Here Comes The Sun: 12 Alfresco Restaurants

When the sun is actually shining in London, there’s only one proper way to celebrate: with an alfresco meal. The city may be known for its inclement weather, but it's also filled with restaurants, cafés, and bars that make eating outside a pleasure. We found plenty of places perfect for outdoor dining, including a canal-side café that brews its own beer, a Japanese spot with a garden fit for a banquet, and a Notting Hill terrace straight out of Corfu. It’s time to take it outside — if it ever stops raining.

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Photo: Courtesy of Aqua Kyoto.
Aqua Kyoto
After a hard day of shopping on Oxford Street, take your weary bones to Aqua Kyoto, a rooftop restaurant on Regent Street famous for its Japanese cuisine. It just brought out its Sunshine Vitamin D menu that includes dishes rich in the aforementioned vitamin. Maitake mushroom and tofu haramaki gives a taste of summer, even when the skies are grey. And, with views over one of London's busiest shopping streets, this spot may even whet your appetite for giving your debit card another thrashing.

Aqua Kyoto, 240 Regent Street, 5th Floor, London, W1B 3BR; +44 (0) 207 478 0540.
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Photo: Courtesy of Petersham Nurseries.
Petersham Nurseries
This month, Petersham Nurseries and its infamous café turn 10. There's never been a better time to experience its incredible dishes, all made from naturally sourced ingredients and produce grown in the nearby Petersham House Walled Kitchen Garden. As you sit surrounded by the best flora and fauna grown in the U.K., you'll be tempted to start growing your own fruit and veggies, too.

Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane off Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 7AG; +44 (0) 208 940 5230.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bluebird Café & Courtyard.
Bluebird Café & Courtyard
Bluebird may have been the backdrop to many a romantic, Made in Chelsea melodrama, but don't let that put you off experiencing a light bite from the café's eclectic menu. Plus, the courtyard is a veritable paradise for people-watching. Prepare to lose an afternoon here.

Bluebird Café & Courtyard, 350 Kings Road, London, SW3 5UU; +44 (0) 207 559 1000.
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Photo: Courtesy of CRATE Brewery.
CRATE Brewery
What's better than a beer and a bite to enjoy alongside a scenic canal as the sun sets? Not much, we say. That's why CRATE Brewery is fast becoming a firm favourite with us. It's a craft brewery and pizzeria rolled into one. If you can, we recommend grabbing a pint and a spot outside where you can watch the world go by.

CRATE Brewery, The White Building, Unit 7, Queen's Yard, London, E9 5EN; +44 (0) 783 427 5687.
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Photo: Courtesy of COPPA.
If you missed the London Fields pop-up last year, be sure to check it out this summer. The rooftop restaurant serves traditional Italian food, and there's a covered area in case the skies turn unfriendly (as invariably they will).

COPPA, Martello Street, London, E8 3QW; +44 (0) 208 985 2683.
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Photo: Courtesy of Parlour.
If you're looking for a place where you can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner (why not?), Kensal Green restaurant Parlour could be just the place for you. Its garden area is perfect for catching up with friends en masse, and the menu is a pleasing mix of comfort food and classic, British dishes.

Parlour, 5 Regent Street, Kensal Rise, London, NW10 5LG; +44 (0) 208 969 2184.
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Photo: Courtesy of Kurobuta.
Former pop-up Kurobuta has found a permanent home on Kendall Street under the watchful eye of ex-Nobu head chef, Scott Hallsworth. The restaurant's signature Japanese, tapas-style dishes continue to be a major draw — as is the outdoor area that will only get better as the weather improves.

Kurobuta, 17-20 Kendall Street, London, W2 2AW; +44 (0) 203 475 4158.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Rooftop Cafe.
The Rooftop Cafe
If you can withstand the ferocious glare from The Shard towering directly above you, give The Rooftop Cafe a try. This unassumingly charming restaurant is right below London's newest landmark, but what it lacks in stature it makes up for in ferocious cocktails and traditional British fare. We covet its midcentury-modern style furnishings, too.

The Rooftop Cafe, The Exchange, 28 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9SG; +44 (0) 203 102 3770.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Mayflower Pub.
The Mayflower Pub
The Mayflower claims to be the oldest pub on the Thames, but that's not the reason we love to go there. Instead, the riverside views and selection of traditional, but tasty, pub dishes lure us in. It's only a 20-minute walk from London Bridge station, and we suspect we'll be whiling away many lazy, Saturday afternoons here this summer. See you there.

The Mayflower Pub, 117 Rotherhithe Street, London; +44 (0) 207 237 4088.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Counter Cafe.
The Counter Cafe
The abundance of palm trees at The Counter Cafe allows you to pretend, for a moment, that you're on a tropical island instead of a canal-side café near the former Olympic Park. Still, the establishment's signature coffee- and egg-based treats make it a delight to visit for brunch. It's well worth the trip.

The Counter Cafe, 7 Roach Road, London E3 2PA: +44 (0) 783 427 5920.
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Photo: Courtesy of Grand Union Bar.
Grand Union Bar
Grand Union's Pleasure Garden, complete with a 50-foot tree bar, is the place to go if you want to start a party — or continue one. The menu offers burgers, pizza, and hot dogs with all the trimmings, but it's the laid-back atmosphere that keeps us coming back for more.

Grand Union Bar, 96 Wandsworth High Street, London, SW18 4LB; +44 (0) 208 877 1851.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Modern Pantry.
The Modern Pantry
Okay, so The Modern Pantry doesn't have the largest outdoor-eating terrace in the world. In fact, it's rather tiny. But, when the sun is shining in St. John's Square, it feels like the best idea ever to grab the papers, snag a table, and order a plate of organic boiled eggs and marmite soldiers to consume with gallons of coffee, very, very slowly.

The Modern Pantry, 47-48 St. John's Square, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 4JJ; +44 (0) 207 553 9210.