Soak up the sun: Al fresco dining in London

As soon as the sun comes out, we get the urge to top up our Vitamin D, order jugs of Pimms, and eat all our meals outdoors. For those of you that feel the same way, we’ve rounded up some of the best restaurants for al fresco dining in London. It’s time to grab your shades, round up your mates, and make the most of the good weather.

Bluebird Chelsea
Situated on the King’s Road, Bluebird is perfect for people-watching over lunch or dinner. There’s a Mediterranean slant to the menus, with dishes ranging from steak tartare and crispy duck salad to whole lobster with garlic and parsley butter.

J Sheekey Atlantic Bar & Terrace, Covent Garden
J Sheekey is not only one of the West End’s top spots for pre-theatre dining, it also lures you in with its fantastic al fresco dining space. The terrace is also a prime location for people-watching while you tuck into seafood platters, Dover sole, or their famous fish pie.

The River Café, Hammersmith
Focusing on uncomplicated Italian dishes and sublime ingredients, The River Café is a pricey but oh-so-satisfying treat – one of London’s legendary lunch spots.

Yauatcha City
Enjoy modern Chinese dining in the heart of the City. Perch on powder blue seating, surrounded by pink cherry blossom trees, and dive into gourmet dim sum, cocktails, and decadent desserts. As an added bonus, the restaurant’s terraces overlooking Broadgate Circle benefit from a DJ and outdoor bar area.

The Albion, Islington
The Albion is a Georgian gem left over from a time when Islington was fields and farmland. Sit beneath the blooming wisteria and willow trees and enjoy classic British pub grub or a superb Sunday roast. Rumour has it that the Sex Pistols played their first concert in the barn at the back of the garden.

Orrery, Marylebone
Orrery’s secluded roof terrace is the ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle of Marylebone High Street to bask in the sunshine and sip on a cool drink. The terrace menu is light and fresh, featuring dishes like asparagus with truffle mascarpone, spring vegetable risotto, and pistachio and lemon tart.

Boundary Rooftop, Shoreditch
This rooftop retreat in the heart of Shoreditch offers panoramic views of London, with the City skyline at its most dramatic after dark. The menu is inspired by the Mediterranean – expect simply grilled meat and seafood and seasonal salads, accompanied by plenty of ice-cold Provençal rosé. Should it get a little chilly, the heaters and glass roof mean that al fresco dining is still an option.

Michael Nadra, Primrose Hill
Home to one of north London’s loveliest outdoor dining areas, Michael Nadra serves modern European dishes like roast duck with thyme potato gnocchi and sea bass with crab bisque. Start your evening in style with a Primrose Martini made with vodka, St Germain and cranberry juice.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden
Located on the King’s Road, it seems as though the Chelsea Flower Show runs all year round at this lush location. Sit amongst the prettiest of blooms and sample the restaurant’s all day menu and cocktails in the sunshine. We’re partial to the hibiscus and rosewater-infused Ivy Royale and the potent Yuzu Negroni.

Big Easy, Canary Wharf
Who said summer dining should be all about salads and light bites? At Big Easy, you can tuck into authentic barbecue, East Coast lobster and frozen cocktails whilst enjoying spectacular views of the city skyline.

Angler, City
Perched at the top of South Place Hotel, award-winning Angler showcases sustainable seafood from British waters paired with fantastic seasonal produce. Sitting amongst the olive trees and lavender bushes, you could imagine you’re in the South of France. Executive chef Gary Foulkes’ picture-perfect plates have made Angler a destination for savvy seafood lovers – the tasting menu is not to be missed.

Have we missed your favourite? Let us know in the comments. Visit OpenTable to discover more al fresco dining destinations in London or try one of these riverside restaurants.

This is a guest post from freelance journalist Beatrice Clark. She has written for Vogue, Glamour and Vanity Fair, among others, and has spent the past 15 years living in France, England and Scotland. She is currently based in Berlin and is always on the hunt for the perfect Eggs Benedict.

Updated April 2021.