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 past times, and Canberra’s no exception.
Canberra is home to countless amazing pubs, both in the CBDs and in the outer suburbs. There really is something for everyone, from busy and energetic venues to quieter local pubs, 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, as well as a guide to a handful of the best pubs 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 really make or break a pub. Here’s a few things you can look for in a truly great pub:
- Atmosphere. Whether it’s good décor, 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’ve got 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, cheap 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 pub will be able to cater to your childrens’ needs, perhaps by offering colouring 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 maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
It’s not often you can find a true English-style pub these days, but The Durham Castle Arms delivers in spades. With a regular rotation of classic and craft tap beers that will satisfy casual beer drinkers and craft geeks alike, plus a great menu of hearty pub classics (even doing roasts on Sundays in the winter), the team at The Durham prides themselves on delivering one of the most definitive pub experiences in town.
Facebook user Mick Neskes Hatzis left this review for The Durham, “A great place filled with character, great atmosphere, and the staff are very friendly!”
There’s room for everyone at this upmarket, modern “people’s pub,” with its youthful and energetic atmosphere and huge seating area – guests are spoiled for choice between the bistro, the leather booths, the high tables, the terrace seating and one of Canberra’s best beer gardens. Whether you’re for a tap beer, a delicious dinner or you’re booking an event, Assembly has something for everybody.
Facebook user Angelyn Bustos wrote this review about their visit to Assembly, “I love the food and the vibe! Coming here is always fun and service-wise, fantastic!”
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.”
Caribou Kingston has quickly established itself as one of Southside’s best pubs, and it’s not hard to see why. With its upbeat atmosphere, ample seating inside and outside, pool tables, sports on screens and an enthusiastic team of waitstaff, Caribou is an excellent choice for you next pub outing, whether it’s just you and a friend or a large group. From refreshing beers to delicious cocktails, plus a mouth-watering menu of shareables, pizzas and burgers – and, in true Canadian fashion, poutine! – Caribou promises to deliver.
See what ‘Local Guide’ Garry Pattison had to say in their Google review, “Food is absolutely delicious, I can’t get enough of their chicken wings. The staff and owner are amazing people and very kind, highly recommend Caribou.”
One of Canberra’s most recent additions, having opened their doors in 2020, Herbert’s has quickly become one of North Belconnen’s most popular pubs. With relaxed modern décor, excellent service, a rotating roster of craft beers on tap, and delicious food – thanks to the team sourcing their ingredients as locally as meats from the Evatt Butcher, breads from the Evatt Bakery, and vegetables freshly sourced from the Belconnen markets – Herbert’s is all about feeling warm and welcome.
Google reviewer Micky G writes, “Absolute hidden gem! Great food and beverage options and outstanding hospitality from the friendly staff. Perfect for many occasions – highly recommend.”
Opened in 1980, The George offers some of the best live music (performances on Thursdays) and tavern-y pub vibes in town, and with a dogs-on-lead policy located just opposite the lovely Cockington Green, The George has a great “unplugged” atmosphere to enjoy a tasty meal and drinks. With gorgeous outdoor seating plus an outdoor bar, a large indoor venue, and availability for functions, The George is an excellent destination for the family. (And not for nothing, but The George is one of the few locations in Canberra that always has Guinness on tap!)
As Facebook user Carol Choi writes, “Friendly atmosphere, the staff are friendly, garden environment, very suitable for family with children, and friends gathering too!”
If you’re looking for more relaxed dining options in Canberra, you might like our article on the best gastro pubs and the best steakhouses 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 perhaps 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!