“You can never plan the future by the past.” – Edmund Burke
Unless, of course, your past has recently involved reading our guide to the best pubs in Dalston, thus securing the quality of your future Friday night plans – something you can achieve by reading it right now, in anticipation of it being the past, sometime in the future.
Suffice to say that there are some great pubs in Dalston, boasting locally-brewed craft beer, vegan wine, banging pop-up kitchens, free art exhibitions and a hopping music scene. Have a read, discover your new favourite haunt… and thank your past self later.
This Dalston pub is a dark and leafy den of eclectic influences, with Victorian period features, an illuminated ’50s island bar, and an incredible rum collection on its shelves. With live indie music from London’s up and coming, and an eclectic playlist, the pub’s vibe is warm, welcoming and unassuming. Their kitchen is run by Kotch!, an Italian pop-up slinging stone-baked pizzas and filthy, delicious burgers (with the option to add gorgonzola on… everything). You can sup and sip to your heart’s content with their locally sourced craft beers and vegan wine list, but being part of the Jaguarshoes collective, there’s also a pithy cocktail list including numbers like the Disco Espresso (updating the classic with a little dark chocolate liqueur).
Address: 451 Queensbridge Road, Dalston, London, E8 3AS | Sunday roast? No | Dog Friendly? Outdoors, yes – but be prepared, it can get noisy | Book here
So ‘artfully dilapidated’ as to look like it might actually fall down at any moment, The Shack is a no-frills boozer and ramshackle Music Room of Legend (Solange Knowles DJ’d here once). Offering a quiet pint, footie on the telly and a fairy-lit smoking terrace during the day, by night it becomes a raucous gig venue hosting some of the city’s most exciting indie talent. You’re not really here to mull over the complex notes of a full-bodied burgundy, but The Shack still obliges with a rotation of local craft beers on tap and a modest wine list, as well as Lebanese street food from Jellyfish Organic.
Address: 71 Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EB | Sunday roast? No | Dog Friendly? No | See what’s on and book here
The Hunter S.
Named after the famed journalist and hell-raiser Hunter S. Thompson, the decor at The Hunter S. is a dark, edgy and eclectic mix of gothic furnishings, taxidermy and racy photography. Thompson’s preferred way to start the day was with a glass of Chivas with the morning papers at 3pm, so no doubt he would have approved of the healthy whisky selection behind the bar here (with a strong leaning towards Japanese distilleries). You can also replicate his favourite lunch of two cheeseburgers, fries and ice cream – or forge your own path with crispy pork belly bao, BBQ brisket or crab tagliatelle.
Address: 194 Southgate Road, Dalston, N1 3HT | Sunday roast? Yes | Dog Friendly? No | Book here
The Scolt Head
One of the more relaxed pubs in Dalston, The Scolt Head is a rustic temple to elevated comfort food. Behind every dish – from macaroni and stilton croquettes with basil aioli, to the roast chicken pie with mash, red cabbage & gravy – is a starry roll call of top quality producers, including Neal’s Yard Dairy, Entremettier veg and Rare Breed meat from Essex. Just here for drinks? Pair yourself off with a piquant glass from their extensively researched wine list, and tuck yourself away in their lovely beer garden. Perfect for greasing the wheels before the London Dance Orchestra tips up, and the pub starts swing dancing.
Address: 107A Culford Road, N1 4HT | Sunday roast? Yes | Dog Friendly? Yes | Book here
Duke of Wellington
Craft beer, pizza, the beautiful game. The three pillars of the perfect weekend pub (though there’s also fortnightly film and comedy nights to keep non-sports fans happy too). The Duke of Wellington’s tap list rotates weekly, offering a selection of locally brewed, small-batch beer, while Flatboys Pizza are in the kitchen slinging crispy-crust pizza laden with toppings. Sit back with a juicy pale ale, a slice of No. 009 (fennel sausage, ‘nduja, mozzarella, friarielli, and fresh chilli) and watch the world go by on their sunny terrace.
Address: 119 Balls Pond Road, N1 4BL | Sunday roast? No | Dog Friendly? Yes | Book here
The Prince George
A charmingly traditional boozer with buckets of character, a roaring fire in winter and an electric juke box. Their wallet-friendly tap & bottle list offers a pretty broad selection of cask and craft beers and ciders, as well as a handful of Belgian brews by the bottle. The George’s charms include a cosy room with a pool table, a sun-trap courtyard out the front, and a pub quiz on Monday nights. And when you’re craving Indian-Scottish-Spanish-Southern fusion (which is often), you’re in luck – the globetrotting menu of small plates throws out cornflake chicken strips with blue cheese sauce; Haggis scotch eggs; chorizo salad and Bombay potatoes, as well as a menu of burgers & loaded fries.
Address: 40 Parkholme Road E8 3AG | Sunday roast? Yes | Dog Friendly? Yes | Find out more here
The Duke of Richmond
Another Dalston pub renowned for its exceptional grub thanks to chef-owner Tom Oldroyd (formerly of Polpo, and his much-missed eponymous Islington restaurant). The menu here is peppered with British dishes with a French twist. Their hand-picked Cornish crab chip butty is the stuff of legend, and their Sunday roasts – whether you plump for the brown butter roast cauliflower or the Yorkshire lamb leg – will gently lull you into a snoozy afternoon. As for the booze, the tap list offers a series of locally brewed craft ales, right down to the classic Guinness. There’s also an Old World-leaning wine list, with a couple of natural options (all of which are half price on Wednesdays), and cocktails on happy hour every day between 4 and 6pm. Thankfully the high culinary pedigree doesn’t mean they’re above offering the holy grail of bar snacks, Pickled Onion Monster Munch.
Address: 316 Queensbridge Road, E8 3NH | Sunday roast? Yes | Dog Friendly? Yes | Book here
Words by Hannah Thomas
Making a day of it? Check out our Dalston guide
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