Almost half of London is made up of green spaces, which means ample opportunities for picnics and lovely walks in the (occasional) sunshine. But when you haven’t planned for picnicking and inevitably get hungry, there’s nowhere better to re-fuel than at one of London’s park cafés. There are plenty dotted around the capital, offering delicious food alongside great views…
Perched next to Brockwell Park’s Olympic-sized outdoor pool is The Lido Café, a bright and airy art deco space serving seasonal food from breakfast to late afternoon. The menu is predominantly vegetarian, but you can add meat if you choose (the Brindisa Iberico chorizo looks pretty tempting). On weekends they offer a great all-day brunch, featuring dishes like buckwheat pancakes, celeriac and cavolo nero rosti, and polenta scramble with roast Portobello mushroom. Unlike most park cafes, this one serves cocktails too – their Bloody Marys are particularly good.
This Benugo-run restaurant overlooks one of London’s most famous lakes, the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Housed within Patrick Gwynne’s iconic building, visitors can enjoy everything from breakfast to wood-fired pizzas to salads, while enjoying glorious lake views. Afterwards, spend the afternoon bobbing around the water on a pedalo.
Set across 40 acres of parkland in Upper Clapton, Springfield Park Café is housed within a Grade-II listed building known by locals as The White Lodge Mansion. It was opened in 2003 with the aim of establishing a friendly place for the community, and this sense of warmth and homeliness remains today. Food ranges from breakfasts to paninis to hot salads, with both outdoor and indoor seating available.
The charming Pear Tree Café was opened back in 2016 by Annabel Partridge and Will Burrett, both former chefs at Petersham Nurseries and Skye Gyngell’s Spring restaurant. This culinary expertise is reflected in the menu, which offers a selection of brunch, lunch and evening dishes. Breakfast options include everything from acai bowls to chorizo and halloumi bagels; for lunch and dinner it’s dishes like chickpea pancakes, burgers and salads.
The award-winning Caruso St John-designed Chiswick House Café overlooks the rolling grounds of Lord Burlington’s spectacular 18th century Palladian villa. From here you can choose from a selection of sandwiches, soups, pizzas and jacket potatoes, with a dedicated children’s menu available.
On the north-west corner of Richmond Park you’ll find Petersham Nurseries Café, set within a sun-drenched glasshouse in the idyllic Petersham House. It’s more of a restaurant than a café, serving seasonal, Italian-inspired food surrounded by a cornucopia of plants, flowers and foliage. For something more relaxed, opt for The Teahouse, a rustic no-reservations spot offering hearty homemade cakes, whole leaf teas and statement salads.
Tucked away beside the Thames is Chelsea Physic Garden, the oldest botanical garden in London, housing around 5,000 different plants. You’ll have to pay a small fee to access it, but it’ll be worth it – particularly as it’ll gives access to the pretty Physic Garden Café. Using the finest British organic ingredients, chefs cook up a storm here: think oven grilled lamb cutlets, superfood salads, pan fried cod and vegetarian burgers.