Finding the perfect pub lunch can be a real struggle a lot of the time.
You’ve finally worked out the optimum number of pints to have with your meal, only to find the first five places you try leave you unfulfilled food-wise.
Fear not, though. We’ve done the grunt work for you and figured out where you should go for those long Friday lunches.
You know, the ones that begin as just a quick half hour and end with you smoking outside at 4pm and wondering whether it’s even worth going back to the office before the end of the day. You can take care of those emails over the weekend, anyway. You won’t, but you theoretically could if you weren’t so sure you’re going to wind up with one of those three-day hangovers that you didn’t even think were possible back in your early 20s.
We’ve got three criteria for the pubs on this list: they need to be in London, they need to have a score of 4/5 or higher on TripAdvisor, and you need to be able to get lunch and a pint for less than £20.
If none of these are near your office, just book a meeting with someone who works nearby. A contact, a former colleague, your mate Joe. Honestly, no one’s paying that much attention on a Friday, just go for it.
Rosemary Branch Theatre and Pub, Haggerston
The Rosemary Branch only offers lunch on Fridays and weekends, but the menu is proper restaurant-quality stuff. As well as the classics like burgers and fish and chips, it does a good job of catering to vegetarian and vegan customers with options which they’ve clearly thought a great deal about.
The Italian Job, Chiswick
Halfway between Satriale’s Deli in The Sopranos and that place round the corner that you went to a pub quiz at once years ago before it got all fancy, The Italian Job has three venues serving cold cuts, Italian tapas and Italian-inspired burgers. Get all three if you’re feeling extravagant, but a gourmet burger and a craft beer or a glass of good Italian red will get you change from a 20.
All Inn One, Forest Hill
Hidden away in the depths of zone 3 (yeah, we’ve changed, deal with it), All Inn One is a pub with a rotating cast of guest kitchens, including street food pop-ups specialising in East Indian, Latin American and Eastern European cuisine. All along with a selection of real ales and craft beers.
The Island Queen, Islington
One of those pubs which is much bigger than it appears from the outside, The Island Queen represents the type of Islington people talk about when they want to pass Jeremy Corbyn off as a champagne socialist, even though it’s not in his constituency. A spacious club with a lovely outside area, a tidy main menu and a creative selection of beef, chicken and veggie burgers.
The Green, Clerkenwell
Located in the nice part of Clerkenwell, The Green is often pretty packed during lunchtime so it’s definitely one to book if you’re planning on getting a spot and staying there for as long as the afternoon allows. A limited menu of mains is complemented with top-notch bar snacks, as well as local and continental beers.
The Cherry Tree, Dulwich
Anyone who has stopped off for a pint on their way to a Dulwich Hamlet game will be familiar with The Cherry Tree, which is one of those massive pubs you only get in parts of London where people actually live in, rather than the office-heavy inner city. Burgers, sharing boards and standard pub fare are on offer. It’s not too expensive, because it’s in Dulwich, and there’s a solid wine list on top of the beers, because it’s in Dulwich.
The Anglesea Arms, South Kensington
One of the pricier options here, you’ll need to be a little more selective to keep your meal under £20 but it can be done. Fish and chips and a double cheeseburger are among the options available for under £14, while even Kensington prices will keep your bill under 20 when you add a pint into the mix. Obviously, if you do want to push the boat out, there’s always the option of aged Scottish rib-eye for £26.
The Leconfield, Stoke Newington
Another to only offer lunch on Fridays or weekends, the Leconfield is one of a number of cracking pubs within a relatively small area. Choose from small plates like pork belly bites with chilli caramel and beef croquettes with horseradish mayo or… slightly larger plates. Look out for the ever-changing guest ales, too.
The White Horse, Brixton
You’ve probably found yourself at The White Horse for Friday night drinks and not even realised it’s a food pub during the day, but yeah, it’s not bad at that too. Grab yourself a steak sarnie and a pint – hell, two pints if you want – and you’ll still come in under budget.
The Royal Oak, Marylebone
Any pub that offers bacon jam is high up on our list. When it’s also in the heart of central London, a short walk from Baker Street station, it’s even better. The Royal Oak is split over two floors and an outside area, while you can even book out a meeting area if you expect to be there for the long haul.
The Hansom Cab, Kensington
A relatively new joint with a seasonal menu, The Hansom Cab combines classics like toad in the hole with more modern creations like lobster mac and cheese balls. You can combine your food with a selection of craft beers from some of the most exciting independent breweries across the UK, including Beavertown, Five Points and more.
The Snooty Fox, Canonbury
The mere presence of a ‘Pie of the Day’ immediately puts The Snooty Fox in our good books, as does its presence in the Good Beer Guide, so we’re onto a winner almost immediately. Expect a solid range of British ales, as well as other drinks for when your lunch overruns and you wouldn’t be bothered getting back up and returning to the office even if you could stand under your own power.
The Cask Pub and Kitchen, Pimlico
You can get burgers or… burgers. They’re good, though, and do you really need anything else for lunch? Maybe, but bear with us. It’s mostly about the beer here, with a daily changing list on draught and a range of literally dozens of bottles. Want a £5 pale ale? They’ve got that. Want a £50 sharing bottle of 16.9% Belgian stuff? They’ve got that too.
The Hawley Arms, Camden
Yes, you know it best for its live music and for its association with Amy Winehouse, but also… scotch eggs. And sausage rolls. And a comprehensive lunch menu for shaking off that hangover you got from spending all the previous night at the same exact pub. You can get a proper ploughman’s there, too, which is surprisingly rare these days.
(Images: Individual pubs/Instagram)