The best English pub food
- Full English breakfast
- Steak and ale pie
- Steak and chips
- Fish finger sandwich
- Roast dinner
- Gammon, egg and chips
- Mixed grill
- Hunter’s chicken
- Full English breakfast
- Bangers and mash
- Fish and chips
- Shepherd’s pie
- The Ploughman’s
- Toad in the hole
- Scampi and chips
- Lancashire hot pot
- Burger and chips
- Chilli con carne
- Fish pie
Full English breakfast
The core of the community, English pubs are a place where families gather, friends drink, and everyone can enjoy a hearty meal. Whether you’re a steak enthusiast or enjoy a wholesome pie, there’s sure to be an appealing dish for you. Let’s take an imaginary culinary tour of these fine establishments. Here’s a look at the best pub grub the country has to offer.
Steak and ale pie
First up, the absolute classic: steak and ale pie. Combining two things many pub-goers love—meat and booze—this traditional dish is always a popular choice. Featuring a savoury combo of braised steak, beef stock, tomato purée, brown ale, plenty of seasoning, and seasonal veggies, the meal will have you salivating in seconds. Add a light puff pastry, and you’ve got a real winner.
Steak and chips
Rare, medium, or well—however you like your steak cooked, you can be sure to find it on the menu at many a British pub. While this classic meal can come with a variety of sides, chunky chips (fries) is the standard option. Back in 2020, the Great British public rated steak and chips as the third-most popular pub dish in a survey from Nisbets.
While the origins of lasagna are disputed, one thing is for certain: comfort food doesn’t get more satisfying than this cheesy, meaty combination. Layers of pasta segmented with beef (or pork), vegetables, rich tomato sauce, and béchamel sauce, topped with extra cheese—it’s no wonder that lasagna is a popular pub grub choice.
Fish finger sandwich
Once a quick ‘cheat’ meal, the fish finger sandwich has been transformed into a pub grub delicacy. These days, you can find the snack gracing gastro pub menus across the United Kingdom. Rather than serving pre-made fish fingers, many pub chefs make their own fish goujons, often served between two slices of sourdough with a drizzle of tartar sauce.
Call it a ‘Sunday roast’ or ‘roast dinner’… A meal by any other name would taste as satisfying. This English pub classic can consist of a variety of elements. Must-haves include a type of roast meat (chicken, pork, beef, etc.), seasonal vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, and gravy. Last year, Brits chose this dish as their No. 1 most popular pub grub, according to a survey from Nisbets.
Gammon, egg and chips
Gammon, egg and chips is the pub grub meal that has it all—meat, carbs, and even a gooey yolk to top it all off. Depending on the type of establishment you’re visiting, you may have the option to swap the fried egg for a pineapple ring or even some cheese.
Whether it’s a chicken tikka masala or a lamb rogan josh, Brits love a curry. Case in point, the annual National Curry Week takes place every October in the United Kingdom. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to see this dish on a list of the best English pub food. Plenty of pub menus boast at least one (if not, a couple of) curry dishes.
Meat-lovers rejoice! A mixed grill is every meat-eater’s fantasy. Typically featuring sausages, pork chops, steak, mushrooms, tomato, and chunky chips, this dish is not for the faint of heart, or the faint of stomach. Needless to say, the exact arrangement will depend entirely on the pub you’re frequenting. However, you can expect a variety of grilled meats, some carbs, and a side helping of veggies.
Hunter’s chicken takes the title of the fourth-most popular pub grub dish in the United Kingdom. The simple dish consists of bacon-wrapped chicken smothered in a tangy BBQ sauce and topped with melted cheese, usually cheddar. Served with some chunky chips and beans or peas, this comforting meal is one of the best.
Full English breakfast
Fancy a fry-up? No matter what time you hit the pub, there’s sure to be an all-day breakfast on the menu. You can expect the usual suspects: eggs, sausages, bacon, beans, hash browns, toast, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Delicious. Of course, since 14% of Brits are now eating meat-free, you can also expect vegetarian variations.
Bangers and mash
Creamy mashed potato, topped with quality pork sausages and onion gravy—it’s a dish made in pub grub heaven. Bangers and mash is a firm favourite on menus across the country. If you want to add something extra to this dish, you can always include some seasonal vegetables, such as carrots or garden peas.
Fish and chips
The second-most popular pub grub in Britain is fish and chips, according to the survey by Nisbets. The classic comfort food dish is exactly what it says on the tin. White fish in a light batter, served with chunky chips and mushy peas. Make sure you add a whole load of salt and vinegar to the chips and dollop on some tartar sauce for good measure.
Tasty minced lamb in an onion gravy, complete with chopped veggies and a topping of creamy mashed potato. Shepherd’s pie is the meaty, satisfying pub dish of your dreams. The layered dish frequently makes appearances on English pub menus and it’s always as wholesome as it sounds. Pro tip: add lashings of Worcestershire sauce for extra flavour.
Traditionally served on a wooden board, a ploughman’s lunch consists of bread, cheese, onions, and pickles. It often features choice extras, such as grapes, pork pies, boiled eggs, and celery. The original dish can be dated back to the early 19th century and gained popularity in England in the 1960s. Fast-forward to the modern day, and you can often find this tempting snack on pub and even restaurant menus.
Toad in the hole
Contrary to its misleading name, this next dish does not feature any toads. Instead, the pub grub classic consists of delicious pork sausages (i.e. the toad) cooked in a light batter (i.e. the hole). The latter is much like a large Yorkshire pudding. An authentic British meal, toad in the hole goes well with a side of mash, peas, and gravy.
Scampi and chips
Next up, the fifth-most popular pub meal in the United Kingdom, according to the survey from Nisbets. Most often served with chunky chips, scampi is the peeled tail of any type of prawn or lobster, most often langoustine. This fishy treat is coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried before being served up on a plate with any sides.
Lancashire hot pot
Unsurprisingly originating in Lancashire in North West England, the Lancashire hot pot is a hearty stew that goes perfectly with a few pints. Consisting of lamb (or mutton) in a meaty gravy, the pub grub dish is finished with a topping of sliced potatoes. Chefs make the stew in its serving pot, cooking it at low heat in the oven.
Burger and chips
Burger and chips may be an internationally-loved dish, but it’s a regular feature on English pub menus. A real crowd-pleaser, there are plenty of variations of this fast-food-inspired meal. Whether you want a grilled chicken burger, a cheeseburger, or even a vegan burger, there’s certain to be something to whet your appetite.
Chilli con carne
Packed with a light hint of spice and a whole load of flavour, chilli con carne is a popular addition to many menus. It may be inspired by Mexican cuisine, but some food historians argue that this is a wholly American dish. Whatever its origins, the English variation is a mild take on the classic featuring ground meat, a medley of beans, a spiced tomato base, and rice.
Fisherman’s pie, or simply fish pie, is a cheesy, satisfying dish that is commonplace on English pub menus. Usually featuring a type of white fish—such as cod or haddock—the meal includes a cheesy sauce or white sauce and a topping of mashed potato. Head to a gastro pub and you might find fishy extras, such as prawns or scallops, to boot.