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 when the weather is threatening to do its thing, you want to use this guide. It’s got the outdoor spots that will keep you and your plate fully protected.
Nothing can stop Ciao Bella’s terrace. Not rain, not wind, not even a pesky pandemic. It’s a force of nature, impervious to nature, that thrives off family and friends happily shovelling spaghetti and necking plonk. There’s nothing not to like about the constant scene that is this old school Italian on Lamb’s Conduit Street. Heaters, covering, meatballs the size of a large baby’s fist - it’s got the lot.
The Clarence Tavern
Deliciously warming, nourishing, and filling atsu-atsu aside, Koya’s location in Bloomberg Arcade is completely covered thanks to the wonders of modern architecture. Outside of a particularly spiteful wind, nothing will get in the way of you and your hand-pulled udon. The tempura is definitely worth ordering too. As is the tonkatsu.
If we were in the business of using the word ‘adorable’ for anything other than corgi GIFs, we’d use it to describe Chicama’s little courtyard. Totally covered and complete with rustic wrought-iron chairs, tables perfect for two, and plenty of foliage - it’s a no-brainer if you’re looking for something when it’s started pissing it down in Chelsea. On the menu, there are Peruvian classics, but your best bet here are the vegetable dishes and a cocktail or two.
The Bahraini spot on Elystan Street has a cute terrace out front with little benches, pillows, and the extremely welcome addition of heat lamps. Throw in a warming bowl of mathrooba plus plenty of bread to soak and scoop (the hummus is also very good) and you’ve got a comfy and cosy meal.
There’s no lack of covering in Borough Market - nor is there any lack of occasional drippage - but thankfully Flor’s set up under arches is fully secure and fully dry. The excellent small plates restaurant is open for dinner from Thursdays, and brunch and lunch on Friday and Saturday’s.
If there are three things you should know about Negril it’s that it is comforting, Caribbean, and covered. Yeah, that’s right, we like alliteration, and anywhere with a covered outdoor situation that also serves great food. And this spot on Brixton Hill is serving some excellent comfort food classics like jerk chicken with rice and peas and saltfish fritters, on a spacious terrace, that’s properly covered.
Sager + Wilde’s roomy arch location in Bethnal Green has a lot going for it. Firstly, it’s a wine bar. That’s a tick. Secondly, its enormous terrace is covered with heaters. Also a tick. And, thirdly, it serves things like spaghetti with Cornish clams and parsley, and fried potatoes with black garlic aioli. Full marks.
Easily one of London’s nicest restaurant spaces, Western’s Laundry have switched their covered lockdown market into covered lockdown dining now that restaurants have reopened. They’re still doing a two sittings set menu thing, with four courses costing £40. Check their Instagram to see what’s on the menu for this weekend.
Have a pint of harden the eff up. That’s what they’d say back in the day. Apparently. But what if you don’t want to harden up? What if you want to have a nice pint of lager, or lime and soda, and some whipped cod’s roe, or house terrine, in a lovely warm and covered pub garden? Snowflake? No, it’s just nice to be like, dry, and warm. If you think that sounds much nicer too, then get a table out the front of the Canton Arms.
Thanks to the wonders of a windowed and doored marquee, some tastefully draped foliage, and an abundance of candles - they really do make everything nicer, don’t they - Rochelle Canteen is now fully protected from the elements. Technically, it’s still outside (but also, it’s not), so there’s no danger of spiteful sideways rain attacking you or your crumble and custard.
The latest location for the Sri Lankan restaurant is as part of the Pancras Square development in King’s Cross. There’s a covered terrace running along the front of the restaurant and if you’re in need of warming up, then an order of chickpea and kashew kari, and some gigantic black pepper and curry leaf prawns should do the trick.
Brat Summer Residency @ Climpson’s Arch
Brat’s long-term pop-up at Climpson’s Arch is one of the places to be, rain or shine, at the moment. 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, heaters, 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.
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 it’s pissing down behind you.
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 a 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.