The Star of Bethnal Green
Shining bright is this friendly boozer which deals largely in decent pub fare (including our favourite combo of Sunday Roast and Bloody Mary) and an eclectic evening roster of entertainment. Expect DJ sets, disco nights, LGBT affairs, karaoke sing-alongs and a Tuesday pub quiz which has been voted one of the best around. You get extra points for dancing during the music round, apparently.
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The Hemingford Arms
The Hemingford Arms is a big mashup of lots of pubs around London, flung into one. You've got standard London pub comforts like old red leather couches and a small selection of ales, mixed in with a Thai-only menu and random car boot sale trinkets hanging off the walls. Where this pub really comes into its own is the live events. Music ranges from blue grass on Mondays to Irish on Fridays, there are open mic nights, pub quizzes, and a backup of live sports on the TVs. Tidy.
The Red Lion Leytonstone
The Red Lion is a cracking boozer, filled with a cross section of the community and all different ages. It had us falling in love with pub culture all over again. Chew the ear off a hardened regular and you’ll likely hear tales of The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin playing the upstairs ballroom. But screw the past, there’s still plenty goings on these days to keep us curious. By day freelancers and young mums gather on sofas and in nooks. But by night the pub fills with punters turning up for one of the events. From free cinema and quizzes to garage and northern soul nights, this lot have your monthly calendar sorted. They even have an all day hip hop festival in the summer - where local artists graffiti the walls anew each year. Good British grub, board games, bloody marys, table football, kids' dance classes... it's less of a pub and more the heart of Leytonstone.
Cutty Sark Tavern
If it’s a "ye olde" pub your after, The Cutty Sark doesn’t mess around. This is what you called a Tavern. Yes, the food here bangs pretty hard, but we don’t want to waste too much time talking about that because this beautifully-preserved Georgian pub is like a time capsule from the 18th century and it’s not even very touristy. Score. Test your wits at the Cutty Pub Quiz on Wednesdays at 8pm.
The Swimmer at the Grafton Arms
Up Holloway ways is this classic pub. It's a locals' pub and there's nothing too exceptional about it but it's well worth a visit for the friendly, old man pub vibes alone. Regulars prop up the dark wooden bar and a chef cooks up simple pub grub from an open kitchen. Sink an ale and a plate of steak and chips and warm your feetsies by the open fire.