Food + Drink

Think summer, think eating al fresco

If you don’t eat al fresco this summer, you’re missing out(doors). There’s nothing quite like sitting outside with the warmth of a summer’s day, or the relaxed cool breeze of a sunlit evening on your shoulders. Long, cold drinks, a fresh, light meal and the sounds of nature are all you need to make dining al fresco the ultimate in summer chic and family fun. Eat together, play together and make the most of the sunny season before autumn rears its much more indoorsy head.

Whether you were born in Kent, or have moved to the county later in life, it can’t have escaped your notice that it has a plethora of places to choose from if you like to eat outside. Beautiful, peaceful, adventurous – the stuff that good memories are made of; why not try some of these al fresco ideas this summer?


You don’t have to have everything planned out to perfection when it comes to al fresco dining. You don’t have to know where you’re going and you don’t have to know what time you’re going to get there…that’s the point.

Part of the joy of being able to eat outside now that the summer sun dictates that we don’t have to be cooped up indoors anymore (even if we can see some lovely views from the windows) is that it’s a form of freedom. Breathe in the fresh air, indulge in some tasty treats and sit down on the ground as nature would choose. That’s part of the fun.

If you love the idea of dining al fresco but you want to DIY it, now’s your chance. Grab a picnic basket, a cool box, or a bag-for-life from your local supermarket if you prefer and add homemade goodies like rolls, sandwiches and cakes, or some pre-made classics like Scotch eggs and cocktail sausages; not forgetting the all important crisps and dips to make things extra special, as well as something to drink – water, juice, soft drinks, wine, beer, Prosecco…the choice is yours. Bring something comfy to sit on if it makes you happy and find your perfect picnic spot.

We have 350 miles of coastline in Kent, so the beach is always a good choice. Plus,  we have woodland, open green spaces, country parks aplenty, riverside benches and a whole host of historic houses and castles where you can take your ‘pick’ and dine in splendour. Here are some of our preferred choices for you to cut down on legwork…


Turner Contemporary Café


Margate Main Sands is a magnificent stretch of Kent coastline and the Turner Contemporary is an exciting gallery full of new and interesting art. Put the two together and you have a recipe for the most innovative place to enjoy outdoor dining. The café at Turner Contemporary serves modern, seasonal food that you can eat while looking out across beautiful views.


The Pantiles

Tunbridge Wells

The Pantiles is a special area of Tunbridge Wells that offers boutique shops, a relaxed shopping experience and, of course, plenty of al fresco dining. You can choose from all kinds of different eateries including:

  • Shrager’s Pâtisserie
  • Sankey’s
  • The Cake Shed
  • The Pantiles Café
  • Woods

Some of the restaurants have dedicated outdoor seating and others offer food and treats you can take away with you. Find a seat by the bandstand when there’s live music playing and relax to a suitably upbeat soundtrack.


The Ship and Trades

St Mary’s Island

St Mary’s Island is a beautiful part of Kent and the Ship and Trades is a beautiful spot on the island. Here you can enjoy your food in a marina setting with an extensive waterfront seating area – views stretch along the River Medway all the way to historic Upnor Castle.




Rocksalt’s main aim is to cook the best ingredients as simply as possible. That’s it; and it works. Rocksalt is an informal-yet-smart dining room with a stylish, comfortable bar where customers are invited to spend an afternoon into evening looking out over the stunning views of Folkestone Harbour, beyond and over the English Channel. The fish at Rocksalt is as fresh as it gets, caught daily from local Folkestone fishing boats, and the meat they serve is bred in the surrounding countryside. At Rocksalt, keywords are quality, locality, sustainability and provenance.


Ziggy’s Rooftop Bar


This rooftop terrace bar and barbecue restaurant calls on Caribbean influences to inform its stunning menu. You can enjoy reggae and hip hop tunes as you dine and drink, and the cocktails are really special here – you’re not only outside, but you’re up high, so you’ve got some truly stunning views to enjoy them with.


Pier Five


Chatham is undergoing something of a regeneration of late and Pier Five is a prime example of exactly the great things that are happening there. It’s an exciting new concept and the international, modern food – think superfood salads and hand-stretched oven-baked pizzas combined with craft beers and lagers, along with fresh artisan coffee – is exactly what you need when you want to eat al fresco.


The Parrot


Built in 1370 or thereabouts, the building that houses what is now The Parrot pub and restaurant in Canterbury is the oldest in the city – and landlords have been serving pints here for the past 300 years. There’s a secret garden at the back of this gorgeous pub that captures the sun, allowing punters to sit back and relax in peace and quiet amidst the hustle and bustle of Canterbury.


Café des Amis


Café des Amis is a mix of Mediterranean and Mexican food, and it goes together perfectly. Precise flavouring and skilled pairings make this the place to go with friends and loved ones to spend time savouring all the authentic combinations that you can find here. Café des Amis is situated perfectly, enabling diners to enjoy fabulous views out across Canterbury’s much loved Westgate Gardens. If you are planning a day out in the city, choosing to eat your lunch or dinner here is a great idea – you’re close to everything you need to be, you can watch the city as it goes by the window, be enthralled by the ancient architecture, and eat some special food too.




Faversham is a special place to while away a lunch hour or even a whole day, and if you combine a trip there with a meal at Posillipo then you’ll make it even better. This authentic Neapolitan restaurant provides superb home cooked meals in a cosy, intimate setting. There’s an extensive wine list to top things off with, of course, unforgettable views. In the summer, the outdoor seating area is opened up and the views over Faversham Creek really are impressive; this is the kind of place where you could easily enjoy a long, leisurely lunch and you’ll certainly be reluctant to leave.


Hythe Bay

Hythe & Dover

Fish is the main dish served at both Hythe Bay seafood restaurant in Hythe and in Dover (although of course there are non-seafood options available), and the views are a close second draw after the delicious food. It’s wonderful to sit in the sunshine and look across the water at any time of day, and when the sun sets and the evening stars start to appear it’s truly magical.


The Plough Inn


The owners of The Plough Inn are fascinated by food and have over three decades of experience in the food and hospitality industry between them. This, as well as their love of the countryside and the community that comes with it, means that dining at The Plough Inn is a truly rural affair and one that feels completely idyllic. People love to visit The Plough Inn because the food is great but unpretentious. The view from The Plough Inn’s beer garden is the North Downs – they roll away making the entire area look beautiful.


The Bricklayers Arms


The view that is enjoyed by so many at The Bricklayers Arms is one that overlooks a lovely lake – tranquil, peaceful and a favourite spot of Sir Winston Churchill’s, you’re sure to get a warm welcome at The Bricklayers Arms – whether you’re a local or a visitor – as the pub’s owners are very involved in the local community and want everyone to enjoy what The Bricklayers Arms, Chipstead and Sevenoaks itself has to offer.


Cafe du Soleil


Since this restaurant sits right beside Canterbury’s River Stour (it is even accessed by its own bridge), it would be a shame if people weren’t able to make the most of its enviable position and sit outside to enjoy the view. Luckily, they are able to sit outside and they are able to take in that view. It’s delightful.


The Beacon

Tunbridge Wells

The Beacon is a family orientated restaurant and is proud of that fact; it very well should be since it does it so well. With a restaurant, private dining, a bar and a wonderful terrace offering sought-after views, the whole place is set in 17 acres including three stunning lakes and there’s a lot to look at – The Beacon has certainly transformed dining in Tunbridge Wells and taken it to the next level. Each season offers a new and exclusive menu using only ingredients that can be found in the local area. As the year moves on, so too does the menu, giving diners the chance to experience real intuitive menu creation.


Café On The Vine


The Vine Gardens in Sevenoaks is a massively important place for the local community. This is where the famous Vine Cricket Ground is and where the eponymous ‘seven oaks’ were originally found. So, when the Café on the Vine opened and began serving delicious homemade food for breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks in between with access to an outside seating area in the gardens themselves, it quickly became a favourite local eatery.


Minnis Bay Bar & Brasserie


The Minnis Bay Bar & Brasserie is stylish and relaxed, and has the most gorgeous view of Minnis Bay itself. It’s an exciting place to visit, even better when you try the food and sample something special from the extensive wine list. The Minnis Bay Bar & Brasserie opens for breakfast and offers lunches and dinners too – there is even a kiosk serving takeaway snacks and ice creams so you can admire the view on-the-go or take your food down to the beach and eat it on the sand.


The Little Brown Jug

Chiddingstone Causeway

The beer garden at the gorgeous Little Brown Jug in Chiddingstone Causeway is such a lovely place to spend some time. A long, leisurely lunch or a romantic meal for two; perhaps a treat out with the kids or a special celebration – to make this special place even better…yes, it can be done…The Little Brown Jug hosts a beer and music festival in their garden, so you can have some additional entertainment with your lovely al fresco setting.


The Coastguard

St Margaret’s Bay

The Coastguard has the fantastic distinction of being the closest British restaurant to France –  it has claimed this location for more than 300 years; the views are beautiful and the restaurant boasts panoramic vistas across all of the bay making this one of the most awe-inspiring spots to have lunch or dinner in all of Kent.

Previous post

Spotlight on Westerham

Next post

Go Wild on the River Stour