London's best DJ bars and pubs

If you're looking for decent tunes without the hassle of hardcore clubbing, the capital has plenty of bars and pubs with great soundsystems and top-notch DJS. Whether you're looking for Latino beats or minimalist electronic, here's our guide to the best


    • The Social

      5 Little Portland St, London, W1W 7JD

      A discreet front hides this daytime diner and DJ bar of supreme quality, established by Heavenly Records at the end of the '90s. After drinks upstairs, The Social's clientele repair downstairs to an intimate basement space rocked by DJs six nights a week with occasional live bands. Not only are The Social's drinks prices ultra-reasonable (beer £3.10, wine £3), there's a cheap 'n' cheerful comfort food menu and one of the best-stocked jukeboxes in town. The monthly Hip Hop Karaoke night is a giggle and respected record labels like 1965 often hold nights here too. Read more

  • The Big Chill House

    257-259 Pentonville Rd, London, N1 9NL

    A festival, a record label, a bar and now a house, the Big Chill empire rolls on. A good thing too, if it keeps managing such interesting offerings as this three-floor space. The likes of A Skillz, the Heatwave crew and owner Pete Lawrence regularly handle deck duties, and there's a great roof terrace. Big Chill House's central location means it can sometimes attract a less discerning crowd than its Shoreditch counterpart the Big Chill Bar, but the vibe is always laid-back. Just as the Big Chill Festival is famed for the quality of its food, so too is the Big Chill House, with the Sunday brunch a particular favourite. The rest of the time it's gourmet burgers, pizzas, platters and other upmarket snacks washed down with its classic cocktails. There's happy hour every weekday from 5-8pm too, just in case you needed another reason to visit. Read more

  • Star Of Bethnal Green

    359 Bethnal Green Rd, London, E2 6LG

    The epitome of scruffy East End cool, the Star of Bethnal Green attracts a young, up-for-it crowd and blends a laid-back pub vibe with the edgy music policy of London's best clubs. A bold red-and-silver star stamps the wall behind the stage, and there are low-key gigs from big bands and an eclectic-yet-funky line-up of disco, house and indie nights. Watch out for madcap bash Bastard Batty Bass on monthly Thursdays, led by DJ Hannah Holland and various free or super-cheap (£5 max) sessions from Europe's best underground DJs such as Mark 7, Ray Mang and Mulletover resident Geddes. The Tuesday night quiz is a big hit with locals and the lure of free food helps too. Sundays are all about their tasty roasts served up with ironic pop and yacht rock. Read more

  • The Dogstar

    389 Coldharbour Lane, London, SW9 8LQ

    A Brixton institution from back when Coldharbour Lane was somewhere people feared to go, Dogstar is a big, three-floor street-corner pub exuding the urban authenticity loved by clubbers. Earning the accolade of being London's first ever DJ bar, Dogstar has managed to sustain a loyal following over the decades. The most recent refurbishment has left the interior looking like a cross between the Old Blue Last and Loungelover. The atmosphere can be intense, but it's never less than vibrant. A top tip for first-timers is to get there early - not only will you be able to bag space at the pool table but you can also evade the door tax. Dogstar's music policy is varied with everything from hip hop to drum 'n' bass and funk. There are often comedy nights and the food from the Mexican restaurant is popular with locals. Read more

  • Barrio North

    45 Essex Road, Islington, N1 2SF

    Filling the space left by the Warwick in laid-back Latino style, Barrio North's funky, Newyorican vibe is going down a storm. Despite clean lines and hard surfaces… Read more

  • The Lock Tavern

    35 Chalk Farm Rd, London, NW1 8AJ

    A tough place to get into at weekends, what with queues of artfully distressed rock urchins and one of the most arbitrary entry policies in Camden Town. It's the unpredictable after-party vibe that packs in the punters, with big name DJs regularly providing the tunes. Read more

  • The Horse & Groom

    26 Curtain Rd, London, EC2A 3NZ

    With a traditional, black-and-green frontage, unfussy interior and cheap entry, this Curtain Road boozer has a pleasantly chilled-out atmosphere. The tunes are varied – expect to encounter anything from electronica to a hillbilly night. Read more

  • Old Queen's Head

    44 Essex Rd, London, N1 8LN

    Expect long weekend queues at this Essex Street pub, relaunched in 2006. There are two floors, outside seating front and back, battered sofas for lounging on during the week and DJs and dancing at weekends. Read more

  • Paradise by Way of Kensal Green

    19 Kilburn Lane, Kensal Green, W10 4AE

    Perched in the corner of the quirkily theatrical Paradise is a seven-foot statue of an angel that looks as if it flew over the wall of the nearby cemetery for a cheeky… Read more