The countdown is on! With just a few days to go until the next stage of lockdown easing on 12th April, pubs and bars across the country are dusting off their outdoor tables and chairs, installing patio heaters, putting up canopies and testing umbrellas. With outdoor, sit-down drinking (and eating) soon to be on the cards we can finally put away the picnic blanket and plastic mugs and look forward to enjoying a pint in a pint glass with friends for the first time in months. Kentish Town’s pubs offer everything from huge covered beer gardens to pavement tables for watching the world go by. Below are some of our favourites.
The Gipsy Queen
166 Malden Road, NW5 4BS
Apart from the five picnic benches on the roadside, which will be open for walk-ins, the big draw at The Gipsy Queen is its extensive and surprisingly secluded outdoor space at the back. Colourful strings of lights, painted wooden slats and sheet-metal roofing give it a Havana feel. The managers have taken the opportunity over lockdown to spruce it up, with a canvas covering at both ends and a new mural painted by a graffiti artist. There are heaters at every booth for those chilly spring evenings, and a big-screen TV will be set up outside for football matches. The pub is known for its rotating food pop-ups, and between April and June will be hosting Rack City Ribs. But our Vegbox vegetarians need not fear, there will be plenty of plant-based options like pulled jackfruit and cauliflower wings.
While it’s table service only when the pub first reopens, a mobile ordering app will help cut down on wait times. With about 800 covers already booked for the first week post-lockdown, it’s worth getting a reservation in early!
51 Leverton Street, NW5 2NX
On a back street just a few minutes from Kentish Town tube, the Pineapple is a firm neighbourhood favourite, including for a number of official “pub cats”. Outdoor seating includes tables along the quiet street and a garden at the back featuring big umbrellas, booths and patio heaters for all-season outdoor drinking. Ever since the pub opened its kitchen has been Thai-focused, with street food snacks like Tod Man Kao Pod (sweetcorn fritters) and plenty of curries and noodle stir-fries. In the past the pub has hosted a number of beer festivals, so you can expect plenty of exciting craft options.
The pub won’t be taking reservations, making it a good option for those of you who haven’t been organized enough to make a booking yet.
The Abbey Tavern
124 Kentish Town Road, NW1 9QB
In a prime spot slap-bang in the middle of Kentish Town Road, the Abbey Tavern boasts not just a brick-walled beer garden but also a bunting-festooned roof terrace. The food is classic pub: sharing snacks like patatas bravas and halloumi fries, and burgers including a vegan fried aubergine. The “Your Round” ordering app will mean seamless table service.
The Abbey Tavern is taking bookings for up to 6 people outdoors between 12th April and 16th May, then from 17th May to 21st June you can book for up to 30 people in the outside spaces and up to 6 people anywhere inside the pub too.
Tapping the Admiral
77 Castle Road, NW1 8SU
On a back street close to the Kentish Town West Overground station, you have to know Tapping the Admiral is there to find it. The fact it was named CAMRA’s North London Pub of the Year for three years tells you all you need to know about the quality of the beers on tap. Speaking of tap, the curious name derives from a legend about Horatio Nelson. After his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, his body was preserved in a barrel of brandy (or possibly rum). But upon arrival back in England, the barrel was found to be empty except for the pickled body, thanks to sailors who had made a small hole in the bottom of the barrel and spent the voyage siphoning off the liquor or “tapping the Admiral.”
Reservations for the pub’s cosy booth-lined back garden will only be taken for weekends, making this another good option for spontaneous weeknight drinking (isn’t that the best kind?).
Tufnell Park Tavern
162 Tufnell Park Road, N7 0EE
Housed in a big grey corner building just down the road from Tufnell Park tube, this spacious pub is lucky enough to have not only a plant-filled suntrap back garden but also a large outdoor seating area in the front, along busy—but not too busy—tree-lined Tufnell Park Road. The food, which has been available for takeaway during the lockdown, is Mediterranean-inflected, with dishes like Portuguese-style chicken, Italian risotto, Greek salad and Turkish-lamb pizza. You can match the Mediterranean mood with wines like organic Cava from Spain, Vinho Verde from Portugal, Picpoul de Pinet from France, or if you want to splash out after months of enforced lockdown savings, Barolo Riserva from Italy.
Front tables will be left for walk-ins, while reservations are being taken now for the back garden. Only limited spots are left for the first week, so best to plan ahead!