What is a Gastropub?: Definition & History

What is a gastropub?

What is a gastropub? A gastropub is a bar that also serves high-quality cuisine. Gastropubs, which offer gastronomy in a pub setting, have become extremely popular in recent years. Maturing palates combined with the effects of the recession have led to the growth of the gastropub trend. Chefs are now leaving fancy restaurants behind, trading them in for laid-back pubs with accessible price points so they can attract regular customers rather than sporadic diners who only come on special occasions. Learn more about gastropubs if you would like to explore the growth of this new craze.

Gastropub Definition

Gastropubs are part wine bar, part beer pub, part shot bar, and part upscale restaurant. You could think of a gastropub as a combination between a French bistro and a British pub.

High Standard of Food

When going out for a drink, most people order a plate of food to soak up some of the alcohol. However, as diners’ tastes have become sophisticated over the years, they expect to receive more than greasy, starchy, and salty “pub grub” when they go out for beers. Gastropubs serve a higher standard of food than you’ll find at your average watering hole.

Casual Yet Refined Atmosphere

Gastropubs are popular gathering places because they are comfortable, convivial, and non-stuffy. Boasting a casual yet refined atmosphere that welcomes foodies, winos, and beer geeks alike, many gastropubs serve local, craft beers, handcrafted cocktails, boutique wines, and culinary delights at a reasonable price.

Gastropub History

Originating with the Eagle in the 1980s

Gastropubs originated in Britain in the 1980s when the country was in the midst of a recession and many struggling pubs had to give up their leases. One such pub, called the Eagle, was taken over by two new owners who decided to keep the casual pub atmosphere but serve delicious, Mediterranean-inspired fare along with cask ales. Prior to that, little emphasis was placed on food at British pubs, and the pubs that did serve food, only offered cold, basic dishes.

Revving Pub Culture and Developing a Lasting Trend

The Eagle revived Britain’s dining scene and pub culture, and in 1991, the Eagle’s owners coined the term, “gastropub.” The first gastropub to open in the US was the Spotted Pig in New York’s West Village in 2004. From there the trend took off in large US cities like New York., Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Types of Cuisine Served at Gastropubs

Gastropubs tend to emphasize the use of local, seasonal, and organic ingredients in their cuisine. Some gastropubs put a unique twist on classic bar and tapas foods, while other gastropubs serve elegant culinary creations that are worthy of a fine dining establishment. Examples of dishes that you might encounter on a gastropub’s menu include:

  • Charcuterie platters
  • Deviled eggs
  • Gourmet burgers
  • Hand-cranked sausages
  • Fancy grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Fried oysters
  • Flatbreads
  • Pan-seared fish
  • Beef carpaccio

Straddling the Line Between Bar and Restaurant

So, what is a gastropub? To put it simply, gastropubs are trendy eating and drinking establishments that provide good food, good drinks, and good company. Straddling the line between bar and restaurant, the best gastropubs offer a combination of quality, comfort, and value. Not only do gastropubs have an extensive selection of drinks, they also serve delicious food made with local ingredients. Learn more about this major culinary trend to explore the intersection of fine food and drink.