The days of pubs serving pints alongside nothing but over-salted peanuts are over. And try as pubs might, two pints of craft lager and a packet of artisan crisps simply isn't enough to get London's hungry punters through the doors either. While we're not the sort of people who are ever going to complain about a boozer that's got a load of quality cask beers on tap, we (as we're sure you are, too) are also the kind of people who are perennially hungry.
If the question is "fancy a beer?", then the answer is: yes, yes we do. But if the question is followed up with "would you also like something glorious to eat while you drink that pint?", then the answer is: hell yes, hell yes we do.
Good food and good beer go hand-in-hand, really. You shouldn't have to make a choice between having one or the other, and, in a city as large as London, you're never going to be pushed for a range of pubs that claim to be experts in both. Finding which ones are worth your time, however, is an entirely different matter...
To help you explore the pubs which are just as committed to quality British produce as they are at pulling dishy bitters, we've collated this little guide. From nouveau gastropubs to the old-school watering holes your nan and granddad would have no problem frequenting, there's a reason that London's pubs are starting to get some serious Michelin-levels of recognition.
Marksman Public House
254 Hackney Rd, E2 7SJ
There's a reason why the Marksman became the first public house in London to be awarded the Michelin Pub of the Year. It's simply that damned good. Located a short walk from Hoxton in London's east end, the Marksman is owners Tom Harris and Jon Rotheram's ode to all that makes a British pub great. You'll find great local lagers, ales, ciders and an equally impressive list of wines alongside a menu that changes daily to ensure only the freshest ingredients are allowed to pass your lips. The Marksman's Cookbook Dinner series additionally allows great guest chefs to bring their talents to the kitchen. Not that it needs much help considering it serves one of the finest Sunday lunches in the entire city. Bosh.
The Red Lion & Sun
25 North Road, N6 4BE
The Red Lion & Sun is a pub that means business. And that business is filling you with hearty British produce. All of the meats – which are deployed with absolute accuracy during the Red Lion's weekly Sunday roasts – are supplied by Phyllis and Lee Harper from the nearby Highgate Butchers. It's not just the meat that dominates the menu, either. Fresh seafood gives you ripe pickings of the best that the British seas have to offer. Work your way through half-a-kilo of steamed Cornish mussels or half-a-dozen Jersey rock oysters as you sink oceans of cask beer. Worth a visit whether there's rain or sun on the climate menu, there's not one, but two, beer gardens on the premises. And if you don't feel like taking a seat inside the plush interior? Well, they've even started doing takeaway fish and chips every day from noon till 10pm. With all of this located within walking distance of Highgate cemetery, we can guarantee that the only thing haunting you after a visit to The Red Lion & Sun will be the ghost of inferior boozers past.
54 Brushfield Street, E1 6AG
Named after Henry VIII's artillery factory, The Gun is a Spitalfields local where – even if you eat there every single day – you'd be unlikely to get gout like old Henry himself. Unless, of course, the rest of your diet solely consists of red wine and rib eye. The pub's executive chef Jimi Tegerdine has spearheaded a menu that's miles apart from incinerated bangers and microwaved mash. What you'll find instead at The Gun is a range of punchy small lates (seared tuna tataki, lamb croquettes) and internationally-informed dishes like beef and date meatballs. On Sundays you can even tuck into roasts and live jazz; a bonafide bebop way to spend the weekend.
The Drapers Arms
44 Barnsbury St, N1 1ER
The Drapers Arms is an Islington institution. The gastropub, and its iconic green bar, delivers a cracking atmosphere for necking quality brews while doubling as a more-than adequate stadia for quality food consumption. The downstairs bar can typically be found full of regulars quaffing the excellent range of craft ales on tap – current roster includes Harvey's Sussex Best, Wandle and Truman's Runner – as the upstairs dining room plays host to a brigade of hungry Londoners. Staggering up the stairs, after all, comes highly recommended. The signature Drapers Cheeseburger is a sight to behold – a griddled mass of meat and cheese gently nestled in a St John bun. And the roast cauliflower and lentils? A vegan sensation. Still not convinced? Well, how does the fact that 50p of every purchase of a suet crust salt beef pie is donated to Action Against Hunger sound? Charity has never tasted so rich, thick, and meaty.
94 Haverstock Hill, NW3 2BD
Unlike your traditional (aka boring) fish and chips sort of affair, The Belrose is a pub that specialises in serving Italian inspired cuisine, placing a particular focus on the use of seasonal produce. Small plates of padron peppers and Cornish mussels make for stonking drinking accompaniments. And so, too, do The Belrose's clay-fired Romano-style pizzas. An on-site microbrewery pumping out pints of The Belrose's very own IPA means choosing what to wet your whistle with is also a pretty easy decision whenever you're knocking about Belsize Park. That being said, there's still plenty of (unsurprisingly) Italian whites, reds and a decent smattering of natural wine on the menu to boot. We'll drink to that.
159 Farringdon Rd, Clerkenwell, EC1R 3AL
The Eagle is the sort of person you absolutely hated in secondary school. A swot who had immaculate grades, clear skin, and still got invited to all the trendy get-togethers. The uncomfortable truth is that The Eagle is well-liked for a reason. It serves great pints, even greater dishes, and – honestly – we'd be hard-pressed to give it anything but full-marks. The menu is a fuss-free blackboard of seasonal dishes chalked up five minutes before service starts. The dishes are consistent crowd-pleasers encompassing everything from braised partridge with pancetta to rigatoni and Napoli sausage ragu. The Eagle's cause is also helped by the fact that the kitchen has been graced over the years by a who's who of London's finest chefs over the years, including the likes of Sam & Sam Clark, Margot Henderson, and David Eyre. In spite of The Eagle's top-notch pedigree, the vibe inside remains refreshingly unpretentious, always sticking by the mantra: "Never forget it's a pub."
The Cleveland Arms
28 Chilworth St, W2 6DT
This Paddington local has been open for business since 1852. So, needless to say, The Cleveland Arms been around for a while. But the quality of the food? That's only improved over time. Bought in 2014 by local businesswoman, Maria Tamander (who also produced the Spice Girls music video for 'Wannabe'), the pub has been given a much-needed face-lift over the last few years. It's now a fully CAMRA recognised bar where you can find Timothy Taylor's on tap and head chef Louis Lingwood (formerly of Oldroyd) in the kitchen. The menu is Italian-inspired. Think: potato gnocchi and perigord truffle; beef carpaccio, artichokes and pecorino; delicia squash and sage risotto. And if you're looking for a lunchtime bargain, you'd also be silly not to take advantage of the Cleveland Lunch Club that runs between 12 and 3 every Monday to Friday – where, for just £10 or £12 with a pint of beer or glass of wine, you can treat yourself to The Cleveland Arms' special of the day. Don't tell me that's not what you want, what you really, really want.