Where Is the World’s Best Pub?

From London to New York, here are our top choices. Tell us if your favourite is on the list.

Mar 20, 2013
  • Inside the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • Holeman and Finch Public House, Atlanta, GeorgiaA solid beer list and elaborately crafted cocktails complement the charcuterie and regional specialties at this Atlanta, Georgia, pub. But the raison d’être is most definitely the burger. Only 24 handcrafted, double-patty cheeseburgers are served each night, beginning at 10:00 pm (otherwise known as “burger time”). You can reserve your burger in advance, which is a good thing because they go fast.
  • The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, EnglandThis remarkably friendly countryside pub earned its second Michelin star in 2012 by serving a range of good beers alongside seasonal English and French dishes underscored by familiar pub standards (duck fat chips, pigeon and foie gras pie). Those that equate Michelin with white tablecloths and armies of waiters might be surprised by the pub’s down-to-earth atmosphere, but that’s the way chef and pub landlord Tom Kerridge likes it—and his patrons aren’t complaining.
  • The Spotted Pig, New YorkHelmed by unflappable British chef (and self-proclaimed “control freak”) April Bloomfield, Manhattan’s first gastropub stays consistently busy, with everyone from neighbourhood regulars to celebrities dropping in for the award-winning fare. The burger has been named one of the best in town, but Bloomfield’s British- and Italian-influenced dishes (smoked haddock chowder and squid stew with garlic aioli, for example) shouldn’t be missed.
  • The Brazen Head, Dublin, IrelandWe’ve recommended The Brazen Head before, but it’s worth mentioning a second time. This pub dates back to 1198 and claims to be “officially Ireland’s oldest.” Whether that’s truth or folklore, the pub remains an authentic slice of Dublin. Inside is usually packed with happy crowds dining on traditional meat-and-potato dishes. Live music is standard.
  • The White Horse, LondonThe location on Parsons Green makes The White Horse (also known as the Sloaney Pony) one of the most beautiful spots to grab a pint—particularly during warmer months when the pub’s sunny beer garden draws crowds. Inside, tall Victorian ceilings and mahogany walls recall its past as a coaching inn, but the real focus at this pub is on the beer. More than 135 bottled beers are on offer, with draught beers and cask ales changing regularly.
  • The Eagle and Child, Oxford, EnglandOxford’s legendary pub was a regular meeting place for the Inklings, an impressive group of literary heroes that included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The group even coined the pub’s nickname, “The Bird and Baby.” Today, University of Oxford students come here for the beer as much as they come for the legend, which is kept alive with Inklings mementos displayed in The Rabbit Room.
1/7
The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Grab a cosy booth (or snug) at this Victorian gin palace, renovated in 1885 with elaborate tile work, stained glass and wood carvings. The landmark Crown Liquor Saloon, owned by the National Trust, is a temple to intemperance.
Photography courtesy The Crown Liquor Saloon
2/7
Holeman and Finch Public House, Atlanta, Georgia
A solid beer list and elaborately crafted cocktails complement the charcuterie and regional specialties at this Atlanta, Georgia, pub. But the raison d’être is most definitely the burger. Only 24 handcrafted, double-patty cheeseburgers are served each night, beginning at 10:00 pm (otherwise known as “burger time”). You can reserve your burger in advance, which is a good thing because they go fast.
Photography courtesy Holeman and Finch Public House
3/7
The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, England
This remarkably friendly countryside pub earned its second Michelin star in 2012 by serving a range of good beers alongside seasonal English and French dishes underscored by familiar pub standards (duck fat chips, pigeon and foie gras pie). Those that equate Michelin with white tablecloths and armies of waiters might be surprised by the pub’s down-to-earth atmosphere, but that’s the way chef and pub landlord Tom Kerridge likes it—and his patrons aren’t complaining.
Photography courtesy The Hand & Flowers
4/7
The Spotted Pig, New York
Helmed by unflappable British chef (and self-proclaimed “control freak”) April Bloomfield, Manhattan’s first gastropub stays consistently busy, with everyone from neighbourhood regulars to celebrities dropping in for the award-winning fare. The burger has been named one of the best in town, but Bloomfield’s British- and Italian-influenced dishes (smoked haddock chowder and squid stew with garlic aioli, for example) shouldn’t be missed.
Photography courtesy The Spotted Pig
5/7
The Brazen Head, Dublin, Ireland
We’ve recommended The Brazen Head before, but it’s worth mentioning a second time. This pub dates back to 1198 and claims to be “officially Ireland’s oldest.” Whether that’s truth or folklore, the pub remains an authentic slice of Dublin. Inside is usually packed with happy crowds dining on traditional meat-and-potato dishes. Live music is standard.
Photography courtesy The Brazen Head
6/7
The White Horse, London
The location on Parsons Green makes The White Horse (also known as the Sloaney Pony) one of the most beautiful spots to grab a pint—particularly during warmer months when the pub’s sunny beer garden draws crowds. Inside, tall Victorian ceilings and mahogany walls recall its past as a coaching inn, but the real focus at this pub is on the beer. More than 135 bottled beers are on offer, with draught beers and cask ales changing regularly.
Photography courtesy The White Horse
7/7
The Eagle and Child, Oxford, England
Oxford’s legendary pub was a regular meeting place for the Inklings, an impressive group of literary heroes that included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The group even coined the pub’s nickname, “The Bird and Baby.” Today, University of Oxford students come here for the beer as much as they come for the legend, which is kept alive with Inklings mementos displayed in The Rabbit Room.
Photography courtesy The Eagle and Child

Updated April 5, 2013—Since the earliest tabernae (taverns) established in England with the arrival of the Romans more than 2,000 years ago, pubs, or public houses, have served as anchors for their surrounding communities. Good beer is required, good company is almost always guaranteed, and good food usually isn’t far behind.

When we began discussing the world’s greatest pubs several weeks ago, we realised that narrowing down our list of favourites was going to be difficult. Pubs are personal. They are the pride of our neighbourhoods—the places we go, religiously and ritualistically, for a pint after work, or several on Saturday night. And when we travel, the pubs we drop into inform our sense of a place and its people better than any museum visit or walking tour ever could.

Of course, Britain remains the “proper pub” hub, but establishments in Ireland and America also made our list. Our criteria were simple: The pubs we chose had to be exceptional and traditional, and they had to evoke the spirit of their surrounding communities. If you don’t see your favourite, or if you don’t love ours as much as we do, let us know—we’ll try not to take it personally.

Many of you shared your picks for the world’s best pub on Facebook. Here’s what you had to say:

“Southern Ground Social Club, Senoia Ga.”
—Andrea Caldwell

“The Red Lyon, Lawrence, KS”
—Tracie Massey Howell

“The Flying Saucer – Dallas, Texas!”
—Vail Thrasher Tolbert

“The Zig Zag Cafe, Seattle, Washington”
—Martin Oravetz

“Ryan’s Corner Pub – Kennebunkport, Maine!”
—Beth Geary

Don’t see your favourite pub here? Tell us in the comments section.

 


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One Comment about Where Is the World’s Best Pub?

  1. We went there….#1…….I’ve been all over the world but this place had it all. I know there is other grog holes but this was a class above the rest. Enjoy if you are in Ireland.
    An Irish-American in search of a good drink,
    Charlie O

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