London's best beer gardens

If you like a cold beer on a hot day, there’s probably nothing better than a beer garden. We’re an inclusive bunch when it comes to drinking at SquareMeal, so we’re happy to add that cocktails or a chilled wine does the trick rather nicely too – but then we’re sure we don’t need to tell you that. We’ve scoured our collection of London pub listings, to bring you our pick of the best beer gardens in London, all in one place. Scroll on for our selection of great London beer gardens, so you can sip alfresco in a pub worth talking about. 

Posted on 24 August 2018

London's best beer gardens

For more drinking inspiration, see our recommendations for the best bars in London. Each SquareMeal listing features an independent review, as well as reviews from those who have visited, together with unique special offers such as free drinks and discounts.


The Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh

204 Ferndale Road, London, SW9 8AG

Well turned-out and tastefully revamped, the Duke of Edinburgh gets into the Brixton spirit and does its duty as a neighbourhood community boozer with add-ons. A couple of real ales such as St Austell Tribute are on the pumps, and drinkers can carouse amid long wooden tables, retro lamps, flea-market posters and loungey armchairs while watching sport on the big TV screens or nibbling eclectic pub grub (think chorizo baguettes and haloumi skewers). There’s a pool table, too, plus a stage for bands and weekend DJs, but the Duke’s undoubted selling point is its massive beer garden (complete with an outdoor bar) – a must-visit for balmy summer evenings or sizzling weekend BBQs. Usefully placed for gig-goers on their way to the Brixton Academy.

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Clissold Arms

Clissold Arms

105 Fortis Green, London, N2 9HR

It may sound like a pub, but the Clissold Arms has galloped down the gastro route, so its large premises are now far more about cuisine than quaffing. The place continues to attract comment, both adverse (service can get overstretched) and favourable (food is rated highly). Tables are covered in white linen, and the kitchen takes seasonal British ingredients and gives them a fancy French twist. Dishes such as figs stuffed with goats’ cheese with honey truffle dressing show creativity and flair, as do mains of parsley and Gruyère-crusted cod with wilted spinach and saffron broth, and a ‘mouthwatering’ lemon and lavender crème brûlée for dessert. The lovely sunny garden to the side (complete with fleecy blankets to ward off evening chills) and the Kinks room at the front (the pub hosted the band’s first gig) fill with satisfied locals every weekend.

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The Old Ship Hammersmith

The Old Ship Hammersmith

25 Upper Mall, London, W6 9TD

Built in 1850, this is perhaps the pick of the pubs on that picturesque stretch of the Thames from Chiswick Village to Hammersmith Bridge. In 2018, a major refurb on a nautical theme further upped the appeal of this riverbank villa. Drop in for quality cask-conditioned beers by owners Young’s and Beavertown; sensibly priced wines such as a super Slovenian white Pinot; paired gins and tonics; and in a cosy upstairs lounge, Monkey Shoulder Old Fashioned or a Little Bird Negroni from a bijou bar. On fine days, nothing beats dining alfresco on the Ship’s pretty front terrace or on its smart upstairs verandah, where tables (annoyingly) are non-reservable. Choose from numerous veggie and beefy brunch options, Brit pub-grub staples, sharing platters and Sunday roasts. A private dining room accommodates up to 40, though the pub’s lawn was filled with five times that number on a hot Bank Holiday weekend.

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The Alwyne Castle

The Alwyne Castle

83 St. Paul’s Road, London,

This landmark Islington country-house pub and its sizeable beer garden are feeling the benefit of a recent refurb: the “nouveau Georgian” decor works well and a smart new decked terrace with parasols and cool cabanas invites lounging. Draught brews from Meantime, Camden, Veltins and Brooklyn, cocktails and chilled crisp wines are sunny-day thirst-quenchers, while locally produced craft ales reflect each season – and there’s mulled wine for wintertime. Deep-filled deli sandwiches bolster an extensive menu that offers gazpacho, salt-and-pepper squid or mushrooms on toast with Stilton cream ahead of pork and chorizo burgers or gnocchi with cannellini beans in a thyme and mushroom sauce. After that, think about salted chocolate caramel tart with clotted cream or lemon and lime crumble. At the weekend, The Alwyne is a popular choice for lazy breakfasts and brunch; it’s also worth booking for Sunday lunch.  

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The Bull - North Hill

The Bull - North Hill

13 North Hill, London, N6 4AB

North London’s real ale fans should celebrate the reopening of this tastefully refurbished olde-worlde Highgate landmark. With Dan Fox (formerly of the White Horse, Parsons Green) in charge, it now comes complete with its own microbrewery. Over a dozen draughts might typically include Jaipur IPA or Tottenham’s Redemption Trinity, and there are plenty of arcane brews to investigate – check out the Halloween pumpkin beer. If bottled brews are your bag, look for the likes of Torpedo or Vital Spark from Scotland’s Fyne Ales. Food might range from beer-battered cod to pulled pork and carbonnade of beef.

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The Canonbury Tavern

The Canonbury Tavern

21 Canonbury Place, London, N1 2NS

It’s all about the beer garden: overlooked by the Georgian houses of leafy Barnsbury, this huge space is a mix of decking and patios scattered with smart garden chairs. Come the summer months, it buzzes with families and general sun-seeking drinkers. Inside, The Canonbury is nearly as spacious (split into dining room and bar areas), but with somewhat bland styling. The menu plays it safe, offering a crowd-pleasing assortment at middle-of-the-road prices. It’s divided into sections: meat (steak and ale pudding with roasted root vegetables), fish (smoked haddock and salmon fish pie) and vegetarian (mushroom risotto, truffle oil and Parmesan crisp), alongside burgers and rotisserie chickens with a choice of marinades. Amiable staff pour the wine (from a large choice listed by grape variety) as well as a decent selection of draught beers and lagers.

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The Rosendale

The Rosendale

65 Rosendale Road, SE21 8EZ

In its latest guise, The Rosendale steers a midway path between its original identity as down-at-heel boozer & its more recent incarnation as upmarket gastropub. The boomy, barn-like interior has been updated with dark wooden floors & furnishings, while the appealing menu aims for quality as well as value. Our squid, cuttlefish & chorizo salad was full of flavour, & we also liked the bresaola carpaccio with rocket, celery & Stilton dressing. Fish & chips, steaks & burgers are there for big appetites, though its pays to opt for something more complex such as jasmine tea-smoked sea trout with borlotti & runner beans, roasted tomatoes, olives & a duck egg. To finish, the British cheeseboard is a good call, & the diverse wine list includes plenty of affordable choices.

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The White Horse - Parsons Green

The White Horse - Parsons Green

1-3 Parsons Green, London, SW6 4UL

If you don’t mind mixing with the clientele after whom the ‘Sloaney Pony’ takes its nickname, you’ll find this former coaching inn on the corner of Parsons Green a near-perfect old-school boozer. Open fires, leather sofas, a grand dark-wood bar and elegant modern dining room set the scene. The pub’s obvious devotion to beer means that even the most dedicated of real ale drinkers will find something new to try. Among the eight changing cask ales, happy encounters with Harveys Best or Adnams Broadside might await, and the 150-strong list of bottles features everything from Trappist beers to American IPAs. Classic pub grub forms the basis of the menu – think pork, apple and leek terrine, chicken and onion pie and sticky toffee pudding – and all dishes are paired with their own beer suggestions. Summer sees the outside terrace come alive, but be aware that the whole venue can get overcrowded on Chelsea FC match days.

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The Union Tavern - Woodfield Road

The Union Tavern - Woodfield Road

45 Woodfield Road, London, W9 2BA

Sunshine isn’t guaranteed at tables on a terrace overlooking the Grand Union Canal, but you can be sure of a well-kept pint of Beavertown Smog Rocket, Stiff Upper Lip (brewed near Wimbledon) or Fuller’s Wild River among various guest London ales on tap at this re-branded, split-level waterside tavern (formerly the Grand Union). Fans of the real stuff can also take advantage of the tutored beer-sampling sessions that are now a feature of the place. Cask and keg goodies include Kernel Galaxy, Meantime Stout and mellow Czech magnificent, Bernard Lager, while Schneider Aventinus and St. Bernardus Apt (a potent barley wine from Belgium) are notable bottled brews. Pub grub includes shepherd’s pie, whiskey-glaze pork ribs with slaw and a side, mac and cheese, soft-shell crab or beef brisket on a freshly baked bap, veggie quiches and Victoria sponge.

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The Guildford Arms - Guildford Grove

The Guildford Arms - Guildford Grove

55 Guildford Grove, London, SE10 8JY

Guy Awford made his name at the Inside bistro (now closed) before decamping to this likeable three-storey pub with its sunken garden, wedge-shaped bar and dapper first-floor dining room. ‘Downstairs’ is handy for real ales and pub grub (pulled pork buns, sausage and mash, Sunday roasts), but ‘Upstairs’ is the place if you’re after “consummate cooking” delivered by a “polished, professional” team. Awford has devised a stonking menu (Wed-Sat D only) that shows real invention, creativity and a feel for the seasons: one reader was bowled over by a “wonderfully balanced” baked potato broth with pheasant, but the line-up might run from crab with charred hispi cabbage, seashore leaves and bergamot-pickled dulse (seaweed) to guinea fowl with parsnip, wild greens and Pennypot cider. Puddings such as a combo of pear, Douglas fir, buttermilk and meringue also set out to “amaze”. Very friendly, knowledgeable staff get the nod too.

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The Avalon

The Avalon

16 Balham Hill, SW12 9EB

Part of a group of south London hostelries that includes The Abbeville and The Stonhouse, this archetypal gastropub suits the bright young things who live on the Clapham/Balham borders. Like its relations, Avalon ticks all the boxes, whether you’re here to drink or eat. Those after a tipple inhabit the attractive huge front bar, where there’s a commendable choice of real ales and wines. Diners can eat in the bar or one of the dining rooms, tucking into the likes of salt and pepper squid, lamb steak with fattoush and harissa, or fish & chips. But the real draw is the enormous back garden: ideal for summer Sunday afternoons. A second garden, smaller but nonetheless very pleasant, is available for private parties and comes with its own barbecue and chef.

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The Eagle - Shepherds Bush

The Eagle - Shepherds Bush

215 Askew Road, Shepherds Bush, W12 9AZ

With their Scotch eggs, flock wallpaper & fancy-pattern fabric, Geronimo Inns are seen as formulaic by some drinkers. Others love the group’s idiosyncratic refurbishment of Victorian boozers such as The Eagle – & it’s hard to argue with a packed pub. Here you’ll find one of the best beer-garden lawns in west London, with barbecues, shady terraces & bean-bag covered grass making it an exceptionally appealing option come summer. In winter, the cosy interior, hearty British grub & log fires are an attractive proposition too. Uncomplicated pub food is the menu’s mainstay: the likes of chicken-liver parfait, smoked trout pâté, a beer-cooked half chicken with green beans, & chocolate brownie. Service is eager to please, & there’s plenty to pique your interest on the hand pumps & the wine list.

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The City Barge

The City Barge

27 Strand-on-the-Green, London, W4 3PH

Although it’s named after the Lord Mayor’s Barge – moored alongside in Victorian times – there’s been a tavern on this site since the 1500s. Following a timely refurb, the pub now boasts heritage decor, a recycled 19th-century bar, open fires and alfresco seating, plus a boozy line-up of reasonably priced wines, cocktails and hand-pulled London craft ales such as Twickenham Naked Ladies and Truman’s Runner. With a chef’s table and upstairs dining room for hire, the Barge is also serious about food, offering set lunches, brunch and dinner: anticipate beef tartare with anchovy mayo; Thai-style broths; lamb cutlets with puréed white beans, spinach and borage flowers; ‘crabacado’ burgers, steaks, pies, sorbets, ices and rich puddings. Fans of The Beatles’ movie Help! will already know that Ringo Starr fell through a trapdoor to face a Bengal tiger in this very pub’s cellar.

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The Faltering Fullback

The Faltering Fullback

19 Perth Road, London, N4 3HB

It’s pretty hard to find a decent spot around Finsbury Park for drinking in serene, green views alongside your pint. But down a quiet backstreet you’ll find this charming local boozer, drenched in ivy, which boasts a rather magical back garden with a many-tiered, boozy tree house. The inside space is multi-layered too, with a couple of bars, a large back room and a pool table. Sport is a passion here, so you can pick up a cue or watch the match on TV, but there’s also a well-stocked jukebox, a hotly contested weekly quiz and a wealth of ‘ceiling inspiration’ curios hanging up above, for quiet contemplation over a plate of Thai food. The wine list is perfectly drinkable, while the adequate beer selection is served by bar staff practised at unhurried hospitality.

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Spaniards Inn

Spaniards Inn

Spaniards Road, London, NW3 7JJ

Dating from 1585, the famous old Spaniards Inn is a must for literary buffs: John Keats apparently penned Ode to a Nightingale in the garden and the boozer even gets a name-check in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. Scrubbed up and rejuvenated a while back, it’s now a mix of gleaming oak-panelled walls, chandeliers, beams and log fires, with a revitalised menu served in the beamed bar and upstairs dining room: expect the likes of crumbed pig’s cheek with celeriac rémoulade, ahead of pan-fried sea bass with heritage potatoes, sautéed kale and thermidor sauce or shin of beef with tenderstem broccoli and bone-marrow sauce. Pub standards also have their say, and the extended drinks list covers all bases from British cask ales to global wines. Saturday brunch is a fillip for the heath-walking brigade, while the outdoor bar and BBQ are a must during ‘flip-flop weather’. 

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The Swan - Acton Lane

The Swan - Acton Lane

1 Evershed Walk, 119 Acton Lane, London, W4 5HH

Matching its flower-festooned Victorian exterior, large garden and kids’ play area with a handsome, wood-panelled bar and popular dining room, this Swan is no ugly duckling – in fact it’s rated as “the best gastropub in the area” by some punters, with a terrific atmosphere to boot. The boozy part caters admirably to local needs, offering a batch of three cask ales and an appealing selection of moderately priced wines, while foodies lap up the contents of a gutsy Mediterranean-influenced menu that “always includes a North African option” (perhaps roasted red pepper and aubergine couscous with goats’ cheese). Otherwise, you might begin with moules marinière or confit duck terrine with plum compote before tackling rolled Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with borlotti beans and salsa verde or pan-fried sea bass with mousserons and samphire. Sunday lunches are especially popular with families, who drop by to feast on hearty roasts followed by, say, strawberry tart or blueberry mess with pistachios. 

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The Drapers Arms

The Drapers Arms

44 Barnsbury Street, London, N1 1ER

It may look gentrified, but The Drapers Arms is a lively place, with the ground-floor bar humming like a good ’un when the locals flock in. The Georgian building’s fine features have been left well alone, which makes for spaces of generous proportions and classic design. To drink, there are real ales at the bar and a wine list offering glass and carafe options. Head upstairs to the serene dining room to escape the hubbub (assuming it’s not booked for a private party). A patio garden provides another alternative in summer. The kitchen satisfies with its mix of modern comfort food, such as the house cheeseburger, but is equally happy knocking up duck breast with roasted black plums, or packing guinea fowl, bacon and mushrooms into a pie. To finish, gingerbread pudding competes with Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses with crab apple jelly (is it OK to have both?).

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The Albion - Thornhill Road

The Albion - Thornhill Road

10 Thornhill Road, London, N1 1HW

With polished wooden panelling, inviting wing-back chairs and handsome church pews inside its graceful Georgian premises, The Albion welcomes winter visitors. But come summertime, you won’t find a spare inch in either the front courtyard or the large, comely, wisteria-draped beer garden out back. Both the kitchen and waiting staff can sometimes struggle to stay calm and match the demand. Food is traditional British with a tweak. At lunchtime, yummy mummies nibble on purple sprouting broccoli with poached egg and truffled hollandaise, followed by treacle orange tart with crème fraîche. In the evenings, the charcoal grill sizzles, and on Sundays there are roasts (for one, or to share). Prices are more restaurant than pub, but so is the wine list – and there are the usual ales and lagers behind the bar.

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The Gun

The Gun

27 Coldharbour, E14 9NS

“If the sun comes out on the terrace, there’s nowhere better”, declares a fan of The Gun and its striking riverside position. Pints have been poured at this Docklands site for 250 years (famous drinkers include both Lord Nelson and Tinie Tempah), but the boozer passed into London food history as one of Ed and Tom Martin’s first gastropubs. Now owned by Fuller’s brewery, it’s still an “amazing location” full of possibilities for lazy Sundays – try the whole roast Suffolk chicken for two. Otherwise, bangers and mash are a speciality in the bar, alongside beer-friendly snacks including devilled whitebait. The restaurant set-up is smarter, with posh dishes such as seared scallops with brown onion consommé, charred button onions, grilled leeks and white onion purée followed by roast Yorkshire pheasant with sour pear jus or cod fillet with braised fennel fondue. Beers reflect the pub’s ownership, and there’s a full roster of food-friendly wines.

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The Crown & Shuttle

The Crown & Shuttle

226 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6PJ

Formerly a sleazy pole-dancing joint, The Crown & Shuttle has reverted to its historic role as a public house – slaking Shoreditch boozers’ thirsts with fine London ales such as Redemption Urban Dusk and Redchurch Old Ford stout, plus quality foreign imports. Wines include a smooth Italian Pinot Grigio at £26, while the appealing menu offers ribs, wings, Lebanese salads and whitebait with aïoli among its bar snacks. Otherwise, doorstep sandwiches come deep-filled with the likes of crispy duck in raspberry beer with watercress and beetroot or cavolo nero with purple sprouting broccoli, pesto and aged Gruyère. The Dalston-distressed, exposed brick interior (think Victoriana meets the 1950s) is perfectly pitched at Shoreditch nu-media, bloggers, blaggers and adventurous City boys keen to live on the edge. A heated courtyard garden is an urban bonus.

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The Crabtree

The Crabtree

4 Rainville Road, London, W6 9HA

South Hammersmith residents should rejoice: in The Crabtree, they have a pub with one of London’s best Thames-side beer gardens, located in a position that only locals and hardy beer fans bother reaching. Nevertheless, the place buzzes on a sunny afternoon – as the barbecue sends grilled meat aromas over the river, and the Harrods depository looms handsomely on the opposite bank. Real ales are kept meticulously, and an outside bar sells chilled bottles of lager to sun-hungry drinkers. In chilly weather, the smart Victorian interior comes into its own, and the British-led menu is full of warming dishes such as pan-roasted lamb’s liver and herb butter on sourdough with salsa verde, or Barnsley chop with Chantenay carrots and mint jus. Prices are pretty high, but service is prompt and cheery.

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The Florence

The Florence

131-133 Dulwich Road, London, SE24 0NG

This locals’ favourite is never short of customers, but a canny and stylish reboot at the end of 2015 has bolstered The Florence’s status as Herne Hill’s number-one gastropub. The bar area – smartened up with ink-blue walls and banquettes the shade of Heinz tomato soup – appears to have doubled in size thanks to expensive-looking furniture replacing the booths; beautiful, warm lighting, however, retains the cosy feel throughout. The menu offers small plates and mains that combine traditional British comfort food with refined modern classics. All have punchy flavours and contrasting textures: creamy yoghurt, sweet pickled raisins and a sprinkling of dukkah complement delicate cauliflower florets, while shreds of tender chicken and smoky ham hock, topped with beautifully golden puff-pastry, make for a memorable pie. Summer barbecues, four real ales (including beers brewed in-house), and two short wine lists (one traditional, the other highlighting artisan growers) also help draw the crowds.

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The Ship - Jew's Row

The Ship - Jew's Row

41 Jew's Row, SW18 1TB

An old waterman’s inn off the main drag over Wandsworth Bridge, The Ship has been a south London favourite for years and – following a recent refit – still has everything going for it. The interior boasts several cleverly extended spaces, plus a light conservatory and a new outdoor bar, terrace and BBQ area with river views; there are also three new custom-built waterside cabins for private bashes. The menu now mixes gastropub favourites with more restaurant-style dishes ranging from roasted sweetbreads with mushroom croquette, pea shoots and truffle oil to rib-eye with hand-cut chips, monkfish, clam and tomato tart or venison loin with celeriac fondant and watercress purée. After that, keep is classic with treacle tart and clotted-cream ice cream. Sunday lunch is a big call, Young’s beers and guest brews are kept in good order, and the wine list is worth serious consideration too.

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The Sun of Camberwell

The Sun of Camberwell

61-63 Coldharbour Lane, London, SE5 9NS

What was the Sun & Doves – Camberwell’s long-serving community arts and music hub – has been taken over by the Antic London pub group and morphed into the Sun of Camberwell, complete with a separate function room, improved facilities and a new open kitchen. Beer buffs will still find some creditable names on the pumps and there are plenty of cosy spaces for a natter, but food now takes centre stage with a short menu of gastropub staples: expect anything from wild mushroom tart with cep cream to pan-fried salmon fillet with savoy cabbage, chorizo and butter beans, grilled rib-eye with hand-cut chips or beetroot, goats’ cheese and walnut risotto. Burgers and roasts also have their say, and dessert might bring chocolate brownie with gingerbread ice cream. The well-spread wine list offers a fair choice by the glass or carafe.

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The Malt House

The Malt House

17 Vanston Place, London, SW6 1AY

This dressed-up SW6 gastropub with rooms originally dates back to 1729. By 1900 the pub was known as The Jolly Maltster and despite a major overhaul in 2013, many of the building’s standout Victorian features remain -think wood panelling, high ceilings and tasteful décor. Chef Oliver Tobias is behind the Bosi-approved menu, with classics such as steak, Guinness and mushroom pie or charcoal barbecued steaks alongside a list of seasonal specials. Sundays are a good excuse for a meaty feast of Duke of Buccleuch roast steak, pork belly or corn fed chicken breast, while sweet finishes include apricot and almond tart or white chocolate ice cream with biscotti. Berry Brothers & Rudd consult on the international wine list, there’s a range of craft lagers and cocktails and a snug, sheltered garden in which to enjoy them.

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The Earl of Essex

The Earl of Essex

25 Danbury Street, London, N1 8LE

New Elizabethan ale fans will find much to admire at this well-executed pub behind Angel tube, where ‘Shaker-style’ decor sets the scene for a plethora of notable beers – some brought in by the cask, others brewed in-house. An ever-changing cast has recently included Box Steam Half-Sovereign bitter, Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard and plenty from Elizabeth I’s former colonies at sane prices. Food-matching recommendations suggest homemade baked beans on toast with Joker IPA or salt beef on rye with Ska Modus Hoperandi from a list of bar bites. Otherwise, trade up to mains such as venison and port suet pudding with parsnip purée and salsify (good with Camden Ink stout) or chicken livers with smoked bacon, spinach and mash (Paulaner). To finish, sticky toffee pud goes well with Rogue Juniper Pale Ale – if you can find room.

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The Water Poet

The Water Poet

9-11 Folgate Street, London, E1 6BX

A cosy, homely kind of boozer with an added funky edge, The Water Poet is an unpretentious dive for City boys and girls to carouse amid velvet drapes, cherubs and leather sofas that encourage extended stays. Pounding music ensures that no one nods off during the evening, although the assembled crowd are usually preoccupied with knocking back draught ales such as Meantime and Doom Bar, as well as decently priced, sub-£25 wines from around the globe. Peckish punters can order ‘good, honest food’ such as steak sandwiches on sour dough, Aberdeen Angus cheeseburgers, various themed sharing boards and ‘indulgent’ puds; the Poet also does ‘huge’ Sunday lunches. If the sun’s out, make a beeline for the terrific garden area before all the seats are taken.

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The Stag

The Stag

67 Fleet Road, London, NW3 2QU

At first glance The Stag might appear to be simply a run-of-the-mill pub, with slightly sedate interiors and fairly underwhelming food (stick to simple creations like burgers or mac 'n' cheese). But look closer and you’ll find it has two very big trump cards. First, there’s one of the best selections of beer, ale and cider for miles around. This is the place to broaden your horizons with bottles of Beerlao from Laos, or Phoenix Lager from Mauritius, and pints of Sambrook’s Wandle or Rebellion IPA. These are best drunk in the other gem: a huge outdoor courtyard that is one of north-west London’s liveliest alfresco spots, hosting a frenzy of barbecues and DJs from spring through to autumn. Nice-as-pie staff are a further boon.

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The County Arms

The County Arms

345 Trinity Road, London, SW18 3SH

This Bavarian-style Victorian roadhouse once marked the border between London and Surrey – hence its name. Following a 2017 refurb by owners Young’s you can now kick back on chesterfields in the baronial drawing room: a more inviting proposition than the Edwardian-like blue-grey bar with its tiresome trompe l’oeil bookshelf wallpaper. Chilled Pinot Grigio from a list of two dozen £20-something wines hits the spot, though sipping classic cocktails and sharing cheese or charcuterie boards is pretty satisfying too. Further enticements include English pub food in the jolly, jumbly, sprawl of the dining room – lamb shank shepherd’s pie followed by pistachio-crumbed blackberry jam roly poly and custard, for instance. The smartly dressed beer garden is ideal for enjoying summertime pints of Wimbledon’s Common Pale Ale or Fourpure’s Flatiron; and the upstairs Trinity Room and bar caters for private functions. Still peckish? Don’t forget the County’s legendary two foot-long sausage roll. 

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People’s Park Tavern

People’s Park Tavern

360 Victoria Park Road, London, E9 7BT

A south-facing terrace overlooking Victoria Park makes this nu-Victorian revamp of a landmark boozer a prime spot for kicking back alfresco in leafiest Hackney. South African house tipples head a list of a dozen unpretentious wines, while Hackney Brewery’s New Zealand pale ale and the pub’s own microbrews are among numerous hand-pulled pints on offer. Occasional glitches (no Worcestershire sauce for our bloody Mary, for example) aren’t exactly deal breakers when dishes such as fish pie, pork belly and black pudding with caramelised apple and garlic mash or posh honey-glazed ham with duck egg and truffled chips can be had for around a tenner. Open-mic nights, jam sessions, improvised comedy and alternative theatrical performances upstairs are further reasons to park up at this popular tavern.

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The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby

57 Wapping Wall, London, E1W 3SH

Probably dating from around 1520, this riverside pub claims to be the oldest on the Thames: Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens reputedly drank here, and it was once a handy spot for a pint before or after an execution at the adjacent gallows, where pirates were regularly hanged. The gallows may have gone, but the uneven flagstone floors, dark rooms and a few of the old East End characters remain – although they've been joined by throngs of camera-toting tourists. It's now owned by Taylor Walker, so you could bend your elbow with a pint of 1730 Pale Ale while admiring the wood-panelled interior and pewter-topped bar, before sidling out to the small terrace for a view of the Wapping shoreline. The menu is full of traditional trencherman stuff – think pies, roasts, fish and chips or sausage and mash.

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The Windsor Castle - Campden Hill Road

The Windsor Castle - Campden Hill Road

114 Campden Hill Road, London, W8 7AR

A servant of genteel Kensington since 1835, this romantic old pub is high on olde-London charm under the auspices of English Heritage. Following a major refurb, there are now two handsome new dining areas with reclaimed floors and retro lighting, plus a new chef at the stoves. Beer recommendations are flagged up alongside every item on the ambitious menu – Meantime stout is the perfect match for an attractive rabbit and crayfish pie. Also look out for charcuterie sharing boards, steaks and dishes such as sea bream with brown shrimps. You can eat and drink in the pretty garden, too, where fairy lights, parasols and warm rugs make it attractive all year round.

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The Half Moon Herne Hill

The Half Moon Herne Hill

10 Half Moon Lane , London, SE24 9HU

In 2013 a disastrous flood, caused by a burst water main, threatened the existence of this landmark 1890s gin palace. Rowing to the rescue, new owners Fuller’s restored many original features including the snug bar’s painted mirrors. The Half Moon’s days as a music venue – when everyone from Frank Sinatra to U2 appeared here – may be behind it (the upstairs space now accommodates boutique hotel rooms), but the range of draught craft beers is worth singing about. Ales from Brockwell Park microbrewery, Bullfinch, are top of the list. Otherwise, order organic red Côtes du Rhône, mid-point on a sensibly priced wine list, or various in-house cocktails. In the plant-strewn, airy dining room, choose from a range of Anglo-European pub food: the likes of grilled salmon with chorizo and butter-bean cassoulet. Outside, the sunny, child-friendly beer garden boasts an alfresco bar, firepit and barbecue – plus a converted workshop ideal for functions.

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Crate Brewery

Crate Brewery

Unit 7, White Building, Queens Yard, London, E9 5EN

Hackney is the new Islington, it seems. Bringing seriously good craft ale and thin-crust pizzas (both lovingly made on the premises) to the neighbourhood, this funky, post-industrial canal-side set-up sits in the lee of the Olympic Park. Suntrap alfresco tables are at a premium; otherwise drinkers loll on the grimy towpath or chill indoors in a bar-cum-canteen wittily fashioned from pallets, crates, railway sleepers, bedsprings and sundry scrapyard booty. Among the home brews worth discovering is India Pale Ale (top of the hops at £4 a pint), while guests from other London microbreweries sit alongside imports from Belgium, USA, Australia and Italy (Brewfist Space Man). Modestly priced, rustic red wines work well with the eclectic pizzas: Middle Eastern lamb with apricots and pine nuts scores highly, although the red onion, courgette, feta and gremolata version could be juicier.

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Ealing Park Tavern

Ealing Park Tavern

222 South Ealing Road, London, W5 4RL

A splendidly renovated old coaching inn and brewery in South Ealing, this spacious neighbourhood gastropub offers an adventurous seasonal British menu alongside an exceptional Sunday roast. We enjoyed a starter of crispy rabbit croquette with an oozing confit egg yolk, smoked eel and tarragon, along with a Dorset crab salad accompanied by brown crab mayonnaise, kohlrabi, apricots and almonds. A 45-day aged Dexter rib of beef for two made for a convivial Sunday lunch, the tender, flavoursome meat cooked perfectly pink and served with duck-fat roast potatoes, fluffy Yorkshire puddings and roasted root vegetables. A garden menu provides a choice of barbecued meats, fish and pizzas to eat in the large beer garden. To drink, there’s a laudable by-the-glass selection on the European and New World wine list, or bitters, pale ales and seasonal specials from the pub’s microbrewery. A rightly popular spot for locals and punters from further afield.


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The Scolt Head

The Scolt Head

107a Culford Road, London, N1 4HT

‘People think I’m going to read them a story,’ says the barmaid, as she opens the Rupert Bear annual to reveal the wine list. It’s just one of the touches that bring character to this quirky spot. The sibling owners grew up in the area, and the fun they’ve had creating their own pub shows. Two Guinness factory pressure gauges flank the entrance, and there’s Greene King and Truman ale, and Addlestones cider on tap. A big screen for football and live band nights also attract punters. Food is carefully sourced, with chutneys, jams and ice creams made in house. Sit in the dining room or on the leafy terrace and tuck into grilled asparagus with poached egg and Parmesan, rump of lamb with mash and buttered sprouting broccoli, and lemon tart with crème fraîche.

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The Garden Gate

The Garden Gate

14 South End Road, London, NW3 2QE

When the British summer isn’t British winter under an assumed name, check out the pretty beer garden at this Cask Marque-accredited Hampstead tavern that nowadays promises around 20 speciality beers and ciders from the likes of BrewDog, Sharps, Harveys, Brakspear, Camden Town and Brooklyn. Otherwise, summer quaffs such as Sipsmith’s fruit cup with ginger ale, elderflower fizz, British kir royale or homemade lemonade with Chase potato vodka have patriotic, Enid Blyton appeal and play to the half-timbered pub’s cottagey Arts & Crafts vibe. Simple seasonal cooking yields Gloucester Old Spot bangers on pea mash, wild salmon fishcakes with beetroot salad, risottos, fish and chips, sticky toffee pudding and salted caramel and chocolate tart with clotted cream, as well as Saturday brunch, Sunday roasts and bar nibbles (whitebait, Scotch eggs, sausage rolls, sarnies with fries).

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The Junction Tavern

The Junction Tavern

101 Fortess Road, London, NW5 1AG

The landlords of this spruced-up Victorian tavern take their drink just as seriously as their food, providing handy tasting notes for moderately priced wines, and attracting real ale enthusiasts with a regularly changing line-up – perhaps Adnams Lighthouse, Otter Ale and Naked Ladies (from Twickenham Fine Ales). The pub’s current chef earned his stripes at Vinoteca in Soho, so expect Spanish cured meats, Italian artisan cheeses and Greek deli specialities alongside sustainable fish from British waters, Elwy Valley lamb and Shropshire venison. Typical offerings might range from Hereford beef carpaccio or grilled Cornish mackerel with samphire and ginger dressing to Barnsley chop with fresh cocoa beans, soutzouki, chard and gremolata or hake with chorizo, mussels, clams and potatoes, followed by chocolate St Emilion or Pimms jelly with Chantilly. The conservatory is a plum setting for romantic dinners, and there’s a leafy garden out back.

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The Engineer

The Engineer

65 Gloucester Avenue, London, NW1 8JH

One of London’s original gastropubs is still among its most popular, with a lovely location on a quiet Primrose Hill corner. You’ll find a skinny-jeaned band of drinkers propping up the bar, sipping pints of Sharp’s Doom Bar or Woodforde’s Norfolk Hawker while wallowing in The Engineer’s renowned chilled-out charms. The menu now mixes pub stalwarts such as Welsh rarebit, cod and chips or sausage and mash with more innovative, fanciful ideas along the lines of seared scallops with salsify, pumpkin purée and crispy Black Combe bacon or roast pork belly stuffed with black pudding, while desserts could feature a ‘mess’ of pink rhubarb, clotted cream and custard. Come Sunday, we recommend the 21-day aged sirloin of beef with a tumbler of spicy Bloody Mary. The garden is a lovely bucolic spot, with lots of tables for alfresco dining – “get there early on a summer’s day”, advise one fan.

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