Say what you like about London weather but there’s something reassuring in that you, me, and the person at the bus stop know that at some point it will, again, piss down. Forecast or not, whatever. You can’t really get angry at it because, like overpriced Magnums and chicken-bone-loving pigeons, it’s a thing that London is good for. Which means that when it comes to finding a restaurant in the summer when the weather is threatening to do it’s thing, you want to use this guide. It’s got the outdoor spots that will keep you and your plate fully protected.
Brat’s summer spot at Climpson’s Arch is one of the places to be, rain or shine, this summer. All the Basque grill favourites feature here: charred anchovy-topped flatbread, those smoky potatoes, vinegar-tinged turbot, John Dory, and even something new: pot chicken rice. Only this time you’ll be enjoying it in an outdoor courtyard protected from the heavens.
We love Phat Phuc’s name. We love their affordable noodles and dumplings. And given the current ‘situation’, we really love that this entire restaurant is open-air in a cute little Chelsea courtyard. Weather looking terrible? Of course it is, thanks England. Don’t worry, they have a gazebo and the laksa will keep you toasty if need be.
The oyster-loving, Guinness-pouring, Irish-American restaurant in Vauxhall has got an extremely roomy terrace complete with a canopy and tasteful shrubbery. If the forecast is saying moist for an hour or two, then this is a restaurant to set up in. Start with a crab brioche roll and a pint of the black stuff before moving onto something from the grill.
Over lockdown Flor launched ASAP Pizza, a sourdough pizza brand making excellent pies with things like nduja, honey, and gooey mozzarella on them, or ogleshield cheese, new potato, parsley, and capers. Although the inside of the restaurant is shut, they’ve got a sizeable walk-in seating area in Borough Market that will keep you and your little pot of salsa verde dry.
The Eastern Mediterranean menu at Peckham Bazaar is that oh-so-familiar cliché. You know the one, about summer being on a piece of crockery? Anyway the point is that with a spot on their very cute and covered, greenery-filled terrace, with a plate of grilled octopus in front of you, you won’t even notice the thunderstorm closing in.
Of all the new food markets and industrial environments, Pop Brixton is one of our favourites. Season two of The Wire aside, this is our favourite thing involving shipping containers. From the fried chicken, to the vegan burgers, to the community farm - it’s an easy place to have a good time, and there’s whole covered upstairs if the weather goes south.
Also protected under the sometimes leaky arches of Borough Market is Elliot’s. Everything - from their cheeseburgers to their mussels to their biodynamic wines - is done well. And they’ve launched a summer alfresco pop-up with a £29 set menu too. Book your covered outdoor table here.
Primeur is a converted garage on a residential road near Newington Green, and when the sun has got its hat on and the main door is slid open, it’s a lovely place to be. It’s also a lovely place to be when the weather is the opposite. It’s like being on your sofa when it’s raining outside, only you’ll be eating jamon and gnudi, and drinking wine instead.
What Theo’s Elephant & Castle branch lacks for in scenery, no offence to the A3 opposite, it makes up for in covered terrace seating and top notch Neapolitan pizza. Theo’s is the neighbourhood restaurant that every area wants. The negronis are well made and not extortionate, the pizzas crisp but still floppy, and the homemade chilli sauce exceptional.
J Sheekey’s street-side patio is, even though you’re in a touristy part of London, relatively sheltered from the crowds. It’s also sheltered from the sky, which is helpful if it’s piddling down and you’ve just splurged on a fancy seafood tower. But even if you’re not looking to flash the cash, it’s great for a few oysters and a glass of champagne before heading elsewhere.
If you’ve made the rookie error of being out and about in central, Birkenstocks and all, without checking in with the Met Office, then let Greyhound provide you with shelter and sustenance. The enormous terrace at this slick Thai café is a great spot for some ribeye satay or a plate of fiery tuna larb.
Pergola Paddington is halfway between an open food court and a Mediterranean garden, with loads of pretty plants, and an Instagram beach vibe. There are a few different food stalls and it suits best if you’re with a bigger group.