Hot Dinners recommends

Because when the weather does improve (and it will) you're going to want our guide on London's loveliest spots to eat outdoors. 


Central London

Barrafina Drury LaneBarrafina Drury Lane

Where: 43 Drury Ln, London WC2B 5AJ

USP: the great joy of summer is that your chances of getting a seat at Barrafina increases exponentially. And if you're out eating on the terrace here in Covent Garden you really could believe you're on holiday in Spain somewhere.. 

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Where: 11-15 Swallow St, London W1B 4DG

USP: Squeezed in down Swallow Street, this is one of those alfresco spots the weather can't spoil (and we know - we've had pre-Christmas drinks here and been as warm as toast). But it's better still when the sun's out and you've a platter of oysters in front of you.

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Where: 5 St James's Street, London SW1A 1EF

USP: Where to start? The fact that it's the largest private courtyard in central London? The fact that the last pistol duel in England was fought here? Or that those boards you see around the outside actually come from Henry VIII's tennis courts?

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Chiltern FirehouseChiltern Firehouse

Where: 1 Chiltern St, London W1U 7PA

USP: The huge courtyard is not only wonderfully warm and snug (with an open fire to take the chill off on colder days) but there's also an oyster cart serving up rock and native oysters here. A cracking place for a fruits de mer platter or weekend brunch. 

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Dalloway TerraceDalloway Terrace

Where: 16-22 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3NN

USP: Probably one of London's most instagrammable outdoor spaces, the terrace here is redesigned every season to keep it looking as fresh as a daisy. Afternoon teas are popular and there's even a separate juice menu if wellness is your thing.

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Dominique Ansel BakeryDominique Ansel Bakery

Where: 17-21 Elizabeth St, London SW1W 9RP

USP: If you want to try top patisserie chef Dominique Ansel's afternoon tea, there's only one place they serve it - in their sun trap of a terrace.

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Ham YardHam Yard

Where: 1 Ham Yard, Soho, London W1D 7DT

USP: A rarity in central London, the titular 'yard' here is an oasis tucked in away from the traffic of Soho and Piccadilly. Created by the bombing during The Blitz it's now a super place on a summer's afternoon or evening - if you can get a table...

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Where: 8 Brook Street, London W1S 1EY

USP: Even though this tucked away courtyard makes you feel as if you've stumbled on a secret garden, it's about the worst kept secret in London. You'll have to fight hedge funders and other Mayfair folk for your chance to nab a coveted table on a sunny day.

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The OrreryThe Orrery

Where: 55 Marylebone High St, London W1U 5RB

USP: While there is special terrace menu of small dishes upstairs at this Marylebone restaurant, what you're really after with your chilled glass of wine is a cheese plate from Orrery’s famous trolley.

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The Ritz Restaurant TerraceThe Ritz Restaurant Terrace

Where: 150 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9BR

USP: John Williams cooking is great any time, but we can't think of a more beautiful spot for a lunch than overlooking the gardens at The Ritz. And don't worry - there are plenty of parasols to go around if you're not after a suntan.

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Where: 20 Mount St, London W1K 2HE

USP: The terrace at this Mayfair establishment has long been a spot where you'll find yourself sitting downwind from unrepentent smokers like Ronnie Wood or Charles Saatchi and getting your photo taken by passing paps.

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Selfridges rooftopSelfridges rooftop

Where: 400 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1A 1AB

USP: The retractable roof up on the top floor of Selfridges' flagship Oxford Street shop means that the minute the British summer decides to make an appearance, you can enjoy the full benefit.

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East London

The CoachThe Coach

Where: 26-28 Ray Street, London EC1R 3DJ

USP: The very newness of this spot is what might make it a useful place to try for a table when the weather's good. The sheltered courtyard is set at the back of the ground floor dining room.

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The MarksmanThe Marksman

Where: 254 Hackney Rd, London E2 7SJ

USP: The terrace leading off the upstairs dining room at this East London gastropub could feel a bit like climbing out on to your flat roof, were it not for how beautiful it looks with all the greenery.

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Modern PantryModern Pantry

Where: 47-48 St John’s Square, London EC1V 4JJ

USP: Enjoying Anna Hansen's fusion brunch out on this terrace in the heart of Clerkenwell is a weekend goal for Londoners.

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Rochelle CanteenRochelle Canteen

Where: Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, London E2 7ES

USP: Once you've found your way in, which is harder than you'd expect, nabbing a table out in the walled garden at the original Rochelle Canteen feels like a total blessing.

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Where: Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E1 6JJ

USP: There's only one way to avoid having to dry clean your clothes after a trip to Smokestak and that's by eating outside. Happily there's a large terrace here to enjoy their punchy cocktails and that beef brisket bun.

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West London

ChucsChucs at the Serpentine

Where: Serpentine Sackler Gallery, West Carriage Drive, London W2 2AR

USP: The first Chucs to do takeaway, the real draw here - other than their great Italian food - is the marvellous backdrop of the late, great Zaha Hadid's Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

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Number SixteenNumber Sixteen

Where: 16 Sumner Place, London SW7 3EG

USP: The tree-filled garden at the back of this South Kensington hotel (part of the Firmdale group) is a super place to enjoy afternoon tea, or a sundowner.

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Where: 55 Exhibition Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2PN

USP: It's hard to think of a more pleasant way to spend a summer's evening than downing ice-cold shots of vodka under the billowing canopy of Ognisko's terrace, looking out over Prince's Gardens, while pondering what kind of pelmeni to have

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The River CafeThe River Cafe

Where: Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, Hammersmith, London W6 9HA

USP: As long as you don't think about the bill, sitting out on the banks of the Thames enjoying super Italian food here really is a case of life doesn't get much better than this.  

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South London


Where: Circus West Village, Battersea Power Station, London SW8 5BN

USP: Enjoy cracking riverside views at Francesco Mazzei's outpost at Battersea Power Station and watch out for weekend yoga and brunch sessions.

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The Lido CafeThe Lido Cafe

Where: The Lido Cafe, Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PA

USP: There aren't many (if any) other spaces in London that you can sit out by a pool and drink negronis with your smashed avo and eggs for brunch.

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Peartree CafePeartree Cafe

Where: Lakeside Cafe, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ

USP: This park cafe punches way above its weight - the owners here are ex-Petersham Nurseries and Spring with Skye Gyngell, via stints at Chez Panisse and more. With beautiful views over the Thames, this is a top spot for a steak sarnie or squash salad.

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The Lido CafeSan Lorenzo

Where: 38 Wimbledon Hill Road, London SW19 7PA

USP: When you're not spotting the world's top tennis stars enjoying dinner during the tennis championships the garden at this longstanding neighbourhood restaurant is just lovely. There's a retractable roof if the weather's iffy and when the lights go on at nighttime it's quite magical.

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Where: 4 The Polygon Clapham, London SW4 0JG

USP: Adam Byatt's Clapham restaurant is a neighbourhood favourite and, come summer, tables looking out towards the common are the perfect spot to try his Michelin-starred, seasonal food.

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North London

The LightermanThe Lighterman

Where: 3 Granary Square, London N1C 4BH

USP: Apparently one of the most profitable spots in KX and it's not hard to see why - the first floor has a wrap-around terrace, the ground floor pub has a lovely terrace overlooking Granary Square and there's a canalside bar terrace too.

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Michael NadraMichael Nadra

Where: 42 Gloucester Ave, London NW1 8JD

USP: The sunken garden area at Nadra's Primrose Hill restaurant is totally protected from any nasty draughts. Perfect for trying one of the 30+ martinis on their Martini Bar menu.

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Where: 344 Upper Street, London N1 0PD

USP: The paucity of seats inside this tiny Islington restaurant means it makes a big difference when the weather's good enough to sit at one of the two tables on the west facing pavement outside, bathed in sunshine.

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Where: 63–69 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2DG

USP: In London's least green borough, the pretty garden squeezed into an intersection between two roads at an Islington BBQ restaurant is super popular come summer.

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