While most of East London has become a home for beards and craft beers, Mile End and Bow are still proper old Cockney areas, full of geezers in local boozers. Victorian style pubs are the name of the game here and a surprising number of them survived the Blitz. Pop in for a down-to-earth pint in any of our pub gems below; a couple of them have even revamped their food and drink options to suit a more well-heeled crowd.
One of Bow’s most famed pubs, the Morgan Arms goes above and beyond when it comes to booze. There’s organic and natural wines, five local draughts on tap and a range of American and British bottled beers. Food-wise, it’s a mix of East End classics given a modern twist (Baked Devon crab with scrumpy fired oysters and fennel mayonnaise) and proper bar snacks like homemade Scotch eggs.
This sprawling pub in Mile End is split into a cosy, coal fired bar, a more formal dining room and a lovely large beer garden. A traditional beer spot, the pub does a fine roast on a Sunday and locals love the fish n’ chips on other nights.
A new addition to the area, The Victoria is a hipper take on the traditional East End boozer, throwing decks where anyone can play records and a coffee bar into the mix. There’s also a lovely courtyard outback (complete with fountain), a caravan turned into a kids’ playhouse and the staff are on the ball and friendly to boot. A fab place for a weekend afternoon session.
If you’re looking to step back in time go no further than the Palm Tree – the sole survivor on a street bombed during the Blitz. And little has changed post-war, the bar is split into two rooms (one seems to be more popular with regulars) both are bathed in weird red light and there’s jazz on regularly. It does have a canal-side terrace for the summer, or you can sit in the park and listen to the music.
The Bow Bells prides itself on being the heart of its community, it offers up stone baked pizza (often in deals with pints) and there’s a pub quiz which is always well attended. It screens the footie and there’s a load of local ales on tap.
A Young’s pub, this East End diamond sits halfway between Mile End and Bow and has seen it all change over the last 100 years. The décor’s improved for sure, though; this feels more like a country local than a gritty urban pub. Nowadays, you can pop in for a superior bar snack menu (lobster Mac and cheese, hell yes), Ploughmans, and top notch burgers.