, SW3 6NT London
£££ · Modern British

Slightly hidden from view and not to be confused with the Chelsea Gardener next door, this delightful and ‘secret’ restaurant allows for dining in a lean-to orangery or an English Garden style courtyard. Named after the owner, Hugh Stanley, the dishes here are almost as colourful as the floral decorations and come with a welcome lightness; the cocktails are quite a feature too.

The Princess Royal
47 Hereford Road, Bayswater and Maida Vale, W2 5AH London
££ · Modern Cuisine

This Victorian-era London pub went through many name changes over the years before it finally took on its current regal title, while also undergoing a top to bottom refurbishment. It’s something of a hidden gem, tucked away down a leafy city side street but offering a country house vibe. The Italian style striped awnings are a great way to spot it, with the swanky renovation having been extended to the outside. A walled garden comes complete with trees and leafy shrubs, making it the ideal place to be when the weather permits. A seat in the sun out here makes the simple and seasonality-driven cooking all the more enjoyable. A seafood bar tops things off.

4 The Polygon, Lambeth, SW4 0JG London
£££ · Modern Cuisine

As part of a recent regeneration project for Clapham Old Town, a spacious piazza was created right outside Trinity – and they were quick to see its potential. Smart canopies and mature planters give the space identity and, close by, Clapham Common awaits for anyone in need of a post-prandial amble. Chef Adam Byatt and his team have created the perfect neighbourhood restaurant, with a menu of modern classics alongside a great wine list.