Here in the U.S., if you say you are taking your kids to the local pub, you are likely to be greeted with dirty looks and a sign that reads, “21 and over.” In London, however, dining at a local pub is not only a right of passage into everyday London life, but an economical way to eat your way through this popular and expensive European city as a family.
On our last family trip to London, we made sure to enjoy a few pints and several meals at the local pubs near our hotel. This helped us not only immerse ourselves into the local scene, but was a great way to save money eating out. There is a pub on every corner (literally), from traditional local pubs to modern gastropubs, serving full restaurant menus inside the traditional pub establishment. Dining at local London pubs gave us a chance to sample a few British brews, and introduce the kids to traditional British foods, such as fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd’s pie. And it didn’t require a large withdrawal from their college funds to pay for meals they typically wouldn’t touch.
But like any new travel experience, it is all about how you prepare your kids for the journey. Here are a few dos and don’ts we learned about eating at London pubs with kids during our visit.
Viewfinder Tip: DO learn the basics of dining out at London Pubs with kids to make the experience enjoyable for all!
DO your homework on which London pubs are kid-friendly. UrbanSpoon has a list of kid-friendly London pubs to start your search.
DO ask your hotel concierge to suggest a few local pubs that serve great food and are welcoming to families.
DO consider ordering a pub sampler to start the kids off slow trying new foods. When in doubt, simple dishes such as fish and chips are always a popular choice.
DO select one local food on the menu that you’ve never tried as a family. We have a one bite rule: always try one bite before you turn your nose up at a food.
DON’T walk into a packed pub full of businessmen overflowing outside. Chances are while the brews may be good, the bartender and staff will have little time, or patience to serve your brood a lovely meal.
DON’T plan to hang out with the family for a leisurely late-night dinner past 7:00 p.m. Fellow Viewfinder Matt Villano, who recently lived in London with his wife and two kids for several months, recommends an early dinner with younger kids before many pubs turn into adult-only venues.
DON’T be in a big hurry to get your food. In our experience, it took no time to get our pints and drinks, but our food order took a little longer. Make sure to bring things to keep the kids busy, like a deck of cards or coloring pages and crayons.
Not sure where to start your search? The Nicholson’s chain of pubs can be a good option. The King’s Head Pub in Mayfair, London, a Nicholson’s pub, was the home for our Expedia Viewfinder family lunch with the Villano clan and even had a cozy corner upstairs to pack in our brood of 3 adults and 4 children.