It’s probably fair to say that demand for al fresco dining is at an all-time high. While the great booking frenzy may now be behind us, the best restaurants with outdoor dining spaces have enduring appeal that will see out the summer. From waterside terraces to sunny courtyards, our list offers a little more than those tables hastily arranged outside your local...
The Hut at Colwell Bay
Isle of Wight
Don’t be fooled by the name – this waterfront spot is no dinky beach shack. Perhaps the sense of formality would jar with the simple pleasures on offer… fish tacos, lobster and chips, a west-facing terrace perfect for evening sun. Getting to this tip of the island is part of the fun – shuttle yourself across from Lymington on the mainland and they’ll take you ashore by tender. thehutcolwell.co.uk
Covent Garden, London
Richmond’s Petersham Nurseries is well versed in the art of outdoor dining, its great glasshouse seating guests beneath bougainvillea, jasmine and a thick canopy of trailing vines. Opened in 2018, the airy courtyard at Covent Garden sister site La Goccia has a similarly sylvan feel, with sinuous chairs and ferns spilling from terracotta pots. The effect is irresistibly Italianate – just the spot for antipasti and an aperitivo or two. lagoccia.co.uk
King’s Cross, London
Shaded by olive trees and bedecked in cheerful striped green and red cushions, this expansive outdoor restaurant seems transplanted straight from the Mediterranean – save for the unmistakably urban Gasholders complex next door. Here, diners are trusted to wield mini tabletop parilla – Spanish grills – to char prawns, chicken wings and lamb pintxos with precision. The unusual prospect of a DIY dinner is but one of several reasons to swing by a sensationally regenerated King’s Cross. parrillan.co.uk
There are no points for guessing the inspiration behind the name of this rooftop bar and restaurant, which crowns glass monolith No.1 Spinningfields in Manchester’s buzzy business district. Wholly open to the elements, its large terrace features mature trees that scale the full two storeys, plus glass dining pods, firepits and secluded corners with sleek sofas. Book a table for sunset and you’ll be well rewarded. 20stories.co.uk
Kent-bound day trippers tend to peel off for Whitstable, Margate and Deal before southerly Folkestone, but the port town deserves a share of the spotlight. Opened a decade ago on the pretty harbour, Rocksalt is still the best spot for a languorous lunch, with its timber terrace cantilevered over the sea. While much of the menu is devoted to locally caught seafood, it also showcases seasonal Kentish produce. rocksaltfolkestone.co.uk
Hotels have something of a head start when it comes to the sort of space needed for outdoor dining. The Hoxton’s Southwark outpost, which arrived two years ago after a trio of stateside openings, has certainly made the most of its elevated position, launching restaurant Seabird on the 14th floor. Its rattan furniture and rows of palm trees are paired with concrete and brickwork in a nod to the neighbourhood’s industrial heritage. Book a table on the terrace for startling views over central London. seabirdlondon.com
No 197 Chiswick Fire Station
Hit a spell of balmy weather in the whitewashed walled garden of this all-day spot and you could almost believe you’re in the Balearics. In reality, it’s W4 – a leafy corner of the capital made all the more appealing by its arrival four years ago. The menu is well set up for summer, with sharing plates and charcuterie boards alongside bowls of pasta and brunch dishes. Cocktails are classic with a twist, with some served by the jug. no197chiswickfirestation.co.uk
The contemporary sofas on the terrace of this chic Japanese restaurant are the kind you want to sink into – louche and low-slung – while a central location makes it a great spot to get your bearings. Alongside artful small plates, there are genuinely inventive cocktails that lean on delicate floral notes like peach, lychee, kumquat and shisho, as well as sake and Japanese whiskies. Clock the views across to the historic Kirkgate Market as you sip. issho-restaurant.com
Notting Hill, London
Launching less than a year before the first lockdown, this west London restaurant never got a fair outing on the capital’s fickle food scene. Now, with al fresco dining more desirable than ever, its transportive garden room – all lush palms and pink plaster walls – seems almost prescient. The retractable roof offers an insurance policy against the equally fickle British weather. goldnottinghill.com
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