Earl of Essex


Hattie Lloyd 16/02/24

The Best Pubs in Islington

Angel Islington was named not after celestial creatures or its pious inhabitants, but rather the Angel Inn, which stood in the area during the 17th Century.

Hundreds of years later, Islington is no stranger to pubs and taverns. But with so much choice comes great danger: how can the average punter stick to the path of righteous alehouses when the devil of sticky carpets and flat beer is there to tempt them at every turn?

Consider this handy guide a beam of divine intervention to keep you on the straight and narrow, only calling at the cream of the crop of Islington pubs…



The Albion

islington pub beer gardens albion

Truly Islington’s pub for all seasons: in summer, The Albion’s sprawling beer garden makes for the perfect oasis with its overhanging canopy of wisteria and plentiful tables; in winter, head inside and grab a comfy chair by the roaring fireside. There’s a decent selection of suds on tap, including the pub’s own bespoke brew from Laine Brewery, as well as a European-leaning wine list and a summery spritz menu. As for the food? Expect gastro takes on pub classics, including an impeccable Sunday roast with British-reared meat and Yorkshires the size of your fist.

Details: 10 Thornhill Road, London N1 1HW Book a table

The Narrowboat

islington pubs narrowboat

A perfect pitstop during a walk along Regent’s Canal, The Narrowboat provides an unrivalled view of the waterfront. The pint-sized balconies are prime real estate, but even if you miss out the pub’s bright and airy interior has plenty of natural light flooding in through the terrace widows that sit above the water. The result is a much more industrial and modern vibe than you get from most Young’s pubs, and it’s a highly comfortable place to wile away an afternoon. The drinks have all the bases covered and the food is a strong offering of modern pub grub, including a roast on Sundays, and they play sport when it’s on.

Details119 St Peter’s Street, Islington, London N1 8PZ Book a table

The Island Queen

island queen pub islington

Inspired by the gin palaces that once adorned Islington’s canal-side, The Island Queen feels like a 19th century engraving come to life. Its shabby-chic interior, original wood-framed glass snob screens, eclectic wall ornaments, palm trees and ferns make it an oasis tucked away on Angel’s backstreets. Naturally there’s plenty of gin behind the bar, alongside a wide range of craft beer (both on tap and in bottles/cans). The food menu is made up of hearty classics – burgers, steaks & pie, plus salad for the veggies – and of course roasts on a Sunday. Add to this a dog-friendly policy, crackling fires and board games, and it’s as much a cosy retreat as a suntrap, when punters spill onto the terrace out front.

Details87 Noel Road, N1 8HD | Book a table

The Earl of Essex

earl of essex pub islington

From the outside, The Earl of Essex doesn’t look like much more than just another pub. It’s understated, unassuming, and frankly, a little modest. Because on the inside? It’s one of the finest craft beer places in north London. Simple, Shaker-style decor characterises the interior. Wooden tables and stools surround a dusty blue island bar, while a pretty beer garden out the back (with plenty of big tables for groups) makes for a decent place to settle into with some manner of exotic craft pint on a sunny day…

Details: 25 Danbury St, N1 8LE Book a table

The Myddleton Arms

myddleton arms pub

Matt Brown/Flickr

Treading an impressive line between quaint and vibey, this boozer by Essex Road station features hand-blown glass windows, salvaged wooden school chairs and an original Victorian bar back. Both the staff and the crowd are young and friendly, and, being a bit off the beaten Islington track, it’s got a proper neighbourhood feel. There’s vinyl nights on Wednesdays, a great quiz on Mondays, and a twinkly covered beer garden all year round. It’s also one of relatively few pubs in Islington to offer cask ale alongside draught lagers & ciders, and they’ll even do you a round of Baby Guinness if the night’s heading in that direction (i.e. south).

Details: 52 Canonbury Road, N1 2HS Book on 020 7226 4595

The Three Johns

angel pubs three johns

Exposed brickwork, very high ceilings, wooden furnishings and rows of black leather banquette seating make The Three Johns an atmospheric drinking den. The high windows flood the main bar with daylight and a long bar means fighting for a spot is never an issue. With 14 beers on tap there’s plenty of options from across the globe and alcohol spectrum, with some of the porters getting over the 10% ABV mark. Behind the bar in bottles and cans there’s a formidable array of different pale ales, sours, blondes, stouts, and lagers which means everyone is likely to be catered for.

Details73 White Lion St, N1 9PF Book a table



The Old Queen’s Head

islington pubs dancing old queens head

Joshua Hiatt

The Old Queen’s Head is a chintzy dreamscape of Victorian wall tiles, portraits of old dudes and duchesses, red leather sofas, and various mounted animal heads. This bric-a-brac interior gives the place a ‘Disneyland of English pubs’ vibe, and makes it a characterful place to enjoy a pint. During the day you can chow down on gourmet burgers and fries from Lucky Chip, watch live sport, or relax by the roaring fire with a draught lager or one of their many cocktails. But come weekends, the place packs out, thanks to DJs spinning classic hip hop, R&B and 90s music every Saturday. There’s a lively events schedule, with live music, multiple pub quizzes and neon life drawing, plus there’s karaoke to enjoy in their bookable playroom with vintage foosball and arcade machines.

Details: 44 Essex Road, N1 8LNBook a table

The Lexington

islington pubs lexington live music

With an interior design that mashes together a London boozer with a Kentucky living room, The Lexington is a lounge bar like no other. Its firm focus is music, and from Wednesday through to Sunday you’ll be able to enjoy live music or DJs. The remit is wide with 60s pysch, rock, and the obligatory roll getting an outing midweek, punk and indie propping up the weekend, before Saturday and Sunday bring the tunes back to the present day for their club nights. On Mondays music still makes an appearance in the guise of their famous Pop Quiz; a collab with Rough Trade that includes rounds like ‘Badly Drawing Boy’ (guess the LP cover from a kid’s crayon rendition). Grub is rustled up by kitchen residents Alessio’s Pizza, and the booze covers all the bases (including a Lexington Lager made in collab with Hackney Brewery), but leaning in to that Kentucky style decor, there’s also an extensive bourbon collection.

Details: 96-98 Pentonville Road, N1 9JBBook a table



The Compton Arms

compton arms pub islington

Residential Islington pub The Compton Arms wins points not just for its stylish, pared-back decor, its natural-leaning wine list and cocktails made with local(ish) spirits. From Wednesday through to Sunday, chef Dara Klein serves up a menu of Pugliese dishes remembered from her childhood (and later stints at the likes of Trullo, Brawn and Sager + Wilde). You’ll find familiar dishes like smoked ricotta with Calabrian chilli & honey, as well as recipes less commonly recreated on British soil, like ciceri e tria – pasta with chickpeas and fried dough. It’s all reliably excellent, and hard to resist even if you’re just popping in for a drink.

Details: 4 Compton Avenue, London, N1 2XD Book a table

The Baring

the baring

JW Howard Photo

Given the number of excellent gastropubs in Islington, it takes something special to make a new addition stand out. And The Baring has it in buckets: it’s the first independent project from ex-Dabbous chef Rob Tecwyn and former Orasay GM Adam Symonds. Smartly pared-back and traditional in style, it offers refined Sunday roasts, elegant lunch and dinner dishes, and – not forgetting the pub aspect – an interesting drinks menu centred around sustainability.

Details: 55 Baring Street, London N1 3DS Book a table

The Pig and Butcher

pig and butcher pub islington

A rustic farm-to-table gastropub set over two floors, home to the best scotch eggs on the planet. The chefs behind this Islington pub have direct relationships with their suppliers (all British), so everything arrives at your table as fresh as it can be. They butcher their cuts in-house in the basement butchery, before sending them up to the tables – the sharing steaks (served with bone marrow and triple-cooked chips) being the pièce de résistance. That small, independent producer ethos extends to the drinks menu, too, so expect plenty of bottled craft beers, ciders, and small-grower wines.

Details: 80 Liverpool Road, N1 0QD Book a table

The Duke of Cambridge

duke of cambridge pub islington

Coming to you from the same team behind The Culpeper and The Buxton, The Duke of Cambridge is their first foray into Islington pub territory. This became Britain’s first certified organic pub back in 1998, and since the team took over after the pandemic, they’ve been doing the place proud. Enjoy dishes like courgette & taleggio gratin with truffle, or borlotti beans with salsa puttanesca, and wash them down with a bottle of natural wine, or one of the many craft brews on offer.

Details: 30 St Peter’s St, N1 8JT Book a table

The Drapers Arms

islington pubs drapers arms

Last but not least, and inching up towards Highbury, this gastropub tucked into a residential pocket off Upper Street has won legions of fans off the back of its excellent grub. The Sunday roast – ranging from forerib to share, to roast duck magret – is one of the finest in London, and just as enjoyable in the sunny back garden in summer as it is by a roaring fire in winter. The pub side of things is well looked after too, with a solid line-up of beers and ales on tap, and a great list of Old World wines available by glass, carafe and bottle.

Details: 44 Barnsbury St, Islington, London, N1 1ER Book a table


Feeling peckish? Drop into one of Islington’s best restaurants afterwards