The best pubs in Canberra

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Pub food

Cornerstone CBR is one of Canberra’s most recommended pubs. Photo: Cornerstone Pub.

Everyone loves a good pub feed, a refreshing beer, or simply catching up with mates in a laid-back environment. Being able to head to the pub for a refreshing pint or a satisfying meal is one of Australia’s favourite pastimes, and Canberra’s no exception.

Canberra is home to countless amazing pubs, in the CBDs and the outer suburbs. There is something for everyone, from busy and energetic venues to quieter locals, all of which provide our city with the priceless comfort of knowing there’s always a pub down the road.

Maybe you’re branching out from your local watering hole, or you’re visiting town and you want to know where to go. With so many options available to you, picking one can be tricky. That’s why we’ve put together a list of what makes a great pub, and a guide to a handful of the best ones Canberra has to offer.

What makes a great pub?

Pubs are simple and laid-back, always with something for everyone to enjoy, but there’s a handful of things that can make or break a venue. Here are a few things you can look for in a truly great pub:

  • Atmosphere. Whether it’s the good decor, live music, sports on screens, a nice location or a friendly crowd, your enjoyment of the pub relies on a lot more than just good food and drink – you have to feel good there too!
  • Good food. Just because we call it “grub” doesn’t mean it can’t be high quality! No-one wants a dry burger or greasy chips. Great pubs take pride in their menus, locally source their ingredients, and make sure that while their menu sticks to the classics, there’s still something for everyone.
  • Good drinks. What’s a pub without its drinks? The best pubs in town are the ones with a wide range of quality wines, low prices on the house beverages, and an interesting selection of beers on tap and in bottles.
  • Family-friendly. The pub is a great place to take the kids on the weekend if you don’t feel like cooking, and a great venue will be able to cater to your children’s needs, perhaps by offering colouring-in books and games to distract them, or by having a kids’ section on the menu to keep them satisfied.

The best pubs in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintained a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Dickson Taphouse

Dickson Taphouse

The Dickson Taphouse is a  classic corner pub with something for everyone. In the heart of Dickson on Wooley Street – where all the action is – the Dickson Taphouse offers great beer, tasty food, a friendly, warm décor, and live music and events. Guests can also shoot a game of pool or play darts.

Sit at the bar or cosy up in the lounge area or in a comfy booth. The Dickson Taphouse has over 100 beers to choose from and rotating local craft beers on tap which means every taste is catered for. Also on the drinks menu are plenty of quality wines and creative cocktails.

At the Dickson Taphouse, guests can book into the restaurant for quality pub snacks, including marinated olives, fries, meatballs, wings and more. The line up of main meals, some with their own gourmet twist, include burgers, fish and chips, and steak. Pastas are all made in-house and are egg free. Choose a type of pasta and then choose a sauce.

Fun special events include Trivia Night and daily Happy Hour. Weekly specials include a two-for-one pasta night. Live music Fridays and Saturdays feature local musicians.

The Dickson Taphouse is also available for function bookings, and has designed a special functions menu. Drink packages are available.

Simon Hamilton wrote on Google, “Great food and beer. New and interesting meal options added to the regular menu every week. Same with the beer ...”

The Alby

The Alby

The Alby, which spans close to 1,000 square metres, is Woden’s largest local—for dining, enjoying a drink, great food and fun games.

On the ground floor of the Albemarle Building off Furzer Street, The Alby was designed by Capezio Copeland and developed by DOMA.

Spaces include Bar Dining, a Beer Garden, and a Game’s Basement

The Alby’s Bar Dining space encompasses a bar, mix of low and high-top tables and a Chef’s Table, catering to any style of function. The central fireplace allows the bar and dining areas to be split, catering for smaller groups or creating a semi-private space without losing the bar atmosphere. The Chef’s Table brings guests together on one large table for a shared dining experience.

At The Alby, the expansive open-air Beer Garden is perfect for sunny afternoons and warm evenings.

Reminiscent of a traditional pub, The Basement is complete with timber ceilings. Three 85-inch tvs showcase sports and this space features Australia’s first Duckpin Bowling, as well as pool tables and pinball machines. The bar menu features snacks, nachos, tacos and burgers.

Check out the ‘What’s on’ section of The Alby’s website for the latest happenings. Gift cards are available.

On Google, Rohan Fuhrman wrote, “Great to see more decent pubs opening in the Woden area and livening the place up. This has a great outdoor seating area for the warmer weather, but also has a cool downstairs sports bar with pool table, modified bowling alley and pinball machines ... has a great friendly vibe. Will definitely be back.”

45 Furzer Street
Phillip ACT 2606
Cornerstone CBR

Cornerstone CBR

Cornerstone CBR, or “Gungahlin’s Pub,” is an excellent place to settle in for a beer and some classic pub grub if you’re up the top end of town. With regular specials and a featured cocktail of the week, as well as being one of the best places in town to watch live sports, Cornerstone brings energy, enthusiasm and quality to their service and makes sure you’re leaving impatient for your next visit.

As ‘Local Guide’ Tycho Petrie writes in their Google review, Absolutely great place. Great food and well-priced. The food was quickly ready, and the general vibe of the place was perfect.”

51 Hinder St
Gungahlin ACT 2912
The Old Canberra Inn

The Old Canberra Inn

The Old Canberra Inn is a quaint, family-friendly local with hearty pub meals, rotating Australian craft beer on tap, carefully selected wines and spirits, great live music and other entertainment. A living piece of Australian history, built in 1857, The Inn guarantees good vibes.

The cocktail list is exciting, and wines cover sparkling, white, rose and red. Beers on tap rotate. Non-alcoholic beverages are popular.

The Old Canberra Inn sources locally ingredients and the menu features something for everyone. Small plates include hand cut chips, chicken wings and sausage rolls. House specials are delicious. Big plates feature juicy steaks, yum schnitzels and beer battered fresh fish. The line-up of burgers is impressive, and each comes with chips or salad. Vegetarians are well catered for throughout the menu and all meals on the kiddies menu come with a fun ice cream sundae for dessert.

Entertainment is fun and weekly events include Jackpot Joker and Trivia nights.

The Old Canberra Inn also caters for functions. Choose The Schumack Room, a sunny indoor/outdoor area drenched in wisteria and surrounded by established gardens. The Kookaburra Room accesses the adjoining beer garden for alfresco moonlight cocktails and starlight beers. This smaller area is ideal for intimate dinner functions.

The Old Canberra Inn is family friendly, and pet dogs are welcome.

Matt Dent on Google wrote, “This place has an awesome vibe ... Super blast from the colonial past. Awesome live music, craft beers on tap. Plenty of space. Shade and cool breezes in summer and super warm fires in winter.”

Kingston Hotel

The Kingston Hotel, affectionately known as ‘The Kingo’, is one of the capital’s original watering hotels. With heritage rustic charm and an elegant, homely interior, The Kingo offers boutique beers on tap, live sports, well-priced food and a friendly environment. Enjoy two lively bars, two bistros and a huge outdoor garden seating area.

On Google, Paul Isaks wrote, “Great pub atmosphere. Private room available for group functions, which also doubles as part of the restaurant dining room. Excellent smart pub food.”

If you’re looking for more relaxed dining options, you might like our articles on the best gastro pubs, the best steakhouses and the best bistros Canberra has to offer. For more sparkle, our articles on the best restaurants and the best fine dining in Canberra may help. And, should you fancy a tipple, our guides to the best cocktail bars or the best wine bars may also be of interest.

Your experience with pubs in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you been to any of the pubs listed above? Did we miss your favourite pub in town? Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Canberra pubs dog-friendly?

When there is outdoor seating other than an internal courtyard or beer garden, the majority of Canberra pubs are dog-friendly - as long as you keep your furry friend on a leash and it doesn't cause too much of a bother for other guests!

Can I watch pay-per-view sports at pubs?

Yes, but not all. While almost every pub will have sport playing on a TV somewhere, it's usually the free channels that everyone has access to. However, some pubs in Canberra will play pay-per-view sports regularly, so keep an eye out for those.

Can I bring my kids to the pub?

Absolutely! Pubs are generally very family-friendly places - there's comfy seating, great food (often with a kids' menu), and since pubs expect that people will bring children, they often have colouring-in books and games to keep your little ones occupied.

What is craft beer?

Craft beer comes from smaller, independently owned breweries that make smaller quantities of their product and allow themselves to experiment with flavours and techniques in ways that larger companies can't.

Can pubs serve cocktails?

All pubs stock spirits as well as beer and wine, so yes, they can do cocktails. However, pubs tend to prioritise beer over cocktails, so if you're looking for a good cocktail, you should probably look around for a cocktail bar instead!

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Terence Druett5:32 pm 09 Mar 22

Moby’s at Kippax is the most friendly pub/bar I’ve been in in Canberra from interstate

canberrascout4:41 pm 06 Nov 19

Kingston pub has some great burgers or you can just cook your own steak… Jalapeño Burger is great IMO.

rubaiyat said :

rosscoact said :

Mysteryman said :

Antagonist said :

bunnycoat said :

Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

This might be the food served in a Melbourne pub, but that does not make it ‘pub food’. And I don’t think many of your pub foods would go well with a beer, just quietly …

I completely agree. If that’s actually what’s being served in Melbourne pubs, then they have no idea what real pub food is.

The market decides what it wants to buy or not. If frou frou burgers sell more than deep fried bog rolls then the market will provide the former. Don’t blame business for providing what people want.

You have a naïve idea of how the market works.

If it is an American franchise, the U.S. Congress subsidises their advertising and marketing in foreign countries and in turn makes sure that foreign corporations are blocked from doing the same in the States.

The corporations will deny advertising influences either children or the child like adults who pay attention to it, but still oddly spend billions on something that “has no effect”.

The larger chains and franchises collude with the malls and real estate agents to get favourable treatment and keep out competitors.

If a business still outcompetes the franchisers, despite their greater purchasing and promotional power, or crosses them in any way, the corporation will make sure things go badly for the competition.

If all else fails they will buy out intractable competition, to the point that that is actually the objective of many small U.S. start-up businesses, to become enough of a nuisance to become a take-over target.

Above all else the corporations will get political parties to do their bidding, with a few strategically placed “donations”.

eg Politicians frequently declare it will prove “impossible” or too expensive to change or include health labels or warnings or contents lists, or take years to “transition” to necessary requirements, despite packaging is constantly changed in size, material, appearance, design and text for marketing or one off promotions on short notice.

Thank you for calling me naive, insulting somebody before making your statement in response to their’s always makes them pay attention.

We are talking about counter meals here, want to stay on topic?

rubaiyat said :

rosscoact said :

Mysteryman said :

Antagonist said :

bunnycoat said :

Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

This might be the food served in a Melbourne pub, but that does not make it ‘pub food’. And I don’t think many of your pub foods would go well with a beer, just quietly …

I completely agree. If that’s actually what’s being served in Melbourne pubs, then they have no idea what real pub food is.

The market decides what it wants to buy or not. If frou frou burgers sell more than deep fried bog rolls then the market will provide the former. Don’t blame business for providing what people want.

You have a naïve idea of how the market works.

If it is an American franchise, the U.S. Congress subsidises their advertising and marketing in foreign countries and in turn makes sure that foreign corporations are blocked from doing the same in the States.

The corporations will deny advertising influences either children or the child like adults who pay attention to it, but still oddly spend billions on something that “has no effect”.

The larger chains and franchises collude with the malls and real estate agents to get favourable treatment and keep out competitors.

If a business still outcompetes the franchisers, despite their greater purchasing and promotional power, or crosses them in any way, the corporation will make sure things go badly for the competition.

If all else fails they will buy out intractable competition, to the point that that is actually the objective of many small U.S. start-up businesses, to become enough of a nuisance to become a take-over target.

Above all else the corporations will get political parties to do their bidding, with a few strategically placed “donations”.

eg Politicians frequently declare it will prove “impossible” or too expensive to change or include health labels or warnings or contents lists, or take years to “transition” to necessary requirements, despite packaging is constantly changed in size, material, appearance, design and text for marketing or one off promotions on short notice.

This is spot on the mark. Could not have said it better myself.

Holden Caulfield said :

rosscoact said :

Mysteryman said :

rosscoact said :

Mysteryman said :

Antagonist said :

bunnycoat said :

Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

This might be the food served in a Melbourne pub, but that does not make it ‘pub food’. And I don’t think many of your pub foods would go well with a beer, just quietly …

I completely agree. If that’s actually what’s being served in Melbourne pubs, then they have no idea what real pub food is.

The market decides what it wants to buy or not. If frou frou burgers sell more than deep fried bog rolls then the market will provide the former. Don’t blame business for providing what people want.

That has little, if anything, to do with the fact that none of the things mentioned are pub food. Just because people buy it, doesn’t make it pub food.

If it is served in a pub, by its very definition it is pub food. If it is served in a pub and doesn’t look like what you think should be pub food then you are the one who needs to change.

Yes, but only if the “pub” is a signatory to the International Pub Convention. Otherwise anyone could call their establishment a pub and start selling this ubiquitous pub food.

That’s true but the Pub Institute Superiority Statement (splitters) believes that International Pub Convention is a travesty in that it includes battered pineapple but excludes the twist of orange on salads

Holden Caulfield5:19 pm 13 Jul 15

rosscoact said :

Mysteryman said :

rosscoact said :

Mysteryman said :

Antagonist said :

bunnycoat said :

Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

This might be the food served in a Melbourne pub, but that does not make it ‘pub food’. And I don’t think many of your pub foods would go well with a beer, just quietly …

I completely agree. If that’s actually what’s being served in Melbourne pubs, then they have no idea what real pub food is.

The market decides what it wants to buy or not. If frou frou burgers sell more than deep fried bog rolls then the market will provide the former. Don’t blame business for providing what people want.

That has little, if anything, to do with the fact that none of the things mentioned are pub food. Just because people buy it, doesn’t make it pub food.

If it is served in a pub, by its very definition it is pub food. If it is served in a pub and doesn’t look like what you think should be pub food then you are the one who needs to change.

Yes, but only if the “pub” is a signatory to the International Pub Convention. Otherwise anyone could call their establishment a pub and start selling this ubiquitous pub food.

It would be really good to see the prices for these different meals, as that surely is a factor?

Mysteryman said :

rosscoact said :

Mysteryman said :

Antagonist said :

bunnycoat said :

Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

This might be the food served in a Melbourne pub, but that does not make it ‘pub food’. And I don’t think many of your pub foods would go well with a beer, just quietly …

I completely agree. If that’s actually what’s being served in Melbourne pubs, then they have no idea what real pub food is.

The market decides what it wants to buy or not. If frou frou burgers sell more than deep fried bog rolls then the market will provide the former. Don’t blame business for providing what people want.

That has little, if anything, to do with the fact that none of the things mentioned are pub food. Just because people buy it, doesn’t make it pub food.

If it is served in a pub, by its very definition it is pub food. If it is served in a pub and doesn’t look like what you think should be pub food then you are the one who needs to change.

rosscoact said :

Mysteryman said :

Antagonist said :

bunnycoat said :

Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

This might be the food served in a Melbourne pub, but that does not make it ‘pub food’. And I don’t think many of your pub foods would go well with a beer, just quietly …

I completely agree. If that’s actually what’s being served in Melbourne pubs, then they have no idea what real pub food is.

The market decides what it wants to buy or not. If frou frou burgers sell more than deep fried bog rolls then the market will provide the former. Don’t blame business for providing what people want.

That has little, if anything, to do with the fact that none of the things mentioned are pub food. Just because people buy it, doesn’t make it pub food.

rosscoact said :

Mysteryman said :

Antagonist said :

bunnycoat said :

Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

This might be the food served in a Melbourne pub, but that does not make it ‘pub food’. And I don’t think many of your pub foods would go well with a beer, just quietly …

I completely agree. If that’s actually what’s being served in Melbourne pubs, then they have no idea what real pub food is.

The market decides what it wants to buy or not. If frou frou burgers sell more than deep fried bog rolls then the market will provide the former. Don’t blame business for providing what people want.

You have a naïve idea of how the market works.

If it is an American franchise, the U.S. Congress subsidises their advertising and marketing in foreign countries and in turn makes sure that foreign corporations are blocked from doing the same in the States.

The corporations will deny advertising influences either children or the child like adults who pay attention to it, but still oddly spend billions on something that “has no effect”.

The larger chains and franchises collude with the malls and real estate agents to get favourable treatment and keep out competitors.

If a business still outcompetes the franchisers, despite their greater purchasing and promotional power, or crosses them in any way, the corporation will make sure things go badly for the competition.

If all else fails they will buy out intractable competition, to the point that that is actually the objective of many small U.S. start-up businesses, to become enough of a nuisance to become a take-over target.

Above all else the corporations will get political parties to do their bidding, with a few strategically placed “donations”.

eg Politicians frequently declare it will prove “impossible” or too expensive to change or include health labels or warnings or contents lists, or take years to “transition” to necessary requirements, despite packaging is constantly changed in size, material, appearance, design and text for marketing or one off promotions on short notice.

Mysteryman said :

Antagonist said :

bunnycoat said :

Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

This might be the food served in a Melbourne pub, but that does not make it ‘pub food’. And I don’t think many of your pub foods would go well with a beer, just quietly …

I completely agree. If that’s actually what’s being served in Melbourne pubs, then they have no idea what real pub food is.

The market decides what it wants to buy or not. If frou frou burgers sell more than deep fried bog rolls then the market will provide the former. Don’t blame business for providing what people want.

Antagonist said :

bunnycoat said :

Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

This might be the food served in a Melbourne pub, but that does not make it ‘pub food’. And I don’t think many of your pub foods would go well with a beer, just quietly …

I completely agree. If that’s actually what’s being served in Melbourne pubs, then they have no idea what real pub food is.

bunnycoat said :

Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

This might be the food served in a Melbourne pub, but that does not make it ‘pub food’. And I don’t think many of your pub foods would go well with a beer, just quietly …

Bec – delighted that you went to the effort to ensure the schnitty was given a thorough workout, right down to the correct sauce.

Yum! “impressive size” …that’s the best flavour! Eva!

The spicy BBQ chicken wings in Siren is a bit hit with Siren in Gungahlin

Bec Cuzzillo4:06 pm 12 Jul 15

vintage123 said :

Ye Ha. Good Stuff. Finally a dining review with some food on the plate, hot chips and beer. Good work Bec

Haha. Thanks! Let me know if you would like to see me review anything in particular in the future. 🙂

bunnycoat said :

Kinda hard to review pub food in Canberra when there are hardly ANY PUBS! Looks like you have mentioned them all, and the food looks like 1970s pub offerings that haven’t changed in 40 years. Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

Maybe Canberrans are too concerned with things that matter as opposed to what they eat after a couple of beers. 🙂 Actually those offerings sound interesting. Do you have any photos? I don’t even know what a braise is. Is real BBQ like steaks and sausages cooked on a real BBQ?

Ghettosmurf879:53 am 10 Jul 15

bunnycoat said :

Kinda hard to review pub food in Canberra when there are hardly ANY PUBS! Looks like you have mentioned them all, and the food looks like 1970s pub offerings that haven’t changed in 40 years. Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

There are plenty of pubs/clubs that do “traditional pub food” in Canberra to go to. To just list ones that I have been to this year: King O’Malley’s; Edgars, PJ O’Reilly’s in the City, Civic Pub, Hopscotch, O’Neils, Bentspoke, the Lighthouse, George Harcourt Inn, Old Canberra Inn, Walt & Burley, Kingston Pub (Hotel), Siren, Debacle & The Duxton.

There are also a bunch I haven’t been to for a feed recently or ever, such as PJ O’Reilly’s in Tuggeranong, Olims/Mercure, The Dock, the Durham, Uni Pub, Zierholz, Public, Polit Bar, The RUC in Barton & Turner, Little Brooklyn, Hogsbreath, Moose, Tongue & Groove, Suburban, London Burgers, Kaleen Bar & Bistro, Mawson Club, the Irish Club, etc

Then there are the various sports clubs around Canberra that also have a number of traditional pub meals, such as The Tradies, Ainslie Football Club & Gungahlin Lakes, Eastlake Football clubs venues, the various Southern Cross Clubs, Hellenic Club, the Labor Club, the Raiders Clubs, Vikings, Magpies & lots other little ones I don’t know about etc.

For a small city, there’s plenty of options. Or you can just spend your life being envious of somewhere you’re not…which is really productive

Kinda hard to review pub food in Canberra when there are hardly ANY PUBS! Looks like you have mentioned them all, and the food looks like 1970s pub offerings that haven’t changed in 40 years. Travel to a real city like Melbourne if you want to eat great pub food – current pub food trends are real BBQ, lobster and crab rolls, roasts and braises in the winter and asian fusion salads in the warmer months.

Olims Bar & Bistro at the Mercure Canberra on Limestone Avenue is pretty good for pub food. I eat there semi regularly, and the chicken schnitzel in particular is very good, and a very large serve.

They also have $4 schooners for several varieties of Scharwtz beer, the Scharwtz family apparently own the hotel, or so the staff tell me. You won’t get much cheaper than $4 a schooner.

Ye Ha. Good Stuff. Finally a dining review with some food on the plate, hot chips and beer. Good work Bec

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