Hogarth’s infamous Gin Lane is set in the borough of Camden, and on a Friday night it can be all too apparent that not that much has changed.
Revelling in its slightly shabby, counter-culture status, Camden is renowned for an interesting night out. A playground for Madness, The Clash, Amy Winehouse, and Blur, the area has a noteworthy musical history and throughout the years has never lost its reputation as a place to get a decent drink. Stopping in at every watering hole might have you hanging like a Hogarth, though, so we’ve taken the liberty of shortening the list:
The World’s End
If you’re looking for a pub in Camden, The World’s End is ironically a great place to start. With its sprawling floor plan and eclectic customer base, this mainstay of the Camden pub scene can often feel like the world’s end inside. The coming together of ageing rockers, goths, locals, and emo kids (who we must assume are old enough to drink) gives it a truly unique vibe. The sheer scale of it helps, with nooks and crannies, mezzanines, and two enormous bars. It’s like a marketplace for the end of days, where the music is loud and the beer flows freely.
Staropramen is delivered directly to the brewery in tanks so that it tastes just like it does in Prague (according to them at least), and they serve top-notch BBQ with all the meat smoked onsite in their own smoker – there’s a few burgers and some veggie options to boot as well. The atmosphere is lively at all hours here, and with music venue The Underworld situated underneath, it very much picks up in the evenings.
Details: 174 Camden High St, Camden Town, NW1 0NE | Open Mon-Thurs 11am-12am, Fri-Sat 11am-1am, and Sun 12-11pm
Camden is famous for a few things: the market, the knock-off Ramones t-shirts, other fading relics of the punk movement, and of course, the lock. Lockside sits you right above the latter and next to the market’s street food yard, meaning you don’t have far to travel for expert grub from across the globe. The interior is industrial, wooden, and gives off strong warehouse vibes, reminiscent of an American boozer. Overlooking the lock and the food market below, it’s always a hive of activity; great for atmosphere and people watching. But despite their delicious neighbour the Lockside also offers up its own American/Mexican mash-up menu, alongside their popular Camden Hells battered Fish & Chips. For drinks – well, it’s a bar, so they’ve got it all.
Details: 75-89 Upper Walkway, Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF | Open Mon-Thurs 11am-1am, Fri 11am-3am, Sat 10am-3am, and Sun 10am-1am
Across the way from Lockside is the other staple of the Camden Market drinking scene, Dingwalls. Now part of a public house multiplex (which includes a terrace bar, a comedy club, and an indoor bar) Dingwalls is part of Camden history. It opened in 1973 as a dance hall, and has received, over the years, performances from The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and The Ramones (to name but a few). Still hosting live music, comedy and club nights it’s a great boozer to stop in pre, or post, an event – or just anytime to take in the rock and roll tales of debauchery. For the fare, they serve up traditional pub grub with a menu that may well not have changed since the 70s, and whole host of beers, wines, and cocktails.
Details: East Yard, 11 Camden Lock Pl, Camden Town, London NW1 8AL | Open Sun-Thurs 10am-11pm, Fri-Sat 10am-2:30am
Brewing their way from hipster start-up to global stardom, Brewdog are a leading, if frequently controversial, light in the craft beer scene, and one of their early locales was Camden. This plucky boozer is tucked away on a side street not too far from Camden Town Underground, and serves up a plethora of quirky and unusual craft beers. Expect tart tangerine sours, zombie-inspired porters and, well, the unexpected. To accompany your brews there are, predictably, dogs, in their hot form, with burgers and wings to boot (the latter being all you can eat for £12 on Wednesdays). The bar has two floors, so despite its modest size you’ll find plenty of space to wile away the afternoon.
Details: 113 Bayham St, Camden Town, London NW1 | Open Mon-Thurs 12-11:30pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-10:30pm
The Colonel Fawcett
A good ol’ fashioned tavern, wooden and airy, the Colonel Fawcett is one of Camden’s hidden treasures. The site of the last fatal duel in Britain, the pub has a chequered past. Legend tells of vagabonds and miscreants from across the Empire gathering here to indulge, imbibe, and sell their ill-begotten wares. It’s now more famous for its Sunday Roasts which recently won Observer Food Monthly Best Sunday Lunch and packs the house out with hungry locals. In addition to this they have a bottomless brunch on Saturday and a Steak Night on Thursday. In honour of their eponymous Colonel’s unquenchable thirst for gin they have a formidable gin menu with over 90 offerings.
Details: 1 Randolph Street, NW1 0SS | Open Mon-Thurs 12pm-12am, Fri 12pm-1am, Sat 11am-1am, Sun 12-11pm
Not quite lockside but taking its name, the Lock Tavern sits just north of the Stables Market and provides a beer garden, rooftop terrace, and dark wooden panelled interiors. They also offer free DJs and live music all year round, making it a safe bet for a good time. To drink, they’ve a decent selection of local beers (and more adventurous offerings in bottles, cans, and on tap), the Gin & Tonic menu holds its own with the best of them, and the cocktails are plentiful. For food you’ll be able to tuck into all the standard pub selections, including some smashing sharing plates. It’s a top notch North London boozer which ticks all the boxes.
Details: 35 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AJ | Open Sun-Thurs 12pm-12am, Fri-Sat 12pm-1am
Rising like a phoenix from the flames of the 2008 Camden Market fire, the Hawley Arms is a classic Camden pub, famed for its former barmaid, Amy Winehouse. It’s cosy, traditional, and very relaxing. The aim has always been to provide drinkers with a down to earth watering hole, and that’s exactly what you get. The drinks are classic, and so is the grub (except possibly for their chips, which they serve in a pint glass). Tucked away, a stone’s throw from the Lock and the Market, it’s a great getaway from the chaos round the corner.
Details: 2 Castlehaven Rd, Camden Town, London NW1 8QU | Open Sun-Thurs 12pm-12am, Fri-Sat 12pm-1am
The Black Heart
A hearty blend of biker bar and British boozer, the Black Heart is a rock pub with a heavy metal bent. With local beers, not-so-local beers, a pool table clad in black, and neon gothic relics adorning the walls, it’s everything a heavy metal pub should be. Live performances are plentiful amidst their busy event calendar, which includes Burlesque Club Nights and Heavy Metal Yoga. It’s tucked away, but worth seeking out if you want a taste of Camden’s darker underbelly.
Details: 3 Greenland Place, Camden Town, NW1 0AP | Open Mon-Tues 3-11:30pm, Wed-Thurs 3pm-1am, Fri-Sat 12pm-2am, Sun 12-11pm
Not technically a pub, but for a more al fresco drinking session, FEST Camden’s got you covered. Quite literally, as their outdoor terrace is shaded with awnings and trellises. Great in the summer and cosy in the winter, this spot atop the Stables market is a lovely location to while away a few hours. There’s Greek mezze and wood-fired pizzas to maintain your energy and numerous events to keep you entertained. Regular escapades include Hip Hop Bingo, Broadway Supper Club, and Brunch with the Boys – a Chippendales meets breakfast club mash up with plenty of prosecco and pecs. As part of the FEST complex there is also a dedicated cabaret club, and a night club to keep the party going after hours.
Details: FEST Camden Stables Market, NW1 8AH | Open Sun-Wed 12-11pm, and Thurs-Sat 12pm-2:30am
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