Best London Pubs For Food

By Ellie Smith

6 months ago

The city's finest gastropubs


Once upon a time you’d be lucky to get more than a packet of crisps with your pint. During the ‘70s, the concept of evening pub meals began to grow – a prawn cocktail followed by steak and chips, typically. Then, the introduction of microwave ovens and freezers heralded the beginning of pub grub, which wasn’t exactly haute cuisine. 

But in the ‘90s, the idea of the gastropub was born. Bucking the trend was culinary duo Michael Belben and David Eyre, who took over The Eagle in Clerkenwell and set out to serve restaurant-quality food amid a pub setting. Chefs across the country caught on, and suddenly gastropubs were popping up all over the place: inns where good beer and good food sat hand in hand.

Naturally, the standard has only improved over the years: nowadays, you’ll find some of the country’s top chefs cooking in pub kitchens. London is no exception, with excellent gastropubs dotted all over the city – from long-standing Soho favourites to an Indian food hotspot and even one with a Michelin star. Read on for the C&TH pick of the best London pubs for food.

Best London Pubs For Food

The Audley Public House

The Audley Public House

The Audley Public House, Mayfair

With its dark mahogany wood panelling and artworks lining the walls, The Audley Public House is arguably London’s most aesthetic pub. No surprise when you hear it’s the brainchild of Artfarm, the hospitality arm of Hauser & Wirth, who revamped the historic Mount Street site back in 2022, giving it a sleek new look. But it’s by no means style over substance: The Audley is also one of the capital’s best pubs for foodies. Chef Jamie Shears heads up the kitchen, focusing on elevated British pub classics made with seasonal produce – some sourced from the group’s farm in Somerset. Begin with scotch eggs and Durslade Farm lamb scrumpets ahead of mains like Cornish haddock and chips, and beef and ale pie, plus a stellar roast on Sundays. Pair with beer from independent supplier Sambrook’s Brewery in Battersea, or wines from an extensive list.

41-43 Mount St, London W1K 2RX, theaudleypublichouse.com

The Harwood Arms, Fulham

As London’s first and only Michelin-starred pub, The Harwood Arms in Fulham regularly makes its way onto lists of the capital’s top eateries. Co-founded by Brett Graham (The Ledbury) and chef Mike Robinson back in 2009, the venue was born out of a desire to push the boundaries of pub food. It scooped up a Michelin star just a year after opening, which it has held onto ever since – currently under the leadership of young head chef Josh Cutress. The pub specialises in game meat and wild food, with a strong focus on provenance – during the summer, a rooftop veg garden grows heritage tomatoes, radishes and strawberries. At the moment, the daily menu features dishes like rabbit lasagne, Berkshire fallow deer, and a sharing Iberican pork, with roasts available on Sundays.

Walham Grove, London SW6 1QJ, harwoodarms.com

The Cow, Notting Hill

All West London locals know about The Cow, the buzzy pub on Westbourne Park Road which houses a cosy dining room upstairs. While it may look unassuming, the saloon oozes cool, hence its A-list clientele – everyone from Victoria Beckham to Cara Delevingne has dined there over the years. It was given a makeover by owner Tom Conran back in 2015, giving the restaurant a stylish new look – while upholding the low-key vibe and kitsch interiors (think seafood murals and quirky modern art). Seafood is the star of the show here: begin with The Cow Special, oysters and a pint of Guinness, or a decadent platter of crab, prawns and whelks, before tucking into the legendary fish stew.

89 Westbourne Park Rd, London W2 5QH, thecowlondon.com

Riverford

The Duke of Cambridge, Islington

This Islington spot is not just any old boozer, but Britain’s first organic pub, certified by the Soil Association since 1998. Originally founded by Geetie Singh, and now part of the Culpeper Group, it focuses on organic produce from British farms that practice regenerative methods, as well as the Culpeper’s own farm in Deptford. On the menu you’ll find dishes like creel caught langoustines, Rhug Estate chicken with cauliflower puree, squash and chestnut risotto, and fish of the day, with chef Rico Abella heading up the kitchen.

30 St Peter’s St, London N1 8JT; dukeorganic.co.uk

Princess of Shoreditch

The Princess of Shoreditch, Shoreditch

After making it to the final of Great British Menu, plus a five-year stint at The Ritz, young chef Ruth Hansom was poached to head up the kitchen at East London pub The Princess of Shoreditch. She revamped the food offering, winning the restaurant many accolades, including three AA rosettes, before moving on in 2022, handing over the baton to Simon Bonwick (Noble Inns). Easily one of London’s best pubs for food, the Shoreditch favourite serves a simple yet impressive menu of classics with interesting twists and flavours: current dishes include Welsh rarebit tart with pickled walnuts, hake with kohlrabi, burrata with wild mushrooms, and confit pork belly with apple miso. 

76-78 Paul St, London EC2A 4QB, theprincessofshoreditch.com

Tamil Prince

The Tamil Prince, Islington

Who says pubs have to focus on British food? Throwing out the rulebook is The Tamil Prince, Islington’s beloved pub where you can enjoy Indian-inspired plates with your beers. It was set up by ex-Roti King chefs Prince Durairaj and Glen Leeson, who took over a pub on a quiet corner of Caledonian Road, formerly known as The Cuckoo, and transformed it into one of the area’s hottest foodie destinations. With its lively atmosphere and sharing-style menu, it’s the perfect spot for a fun evening with friends filled with fiery small plates, hearty curries and many, many helpings of the deliciously moreish roti. 

115 Hemingford Rd, London N1 1BZ, thetamilprince.com

The French House, Soho

The French House, Soho

This Soho stalwart has a rich history dating back hundreds of years: it was a haunt of writers like Francis Bacon and Dylan Thomas, and Charles de Gaulle used it as a workplace during World War II. But that’s not the only reason to go: The French House is also renowned for its food offering. Head chef Neil Borthwick and his team cook up a daily changing menu which is written by hand, with a focus on fuss-free, hearty French fare, alongside over 30 types of champagne available by the glass and beer, which is famously served in halves. With its strict policy of no phones and no music, it’s ideal for intimate, distraction-free meet-ups.

49 Dean St, London W1D 5BG, frenchhousesoho.com

Food at The Pelican pub in Notting Hill

The Pelican, Notting Hill

The Pelican has stood, in various guises, on All Saints Road in Notting Hill since 1872 – but it wasn’t until 2022 that the pub became a place to eat. Chef Owen Kenworth joined forces with restaurateur James Gummer and co-owners Phil Winser and Richard Squire to give it the gastropub treatment; the result is an effortlessly cool, convivial spot serving simple British food with flair. A concise menu includes small plates of pumpkin and sour cream, leeks with fermented barley, and cured salmon and cucumber, plus larger mains of venison pie, lemon sole and onglet with shallot. Afterwards, head to the bar area for a pint – or, during the summer months, join the rest of the neighbourhood for an al fresco tipple on the street.

45 All Saints Rd, London W11 1HE, thepelicanw11.com

The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate

The much-loved Red Lion & Sun was recently named the best gastropub in London, coming tenth in Estrella Damm’s 2023 top 50 list. A pub has sat on the site since the 16th century, though it has earned its food reputation more recently, offering rustic, modern British food. The menu changes everyday, but to give you a feeler: Korean fried chicken wings, tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, chicken schnitzel, and sea bass with bok choy. On Sundays there’s a sharing roast on offer, with meats sourced from Highgate Butchers – currently you can choose from steak, lamb, goose, suckling pig or Norfolk chicken. All are served with a hefty portion of trimmings for everyone to enjoy – just note you need to pre-order.

25 North Rd, London N6 4BE, theredlionandsun.com