1. Acme Fire Cult, 2. Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill, 3. The Dusty Knuckle Bakery, 4. Forza Wine, 5. The Garden Museum Café, 6. Luca, 7. Ombra, 8. Parrillan, 9. Pavilion Café – Victoria Park, 10. The Petersham, 11. River Cafe, 12. Sager + Wilde Paradise Row. Now that spring has arrived, eating outside in the city is once again an option. Take advantage of London’s best restaurants for outdoor dining, which provide some of the best rooftop views and terraces to make you feel like you're on vacation, and soak up that essential vitamin D as you eat. This list contains options for everyone, whether you want to enjoy endless breakfasts outside, eat spaghetti in the sun, or munch on schnitzel by candlelight.
- Acme Fire Cult
- Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill
- The Dusty Knuckle Bakery
- Forza Wine
- The Garden Museum Café
- Pavilion Café – Victoria Park
- The Petersham
- River Cafe
- Sager + Wilde Paradise Row
Acme Fire Cult
Taking the top on the list of London’s best restaurants for outdoor dining is Acme Fire Cult. The chefs Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkins’ live-fire idea, Acme Fire Cult, debuted in the spring of 2021, just after the UK was let out of its state of emergency, following a successful residency at “London Fields Courtyard” in Hackney. Perhaps they were at the right place at the right time, but word spread rapidly, and the pair soon found themselves preparing meals for up to 1200 guests every weekend, many of whom were friends and associates from the industry.
The Bootyard in Dalston, Acme’s new home base, was where they decided to try something different from the typical “guy food” BBQ. Here, day-boat fish and rare and local breed meat from regenerative farms play supporting roles to the veggies, which take center stage. Their use of chile and other spices, along with their extensive use of grilling and fermenting techniques, show that they draw influence from all over the world.
The cooks wanted to be more than just a pop-up and were searching for a permanent location, despite the fact that the future of dining establishments is still uncertain. Unique, limited-edition sauces, micro-seasonal ferments, and some of the best outdoor lifestyle apparel are what make Acme Fire Cult what it is. In addition to events, Acme also operates a restaurant.
Address: Abbot St, London E8 3DP, United Kingdom
Rating: 4.8/5.0, 55 Google reviews
Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill
Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill is one of London’s best restaurants for outdoor dining. Since 2005, Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill has been in the expert hands of chef Richard Corrigan. It has been operating successfully since 1916. Despite being a London landmark, it’s never overly crowded and you’re always treated like royalty because of its off-the-beaten-path position.
It has all the hallmarks of a good dining seafood restaurant inside, yet none of the stuffiness you might anticipate. The best seats in the house are downstairs, on stools pulled up to the marble dining counter, behind which a group of white-jacketed wizards shucks over 1,000 oysters every day. Upstairs, there are crisp white tablecloths and studded leather chairs, but downstairs, you’ll find the best seats in the house. Additionally, it’s good that there are napkins on tiny racks behind the bar.
Sit down for a seafood feast, which includes shellfish platters piled high with crevettes, cherry clams, mussels, whelks, and oysters, starters like beef tartare with oyster cream, and scallop ceviche, Dover sole prepared three different ways, fish pie, fish and chips, and fish steak. The Apple Charlotte, a dish composed of apples, bread, and Calvados cream, deserves whatever remaining space.
Address: 11-15 Swallow St, London W1B 4DG, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 7734 4756
Rating: 4.4/5.0, 1188 Google reviews
The Dusty Knuckle Bakery
Fans of Dusty Knuckle’s goods can now celebrate as the bakery has opened a café across the yard from where it formerly resided in shipping containers in a Dalston parking lot. Beautiful sourdough and rye bread in three sizes are displayed in racks on the walls. If you arrive early enough, you can get doorstop sandwiches filled with creative ingredients like porchetta with garlic purée and sprouting broccoli or roasted aubergine with labneh, date dukkah, and herb salad. The counter is piled with a glistening, golden array of various buns, brioches, turnovers, savory bakes, and other pastries.
Along with a fantastic breakfast menu that includes unlimited toast and spreads for a pauper’s price of £2.50, there are also soups, toasties, and homemade drinks available. However, an additional £2.50 will get you a bacon sarnie on potato sourdough that will likely fill you up for the rest of the day. But if you did, you wouldn’t get the chance to return at noon, when the beautifully dilapidated interior is bathed in the sunlight coming in from the yard outside. That yard is still available for eating, and it is now accessible on weekends as well. The company also has a social enterprise component; it wants a portion of its employees to be made up of young people who have had difficulty finding employment elsewhere.
Phone: 020 3903 7598
Rating: 4.7/5.0, 694 Google reviews
Forza Wine is one of London’s best restaurants for outdoor dining. Few would dare challenge Frank’s Cafe’s undisputed domination over Peckham’s rooftop bars. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to keep the winner on their toes, and if you have a trick like frozen negronis up your sleeve, you just might succeed. Say welcome to Forza Wine, which will be arriving in Peckham at the end of the summer and will have a beautiful location with a view of Rye Lane.
It is a branch of the well-known Italian restaurant Forza Win, which cheekily referred to Forza Wine as the “taller sibling” due to their rooftop location. Little is known about the new establishment beyond its name and location, but you will have a strong suspicion that the excellent food from the original will travel the short distance across SE15. Expect to hear echoes of mouthwatering meals like rigatoni with wild boar sausage, grilled sea bass and Panzanella, and nectarine, thyme, and frangipane tart.
Address: The Rooftop, 133A Rye Ln, London SE15 4BQ, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 7732 7500
Rating: 4.5/5.0, 221 Google reviews
The Garden Museum Café
The Garden Museum Café is focused on offering a pleasant atmosphere in which to enjoy the varied, ingredient-led menu in order to satisfy the needs of both museum visitors looking for a fast but excellent bite to eat and those wanting something more substantial. Wooden tables and chairs are dispersed throughout the main café area, and floor-to-ceiling windows look out over a small courtyard area, where a few tables are left free during the summer. The décor has been kept basic yet stylish in the room, which is bathed with natural light.
The à la carte menu at The Garden Café changes frequently based on the availability of food because Ryle’s cooking is seasonal, and daily specials provide guests with additional alternatives. Dinner at the café can start with a straightforward appetizer like salt hake croquettes with aioli or perhaps roasted courgettes with feta and breadcrumbs. You can anticipate a small selection of traditional desserts, with crowd-pleasers like an indulgent chocolate mousse regularly making an appearance. More substantial main courses range from vegetarian dishes like borlotti beans served in a summer vegetable broth to a hearty beef shin ragù pappardelle.
Address: Garden Museum, 5 Lambeth Palace Rd, London SE1 7LB, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 7401 8865
Rating: 4.2/5.0, 757 Google reviews
When it comes to establishing themselves, it often seems like restaurants have two options: either become the hippest, buzziest spot in town with reservations flowing in like hen’s teeth or choose a more understated, refined level of sophistication and elegance that will keep you coming back for more. With its airy, expansive dining room, perfectly judged lighting, and terracotta-red and olive-green leather banquettes, Luca, established by Isaac McHale, Johnny Smith, and Daniel Willis of The Clove Club, manages to somehow combine both: it feels effortlessly grown-up, yet still has youthful energy – and a lively bar area with all-important conspiratorial booths – that make it a place to be, even five years after it opened.
However, there is one surefire technique to guarantee repeat business, and McHale’s crew is virtually unrivaled in this regard. Let’s start with the parmesan fries, which you should order if you go, as they have earned cult status all to themselves due to their lightness as an angel’s vapour trail. Then there are the antipasti, which are predominantly British ingredients that are carefully prepared with Italian flare. Examples include Hereford beef tartare that has been cured in Nebbiolo and Orkney scallops that have been paired with Jerusalem artichoke and nduja. The primi are prepared in-house in a separate pasta room; they include taglierini that is as airy as an angel’s hair and conchiglie that are as delicate as a cherub’s ear.
Address: 88 St John St, London EC1M 4EH, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 3859 3000
Rating: 4.5/5.0, 715 Google reviews
In Hackney, there is a pub and restaurant called Ombra. It is the fourth space’s alternate meeting space. Ombra was founded, established, and launched in 2011 by directors Paolo and Steve, chef Andrea, and other collaborators. Since then, it has developed a name for itself as a very well-liked establishment that serves simple, freshly cooked Italian cuisine. A diverse group of regulars, including local designers, painters, and architects, frequently congregate at the head of Vyner Street. The highly regarded La Fenice Theatre Foundation presented Ombra with the Premio Stelle della Fenice bel Mondo in 2013 in recognition of their initiative and success in promoting Venetian cultural excellence.
A project that involves the public should encourage action and engagement, as this is crucial. Ombra was launched after a former windowless art gallery had been completely renovated. The challenge of integrating the bar/restaurant with the street and the client was then pursued. Directly in front of the restaurant, a formerly abandoned public bin store car park area was re-landscaped. The resulting “sun-deck” area now prominently denotes the intersection of Vyner Street and Cambridge Heath Road, and it has been used over time to participate in temporary art projects that are intended to engage with the public environment and help improve and bring a sense of place to a challenging corner site on a busy main road.
Address: 1 Vyner St, Bethnal Green, London E2 9DG, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 8981 5150
Rating: 4.1/5.0, 531 Google reviews
Frequently, the cuisine is average or the setting has flaws: it’s too tiny, there’s too much traffic, it depends too much on ideal weather. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Parrillan, the classy outdoor venture from the same who created the nearby Barrafina, is unique. In the upscale King’s Cross development Coal Drops Yard, it is a sizable area with possibly the nicest outdoor seating.
The atmosphere is upscale but laid-back, similar to beach clubs along the French or Italian Rivieras. Olive trees in large pots are set against a background of grey terrazzo flooring and white marble tables. A timber pergola that skillfully conceals a covert pane of glass atop it to provide protection from the weather provides shade on one side of the structure (there are heaters, too). On the opposite side, a hot-hot party of charcoal is getting ready to do its thing and is creating a swirl of smoke.
You’re here to make your own food on a parilla (grill), after all. These coals are heated till they are glowing, then placed on your table with a portable grill and a stainless steel griddle, the kind that ensures you won’t mistakenly sacrifice any food to the flames (sob).
Address: Coal Drops Yard, Stable St, London N1C 4AB, United Kingdom
Phone: 020 7018 3339
Rating: 4.1/5.0, 297 Google reviews
Pavilion Café – Victoria Park
Even during peak periods, when it appears like everyone from E9 has stopped by this park café, staff members remain friendly and helpful. Inside the little dome pavilion, patrons line up for meals before selecting a seat (there are plenty) and taking in the view of the boating lake. The Pavilion is owned by the same individuals that run Elliot’s, and it has a superior menu in addition to selling its own bread. Interesting sandwiches include salt beef with cucumber pickle and kolrabi coleslaw, and interesting salads include mackerel with beetroot, chicory, and a (somewhat overpowering) horseradish sauce.
Among the brunch and breakfast options are eggs florentine, royale, and benedict, bacon sandwiches with an optional egg, and three fry-up varieties. The vegetarian option, which costs a hefty £9, is decent (just-right spinach, mushroom, and tomato, a crisp fried egg on excellent bread, and tasty bubble and squeak), but the house-made beans take some getting used to. Cakes and puddings are also available. Milk chocolate and grapefruit pudding featured a really moist chocolate sponge with a faint citrus flavor. Apple juice to bottled beers from Camden Town Brewery is available as drinks.
Address: Victoria Park, Old Ford Rd., London E9 7DE, United Kingdom
Phone:020 8980 0030
Rating: 4.3/5.0, 1482 Google reviews
Here is a breakdown of The Petersham. Visit when sunny weather is predicted. Request to be moved outside by making a reservation for an early table (first come, first served). Second advice: get the chocolate mousse. It had a rich, velvety richness that was enhanced by a dash of salt, little shards of sweet, soapy honeycomb, and a firm scoop of ice cream made with olive oil. It’s ethereal.
The rest of the sophisticated, Italian-influenced cuisine is confident and competent, as it should be at these rates. The starters (gnocchi, burrata, for about £12) and sides (about £6) will make you cringe, but the main courses (lamb, roast plaice) will make you cringe. While the original Petersham Nurseries café is the kind of special-occasion establishment that can get away with swindling you out of your money, this branch has a stench of “corporate development” that no number of extravagant floral arrangements, indoor trees, or cracked mirrors can cover up. The lighting was excessively bright, and the ceiling appeared to belong in an office. On a sunny day, however, you won’t give a damn if you sit outside.
Address: Nightingale Ln, Richmond TW10 6UZ, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 8939 1084
Rating: 4.5/5.0, 321 Google reviews
The River Café is an entity unto itself. It was infamously supposed to serve as the canteen for Richard Rogers’ design firm when it opened in 1987. However, the rest is history as they say since his talented wife Ruth, a cook, and her friend, the late Rose Gray, started shaking the pans. It has developed a solid reputation over the past thirty years for delivering simple but exquisite Italian cuisine. Oh, and along the way, training people like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver.
It’s the kind of restaurant where retiring publishers take their godchildren out to supper because it’s cozy, lively, and casually pricey. There are typical quite a few “mwah mwah” lovers as well. (Gwynnie P. celebrated her 40th here.) Although the spacious dining space isn’t very noteworthy, the food is nevertheless flawless. Folds of immaculate pappardelle were served with a subtly gamey, chianti-spiked ragu of pheasant and rabbit. Curls of bitter chicory were brightened by a gutsy anchovy sauce. The polenta was outstanding as well.
Address: Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, London W6 9HA, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 7386 4200
Rating: 4.4/5.0, 1305 Google reviews
Sager + Wilde Paradise Row
One of those places is Paradise Row, a collection of hip bar restaurants housed in railway arches, one of which was taken over by Michael Sager and Charlotte Wilde in 2014 and is currently the sole proprietor. The pair, who spent a significant portion of their lives exploring vineyards all over the world, assembled an intimidatingly lengthy wine list that, happily, the employees and owners are both familiar with. The Saladini Pilastri Falerio from Marche, Italy, in case you’re wondering, boldly answered my barrage of inquiries on the ideal white to pair with pork.
Despite the many drinks, the focus of this Sager + Wilde is primarily on the cuisine. The menu features British dishes with European accents thanks to the hiring of Sebastian Myers, formerly of Chiltern Firehouse. The grilled Iberico pork cut was a particular standout; served with black trumpets and hispi cabbage, each mouthful burst with salty-sour flavorings that were expertly balanced by the red apple jus’s sweetness.
Address: 250 Paradise Row, London E2 9LE, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 7729 6278
Rating: 4.4/5.0, 779 Google reviews