There’s no greater feeling of contentment than when you’re sat outside enjoying a meal in the sunshine, with something cool and alcoholic in hand. In these moments, it’s always best to be wearing a dark pair of shades (if only to make your people-watching pastime less obvious). Although London does not flaunt the vibrant, restaurant-filled squares of some of its European counterparts, our city does have some fantastic outdoor spots for al fresco dining. You just need to know where to find them (so you can bag the best seat).
1. The Dairy, Clapham
The Dairy (alongside its neighbouring little brother, the Counter Culture) has a small but ideal outdoor seating area. Ideal because it’s right on the edge of Clapham Common and located in a superb spot for people watching at the weekend and in the evenings. On sunny day, we’d recommend getting a couple of snacks, a couple more cocktails and remaining there for hours. You’ll feel utterly Mediterranean.
15 The Pavement, Clapham SW4 0HY
The tranquil little park that the Ognisko terrace looks onto is enough to make you feel like you’ve found London’s best kept secret spot. To accompany the view, the food consists of an daily interchanging choice of Polish dishes. Oh, and there is a whole menu dedicated to vodka in all its flavours and varieties. A few shots down, it’s no wonder this place feels unknown to the masses – they’ve probably all forgotten its whereabouts!
55 Exhibition Rd, London SW7 2PN
3. Neal’s Yard
Neal’s Yard sure knows how to draw in a crowd. If the iconic colourful windows and doors aren’t enough to lure you to this little (but often busy!) secluded square, then a pair of Covent Garden’s best restaurants will. Choose between the vegan’s dream – The Wild Food Cafe – or, if you’re in the mood for some easygoing grub, head to Home Slice for a piece of pizza. Or go for a giant 20-incher if you’ve got a big, round hole to fill.
14 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP
4. Grain Store
Located in a warehouse on the spacious and buzzy Granary Square, the Grain Store is a popular spot for London’s peckish sun seekers – so it’s best to get there early. The menu offers a selection of colourful dishes, with a large focus placed upon vegetables – the starter of green asparagus with soft cream cheese biscuit is simple, but divine. The menu isn’t particularly cheap, however, they do offer a ‘steal of the day’ every lunch time for £11.50.
Granary Square, King’s Cross, 1-3 Stable St, London N1C 4AB
5. Rochelle Canteen
Open on weekdays, with an updated daily menu, the lesser-known Rochelle Canteen is located in an old school bike shed. The aptly named Canteen has retained the school-like vibes, with the inside seating area being made up of large shared tables. When it’s sunny, the patio area is used as a marvellous, chilled out eating space. Although the canteen isn’t licensed, guests are free to bring their own wine – the corkage fee is £6.50.
Old School Building, London E2 7ES
6. Ropewalk Maltby Street Market
On Saturdays between 9am – 4pm and Sundays 11 – 4pm, the vibrant Ropewalk gathers food traders, delicious smells, pop up bars and gastronomical goodies. Indulge in some Greek goodness from Maltby and Greek, pick your way through some tapas at Tozino or satisfy your sweet cravings at Comptoir Gourmand. Once you’ve got some food in hand, pull up a chair and watch the world go by (with a satisfied stomach).
Ropewalk, London SE1 3PA
7. C Food, Camberwell
Until 28th August, every Sunday over summer, C Food are putting on a Mediterranean dining extravaganza in a courtyard in Camberwell. It’s all about the big sharing platters, plenty of fresh seafood, crusty homemade loaves and a superb atmosphere. The wine will flow, the music will play and you’re sure to feel like you’ve hopped on the plane to Spain. Tickets are £30 and can be bought here.
29 Peckham Road, London SE5 8UA