London, noun: A collection of pubs (loosely connected by shops, parks, and astoundingly expensive broom closets).
Given their extensive history and cultural omnipresence in the capital, it’s actually weirdly difficult to say just what exactly makes a good pub. Sometimes it’s the atmosphere. Sometimes it’s the drinks. Sometimes it’s whether or not they have those delicious crinkle-cut crisps, and if there is any salt & vinegar left. So in our investigations, we were acutely aware of just how contentious the issue is... but were also sufficiently loaded to get over it. So, without any further ado, we present the best pub in every neighbourhood.
*Note: in order to keep things vaguely reasonable on the length/our livers, we restricted things roughly to Zones 1 & 2.
Princess Louise With a catacomb of little mini-rooms, this segmented Victorian-styled pub has a certain charm that's hard to beat. While being generally busy, you never feel over-crowded, keeping things as intimate or not, as you want it to be. A Sam Smith pub, it also helps that the pints are cheap as chips (which they also have!), especially for this particular neighborhood.
French House An institution in Soho, this tiny pub has been doing its thing since 1910, with an assortment of characters (military, artists, celebrities, etc.) drifting through its doors. Although it's on the smaller side, with the crowd always spilling out onto the street, they sell more Ricard than anywhere else in Britain and only serves half-pints (of their own house beer) -- except on April Fool's when Suggs from Madness always serves the first pint.
The White Cross Set right up on the banks of the river, this classy drinkery completely comes into its own in good weather -- in fact, it's so close to the river's edge, that when the tide comes in, they literally provide wellies for people to get in. Add to that a solid wine list, real ales, guest brews, epic roasts, and a dog-friendly policy, and you have the best pub in Richmond.
The Greenwich Union The spiritual home of the Meantime Brewery, they raise the banner for good beer, no matter where it's from, offering over 60 brews besides their own, making it one of the widest ranges available in London -- and that's not to mention the top-shelf food, atmosphere, and staff.
The Bricklayer's Arms Built in 1826 (and officially the oldest pub in Putney) these guys have twice been awarded as CAMRA National Pub of the Year -- meaning if you want real ale, then this spot should be at the top of your list. They also have a regular schedule of beer festivals, a great beer garden to get into in the Summer, and two open fires (for the rest of the year).
The Churchill Arms Almost two pubs in one, the Churchill has a business in the front, party in back mentality. Beyond the allergy neutron bomb that is the exterior, there's a textbook old-school pub ambiance/beer list... but step through to the garden and suddenly you’re in a Southeast-Asian courtyard with some of the best damn Thai food in town. Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?
The Admiral Codrington Thanks to their patty-obsessed Head Chef Fred Smith, the Codrington's burgers are some of the finest in the city (country? World?!). Pair that with great service, a surprisingly unpretentious clientele (it is Chelsea after all), and rotating guest beers, and you've got a winner.
The Windmill When your pub's Pie Club has 6,000 members (your pub does have a pie club, doesn't it?), you know they take their pastry-cased meats very, very seriously. But pies alone do not a great pub make -- it's the huge beer selection, beer taster menus, and great service that do that.
The Duke Of Cambridge Tucked down a side street away from the crowds of shoppers, this light and airy pub has always been ahead of the times: everything they serve is organic, sustainable, and seasonal. Not only does that make for some pretty great food, but apparently organic booze gives less of a hangover, which is a theory that many a layman is nobly willing to personally test.
The Lock Tavern Located across from the stable markets, this pub is kind of a classic, and therefore kind of a shoe-in, but for good reason. It pretty much has it all: a beer garden, roof terrace, amazing food, good selection of booze, upstairs live music venue, great playlist, and pretty people to watch.
The Jerusalem Tavern Sure, it’s only open Monday-Friday, but let's be honest -- that's almost all of Farringdon for you. Some form of this particular business has been in the area since the 14th century (!!), and this exact location since 1720. Owned by St. Peter's Brewery, which specializes in using all British ingredients for their brews, they also have great food that is a cut above almost all else.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Having been open since the dawn of time itself (which, for our purposes is 1538), The Cheese has seen the rise and fall (literally and figuratively) of many a great drinker, including Mark Twain & Charles Dickens. And being so old, not only does it embody the qualities of a great pub, but it pretty much helped to define them.
The Commercial Tavern Slapped on the Eastern edge of Spitalfields Market, the CT's basically a very old-fashioned pub that's been one-upped with very modern touches; mismatched chairs, crazy wallpaper, cuckoo clock, etc., which actually make for a pretty great pub. It's fun, has some great cocktails, a decent beer selection, and a very music-driven atmosphere.
The Haggerston Cheap, delicious pizzas. Beer garden out back. Jazz night on Sundays. The Haggerston feels laid-back and fun, and does it without too many Dalston haircuts rolling their eyes. Also? They have crafts like Delirium and Cristal on tap.
The Prince of Wales This place hit the notes of old-school charm (beautiful wooden & brass fittings) with modern flourishes (stuffed animals adorn the walls) perfectly. For atmosphere alone, it's the best pub in the area, and although the beer list could be extended a mite, they make up for it by furnishing a pizza menu from the top-shelf delivery service next door.
White Horse An old favorite to the area, White Horse has a strong musical lilt w/ regular DJ listings buttressed by a 3am license on weekends, along with a full food menu, and a decent beer list -- as if to shore up their local cred even further, they even accept local currency, the Brixton Pound, with a discount for anyone who uses it.