Clerkenwell is a part of town where you can feel London’s history echoing around – and that couldn’t be more true than in the area’s pubs. In its ye olde inns you’ll find winks and nods to the past. But don’t let that fool you – some of the capital’s most ground-breaking gastropubs and craft beer bars can be found in Clerkenwell and Farringdon. So whether stopping by for after-work pints or visiting for a weekend roast, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
RECOMMENDED: Find more fun in the neighbourhood in our Clerkenwell area guide
The best pubs in Clerkenwell
The name may sound like homage to two of Clerkenwell’s ancient trades, but it’s a modern whimsy. And actually, everything about the pub is a bit 2018, especially its fully vegan food menu. What could be more ‘now’ than a seitan burger and halloumi fries to go with your pint of the cold stuff?
Any right-minded Londoner will be familiar with brand BrewDog. The Aberdeenshire brewer has ballooned, taking over many a London establishment in the process. But at their pubs you’ll find more than just their famous Punk IPA and others in the BrewDog family – at this Clerkenwell branch they champion beers from all around across 18 taps and stocked by bottle in the fridge.
This pub’s launch in 2011 was a symbol of the ‘craft beer revolution’ kicking up a gear. Since then, Craft Beer Company have spawned several more sites around London and further afield. The original remains a charming boozer, with stained-glass windows, a sparkling chandelier and pretty hanging flower baskets outside. Work your way through a lip-smacking range of beers from the cutting edge of brewing.
Widely credited with launching the food-in-pubs revolution when it opened in 1991, The Eagle even has a section on its website dedicated to its ‘alumni’ chefs. And in its present form, the pub is still committed to serving up sterling plates, posting a daily menu on its Instagram account for those who are still loyal to the gastropub nearly 30 years on.
A long-term fixture on Exmouth Market’s pretty, pedestrianised stretch, The Exmouth Arms has been a hop haven for much longer than the craft beer craze has been rolling on. It’s busy inside and out, with punters having to fight for a seat on one of the picnic benches that face the market stretch. Snacks include sliders or larger plates of fish and chips and the like.
Even though it’s a Young’s pub with a boutique hotel attached, enough has been done to keep the Fox & Anchor real, with many original Victorian fixtures still in place – from dark wood partitions, to etched glass and mosaic tiling. In keeping with the trad vibes, find a menu of steaks and pies, plus wine aplenty to wash it all down.
The Green is an attractively airy gastropub just off Clerkenwell Green, owned and operated by the folks behind Aldgate East’s Culpeper. It dishes up the kind of hearty, fad-free seasonal cooking that dominates conversations. Sunday roasts are to die for, so you’ll want to book ahead. Locally brewed beers are championed by the pub, as well as natural wine sourced from further afield.
Venue says First-floor dining room available for private hire!
The Hat & Tun is a part of the ETM group, whose family of gastropubs and restaurants includes the Botanist in Sloane Square and the nearby Jugged Hare. This particular branch is about real ale and honest pub grub – we’re talking fish cakes, toad in the hole and ham hock with pease pudding. Oh, and shuffleboard – the old-school game can be played in the pub.
The Jerusalem is a pretty-much perfect pub, a Farringdon bar with the sort of look many places invest a lot of time, effort and money into imitating. It has wooden floors, an ornate, tiled fireplace and a cute platform where you can sit overlooking the bar and pretend you’re a beer giant among men. The range of ales is from St Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk and staff will happily offer tasters.
The Old Red Cow spans two floors, and both are doing their bit for the craft beer cause. Each floor has its own bar serving a fine selection of beers – look out for The Old Red Cow pilsner, along with a good selection from the brewery of the month. Unsurprisingly, given its location beside Smithfield market, the food menu leans heavily on meat.
It’s an eccentric pub, this one – the royal trio of the name turns out to be Elvis, Henry VIII and King Kong. And decorations include a fibreglass rhino head, autographed baseball photographs and a plaster of Paris Egyptian dog. Pints of decent ale and generous glasses of wine go down a storm with the after-work crowd, who either crowd the pavement in summer or vie for a space near the fire in colder months.
This low-ceilinged inn dates back to 1546 and backs on to the courtyard in which Queen Elizabeth I is once said to have danced. It consists of a cramped, three-room bar space fronted by an enclosed courtyard with stand-up tables, all accessed by alleyways from two separate streets. City types and admiring tourists flock in for pints and pork pies.