Food & Drink

London’s 11 best independent pubs

Published On 12/11/2014 Published On 12/11/2014
Well & Bucket
Canton Arms
The Haggerston Pub
Pelt Trader
The Hunter S
The Eagle
Old Fountain
The Hops & Glory
Flickr/Ewan Munro 
The Culpeper
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1. Canton Arms 177 South Lambeth Rd, London, SW8 1XP

Once you get past its rough-looking exterior, this not-so-hidden gem knocks people's socks off with blindingly good food, a solid drink selection, and table football.

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2. The Haggerston 438 Kingsland Rd, Dalston, London, E8 4AA

This Dalston haunt has everything you could want in a pub: cheap and tasty pizza, and outdoor area, and kick-ass jazz on Sunday nights.

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3. Pelt Trader 3 Dowgate Hill, London, EC4N 6AP

Located in The City, this central spot is a great pub for an endless list of brews and above-average pub grub.

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4. The Hunter S 194 Southgate Rd, , London, N1 3HT

Promising to put you in a state of brilliant incomprehensibility: The Hunter S. From the team that bought you "membership-less members club" The Hemingway, it's a dark, elegant gonzo watering hole fitted with a venerable mahogany bar, high-class nudes plastering the gents, a table covered with a whole bearskin, and a herd of animal heads that will start babbling incoherently as soon as the midget hands you a silver platter of adrenochrome.

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5. The Eagle 2 Shepherdess Walk, London, N1 7LB

"Possibly the only pub you'll ever frequent that's famed for its name-check in a nursery rhyme: 'Up and down the City road, in and out The Eagle. That's the way the money goes. Pop goes the weasel...'" If this isn't enough to lure you in, at least pop in for a continental selection of lagers in their heated beer garden.

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6. The Holborn Whippet 25–29 Sicilian Ave, , London, WC1A 2QH

The boys behind Euston Tap are also behind The Whippet: Holborn's first independent pub, with a "less paralyzingly large" choice of brews -- 20 rotators, served from a bar wrapped around a huge slated pillar.

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7. The Old Fountain 3 Baldwin St, Hoxton, London, EC1V 9NU

This place is all business in front and a party up top, with a classic ale house room at ground level and a kind of swank and modern roof terrace that is perfect for summer. Its menu leans heavy towards real ales, but its list is comprehensive enough to please everyone. Just slightly out of the way, this family-owned pub draws in some serious beer-heads, while still remaining very family friendly.

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8. The Hops & Glory 382 Essex Rd, Islington, London, N1 3PF

Hops & Glory Pub and Dining Room offers a slice of country pub living on Essex Street. The daily changing menu of British fare has both small plates and large plates stocked with local produce, meat from the family owned Walter Rose farm in Wiltshire, and fish fresh from the day boats of Cornwall. Entrees tend to be meat-centric and are definitely meant to keep your bones warm in the chilly British winters, like the Hops & Glory beef burger, with Welsh rarebit and beef dripping chips. While the wooden décor and amber lighting make Hops & Glory excellent for snuggling up, warmer days bring the glass double-doors wide open, with brass fans swiveling from the ceiling. Wash your plates down with the house-made pale ale.

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9. Well & Bucket 143 Bethnal Green Rd, , London, E2 7DG

Well & Bucket is an ancient Bethnal Green boozer that shut down in '89, and is now back in action, totally refurbed w/ copper bar-tops, cast-iron seats, and wooden tables recalling the industrial age that birthed it.

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10. The Queen's Head 15 Denman St, Piccadilly, London, W1D 7HN

The Queen's has managed to stay independent for more than 280 years, an asset it exploits to pull in a range of globe-spanning craft brews from Brooklyn to Notting Hill. Pairing this is a regularly changing menu, and the occasional guest chef. It's everything an independent pub should be.

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11. The Culpeper 40 Commercial St, Spitalfields, London, E1 6LP

This multistory playhouse in Shoreditch ticks all the boxes: stylish pub vibes on the ground floor, dining room with next-level fare on the first, and a seasonal roof terrace up top for catching those temperamental London rays. There’s always a good selection of beer, the rotating food menu offers delicious British fare, and the cocktail game here is better then some actual “cocktail” bars.