The Devonshire - Claire Menary Photography


Harvey James 19/06/24

The Best Pubs in Soho

Being knocked about by tourists, comedians, thespians, barbers, stylists, and drag queens while longing for a refreshing beer can be stressful.

So, being in Soho, one might be forgiven for wanting a drink. Of course, you don’t want just any watering hole. You want the perfect Guinness with a menu from The Fat Duck’s chef; a pint accompanied by a sequin-dressed lady on the piano; a wild variety of beers; historic boozers; or a buzzy place to read Balzac with a half pint of Breton cidre. 

From the archetypal to the unconventional, these are the best pubs in Soho…

The Devonshire

devonshire pub

Barbara Bernardi

The newest pub in Soho is already our favourite. Why? Well, The Devonshire’s elegant interiors are like the time-worn tavern of your dreams: all oxblood leather banquettes, wood panelling on the walls, and a patterned Persian carpet that isn’t yet sticky with decades of spilled pints. If you’re on the hunt for a good Guinness pour, The Devonshire is definitely worth ticking off your list. And then as a literal crowning glory, the floor above (and the rooftop) is home to one of London’s hottest restaurants right now: a grill room where the menu is headed up by ex-Fat Duck chef Ashley Palmer-Watts.

Details: 17 Denman St, London W1D 7HW | Book a table at The Devonshire

The Coach & Horses

Coach and Horses

The Coach & Horses is famously associated with both Norman Balon, known as London’s rudest landlord, and the legendary degenerate journalist Jeffrey Bernard (who’s celebrated in numerous Private Eye sketches dotted around the walls). Other regulars over the years have included The Beatles, Francis Bacon and John Hurt.

Inside, the place has barely changed over the past few decades. The Grade II listed interiors feature cosy wood panelling, vintage signs advertising old beers from Double Diamond and Ind Coope, and of course a stone spitoon curving around the base of the bar. At least, that’s what we think, and hope, it is.

There’s also a piano in the corner, which on Saturday nights is frequently assailed by a glamorous lady in sequins who gets the whole pub involved in a singalong.

Details: 29 Greek Street, Soho, London, W1D 5DH | Find out more about The Coach here

The Lyric

The Lyric pub soho

Dont expect to be greeted by the usual old beers on tap. Expect a leap of faith. Expect real cask ales, and expect a small army of bottled beers. The ceiling of the Victorian, wood-panelled interior of this long-standing Soho pub is plastered with beer tap cards, making it a kind of Mecca for beer. The atmosphere is relaxed and the staff are lovely. Quaint “olden times” London photos hang on the wall and indie rock’n’roll streams over the airwaves overhead. It’s a jovial place to sheer a beer and a chat – just dont expect to get a seat come 6pm.

Details: 37 Great Windmill St, London W1D 7LT | Find out more about The Lyric here

The Sun & 13 Cantons

sun & 13 cantons pub

Time will pleasantly slip away in this smart Soho pub. This might have something to do with the name referencing the area’s historic community of Swiss watchmakers, said to make up the unofficial thirteenth canton (county) of Switzerland.

In recent years, the pub has become known for giving over its kitchen space to exciting new pop-up restaurants. Previous tenants have included Sambal Shiok, specialising in Malaysian Laksa, and the tour de force of Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express (now permanently installed just across the road in Kingly Court). Currently, the pub is hosting your best – and possibly only – pitstop for Cambodian BBQ, Mamapen, where the menu features classic Khmer dishes like caramelised braised pork belly and sour pineapple curry, alongside novel inventions like braised beef ‘tattie mince noodles’ inspired by chef Kaneda’s Scottish girlfriend.

Details: 21 Great Pulteney Street, Soho, W1F 9NG | Book a table at The Sun & 13 Cantons

The French House 

Best Pubs in Soho: French House

What a gorgeous cultural mash-up this institution is. Hand-written menus boast oysters; steak tartare; duck rillettes; pork chop; rabbit leg; steak; and confit garlic. All the good French food but without having to leap across the channel, thanks to Neil Borthwick, who serves up hearty fare in the crisp table-clothed dining room upstairs.

As for watering, there are thirty champagnes and wines by the glass, and ONLY half pints available (except on 1st April, when Suggs traditionally pulls the first pint of the day). Most of the regulars can be found nursing Breton cidre while people-watching through the large open windows. This is a strictly no music, no machines, no phones zone; a long-standing bastion of Old Soho.

Details: 49 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 5BG | Find out more about The French House

The Blue Posts 

blue posts pub rupert street

Once upon a time, there were just 16 Michelin-starred pubs across the UK, and only one in London (The Harwood Arms in Fulham). That was until Evelyn’s Table rolled up and won the glorious accolade in 2022. Luke Shelby fronts an intimate, 12-seater chef’s table experience layering British, Japanese, and French cuisine, all of which is casually slung beneath this easy-going Soho pub.

Only dropping in for a drink? On the ground floor you’ll find the main pub area, established in 1739 and now beautifully decorated in tranquil blue tones. That polished vibe extends to the drinks – if you’re after proper ales you’ll be disappointed, but there’s a selection of the usual culprits from the craft brewing world on tap, as well as cocktails, good wines, and fancy bar snacks like togarashi-dusted peanuts. Upstairs, you’ll find a refined wine bar called The Mulwray – not cheap, but a lovely nook to know about for a post-theatre drink.

For reasons largely lost to the mists of time, there are a couple of pubs in Soho sharing the Blue Posts name – this particular one is just at the entrance to Chinatown, which also makes it an excellent pit-stop before a feast of dim sum.

Details: 28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ | Find out more about The Blue Posts

John Snow

john snow pub soho

No Swan So Fine – Wikimedia Commons

John Snow isn’t a mere Soho pub, it’s an institution – named after a local 19th century doctor who worked out that everyone in the area was getting cholera because of the water from the street’s pump (still standing, no longer dispensing Victorian diseases).

As a part of the Sam Smith’s brewery pub chain, this means no-nonsense beers, ales, and stouts from their 250 year-old brewery that are delicious and affordable (as pubs in Soho go). The way you have to duck and dive through the saloon’s partition adds to the pint-clutching drama. Meanwhile, upstairs one can relax into a riveting, silly, preposterous and engrossing conversation. Just don’t expect much from the food offerings… a proper Soho pub then.

Details: 39 Broadwick Street, Carnaby, London W1F 9QJ | No website. Just drop in


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