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Gastro Pubs in London: Top 20 for 2019

I know what it’s like. You’re thinking of things to do in London and you get hit by a burning desire for a great gastro pub with your poison of choice to loosen the tongue and ultimately have a happy, memorable time with friends, family, a date or a business associate you want to ‘butter up’. But where will tick all the boxes you’re looking for? I decided to compile the Best London Gastro Pub Guide to put an end to this. These are pubs chosen from all over London so you’re bound to be near at least one of them. They also have a big variation in “Vibe” and “Speciality” to meet your social, seasonal and stomach’s needs.

Best Gastro Pubs London

1. The Bull

13 North Hill, Highgate, London N6 4AB, UK

The Bull, situated in North London, is a relaxed, even dog-friendly pub but that doesn’t mean their quality of food or service suffers as a result. They have an excellent “seasonal menu”, as well as a comprehensive wine list and beer selection (including their very own home-brewed beer). They use Irish beef and Norfolk chicken for their Sunday roasts. Yum!

Vibe: Smart casual (relaxed with a touch of posh)
Speciality: Sunday roast

2. The Fox & Hounds

66-68 Latchmere Road, London, SW11 2JU, UK

The Fox & Hounds is in Battersea. There’s lots of competition in this area of London for great gastro pubs but this is definitely one of the best. Their menu changes throughout the year but it generally has a mix of traditional pub food (like “The Fox Burger”) and gourmet cuisine (such as their “Burrata & black truffle Tortelloni”). Food-wise then there’s likely to be something for everyone. To top this, they have a good wine selection, they often host beer festivals and they have a lovely garden!

Vibe: Unpretentious (but top quality)
Speciality: Variety is their secret ingredient

3. The Old Red Cow

71 Long Lane, London, EC1A 9EJ, UK

If you’re looking for some good pub food and craft beers to wash it down with then this is the pub for you. Located in Barbican, near Farringdon tube station, The Old Red Cow is a traditional London pub with a quirky twist. They care more about food quality and presentation than your average boozer and they have a strong focus on craft beers. They’re not reinventing the wheel but they’re certainly giving it a good oil!

Vibe: Same, same but better!
Speciality: Craft beers

4. The Bull & Last

168 Highgate Road Highgate, London, NW5 1QS, UK

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, the food here never fails to leave its customers with a warm fuzzy feeling inside (emotionally of course!). This is an award-winning pub but remains relaxed and without the restaurant prices. That’s probably why you can often spot young couples choosing The Bull & Last as the setting of their date. The food isn’t everything and they also score highly for service and ambiance. It’s also adding some very fancy new bedrooms (long gone are the days all pubs have “room at the inn”!). Oh and dogs are welcome!

Vibe: If The Ritz were a pub (and a little less Ritzy) 
Speciality: Bed and breakfast (and lunch and supper!)

5. The Drapers Arms

44 Barnsbury Street, London, N1 1ER, UK

The Drapers Arms describes itself as a “neighborhood pub” in Islington, North London. Although it has the look of an unassuming local pub, it certainly attracts more than just the neighbors. It has a simple but delicious menu. It’s reasonably priced when you consider the quality and location (main courses are £15 - £20). It also has a beautiful little garden terrace out the back. Easy choice for a great meal with friends and family.

Vibe: Understated
Speciality: Classic pub food done properly

6. Lord Wargrave

40-42 Brendon Street, Marylebone, London, W1H 5HE, UK

Whisky lovers look no further! The Lord Wargrave pub in west London is famous for its food and whisky. They have over 250 whiskies on offer, from super smooth blends to peaty single malts and smokey bourbons. Bourbons aren’t the only thing which is smokey here. All their meat is smoked in-house, giving it a flavour which stands out from the crowd. They also have a great selection of beers and ale, a Saturday brunch and a Sunday roast!

Vibe: Somewhere between cool and classy
Speciality: St Louis Pork Ribs

7. The Anchor & Hope

36 The Cut, Lambeth, London, SE1 8LP

After taking in the “Waterloo Sunset”, The Anchor & Hope is the obvious choice if you’re looking for some good pub grub. This pub was one of the early pioneers of ‘gastro pubs’ and it remains a serious competitor in the industry. It has a clean, smart decor with a relaxed and civilized atmosphere. Its menu is varied. It has all the classics with some less traditional, more exotic options to boot. The same goes for drinks: all the usual suspects and more. Sunday roast? One of the best!

Vibe: Laidback lip-smacking
Speciality: A range of sharing plates and joints to carve at the table

8. Canton Arms

177 S Lambeth Road, London, SW8 1XP, UK

The Canton Arms in South London is a real gem. It has a beautifully decorated interior. Everything looks old but new at the same time. The food is exquisite. It leans a little further from traditional than most gastro pubs but the prices remain better than many of its rivals. Fear not, it does still have fish & chips (Essex coast hake, chips and gribiche - £17). The pub operates on a first come first serve basis so remember to get here early!

Vibe: Fine dining

Speciality: Seven-hour Salt Marsh lamb shoulder

9. The Pig & Butcher

80 Liverpool Road, London, N1 0QD, UK

For those in North London, The Pig & Butcher has the answer to your hunger. This pub feels like it has been uprooted from the deepest, darkest countryside and replanted in Islington. All of their food is sourced from farms around the UK and butchered on-site. Their menus are entirely dependent on the fresh meat they have in the fridge. The decor matches the country feel and they have ales, craft beers and wines from family-owned vineyards. It’s a great concept and it really works. The countryside is just around the corner!

Vibe: Countryside
Speciality: Fresh meat

10. The Warwick

25 Warwick Way, Lillington and Longmoore Gardens, London, SW1V 1QT

The Warwick pub is in Pimlico, near Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The London Eye and Westminster Abbey: it’s not short of nearby attractions. It proudly calls itself a gastro pub and has a high standard for its food which is all seasonal and as local as possible. The food menu is not big but their emphasis is on quality over quantity. The same can be said for the wine and cask ale selection (they have two Greene King ales on tap and one guest ale) but they have a long list of cocktails and spirits. Its prices are mid-range for a London gastro pub and they are more than justified when you factor in the location and the pub itself which has a nice traditional but informal feel to it.

Vibe: Traditional, informal blend
Speciality: Quality over quantity

11. The Harwood Arms

Walham Grove, Fulham, London, SW6 1QP

“Award-winning food and wine in a casual and relaxed setting” is how The Harwood Arms describes themselves and they’re not wrong. Located in Fulham, this is one of the more upmarket gastro pubs in London. This is also reflected in their prices. However, are you getting your money’s worth? Undoubtedly. This pub is more weighted on the ‘gastro’ side of ‘gastro pub’ but it still has an atmosphere of charm and humility (and a selection of ales, cider and wine) that only a pub could bring.

Vibe: Classy
Speciality: Game and Wild Food

12. The Jugged Hare

49 Chiswell Street, London, EC1Y 4SA

Located just next to the Barbican Centre, The Jugged Hare is a hot contender for the best gastro pub in central London. They pride themselves on their game food and their menu reflects this (steaks, squirrels and crumbed pheasant!) so if game isn’t your cup of tea then your choices will be quite limited. They are careful to source their food from sustainable and traceable British farms. They are also a pub with a heart: they support the Childhood Trust. The interior matches perfectly with the food: exposed brick, pencil drawings of rabbits and tables close together to help induce the lively, social atmosphere it enjoys.

Vibe: Social, classy
Speciality: Game

13. The Brookmill

65 Cranbrook Rd, London SE8 4EJ

The Brookmill in St John’s, not far from the famous Cutty Sark ship, is a 19th century, Victorian pub. Its name comes from the nearby Brookmill Park (with Ravensbourne river running through it). A beautiful setting and interior to match. Any refurbishments have preserved its age (such as their lovely old floorboards) while enhancing its positive characteristics, particularly space and lighting. 

They also have a function room used for yoga, gin master classes and more. They source their craft ales from surrounding boroughs: London Pride! Outside they have a big beer garden and their food menu is simple, traditional but very well done.

Vibe: Easy going meets fine dining
Speciality: Beer Garden (to eat great food in!)

14. The Camberwell Arms

65 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell, London SE5 8TR

Rated #1 of 50 best Sunday lunches, the Guardian, 2017. Is that still true this year? Quite possibly. The Chef and Director of The Camberwell Arms doesn’t mess around. Everything they can do themselves, from sausages to pasta to ice cream, is made in-house. The rest is carefully sourced. They very much have their own style but you still get that comforting feeling you expect from good pub food. Could a Michelin star be on its way here soon? It’s not just about the food here. They also have an upstairs bar with music and a 2am license!

Vibe: Foody
Speciality: Sunday lunch

15. The Coach

26-28 Ray St, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 3DJ

The Coach pub offers much more than a pint of lager and a packet of pork scratchings! This old-fashioned pub has a beautiful, traditional facade with a matching interior style. Appearances can be deceptive, however. Their chef, Henry Harris, was described by The Guardian as “the best French chef with the decency to be British”. 

The food here is far removed from the steak and ale pies of your local watering hole and, as you might imagine, it comes with a higher price tag. Grilled rabbits aside, you’ll also be able to enjoy some pub classics and, of course, they take great pride in their traditional Sunday roasts. They have three dining rooms, one which backs onto their garden. You can also hire rooms for an event or stay the night in one of their carefully and comfortably designed bedrooms!

Vibe: Traditional
Speciality: French-British Fusion Food

16. The Old Ship Inn Hackney

2 Sylvester Path, London E8 1EN, UK

The Old Ship Inn in Hackney, north London, may appear to be more of a hotel than a pub and they do have 10 simple, elegantly designed rooms at a reasonable price (£80 for a single). Food is their main passion, however. They take comfort food and add a dollop of deliciousness, a twist of great service and a squeeze of mouth-watering presentation. Their burgers alone attract many to choose this as their regular good food fix. They also have enough ales, craft beers and cocktails to satisfy any connoisseurs you may bring along. If you’re a sports fan then you’re in luck. They show most of the big BT sports fixtures, as well as all of the Six Nations Rugby.

Vibe: Down to earth and down to food
Speciality: Burgers

17. The Crabtree

Rainville Rd, Hammersmith, London W6 9HA

The Crabtree pub is ideally situated on the riverside between Hammersmith and Putney bridges. If you’re a fan of the famous Oxford vs Cambridge boat race (one of the most popular activities for locals!) then this is the perfect place to watch it from. The pub itself has a lot going on. It has an award-winning comedy club, the biggest pub quiz in West London and live music. 

The interior is decorated with local historical photos and memorabilia. It has a high, vaulted ceiling, a big lounge area and a massive garden terrace. What’s great about the food here is not just the quality but the choice too. You can either choose from their more expensive, fine dining menu or stick to the more traditional (and cheaper) options. They’re also well stocked with ales (Doom Bar, Spitfire and more) and a lengthy wine list.

Vibe: Varied
Speciality: Entertainment

18. Culpepper

40 Commercial St, London E1 6LP

The Culpepper (in Whitechapel) is divided into four floors. The ground floor is where the pub is. It’s a really beautiful pub too. They’ve left a lot of the old exposed, alongside modern improvements which are very much in keeping with the feel of the place. The “U” shaped bar is particularly lovely and makes getting a drink that much easier! 

The food menu is relatively short but delicious. It has reinvented all the classic dishes you’re looking for and its prices are very competitive. Alternatively, you can go to their first floor dining room for a less economical but more gastronomical experience. They have a good wine list, choice of cocktails and international as well as local beers. Their third floor is for bedrooms and their fourth floor has a greenhouse (where they grow some of their vegetables) and a roof terrace for customers to enjoy.

Vibe: Chic but not too chic
Speciality: Steak Tartar

19. The Three Greyhounds

25 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 5DD

From Casanova to Wolfgang Mozart to The Clash, The Three Greyhounds has a long history of fame and infamy. This is no surprise as it is a part of a greater, secretive and seductive past of Soho. The Three Greyhounds is a beautiful, small and traditional-looking pub. Compared to most gastro pubs, this is a much more lively, perhaps even ‘party pub’. 

They often have live music and live rugby. Its Guinness is said to be the best in the area but it also has a good range of cask ales, some nice international beers, a long list of whiskies and gins and a decent wine menu. The greatest thing about this pub? The cost and quality of their food. If you want ordinary pub prices with extraordinary pub food, this is your best bet.

Vibe: Fun
Speciality: Good value

20. The Princess of Shoreditch

76-78 Paul St, London EC2A 4NE, UK

The Princess of Shoreditch aims “to be the best pub in Shoreditch with the best food in Shoreditch and the best atmosphere in Shoreditch. All whilst providing the best value for money we can.” However satisfying it would be, after reading that, to point to another, far better pub, you’d be hard-pressed to find one. 

Their prices aren’t quite as reasonable as they are supposedly aiming for but their food is delicious. £5 may sound like a lot for a Scotch Egg but forget petrol station Scotch Eggs. These are next level. They have a great selection of beer, wine, spirits and they have lots of Sunday Roast options (including nut roast for vegetarians).

Vibe: Posh meets hipster
Speciality: Chicken roasted in butter

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