Oxford is probably best known for its University and its significant historical past. For more than 800 years, the city has been home to royalty and scholars alike. Today, however, Oxford has developed into a bustling cosmopolitan town with a strong student presence. With this unique blend of ancient and modern, there is plenty for both visitors and residents to get involved in – and one of those things is going out for a refreshing drink in a good pub.
Like the town’s eclectic mix of old and new, the town’s pub scene comprises a variety of traditional British pubs, as well as some more hip and trendy pubs serving craft beers and international cuisine. So, whether you’re looking to sink a pint in a beautiful beer garden, have a few drinks overlooking the river, snuggle up next to a roaring fire in a 13th-century haunt or catch up with friends in a craft beer pub – this list of the best pubs in Oxford in 2022 has you covered. So, go ahead and discover some of the best Oxford pubs and make sure you’re all set for refreshments on your visit.
Is Oxford Good for Pubs?
Oxford is great for pubs, it just doesn’t make them that easy to find. Tucked down narrow streets or hidden behind secret alleys, if you want to find a good pub in Oxford then you better be prepared to look hard. To make finding the best pubs in Oxford a little bit easier, we have put together a guide of all our favourite historic inns, hip drinking joints, quirky taverns and country pubs. On this list of the best Oxford pubs, there is something to suit everyone.
The Best Pubs in Oxford
THE PERCH – THE PRETTIEST PUB IN OXFORD
The Perch is a stunning 17th-century country inn, located on the banks of the river. It makes for the perfect Oxford pub to visit after a leisurely river walk or a hike through the countryside. The exterior of the pub is incredibly beautiful, with a traditional thatched roof and white washed walls. Yet, the true highlight of this pub in Oxford is its spacious pub garden which boasts plenty of green, with willow trees dotted between the picnic tables and peaceful views to take in as you drink.
Being both a family- and dog-friendly pub, everyone is welcome at The Perch. In fact, with 800 years under its belt, this Oxford pub has been frequented by many well-respected individuals, from authors to poets and even Inspector Morse! The food at The Perch is another factor that makes it deserving of a place on this list of the best pubs in Oxford. On the menu you will find delicious dishes of Pot Roasted Oxtail; Steamed River Fowey Mussels; Ale Battered Cornish Fish and Roasted Pumpkin, Date, Wild Rice and Pomegranate Wellington. They also have a Sunday Lunch Menu, Vegan Menu and a Children’s Menu to cater for all needs.
THE PUNTER – THE BEST VEGAN PUB IN OXFORD
Those looking for a pub that serves excellent vegan and vegetarian food in Oxford will be relieved to hear about The Punter – the best vegan pub in Oxford. This unique vegan pub serves up delicious meat-free dishes using locally sourced and seasonal food. As a pub located right next to the river and with river-based name, you might be expecting this Oxford pub to serve up a predominantly seafood inspired menu. However, you would be mistaken. Not too long ago, this trendy pub in Oxford decided to make the move to a fully vegan and vegetarian menu, becoming increasingly attuned to the popularity of this lifestyle choice.
For those who aren’t vegetarian or vegan, the prospect of an entirely meat-free menu might not be too appetising, but we can promise you that carnivores and herbivores alike will welcome the dishes served at this Oxford pub. Choose from delightful vegan meals like Risotto with Roasted Field Mushrooms & Truffle; Mushroom & Lentil Burger; Thai Green Vegetable Broth; Bolognese Burger; or Creamy Burrata with Tagliatelle. Make sure you save room for a vegan dessert, with options including Chocolate Mousse Tart with Passionfruit & Mango and Parsnip Macadamia & Olive Oil Cake with Duck Egg & Bay Leaf Custard.
THE GARDENERS ARMS – THE BEST VEGGIE PUB IN OXFORD
As well as vegan options in Oxford, The Gardeners Arms provides an excellent pub that serves up some of the best veggie grub in the town. Simple but cosy, The Gardeners Arms does a brilliant job of combining a traditional pub feel with the more modern vegetarian lifestyle. This Oxford pub also features a nice little beer garden where you can eat and drink al fresco.
Although this pub is fully vegetarian, the food and drink served here is loved by meat-eaters and non-meat eaters alike. Choose from main meals like Medley Mushroom Pie, Mexican Chilli, Greek Salad, Kebab Bowl, Dirty Fries or Fully Loaded Fries. On the menu, you will also find a range of delicious vegetarian hot dogs – why not opt for a classic vegetarian hot dog or go wild with a vegetarian chilli dog with normal or vegan cheese. Or, perhaps you fancy a vegetarian burger? If so, this Oxford pub has you covered with their selection of topping, sauce and bread options.
THE OLD BOOKBINDERS ALE HOUSE – THE BEST COSY PUB IN OXFORD
Located in the lovely Jericho neighbourhood, The Old Bookbinders Ale House is a cosy pub that is a favourite with the locals in Oxford. Often considered one of Oxford’s best kept secrets, this welcoming pub is set deep in the heart of Jericho, just a short walk from the city centre. This Oxford pub manages to effortlessly maintain charm and quirkiness of old public houses, encompassing the rich history of the town. The family that took over the pub in 2011 have managed to seamlessly blend an old-timely pub feel and quality ales with delicious French-bistro inspired food.
At this pub in Oxford, authentic French food is the speciality, making a nice change from your typical pub grub. Tuck into quality French dishes of Coq au Vin, Pork Cutlet, Les Escargots and La Nicoise to name just a few. This Oxford pub also serves up a delightful selection of savoury crepes, including L’anti Cannibal, with spinach, grated cheese, mushroom, tomato and free range egg; and La Norvegienne, with smoked salmon, soft cheese, lemon, chives, baby spinach and creme fraiche. You can choose two courses for just £15 or three courses for £25.
THE JERICHO TAVERN – THE BEST TRENDY PUB IN OXFORD
The Jericho Tavern is the best pub in Oxford for good drinks and live music. A bit of an Oxford institution, This trendy Oxford pub has boasted past headliners including Mumford & Sons, Bastille and Radio head. As the name suggests, this live music venue/pub is located in the friendly, non-touristy neighbourhood of Jericho. The interior of the pub is painted a deep blue and is made cosy with comfy plush benches, hidden nooks and always a friendly welcome. Here, you can rub shoulders with the locals, tuck into some British pub classics (including vegan versions) and sink a few pints of ale, glasses of wine, bottles of beer or even some cocktails.
This Oxford pub offers a brunch menu, a main menu and Sunday menu and a buffet menu. If there is a large group of you visiting Oxford, we would suggest choosing from the ‘Sharers’ section of the menu, which offers plates of nachos, dirty fries, crispy squid, halloumi fries and mac n cheese. Or, perhaps you want to take a look at the burger menu, with delicious offerings including: The Boss, a double beef patty, cheese sauce, smoked streaky bacon, tobacco onions, sriracha hot sauce and a crushed hash brown; or the Katsu Chicken burger, with a crispy coated chicken breast and Katsu curry sauce. If you’re vegetarian then there is no need to worry as this Oxford pub has a whole selection dedicated to you – choose from a Beyond Meat Burger, Halloumi Burger, Vegan Cauli Wings, Pengang Curry and many more.
THE ROSE & CROWN – THE MOST COLOURFUL PUB IN OXFORD
Pretty in pink, The Rose & Crown is one of the most aesthetically pleasing pubs in Oxford. The pink facade of this pretty Oxford pub has made it one of the most instagrammable spots in the town. However, as popular as it might be with social media-lovers and influencers, The Rose & Crown is so much more than that – it has been a local institution in Oxford since 1836! Although rather small, this pub does have an outdoor space – a little courtyard that is covered for when it rains.
Food is served at The Rose & Crown everyday from midday to 2.30pm. The menu comprises a selection of traditional home-cooked pub food, plus weekly specials and seasonal menus. Mains include fish pie, sausage and mash, steak and kidney pie, chicken pie and even a vegan pie. Order your main with a side of chips, a homemade scotch egg or classic bread and butter. Although these classic pub meals are fairly hearty, make sure you leave room for dessert with delights on the menu like apple crumble, chocolate sponge and mint choc chip ice cream.
THE BEAR INN – THE OLDEST PUB IN OXFORD
The Bear Inn is not only the oldest pub in Oxford but also one of the best. Dating back to 1242, this Oxford pub is full of history and stepping through its doors feels like stepping back in time. At The Bear Inn, they know what is important – good food, a great selection of real ales and a warm welcome to both residents and tourists alike. Incredibly small but mighty, this Oxford pub can only seat a few dozen people inside. It can host a few more drinkers in its small outside garden where visitors can enjoy a pint in the fresh Oxford air.
The food menu at The Bear Inn comprises classics like BBQ glazed chicken, rump steak, beef burger, plant-based burger, shepherd’s pie and beer battered haddock. You can get your main with a side of battered onion rings, sweet potato fries, garlic bread, triple cooked chips or cheesy chips. Don’t fill up too quickly though – make sure you save some space for pudding, with delicious options including warm chocolate brownie, sticky toffee pudding and ice cream!
THE OLD TOM PUB – THE OXFORD PUB WITH THE BEST FOOD
The Old Tom pub in Oxford provides a unique experience that somehow combines old world English pub vibes with the very best modern Thai cuisine and makes it work. With bags of history and a quintessential ‘Oxford’ feel, The Old Tom is a local favourite and delivers something a little different to the usual traditionally English pubs on the streets of Oxford. This venue’s mouth-watering Asian food is what makes this one of the best pubs in Oxford, ordering in fresh ingredients direct from Thailand.
At this trendy and unique Oxford pub, you can snack on Thai tapas including Thai prawn crackers, Laab Tod (deep fried mince pork balls), Thai chicken wings, Pla Goong (spicy prawn salad) and salt & pepper calamari, Prawn Tempura Salad, Soba Roast Duck, Udon Mixed Seafood, Crab Meat Fried Rice, Chicken Teriyaki, Crispy Pork Belly with Rice and Stir Fried Crispy Pork and Basil. Or, go straight to the main course and create your own Thai dish, picking your favourite topping (vegetable, tofu, prawn, pork, beef, chicken, duck or mixed seafood), noodles (pad thai, pad si-ew or pad kee mau) and your sauce.
THE COWLEY RETREAT – THE OXFORD PUB WITH THE BEST BEER GARDEN
The Cowley Retreat has one of the best beer gardens in the whole of Oxford, with a spacious feel and rustic decor. With wooden benches and tables lining the entirety of this pub garden, it can seat plenty of people, making it ideal for socialising with friends, family and strangers in the summer months. This Oxford pub is the ideal spot to sit back, grab a drink and relax in the rustic garden. This is one of the best pubs in Oxford thanks to the many events that it holds, including garden parties, carnival days and other festive happenings – you’re guaranteed a good time at this Oxford pub no matter what time of the year.
And, you won’t be disappointed by the food either. The menu at The Cowley Retreat largely consists of traditional pub classics, served with a modern twist. Choose from their selection of delicious burger options, including The Retreat (classic beef burger with cheese smokey bacon, tomato, lettuce, fried gherkins and shallots in a brioche bun), The Red Beet Burger (a vegan burger made with a patty of red beet served on a bun topped with lettuce and tomato) or The Chicken Burger (a fried chicken fillet topped with garlic mayo, lettuce and tomato on a brioche bun). Why not have your burger with a side of chicken goujons or some halloumi fries?
THE RICKETY PRESS – THE COOLEST PUB IN OXFORD
The Rickety Press is a cool little pub situated in the even trendier neighbourhood of Jericho. Transformed and renovated back in 2015, this contemporary Oxford pub treads a fine line between modern gastropub and chilled neighbourhood hangout, making for a very welcoming, laid-back place to eat, drink and socialise. When it comes to drinks, this pub certainly doesn’t disappoint. Owned by brewery Arkells, it is no surprise that the beer here is second to none. Meanwhile, it also hosts one of the best wine lists of all the pubs featured on this Oxford pubs list.
As for the food, it is just a trendy as the venue itself. The menu features a range of unique takes on burgers and pizzas. From the burger menu, you can choose from delights like The Dodo (a beef patty with cheddar, pickled red onion, tomato, lettuce and burger sauce), The Dirty Bird (buttermilk fried chicken with dill pickles, tomato, shredded lettuce and chipotle mayo) or the Mushroom Man (crispy cheddar stuffed mushroom, chipotle slaw, pickled red onion, lettuce and burger sauce on a sesame bun). When it comes to pizzas, you can choose from options including the Chorizo Picante (spicy soft chorizo, dry cured chorizo, pickled chilli and crushed tomato), the Truffle Funghi (mushrooms, parmesan, white truffle oil and basil), or the Mr Melanzane (crushed tomato, garlic, basil, wood roast aubergine and parmesan).
THE HARCOURT ARMS – THE BEST VILLAGE PUB IN OXFORD
The Harcourt Arms ticks all the boxes for one of the best pubs in Oxford. Set on the corner of two small streets in the Jericho neighbourhood, this country-like pub does take a bit of finding – but that makes it all the better. Of all the Oxford pubs on this list, The Harcourt Arms is the one that feels most like you’re in a tiny countryside village, where everyone knows everyone. Informal and homely, you will instantly feel relaxed on entering this pub. It also holds a few music and open mic nights each week to liven things up a bit.
When it comes to eating at this welcoming pub in Oxford, you can expect to find traditional pub dishes served with a touch of finesse. Think pan seared salmon with vegetables, beer battered cod with chunky chips and mushy peas, BBQ lam burger, sirloin steak and plant-based burger. Not forgetting dessert, leave some room for the lemon posset, treacle tart or the dark chocolate mousse.
THE TROUT – THE BEST WATERSIDE PUB IN OXFORD
Perhaps one of the more difficult pubs in Oxford to get to, The Trout is located in the town of Wolvercote, just outside Oxford. However, it is well worth the trek up to this waterside pub, with a huge beer patio complete with the pub’s very own peacocks to provide some entertainment while you drink. The Trout is a stylish country pub steeped in history yet with a very contemporary twist. Situated on the banks of the River Thames, this Oxford pub provides the ultimate destination to dine, drink and catch up with family in friends. This premium pub even has links to some literary and historic greats, such as Lewis Carroll, King Henry II and Rosamund the Fair – so it must be good!
When it comes to the food menu, this riverside pub doesn’t disappoint. The top-quality menu features fresh flavours inspired by the current seasons. Choose from the main menu, with divine options like rack of lamb, pan-fried sea bass fillets & chorizo, candied root vegetable bake and king prawn, crab and chorizo linguine. The menu also comprises an extensive list of steaks, burgers and pizzas if you fancy something a little less fancy. Jumping straight to desserts, you can choose from warm home-baked chocolate brownie, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate orange melting bomb, apple and blackberry crumble or warm lemon and polenta blueberry cake.
So, that concludes our list of the 12 best pubs in Oxford in 2022. Hopefully, this guide helps you find the very best places to eat and drink when you next visit this historic city.