London has never been well known for its outdoor dining scenes. Most al fresco spaces were attached to forgettable restaurants, except for a few spots like the River Café, an outlier when it started serving its evocative Italian dishes outdoors decades ago.
But during the pandemic, chefs and restaurateurs in the UK capital began to rethink al fresco dining—and earn some and additional revenue—as pavement licenses gave them the opportunity to set up tables on closed down streets.
Now outdoor dining is becoming standard. It’s been built into major new developments at Canary Wharf and Battersea Power Station and added on at restaurants all around the city. The unusually warm weather has made this a vintage summer for open-air dining, giving people the opportunity to gather with friends for first-rate pizzas, smoked short ribs, and cocktails that evoke a Mediterranean beach. Here are 13 of the best places in London for outdoor eating, from Trivet near London Bridge, which offers a Michelin-starred menu, to a classic oyster spot in the heart of the West End. Grab a seat in the sun and bon appétit.