The moment that so many of us have been waiting for since December has almost arrived. Picture this – the sun is shining, you’re soaking it up riverside, and a waiter is approaching, balancing plates and trays that are fated to bring bliss to your taste buds. Though Deliveroo and recipe boxes have had their time in the limelight, there’s no doubt that the return of outdoor eating is about to inject the spirit of summer into 2021. If you’re in Oxford, there’s a lot to look forward to, especially since the city council recently announced funding available to support restaurants, pubs and cafés as they upgrade to an al fresco experience. If you’re looking to find out which newly pedestrianised streets will be all the rage to make for a tasty Trinity term, look no further!

Streets for eats: Cornmarket Street, St Michael’s Street, Broad Street, Dawson Street, Observatory Street, North Parade Avenue, and more.

The Anchor – North Oxford

With charcoal-cooking, Japanese pop-up food trucks (Mondays from Apr 19) and even a paella night (Apr 20), this pub near Port Meadow with a huge tent has got a lot of reasons why you should visit – don’t miss out on an excuse for a delicious burger paired with a pint!

Arbequina – Cowley Road

Opening on the 16th April, this tapas bar will be spilling out onto outdoor seating and also offering takeaway, all while serving delicious food and drink.

Cherwell Boathouse – North but nearly Central Oxford

The perfect riverside venue, whether you choose to punt or dine outside, serving contemporary English food. Their al fresco experience includes tables overlooking the river – what more could you need?

River in summer with punts parked outside traditional looking pub
The Cherwell Boathouse. Photo: Experience Oxfordshire

Gee’s – North Oxford

Although Gee’s is known for their stylish conservatory, they’ll be opening up their terrace dining to serve Mediterranean grills and refined dishes, with a lunch and all-day menu.

Handlebar Café and Kitchen – Central

The beloved brunch spot will be upgrading their takeaway service to an outdoor dining experience – along with other restaurants on St Michael’s Street such as Bill’s, Chutney’s, and Mission Burrito. Alongside breakfast and lunch, Handlebar will also be serving dinners outdoors. 

The Head of the River – Central

Situated next to Christchurch Meadows and overlooking the Thames, this pub kitchen is taking bookings to take your summer pub trips to the next level. With a contemporary menu filled with popular dishes and a beautiful setting, this is not to be missed!

The Jericho Café – Jericho (unsurprisingly)

This café, situated on Walton Street, is perfect for quick bites, brunches, sweet treats and more. With their signature blackboard menu, this Jericho favourite will soon be open to outdoor diners looking for a variety of café dishes.

Kazbar (Coco’s by day) – Cowley Road

With their immediately recognisable and iconic yellow wall on Cowley Road, Kazbar will definitely be on the sunny side of your summer as they reopen for North African and Spanish style tapas, delicious cocktails, and their unbeatable atmosphere.

Groups of people sat working and chatting at tables outside the Handlebar Café
Photo: Handlebar Café and Kitchen

The Magdalen Arms – Iffley Road

You don’t have to have a Home Secretary’s budget to visit and enjoy the food and drink at this pub on Iffley Road offering outdoor dining and plenty of variety on their Lunch, Dinner and Sunday menus.

Mamma Mia Pizzeria – Summertown

This iconic Italian spot, said by some to be the best pizza and pasta to be found in Oxford for over 30 years, will be reopening its kitchen to serve its classic dishes and desserts on their outdoor terrace. By May 17th, both the Jericho and Summertown branches hope to reopen for indoor dining alongside many of the other restaurants in the city.

The Perch – Binsey, just west of Port Meadow

This 17th century tavern is reopening to serve its classic British menu outdoors, and it’s an absolutely stunning place to lunch if you’re enjoying a pre-term trip to Port Meadow.

Empty chairs and tables in the early evening in the courtyard of Quod
Photo: Quod Oxford

The Plough at 38 – Central

The Plough has been open at several points during the pandemic, and they’ll be reopening as part of Oxford’s new and brilliant Al Fresco District spanning Cornmarket and St Michael’s Street, alongside the Three Goats Head pub and the newly refurbished (and eagerly awaited) Thai Street Kitchen. Let the Plough pull you in with the promise of pints and delicious food – this part of central Oxford is looking to be buzzing with great grub this Trinity.

Quod – Central

If you need an excuse to feel a bit fancy as restrictions ease and you finally emerge from your accommodation, Quod’s gorgeous Italian style garden terrace with views of Magdalen tower will make you feel as though you’re vacationing in the Med from the comfort of central Oxford. With stunning food and drinks menus, this is somewhere to go to treat yourself.

The Varsity Club – Central

Serving up delicious cocktails and rooftop views at the same time, TVC is definitely one to book to safely reinject the fun and excitement of pre-pandemic life as restrictions ease. Nestled on Oxford’s High Street, you can enjoy a panoramic skyline alongside drinks and bar snacks here.

Overhead view of the Varsity Club in the evening, lots of tables filled with people drinking and a view of Oxford
Photo: The Varsity Club, Oxford

Westgate rooftop restaurants – Central

Restaurants reopening in Westgate shopping centre for outdoor dining include The Breakfast Club, Victors, Pho and Pizza Pilgrims – with great panoramic views of Oxford and plenty of terrace dining, there’s no better way to celebrate the reopening of non-essential stores and brighter days ahead as restrictions ease.

The White Rabbit – Central

Another favourite in Oxford, this pub that’s tucked away between Gloucester Green and the St John Street area will be reopening to serve pizzas and pints in their pub garden. If you’ve been craving a pizza fix, this might be the spot for you!

Header image credit by Barbare Kacharava on unsplash.com


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