Best Gastropubs in London

“We believe that a good pub should be the cornerstone of any local community.” — The Pelican

For a long time, pubs were primarily drinking establishments without the merest thought of serving food. Then, during the 1990’s the term gastropub was coined to represent the growing trend of pubs placing cuisine at the forefront of their offering. Today, there are countless gastropubs strewn across the capital, though the selected handful in this list are on the top of their game and represent the highest standards in this calibre of eatery.

The Drapers Arms

Amongst the leafy streets lined by smart Georgian terraces and behind a powder blue facade lies one of Islington’s most treasured pubs. The Drapers Arm is adored for its exceptional food and elegant bearing, characterised by high ceilings and original fireplaces with a chandelier-clad dining room upstairs. Elevated pub fare is accompanied by a rolling cast of hearty bistro dishes and a Sunday Roast that many laud as the best in town. The notable wine list focuses on smaller, artisanal producers and is priced reasonably.

The Pelican

Moments from Portobello Road, The Pelican paints a pretty picture with its corner plot shrouded in foliage and wicker baskets lining the pavement. Having transformed the previous pub standing on the site, The Pelican opened its doors to resounding praise from the local community and food savvy Londoners alike. Inside, the decor leans on earthy tones and rustic textures to achieve a country pub feel, while the kitchen’s culinary merit has won warm favour. Indulgent bar snacks including oysters and Welsh Rarebit can be consumed with insouciance at the counter, or a proudly British menu follows suite in the dining area.

The Surprise

Squirrelled away in the depths of Chelsea, The Surprise is a merry reward for those who either seek or stumble across it. The dashing red-brick freehouse has stood on this site since 1853 and takes its name from the British Navy vessel—HMS Surprise. A handsome makeover in 2021 emboldened the historic pub with renewed vigour and charm, boasting warm colours and characterful reclaimed furniture. The menu touts the freshest local and seasonal ingredients with a notable Sunday Roast worth bookmarking. Reserve a window table upstairs to enjoy the street view below.

The Audley

On a well appointed corner along Mount Street, The Audley Public House occupies a restored red-brick Victorian building that blends in harmoniously with the polished surroundings. Step inside and revel in the cinematic decor—encased in beautiful burnished wooden panelling, whose deep sheen aches of bygone grandeur, accentuated by the leather benches and brass fixtures. Settle down with a pint and peruse the menu packed with reverent pub favourites, as well as some rather posh bar snacks.

The Barley Mow

Rubbing shoulders with the glitzy gentry of Mayfair, The Barlow Mow presents an informal contrast to its neighbours. The pub shines with character from the large street facing windows to the dark wooden walls and parquet flooring. A hushed corner to graze on snacks at the bar with a few drinks or head upstairs to the smartly decorated restaurant for a more formal, but still casual bite to eat. As with all pubs under the Cubitt House group, the food plays a starring role in the experience with a menu that encompasses seasonal seafood along with pub classics.

The Baring

This elegant and beautifully restored neighbourhood pub resides in a quiet enclave of Islington that is most worth venturing afield for in order to experience its outstanding food offering. With particular emphasis paid to seasonal and thoughtfully sourced ingredients, the menu at The Baring is brief and to the point with a cast of dishes that you’ll want to split for maximum coverage with a mean traditional Sunday roast menu to boot. On the drinks list, you’ll find a short selection of creative cocktails, natural wines, local beers and experimental casks.

The Princess Royal

Minutes from the buzz of Westbourne Grove, The Princess Royal is the latest addition to the Cubitt House pub portfolio. The historic setting has been beautifully renovated with a dashing racing green façade, sleek interior decor and a lustrous garden terrace. Chef Director Ben Tish has revived this Victorian gem to the highest standard with a laid-back Mediterranean menu, plus a raw seafood menu available at the great horseshoe bar that commands the main space.

If you like what you read here, make sure to join the waitlist for our London City Guide due to be released later this year. The guide will feature curated recommendations for everything from where to stay, what to do and where to eat, as well as seasonal itineraries and much more expert intel.

Sign up for our Mailing List

We promise we won’t flood your inbox with things that aren’t beautiful.