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Ombra restaurant, hosting Sam Kamienko of Michelin-starred Leroy in December Ombra Official

15 Brilliant London Restaurants That Are Made for Summer

Bastions of European cuisine, transportive gardens, and more

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London’s best summer restaurants have a few unifying threads: transportive food, at least some outdoor seating, probably the odd plant out front. They might fight heat with cooling dishes, or summertime cuisine, or in one case, sweat-broiling chile heat. That unifier again: they’re the city’s best summer restaurants, here, now.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Singburi

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One school of thought says, in a heatwave, cool down. Another school of thought says, in a heatwave, gather a group and head for Leytonstone, pack into a dining room where a single fan gamely chugs, and order from a blackboard boasting some of London’s best Thai food as chile and herbs and caramelised pork turn all into ravenous hotheads with no mind for the sun outside. That is to say: visit Singburi in a heatwave.

Xi'an Impression London

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Tucked on a little side street facing Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, chef Wei Guirong’s Xi’an Impression might look innocuous. Inside, this small, minimalist, and welcoming Chinese restaurant proves first impressions can be wrong. Hand-pulled Chinese noodles are its thing: pale pappardelle-like ribbons in, for vegetarians, a deep, umami-rich sauce of soybean paste and zinging Sichuan peppercorns (one between two is good as a main). But at this time of the year, the dish to get is liangpi, “cold skin” noodles, ribbons of steamed wheat-starch batter, in a sauce made with black rice vinegar, chile oil, and a spiced broth, dressed with cucumber and bean sprouts.

Cold skin noodles at Xi’an Impression, a Xi’an Chinese restaurant in north London
Liangpi, cold skin noodles at Xi’an Impression
Emma Hughes/Eater London

It’s in the name, isn’t it. One of the airiest rooms in the city, a genuinely relaxed approach to hospitality that might see diners enjoying tumbles of cuttlefish pasta or a grilled pork chop while perching on the edge of a planter, and imaginative, confident cooking across the board. Get whatever ice cream is on at dessert.

Asparagus at Bright restaurant in London Fields Andrew Leitch/Eater London

Towpath Café

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Canalside, blackboard menu, small kitchen, rickety tables, rickety green tables — Towpath reads like a cliche but rises above it every time the shutters open for the season. On the right day, sun slanting over the canal and a smart salad or two joining some sort of rural French assembly, there’s just nowhere better to be. Get whatever seasonal fruit cordial is on for quenching.

A Venetian-style bacaro on a canal sounds like a recipe for traditionalist manacling, but Mitshel Ibrahim’s Ombra mixes first-rate pasta with smartly assembled antipasti that rely on seasonal British vegetables, and then adds serious spritz-making into the equation. Possibly London’s most summery spot.

Ombra restaurant, hosting Sam Kamienko of Michelin-starred Leroy in December Ombra Official

Pavilion Cafe

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Superb Sri Lankan cooking here, at a cafe that is also a reliable standby for pastries and coffee as runners pour past and walkers do the same, just a bit slower. It’ll be busy by the water, but it’ll be lovely too.

Hoppers and dal at Pavilion Bakery Victoria Park, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Pavilion [Official]

Tsiakkos & Charcoal

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Tsiakkos is an institution, a neighbourhood constant, which opens only in the evening, from 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday. From the short menu, there are a few must-orders: slow roasted “burnt” pork shoulder; Sheftalia, a homemade pork-and-parsley sausage wrapped in caul fat; and the Kleftico — “secret-marinaded”, slow-cooked lamb on the bone. Go with a group, and bag a table outside beneath the tarpaulin. Cash only.

Grilled fish at Tsiakkos and Charcoal in Maida Vale, one of the best restaurants in Maida Vale and Queen’s Park Tsiakkos and Charcoal

Ducksoup

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The heart of Soho doesn’t sound like an ideal summer destination, all clamour and fug, but Ducksoup’s Mediterranean menu and pencil-thick dining counter have a certain charm, especially with doors open wide and a cold red wine in the glass. A £10 dish-plus-wine deal is a winner when summer workdays prove too much.

Ducksoup Soho is one of London’s best summer restaurants Chiron Cole/Ducksoup

Casa do Frango

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Charcoal, chicken, chile, garlic, lemon, sunshine, high windows, and pastéis de nata, garlic prawns and Portuguese fries. Port and tonic or sangria. Some friends, hungry ones. Have at it, and luxuriate in the fact that Borough Market’s throngs will be melting, and won’t have any chicken.

Piri piri chicken at Casa do Frango in Flat Iron Square, reviewed by Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner Casa do Frango [Official Photo]

Casse-Croûte

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Bonjour. The menu’s written in French, the signage looks French, the vibe is French. You’re not in France, but that’s okay, because it’s hot and there’s a potato-and-truffle pie and a plate of charcuterie coming. Summer dining is best when it’s transportive, and this Bermondsey nook almost always feels like it’s looking across the Channel.

Casse-Croute in Bermondsey is one of London’s best summer restaurants Casse-Croute [Official Photo]

Emily Dobbs’s Sri Lankan-inspired menu adds another layer to this characterful deli’s charm, with a pea and paneer curry perhaps bookended by spaghetti vongole and salade Nicoise. Finish with scoops of Kitty Travers’s La Grotta ice cream and sorbet on a leaf-littered corner terrace.

London’s best Italian deli restaurants: Italo in Vauxhall, one of south London’s best places to eat Italian food Italo/Instagram

The River Café

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This leafy riverside overlook might not be the cheapest place to eat “simple” Italian food, but its unshakable commitment to the importance of ingredients has influenced a generation of chefs. The River Cafe alumni roster reads like the Harlem Globetrotters of food: Jamie Oliver, Theo Randall, April Bloomfield, Sam Clark, and Anna Tobias. It remains the benchmark for Italian food outside of Italy, producing bagna cauda, risotto verde, and fritto misto to challenge the most wizened trattorie.

Llewelyn's

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A sun-dappled terrace serving whole grilled fish, skate acqua pazza, and sorbets for days, with doors flung wide and an exceptionally easygoing vibe. It’s a no-brainer when it’s hot in Herne Hill.

Whole fish at Llewelyn’s, one of London’s best summer restaurants Llewelyn’s [Official Photo]

Little Ochi Seafood Restaurant

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There’s no menu in this Jamaican seafood restaurant; just walk directly to the fridge, pick a fish, and tell the chef how you want it cooked: steamed in a sauce made of tomato, thyme and okra, fried with a side of bammy, or in brown stew with rice and peas. Take a seat, nurse a Red Stripe for an hour, and then enjoy the fish. Summers are slow, and this fits just right.

Petersham Nurseries

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Bucolic. Adjacent to Richmond Park’s wild green, Petersham Nurseries is the most civilised and civilising of leafy restaurants, serving up River Café-esque dishes in a manicured tangle of stonework and bougainvillea. It’s fancy, and it’s bougie, but as a summer occasion, it’s wonderful.

Petersham Nurseries/Official

Singburi

One school of thought says, in a heatwave, cool down. Another school of thought says, in a heatwave, gather a group and head for Leytonstone, pack into a dining room where a single fan gamely chugs, and order from a blackboard boasting some of London’s best Thai food as chile and herbs and caramelised pork turn all into ravenous hotheads with no mind for the sun outside. That is to say: visit Singburi in a heatwave.

Xi'an Impression London

Cold skin noodles at Xi’an Impression, a Xi’an Chinese restaurant in north London
Liangpi, cold skin noodles at Xi’an Impression
Emma Hughes/Eater London

Tucked on a little side street facing Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, chef Wei Guirong’s Xi’an Impression might look innocuous. Inside, this small, minimalist, and welcoming Chinese restaurant proves first impressions can be wrong. Hand-pulled Chinese noodles are its thing: pale pappardelle-like ribbons in, for vegetarians, a deep, umami-rich sauce of soybean paste and zinging Sichuan peppercorns (one between two is good as a main). But at this time of the year, the dish to get is liangpi, “cold skin” noodles, ribbons of steamed wheat-starch batter, in a sauce made with black rice vinegar, chile oil, and a spiced broth, dressed with cucumber and bean sprouts.

Cold skin noodles at Xi’an Impression, a Xi’an Chinese restaurant in north London
Liangpi, cold skin noodles at Xi’an Impression
Emma Hughes/Eater London

Bright

Asparagus at Bright restaurant in London Fields Andrew Leitch/Eater London

It’s in the name, isn’t it. One of the airiest rooms in the city, a genuinely relaxed approach to hospitality that might see diners enjoying tumbles of cuttlefish pasta or a grilled pork chop while perching on the edge of a planter, and imaginative, confident cooking across the board. Get whatever ice cream is on at dessert.

Asparagus at Bright restaurant in London Fields Andrew Leitch/Eater London

Towpath Café

Canalside, blackboard menu, small kitchen, rickety tables, rickety green tables — Towpath reads like a cliche but rises above it every time the shutters open for the season. On the right day, sun slanting over the canal and a smart salad or two joining some sort of rural French assembly, there’s just nowhere better to be. Get whatever seasonal fruit cordial is on for quenching.

OMBRA

Ombra restaurant, hosting Sam Kamienko of Michelin-starred Leroy in December Ombra Official

A Venetian-style bacaro on a canal sounds like a recipe for traditionalist manacling, but Mitshel Ibrahim’s Ombra mixes first-rate pasta with smartly assembled antipasti that rely on seasonal British vegetables, and then adds serious spritz-making into the equation. Possibly London’s most summery spot.

Ombra restaurant, hosting Sam Kamienko of Michelin-starred Leroy in December Ombra Official

Pavilion Cafe

Hoppers and dal at Pavilion Bakery Victoria Park, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Pavilion [Official]

Superb Sri Lankan cooking here, at a cafe that is also a reliable standby for pastries and coffee as runners pour past and walkers do the same, just a bit slower. It’ll be busy by the water, but it’ll be lovely too.

Hoppers and dal at Pavilion Bakery Victoria Park, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Pavilion [Official]

Tsiakkos & Charcoal

Grilled fish at Tsiakkos and Charcoal in Maida Vale, one of the best restaurants in Maida Vale and Queen’s Park Tsiakkos and Charcoal

Tsiakkos is an institution, a neighbourhood constant, which opens only in the evening, from 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday. From the short menu, there are a few must-orders: slow roasted “burnt” pork shoulder; Sheftalia, a homemade pork-and-parsley sausage wrapped in caul fat; and the Kleftico — “secret-marinaded”, slow-cooked lamb on the bone. Go with a group, and bag a table outside beneath the tarpaulin. Cash only.

Grilled fish at Tsiakkos and Charcoal in Maida Vale, one of the best restaurants in Maida Vale and Queen’s Park Tsiakkos and Charcoal

Ducksoup

Ducksoup Soho is one of London’s best summer restaurants Chiron Cole/Ducksoup

The heart of Soho doesn’t sound like an ideal summer destination, all clamour and fug, but Ducksoup’s Mediterranean menu and pencil-thick dining counter have a certain charm, especially with doors open wide and a cold red wine in the glass. A £10 dish-plus-wine deal is a winner when summer workdays prove too much.

Ducksoup Soho is one of London’s best summer restaurants Chiron Cole/Ducksoup

Casa do Frango

Piri piri chicken at Casa do Frango in Flat Iron Square, reviewed by Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner Casa do Frango [Official Photo]

Charcoal, chicken, chile, garlic, lemon, sunshine, high windows, and pastéis de nata, garlic prawns and Portuguese fries. Port and tonic or sangria. Some friends, hungry ones. Have at it, and luxuriate in the fact that Borough Market’s throngs will be melting, and won’t have any chicken.

Piri piri chicken at Casa do Frango in Flat Iron Square, reviewed by Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner Casa do Frango [Official Photo]

Casse-Croûte

Casse-Croute in Bermondsey is one of London’s best summer restaurants Casse-Croute [Official Photo]

Bonjour. The menu’s written in French, the signage looks French, the vibe is French. You’re not in France, but that’s okay, because it’s hot and there’s a potato-and-truffle pie and a plate of charcuterie coming. Summer dining is best when it’s transportive, and this Bermondsey nook almost always feels like it’s looking across the Channel.

Casse-Croute in Bermondsey is one of London’s best summer restaurants Casse-Croute [Official Photo]

Italo

London’s best Italian deli restaurants: Italo in Vauxhall, one of south London’s best places to eat Italian food Italo/Instagram

Emily Dobbs’s Sri Lankan-inspired menu adds another layer to this characterful deli’s charm, with a pea and paneer curry perhaps bookended by spaghetti vongole and salade Nicoise. Finish with scoops of Kitty Travers’s La Grotta ice cream and sorbet on a leaf-littered corner terrace.

London’s best Italian deli restaurants: Italo in Vauxhall, one of south London’s best places to eat Italian food Italo/Instagram

The River Café

This leafy riverside overlook might not be the cheapest place to eat “simple” Italian food, but its unshakable commitment to the importance of ingredients has influenced a generation of chefs. The River Cafe alumni roster reads like the Harlem Globetrotters of food: Jamie Oliver, Theo Randall, April Bloomfield, Sam Clark, and Anna Tobias. It remains the benchmark for Italian food outside of Italy, producing bagna cauda, risotto verde, and fritto misto to challenge the most wizened trattorie.

Llewelyn's

Whole fish at Llewelyn’s, one of London’s best summer restaurants Llewelyn’s [Official Photo]

A sun-dappled terrace serving whole grilled fish, skate acqua pazza, and sorbets for days, with doors flung wide and an exceptionally easygoing vibe. It’s a no-brainer when it’s hot in Herne Hill.