10 of the best outdoor restaurants in the UK – where to eat when lockdown ends

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Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

Searching for the best outdoor restaurants in the UK is an extremely pleasant experience. This is doubly true now that many of us are desperately counting down the days until we can eat something other than takeaway.

Now that there is a glimmer of light at the end of the COVID tunnel, we’re all trying to work out the best way to optimise the open air. Fortunately for all of us, the UK isn’t short of exceptional outdoor dining experiences.

Inn at Whitewell The Inn at Whitewell has some of the most spectacular views anywhere in the country (Credit: Alamy/Kay Ringwood)

Best outdoor restaurants in the UK

To help you prepare for what promises to be one of the most feverishly anticipated summers ever, we’ve pulled together our picks for the nation’s top al fresco eating spots.

READ MORE: When will restaurants reopen? Everything you need to know about eating out again

While it’s not yet certain that we’ll be able to enjoy dining without limitation, these restaurants are ideal for anyone who wants nothing more than to combine great food with the great outdoors.

Here are our choices for the 10 best outdoor restaurants in the UK.

Cherwell Boathouse

A modern European restaurant on the banks of the River Cherwell, the Boathouse is about the setting as much as the food.

Outside the restaurant is space for up to 80 punts, making it an extremely popular spot for the river’s many boaters. The fact that you can also enjoy AA Rosette-winning cookery as you lounge on the terrace is an added bonus.

Boathouse Cherwell The Cherwell Boathouse has a spectacular riverside setting (Credit: Alamy/John Bracegirdle)

The Hidden Hut

Cornwall is a county that specialises in exceptional outdoor experiences. It follows, then, that its best food isn’t found in a stuffy dining room, but in unadulterated West Country sunshine.

There are few better destinations to get a taste of what Cornwall has to offer than the spectacular Hidden Hut at Porthcurnick. Located on the remote Roseland Peninsula, the kitchen serves up to 2000 people a day in the height of summer, serving roast meats, curries and one of the best fish soups around.

Be prepared to queue, but the rewards are worth it.

The Hidden Hut Cornwall The Hidden Hut is on Cornwall’s remote Roseland penninsula (Credit: Alamy/Nik Taylor)

Crab House Cafe

Straddling the oyster beds that supply much of its menu, the Crab House Café is like a theme park for seafood lovers. Specialising in crab, as the name suggests, the restaurant is a shellfish smorgasbord.

From the gorgeous terrace, overlooking nearby Chesil beach, customers can watch fishing boats come and go, as well as eye up what might be about to arrive on their plate. As far as idyllic summer food spots go, this one’s hard to beat.

Crab House Café The Crab House Cafe serves some of Devon’s finest seafood (Credit: Alamy/Convery flowers)

Rochelle Canteen

Shoreditch’s most notorious old school building is still one of East London’s best-loved restaurants, 17 years after first opening. On a sunny day, it’s easy to see why.

The gorgeous garden is the perfect spot to enjoy an ice-cold white wine, all while scoffing vibrant salads and sensational cakes. Shoreditch certainly isn’t short of great restaurants, but Rochelle Canteen should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Rochelle Canteen Rochelle Canteen lies in the heart of Shoreditch (Credit: Alamy/Valery Rizzo)

The Gurnard’s Head

Another sensational Cornish grub spot, The Gurnard’s Head might be one of the most picturesque pubs in Britain. The iconic yellow building straddles the craggy headland from which it takes its name, providing welcome refuge for tired hikers along the Southwest Coast Path.

In summer, the restaurant makes use of its sensational garden, erecting huge outdoor tents to cater for its guests. Menu highlights include beef shin croquettes and red gurnard katsu curry.

The Gurnard's Head best outdoor restaurants UK The Gurnard’s Head has one of the best beer gardens around (Credit: Alamy/steven gillis hd9 imaging)

The Ethicurean

One of Britain’s most unique restaurants, The Ethicurean is almost the dictionary definition of farm to table eating.

Set in a spectacular walled garden in Bristol, the menu almost exclusively consists of produce grown on the premises. In summer, guests can enjoy the expansive outside space and revel in the kitchen’s incredible ingredients.

If sustainability is important to you, The Ethicurean should be right at the top of your list.

Ethicurean Somerset The Ethicurean’s garden is one of the most unique dining destinations in the country (Credit: Alamy/James Osmond Photography)

The Hare and Hounds

Surrounded by gorgeous countryside and affording spectacular panoramic views of Somerset, The Hare and Hounds inn is one of Bath’s best-kept secrets.

Serving modern pub classics as well as sensational Sunday roasts, the kitchen can cater for all tastes. However, it’s the views that really make this spot worthy of consideration.

Petersham Nurseries

Serving a seasonal Italian menu, Petersham Nurseries’ canopy of foliage makes it feel like you’re eating Lothlorien rather than Southwest London.

Close to Richmond Park and the River Thames, this restaurant really comes alive in the summer. Sit out under the impressive pagoda with a glass of something tasty and relax.

Petersham Nurseries best outdoor restaurants UK Petersham Nurseries is one of London’s most popular summer dining destinations (Credit: Alamy/Percy Ryan)

Brat x Climpson’s Arch

As a way of coping with the effects of the pandemic, Michelin-starred Brat decided to open up an outdoor pop-up. Originally, this was supposed to be a temporary arrangement.

However, the pop-up’s success means that Brat x Climpson’s Arch is with us for the duration of 2021. This is great news for everyone in East London.

The menu includes the restaurant’s signature whole roast turbot, as well as a range of sensational trimmings.

Brat best outdoor restaurants UK Brat’s pop-up at Climpson’s Arch has been a huge success (Credit: Instagram/Brat)

The Inn at Whitewell

One of the Northwest’s most famous pubs also happens to be one of its most scenic. The 16th-century building overlooks the ancient River Hodder and overlooks rolling grouse moors and valleys.

The kitchen provides pub classics, made with top-quality local ingredients. Guests can also stay on the premises, giving you plenty of opportunities to enjoy all that the outdoor eating area has to offer.

Ranking the best outdoor restaurants in the UK is always going to be a matter of opinion. After all, we’re lucky enough to have some of the best pub gardens and outdoor eating spaces anywhere in the world.

Best outdoor restaurants UK The Inn at Whitewell is one of Lancashire’s most famous pubs (Credit: Alamy/John Davidson Photos)

READ MORE: 9 best Sunday roasts in the UK that you need to try now

Still, if you’re struggling to decide where to celebrate the end of lockdown, we guarantee that there’s plenty to enjoy on this list.