The English summer may be a blink-and-you'd-miss-it few days, but here at Hot Dinners we can feel things heating up. The only trouble is that when it's time to head outside and soak up those precious days of sunshine that's when you face competition from everyone else in town who has the same idea. We've pulled together a list of some perhaps less well-known al fresco dining spots in town to give you a headstart on finding the perfect place to eat in the sun.
Best for City folk
The heated terrace here can seat up to 40 guests and offers a special seaside inspired menu over the summer, served from the crustacea bar. There's no through traffic, so it's free from fumes, and you can book a table here too. Enjoy a fish finger sandwich with a glass of fizz and follow that up with a Knickerbocker glory. If you're just after drinks - head next door to the courtyard for the Old Bengal Bar which is part of this D&D run complex.
Best for riverside eating
A massive revamp has given this already popular pub an even better river-fronting beer garden. There are now more seats, including some highly sought-after sheltered booth/cabanas and a better order system. Enjoy watching rowers zip past on the Thames while you try the Coca Cola Glazed Pork Ribs or Chargrilled Quesadillas with Sour Cream and Sweet Potato Chips from the BBQ.
Best for East London hipsters
Those possessing facial hair and a fine pair of red trousers need look no further than Hoxton for their alfresco requirements. New opening Beagle - tucked under the arches at Hoxton station - has large sheltered outside terraces for both its bar and restaurant. There's room for 60 people in total, so pull up a chair, order one of their seriously strong (and good) martinis and while away a warm evening quite happily here.
Best for panoramic London vistas
The top floor restarant at ME London hotel - Radio - has wraparound terraces with covered cabanas and heaters to cover anything the British summer throws at you. The view from the 10th floor is frankly stunning, sweeping from Canary Wharf in the East along the Thames to Somerset House and beyond. Food is 'light bites' and the terrace is open until 3am. One thing though - those cabanas come at a price - a £300 minimum spend.
Best for streetside people watching
Despite the recent rubbish summers, a handful of new openings over the past year have made sure they carved out some pavement space for anyone wanting to dine outdoors. John Salt on Upper Street has a handful of pavement tables (along with loads of other options on Upper Street) as does Bonnie Gull (pictured) which has a row of beach hut-style tables on the pavement by Foley Street in Fitzrovia.