East Dulwich plays hosts to some of the best pubs in the capital. We’ve compiled a list of the best pubs on offer in the area, the crème-de-la-crème, if you will. Whether you’re eating or drinking, we have you covered.
Best beer garden
The Herne Tavern
Your correspondent’s favourite pub. The Herne is a beautifully traditional South London pub with friendly staff, fantastic beers, and the best beer garden in the capital. Rumoured to have been the home to the National Front, the place now boasts a much-more respectable clientele.
Slightly off the beaten paths of Lordship Lane and Peckham High St, the pub sits at the base of Peckham Rye, perfect for a well-deserved beer after a long weekend stroll in the sunshine. Dogs are very welcome.
Though a little on the pricier side (a fiver for a Fosters), its authenticity and charm make it hugely popular with the locals. As soon as the sun even hints at coming out to play, you can rest assured that all 7,000 square feet of the leafy sun trap will be bursting with revellers. There are more picnic tables than you can shake a stick at, and even a barn to rent out for functions. When the sun sets, gas heaters provide some much-needed warmth and laced fairy lights enclose the atmosphere. It’s a really special space which you must visit.
Food is brilliantly British and well-priced at just under £15 for a very substantial main course. The pub quiz is also something of a local legend, the prize was unclaimed for so long that it sat at an eye-watering £800 in April, 2019. Winner of the quiz or not, visitors are sure to leave richer than they arrived.
The East Dulwich Tavern (EDT)
The EDT comes alive on a Sunday afternoon. Picture the scene, a sea of blue and pink spilling into the surrounding streets as the Dulwich Hamlets fans discuss their darling team’s performance at Champion Hill over a pint of Hamlet Pale Ale.
Inside, the pub is divided into two clear sections. The front is for the beer drinkers, its stripped-back and hosts the rowdier twenty-somethings crowd. Further towards the back lies a room which is decorated like a haberdashery, perfect for slow Sundays and nesting in for a hearty pub meal. The food is excellent, reasonably priced, and caters well to vegetarians.
Best Sunday roast
The Cherry Tree
Just go in and have one. Whole chickens arrive beautifully crisped in a rustic roasting tray. Roasted potatoes pour over onto the wooden tables.
The Cheery Tree’s façade aptly describes the place, it is luscious, slightly decadent, and wouldn’t appear out of place in Cheshire. Beers here are largely upmarket lagers, hugely enjoyable in the spacious beer garden which lies at the back of the pub. The crowd here is refined, even on match days.
Watsons General Telegraph
Take a look at the beer menu and you’ll know what we’re talking about. Watsons General Telegraph is a very interesting space just up the road from the Herne Tavern. It’s worth the short walk.
Home to another great beer garden, Watsons General keep theirs covered by a vast tepee with comfy sofas sprawled around convivial fire pits. Djs are often heard spinning tracks in this area, adding to the festival feel.
Check out the bottomless burger bingo on the last Thursday of every month, it’s wild.
Best places to eat
Described as the gourmet sibling of The Herne, The Palmerston lies at the heart of Lordship Lane. Its reputation as the place to eat in East Dulwich is sacrosanct. A divine menu and wainscoted interior make the pub ideal for convivial family meals and special occasions.
We love the branded plates, which feature a silhouetted profile of the pub’s 19th century reformist namesake. A-la-carte entrees start at around £17, but we haven’t heard anybody complaining. The food is genuinely fantastic, more so than a typical gastro experience could ever offer. Vegetarians may leave feeling slightly ill-catered for.
Two pints of Timothy Taylors and a bowl of nuts checks in at £10, fine value for the capital.
On the whole, quite probably the best place to eat in East Dulwich. Tables can be filled months in advance. But hurry, the pub closes its doors for good on June 3rd. We shall mourn its closure.
Best for watching the football
Plenty of big screens line the walls of The Actress. Wood fired pizza blends with cheers from football fans to fill the air inside. Sitting just off Lordship Lane and ten minutes walking distance from East Dulwich train station, the pub is a great place to watch the football in East Dulwich.
If you’re after something more rowdy, take a look at our guide to the New Cross pub crawl. Lying slightly to the East, New Cross is young, coarse, and lively.