The best spots for alfresco eating at Kings Cross

The warm weather and long evenings are here and there’s no better place to soak up the sun and enjoy a spot of alfresco dining than King’s Cross.

Parrillian

Perched among the greenery on the upper level of Coal Drops Yard is new Spanish alfresco terrace bar and grill, Parrillan. The hook here is the ‘parillas’: mini charcoal grills with white-hot coats that are brought to your table for you to cook your own ingredients. Elegant slices of beef picanha, fat bright red carabinero prawns and juicy red peppers are all pre-seasoned and ready for you to chargrill and bring out that mouth-watering deliciousness.

If you’d rather have someone else do the cooking (and with Barrafina’s executive chef Angel Zapata Martin in the kitchen, it’s a respectable choice) there are ‘para picas’, or small plates to choose from. The drinks list is well worth a mention too, if only for how hard it works to showcase Spanish produce. Choose from elegant cocktails, sherry, vermut, a cracking Spanish gin and tonic list, beers and wine.

Parrillan Terrace Restaurant, Coal Drops Yard, King's Cross

Chapel Down Gin Works

If the name seems familiar, its because this is the team behind the award-winning English vineyard and restaurant in Kent. With this new venture in King’s Cross, Chapel Down is branching out into gins. In a nice touch, the gins are made from grape skins left over from the wine-making process before adding botanicals like juniper, elderflower, and lavender.

Overlooking Regent’s Canal, the Gin Works is a micro-distillery, bar, and restaurant, where the seasonal British menu is concise but compelling. The south-facing decked terrace is right on the canal. Plus, upstairs, the light and airy restaurant opens out onto a small but delightful balcony. Keep an eye out for their ‘experiences’ to come in the next few months, with tastings, make-your-own gin and more in the offing. If gin’s not your tipple, never fear: they do carry a range of their famous wines and beers here, too.

Alfresco drinking on the Chapel Down wine bar terrace at King's Cross

The Coal Office

Floor-to-ceiling doors open out onto this industrial-chic rooftop terrace, which offers delightful views of Coal Drops Yard’s ‘kissing’ roof and the iconic gasholders to one side. While on the other, the canal gently meanders below, with the greenery of Camley Street nature reserve providing the backdrop.

Great views aside, there’s plenty more to shout about here. The Coal Office is a collaboration between design powerhouse Tom Dixon, who had a hand in every element of the interiors down to the cutlery, and chef supremo Assaf Granit. Jerusalem-born Granit’s vibrant sharing plates are as loud and buzzy as the open kitchen, with influences stretching along the Mediterranean from the Middle East to North Africa.

Coal Office Terrace, Coal Drops Yard, King's Cross

Plaza Pastor

On sultry summer evenings, there’s only one place to be: Plaza Pastor. Well, maybe sunset-watching in Yucatan, but Plaza Pastor comes a solid second. Upbeat good mood vibes come courtesy of live music, a smoking chicken rotisserie and brimming jugs of tequila-based cocktails – including their own batch mezcal – designed to share. The covered terrace is essentially the outside space of sibling restaurant Casa Pastor but with its own bar, open kitchen and a more laid-back menu. Try the classics – tacos, tortillas and fat tortas buns filled with meat and veggies from the robata grill.

Alfresco at Plaza Pastor bar and restaurant, Coal Drops Yard at King's Cross

Hicce

One of the most exciting new restaurants at Coal Drops Yard is Hicce, with cooking by Murano-trained chef Pip Lacey. The outdoor space is perched just outside the handsome red-brick vaulted windows, and, according to the Hicce team – offers the finest view of the sunset in the entire city. The terrace has a shorter menu than the main restaurant but acts as a highlight reel of the uber-modern fare served inside. The inventive dishes are mainly wood-fired, with lots of steaming, smoking, and pickling. The beer bread is worth the visit alone.

If you’re here for liquid refreshments, there is a pretty outdoor bar serving heady cocktails, craft beers, and small-batch wines. Throughout the summer, don’t miss Sundowner Sundays on the terrace, when Hicce DJs will be easing you through your Sunday comedown with funk, rare groove, reggae, and soul.

Bartender making cocktails in the terrace bar, Hicce for alfresco drinking in Coal Drops Yard at King's Cross

Vermuteria

Nothing tastes like summer quite like a Spritz, and the ever-charming Vermuteria might be just the spot to enjoy one. Nestled at the very top of Coal Drops Yard, the all-day cafe and bar spills out onto a pretty courtyard terrace. Long sharing tables are festooned with strings of twinkling lights and dotted with heaters to ward off any evening chill.

On the menu, find classic Spritzes (hello Aperol) or delve into the heady world of vermouths – Vermuteria’s speciality – to create your own serve.  Add a handful of friends, some delicious tapas-style small plates, and soak up the last of those summer rays.

Vermuteria Restaurant, Coal Drops Yard, King's Cross

Little Creatures

One for the craft enthusiasts. Western Australian cult brewer Little Creatures has arrived in London, shining some antipodean sunshine onto the quieter end of King’s Cross. The new warehouse-style taproom boasts a micro-brewery and restaurant set over two floors with alfresco seating on Lewis Cubitt Park.

This brewery is an institution in Australia, having launched in Fremantle just as the craft beer scene was exploding back in the early noughties. Most of the beers will continue to be imported with plenty of Aussie favourites on the menu, but a handful of beers will be created on-site – Kiwi brewer Laura Smith is working on a brew called Regent’s Canal to capture the flavour of Little Creatures’ new home. The space lends itself to sociable crowds, as does the all-day menu, serving up pizzas, bowl food and sharing plates, designed for grazing while you sample a few cold ones.

Little Creatures Bar and Restaurant King's Cross

The Lighterman

Overlooking the canal, The Lighterman has not one, but three outside eating options, so you can chase the sun all day long. The generous wraparound terrace on the first floor has panoramic views over the square and the canal. If you don’t manage to bag a spot here, then you’ve still got the terrace on Granary Square. Or best of all, the canalside bar right on the towpath. The all-day menu features marinated meat and seafood cooked on a wood-fired grill alongside classics such as the rare breed beef burger and fish & chips. On the drinks front, there’s a great seasonal cocktail menu, plus craft beers and well-chosen wines.

Lighterman Terrace

Caravan

Popular eatery Caravan was the first restaurant to open at King’s Cross. It was an instant hit and continues to pull the crowds. Dishes draw influence and flavours from around the world and are best enjoyed as small plates made for sharing. The sunny terrace is popular from morning to night. The breakfasts here are excellent and the coffee is roasted daily, in-house. There’s no better spot to watch the activity in the square.

Al fresco lunch, Caravan, Granary Square, King's Cross

Dishoom

The outdoor terrace at Bombay eatery Dishoom offers a great view of Lewis Cubitt Square and Coal Drops Yard. The restaurant is atmospheric to say the least, housed in the brick arches of a former Victorian train shed. Dishoom has been queue-around-the-block popular right from the start, so arrive early if you want any hope of nabbing an outside table. Indian food is made to be shared: order moreish samosas, rich curries, black house dahl, charred prawns, and hearty naan parcels and tuck in. The bar mixes old-fashioned cocktails served in cut-glass tumblers. You order Indian-style by the peg – the chota peg is a small measure (100ml) whilst the burra peg is not!

Dishoom Restaurant, Stable Street, King's Cross

Granary Square Brasserie

All-day restaurant Granary Square Brasserie boasts a pretty terrace overlooking the fountains. Seating is nestled amongst greenery, and there are heaters and blankets should a chill set in. The GSB menu is full of beautifully cooked classics – in fact, your biggest concern is going to be what to choose from the fairly sizeable but stellar menu. There’s a variety of light salads, fish dishes, comfort-food favourites such as pies, roasts and curries, artisan sandwiches, and a host of carefully-sourced steaks, fish and burgers from the grill. Our insider tip? Whatever you go for, be sure to add on as many sides as you can handle – especially the truffle and parmesan chips. Oh, and the weekend brunch is a worth crossing town for, too.

The terrace at Granary Square Brasserie, Granary Square, King's Cross

German Gymnasium

The German Gymnasium was the first purpose-built gym in England. This beautiful building is now home to a restaurant of the same name serving punchy Mittel-European inspired dishes and delicious cocktails all day long. The sleek wraparound terrace is heated for when the chill sets in. If you’re here for a late lunch, be sure to leave room for dessert, as at 4pm, a clock chimes to mark the classic German tradition of kaffee & kuchen. The Sacher torte and apple strudel are top-notch.

Granger & Co

Chef Bill Granger made his name cooking simple but satisfying dishes in his native Australia, and has brought the same sunny vibes to King’s Cross with Granger & Co.. The menu here is a little more eclectic, taking inspiration from around the globe. Order a variety of small plates to eat tapas-style on the piazza – think crispy squid with chilli, courgette chips in nutty, moreish tahini. Enjoy and soak up the sun.

Granger & Co, Seven Pancras Square, King's Cross

Vinoteca

As you walk up King’s Boulevard, you can’t miss the striking twisted iron columns of Vinoteca. Inspired by the wine bars of Spain and Italy, the super-comfy seating on Vinoteca’s pretty terrace cries out for an evening spent sampling the exceptional wines. Let the knowledgable staff recommend a glass of something chilled and delicious, and pair it with plate of summery flavours. Try the shrimp, fennel and juicy pink grapefruit, or the gorgeously earthy parmigiana.

Vinoteca, restaurant and wine shop, King's Cross

Drake & Morgan

It’s always cocktail hour at Drake & Morgan, so be sure to check out the list of classics or the more inventive ‘inspired’ list. Food-wise, there are small plates, salads, and burgers, but for alfresco dining, food straight from the grill is a must. As evening draws in, cosy blankets and hot water bottles are on hand to keep you toasty. Four-legged friends are welcome.

Terrace, Drake and Morgan, Pancras Square, King's Cross

Kimchee

Last up, but certainly not least is Kimchee. On the menu, you’ll find authentic Korean barbecue in the form of meats, fish and veggies roasted in the traditional style on the grill. Be sure to try the favourite Bibimbap, (a mixed bowl of rice and sauteed vegetables topped with a fried egg) and the stir-fried rice cakes, Bulgogi Ddukbokki. Add a bowl of coconut sticky rice with mango, fried sweet potato and ice cream to round things off. To accompany your meal, there are a range of Korean-inspired cocktails and a wine list hand-picked to enhance the heady flavours.

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