Classic pub food or "pub grub" is comfort food at its finest that you'd find at a pub or bar, but can easily make and enjoy in the comfort of your own home!
Dark, heavy wooden tables, soft lights glowing, a stone fireplace with a crackling fire, the happy sound of chatter, and the smell of a slow-cooked roast dinner. Step into a pub and this is the cozy atmosphere you're likely to encounter.
I've been to pubs in a variety of countries around the world and I have to say, personally, I find pubs in England are by far the coziest and most inviting. Heading into a pub from a back alley anywhere in London somehow always feels to me like I'm stepping into a scene from The Hobbit.
This area of the world has a long history of pub culture, and it really shows! The origin of the pub is traceable back to taverns in Roman Britain, and pubs have been described as "the heart of England". (You can read more about the history of pubs on Wikipedia.)
Because of the British history of the pub, I wanted to do classic pub food justice, so a lot of the recipes included in this collection are dishes that are traditional English pub grub. But with that being said, a pub meal has changed a lot since the time of its inception, and so I also wanted to include items that you'd find on a modern pub menu as well.
If you're a fan of down-home comfort food, bookmark this post!
What is a Pub?
Short for a "public house", a pub is an establishment with a license to serve alcoholic drinks that people can consume on the premises.
On the other hand, a gastropub also offers high-quality food in addition to beer. Gastropubs are essentially restaurants with a pub inside, or pubs with a restaurant inside.
What is Pub Food?
Pub style foods are the type of things that feed body and soul.
They include hearty home-style meals like slow-cooked meat stews and savory pies.
Snacky finger foods, such as beer battered onion rings, Scotch eggs, and golden crispy chips.
Satisfying lunches like Welsh Rarebit and Coronation Chicken.
And let's not forget pub desserts! Sticky puddings, fruit crisps and crumbles, and decadent milkshakes, to name a few.
Traditional Pub Food
These are the types of classic English pub foods that will keep you coming back for more. They range from snacks and appetizers to a full pub meal.
If you're a fan of bar food or bar appetizers, pub snacks are right up your alley! Think along the lines of crunchy, salty finger foods like onion rings, steak-cut French fries (which are called "chips" in England), and a variety of cheesy items, such as dips and spreads, many of which involve a good English cheddar.
Pub Food Side Dishes
I am of the belief that some of the best pub foods are side dishes! They round out a hearty meal perfectly.
Pub Lunch Foods
When you're in the mood for a satisfying lunch, pub style food is the perfect choice. Open-faced Welsh Rarebit is classic, as is Coronation Chicken, either served as a sandwich or on a bed of greens.
Pub Dinner Foods and Savory Pies
I can't imagine a cozier evening than heading to your local pub for a drink and a chat with friends and a hearty home-style meal. Savory pies are common, and so is beef or lamb stew.
After some pub grub and a drink with friends, who's to say you won't be in the mood for a little something sweet? Pub desserts range from light and fruity to decadent and chocolaty, so there's something for everyone!
Pub Food FAQs
What is a Snug in a Pub?
A classic "snug" is a small private area in a pub or bar meant to give patrons more privacy. It's typically set higher than head-level, and has frosted windows. Because of the additional privacy, drinks in the snug cost more money. Historically, the purpose of a snug was so people could avoid being seen drinking in public.
You can read more about a snug on Wikipedia.
Can You Get the Same Food in a Pub as in a Bar?
Yes and no. Traditionally, pubs and bars didn't serve the same foods.
In the past, pubs have leaned more towards homemade slow-cooked foods, like stews and savory pies. While bars typically served predominantly snacky fried finger foods and appetizers.
However, these days there's a lot more crossover, and you're likely to find many of the same food items available at pubs and bars.
But that isn't necessarily the case when it comes to drinks.
Pubs mainly serve beer (think lagers, ales, and bitter beers) and spirits (such as whiskey, gin, and vodka). Pub drinks are unpretentious, as pubs were historically community gathering places where people could talk while having a drink after work. They're the type of establishments where you're likely to find a bunch of locals.
On the other hand, in addition to beer and spirits, bars also commonly serve cocktails, and sometimes they can be quite fancy!
And of course, both pubs and bars serve non-alcoholic beverages as well, such as soft drinks, coffee, and tea.
For more talk of traditional British pubs, check out this post where I share photos from one of my trips to London!