For as long as there have been work days and holidays, people have been stopping at bars at the end of their day or along their route for a drink. Hundreds of years ago, what is now the United Kingdom was already peppered with saloons serving ale and refreshments. These places have evolved with the centuries, replaced with better beer and finer food (at least in some cases!), but their purpose and attraction has remained largely unchanged.
Once upon a time in Britain, there were dingy ale houses for the poor and more robust establishments for the upper classes. Going back as far as the 1500s, the alehouses were the central spot in the villages and market towns of England, where public recreation would take place, and they served as a vital part of the community. In the 1830s, the Beerhouse Act was passed, allowing any rate-payer who could afford the annual excise fees to serve beer. This led to the explosion of the beer (and thus pub) industry, with pubs and watering holes springing up in all corners of the British realm, from corner stalls to well-known pub chains.
Pub food, then as now, was also big part that growth — partly to soak up those drinks the Brits could down, but also to add atmosphere to the pub experience. Pub food may sometimes take the form of simple bar snacks like pickled eggs, pork rind ("scratchings" to the Brits), or nuts, but as time went on, heartier restaurant-type meals like steak and ale pie, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash and of course the much-loved Sunday roast became intrinsic to the pub experience. Then came "gastropubs," improving the quality of pub food still more and turning at least some pubs into culinary destinations. (The term was coined in 1991 by David Eyre and Mike Belben assumed ownership of an old pub in London's Clerkenwell district, called The Eagle.)
The Daily Meal has rounded up the best pubs for food around London. These pubs are local favorites and have been named as the best pubs in the city by many media outlets.
On your next visit to London, make sure to drink it all in — or should we say eat it all up — by visiting these 10 best pubs for the quintessential London experience.
#10 Callooh Callay
Callooh Callay a more contemporary pub located in the hip Shoreditch area. It's very Alice in Wonderland-reminiscent with a cool drink menu and a secret entrance to a different room that's through a wardrobe. It has a bit of a classic speakeasy feel, and it’s inventive in that each month a different bartender has complete artistic freedom over the bar — from the drinks menu to the décor to the ambiance — providing you with a unique experience every time you visit. As creative as the drink options are the bar snacks, and you’ll find awesome options like deep-fried squid with curry leaves or yogurt and almonds, enough to soak up your cocktails but also a reason to visit in their own right. Enjoy a spin on a traditional bar favorite with their “Mexican” burger: a spiced kidney bean burger topped with lime yogurt.
#9 The Porterhouse
In Covent Garden, this intricate, labyrinthine alehouse is perfectly situated a short walk from the Covent Garden Market. Once inside, it is a delight to explore all the nooks and crannies on each of the 12 different levels.The Porterhouse is unique in that it’s one of the best-known British pubs with a distinctly Irish feel (and an Irish owner). Aside from the genuine Irish beers, you’ll find a fine selection of multicultural fine foods like toasted ciabatta with grilled halloumi cheese or a mezze platter with Mediterranean favorites like tzatziki, baba ghanoush, and hummus.