Granary Square is without doubt the most popular spot for open-air eating at King’s Cross. With its canalside location, spectacular fountains, as well as the comings and goings from Central Saint Martins, it’s both charming and entertaining. There are three great choices here.
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.
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.
Just next door is Bruno Loubet’s bistro Grain Store with alfresco dining for 80 on the charming terrace.
There are no geographic boundaries to the eclectic menu, instead, dishes are a inspired by Bruno’s travels and years dedicated to his beloved vegetable patch. Try the Beetroot, ricotta and parmesan ravioli or the kimchi and mince pork Chinese pancake.
The bar is a destination in itself, with an award-winning cocktail list from Tony Conigliaro.
Just off Granary Square is Wharf Road Gardens. This pretty space features paths that wind through manicured lawns with planting in raised beds. The gardens are flanked on one side by the charming historic buildings of 19th century King’s Cross, and on the other by Regent’s Canal. You can enjoy all-day sunshine here (as long as the sun comes out, that is).
At the York Road end of Wharf Road Gardens is The Greek Larder. The open kitchen produces fare influenced by traditional recipes and the street food of Athens. The cooking is light, with an emphasis on clean flavours and seasonal ingredients. On a warm day, outside tables fill up quickly. Alfresco dining here calls for meze platters of stuffed vine leaves and Mediterranean charcuterie. Pair with a crisp white from the volcanic soils of Santorini, and you can almost imagine you’re on the shore of the sparkling Aegean…almost.
If you’ve left room, then don’t miss the glorious ice cream at Ruby Violet. The team put a lot of love, effort and time into the flavours and there are some weird, wonderful and completely delicious combinations. Find a spot in the gardens and enjoy!
Back over on Handyside Street, is the lovely Lewis Cubitt Square. An avenue of plane trees runs along the eastern edge of the square, with seating nestled amongst the flower beds. During the summer months, the square regularly hosts concerts and festivals.
The outdoor terrace at Bombay eatery, Dishoom offers a great view of the square. The restaurant is atmospheric to say the least, housed in the brick arches of a former Victorian train shed. This is an extremely popular spot, 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!
Step out of the stations, and you’re in Battlebridge Place – the perfect spot to indulge in a bit of people watching. A number of excellent restaurants edge the space, with terraces to offer you a front row seat.
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 sachertorte and apple strudel are top notch.
Granger & Co
Tucked behind the German Gymnasium, you’ll find Granger & Co. Chef Bill Granger made his name cooking simple but satisfying dishes in his native Australia.
The menu here is a little more eclectic, taking inspiration from around the globe, but with the same relaxed and sunny atmosphere. 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.
Also facing onto the square, 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.
Your waiter will help recommend a glass of something chilled and delicious. Pair it with a summery plate of shrimp, fennel and juicy pink grapefruit, or the gorgeously earthy parmigiana.
Just beyond Battlebridge Place is Pancras Square. Styled after a continental town square, with lawned terraces, cascading water features and seating beneath mature trees, this intimate square offers a beautifully secluded dining experience.
Drake & Morgan
At the far end of the square, tucked behind lush planting is Drake & Morgan, a stylish restaurant with a year-round, outdoor terrace.
It’s always cocktail hour at Drake and 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.
The Skip Garden
Last up, but certainly not least, is the Global Generation Skip Garden. At the top of Lewis Cubitt Park, this charming allotment is something of a hidden gem. Herbs, flowers, fruit and vegetables are grown in building skips, hence the name. Everything in the garden is upcycled, recycled and organic – it’s as sustainable as it gets.
The café serves wonderful salads, soup and cakes. Choose to eat at the tables outside the café, or nestled amongst the greenery. Much of the food is created using produce sourced straight from the garden, so it doesn’t get more local. In glorious weather, this really is a delightful spot.