London may be better known for its drizzle and fog, but that’s not to say the sun never shines in the British capital. When the weather does brighten up, locals know to make the most of it by heading straight outdoors to soak up some vitamin D – preferably with a cold drink and some tasty nibbles on hand.
Luckily, London has a fantastic range of outdoor venues where you can savor mouthwatering food and refreshing drinks in the sun, from rooftop bars and sidewalk cafés to riverside terraces and beer gardens. Whether you’re looking for burgers and beer or swanky cocktails and cutting-edge cuisine, there’s something for every taste. We’ve rounded up our recommendations for some of the best places to eat and drink outdoors in London – so the next time the sun comes out, you’ll know exactly where to go to soak up some rays.
Frank's Café is an annual pop-up bar which has quickly become a warm-weather institution in London, with trendy drinkers drawn in by its unique location and enticing selection of tasty small plates, summery drinks and cocktails. Occupying the entire top floor of a multi-storey carpark in Peckham, this laid-back, arty café-bar is a collaboration between non-profit arts collective Bold Tendencies and Practice Architecture, who outfit the space with distinctive (and highly Instagrammable) works each summer. It’s the perfect place to watch the sun set over London while enjoying some culture.
For an intimate outdoor dining experience, Londoners in the know head for this charming French bistro-style restaurant and bar in St. James's. If you like a bit of history alongside your meal, Boulestin is the place: its small outdoor courtyard boasts original gas lighting from Victorian times, and the entryway is adorned with panels from Henry VIII's tennis courts. It's also said to be the site of the last duel ever fought in England. Today, it's a relaxed place to dine on classic French cuisine, as well as international dishes and light bar food.
Experience a little piece of the countryside in the heart of London in The Culpeper's rooftop garden. Much of the produce used in the pub and restaurant – and even the herbs for their cocktails – are grown here, and the rustic-chic greenhouse is also equipped with a bar, tables and even a wood-fired grill. It also hosts a range of interesting events and workshops, from stargazing nights and botanical drawing to cocktail making and gardening.
Pergola on the Roof
With a spacious seating area, multi-person day beds for groups, and a roof for unexpected showers, Pergola's two locations at White City and Paddington are the perfect warm-weather hangouts. Open from May to October, these popular rooftop bars boast colorful décor and a selection of food kiosks serving up bespoke menus created by some of London's coolest restaurants – think everything from tacos and burgers to fresh seafood, all served in a festive yet relaxed atmosphere.
The recently refurbished roof terrace at the Golden Bee cocktail bar in Shoreditch is a celebrity favourite. “We pride ourselves in being more of a high end establishment, the décor is plush with no expense spared and we have proved very popular with various celebrities including Pixie Lott and the cast of The Only Way is Essex,” says Gosh Klimkiewicz, Events Manager. The upmarket terrace also comes complete with patio heaters and has a retractable roof, making it a desirable spot even in the unpredictable British weather.