There are several streets in York’s centre that mix the city’s deep historic interest with bundles of modern amenities. Centuries old relics sit alongside architectural updates from various eras, and ancient stories mingle with progressive happenings all over town. One such spot is the accurately named Castlegate, an important thoroughfare within the city walls that leads to York Castle.
Notable buildings here keep the area’s significant past at the forefront, going back a thousand years; but the street is far from stuck there, as it provides amply for the crowds of York’s visitors and locals passing by, particularly those looking for a satisfying drinking stop off. These pubs and bars will help pour you a pint or few near Castlegate…
A couple of strong and handsome buildings making an impact on Castlegate date back to the 18th century, with Castlegate House and Fairfax House oozing Georgian character from when they were originally private residences for City Recorder Peter Johnson and daughter of Viscount Fairfax, Anne, respectively. This era can be celebrated in nearby pubs The Three Tuns and The Blue Boar, both stretching back even further, to the early 1700s.
The Blue Boar is situated on Castlegate itself, and proudly showcases the old days whilst enjoying the new. The vaulted cellars here lay claim to being the resting place of the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin, a grizzly visit that is made rather more pleasant by today’s surroundings. Indeed, the pub is one of comfort, evident in the food, the drink and the atmosphere.
There’s homemade pub grub from local suppliers such as Swain’s Butchers, there’s occasional live music downstairs, and most importantly, there’s well kept cask ales from the likes of popular Yorkshire brewers Timothy Taylor.
Similarly, The Three Tuns exudes history, all old beams and wonky angles adding to the quirky charm. The snug dark wooded interior cosies punters in to a friendly unpretentious vibe, that livens up plenty for their weekly Wednesday quiz. A crowd-pleasing food menu of classics is regularly gobbled up, and the bar is lined with well known hand pulled beers such as Hobgoblin, Bombardier and Pedigree, whilst those opting out of an ale can opt in for a York Gin.
A little further along will take you to The King’s Arms, a well visited pub, in part due to its location over the River Ouse, and also thanks to the favourable prices. This is a Sam Smith’s boozer, renowned for serving their own range of beers that pleases the purse strings, including standard and organic lagers, stout and cider, and keg and cask bitters, all brewed down the road in Tadcaster. The outside benches by the water make for a scenic spot to sup, though the indoor flood markings are an intriguing reminder of the numerous overflows that have hit The King’s Arms over the years.
The area’s blend of generations is evident in both the famous Jorvik Centre on Coppergate, teaching all ages about Vikings, and St Mary’s Church, where parts go back to 1020, and is now a marvellous modern art centre. Bringing things right up to date, there are a couple of Castlegate bars that are less steeped in history but equally attractive: Pairings Wine Bar and The Nook.
Pairings was opened by wine expert sisters and has established itself as a perfect place for an evening of sophisticated relaxation. The cocktails are classy and the wine list is wonderfully selected, with the name a nod to their help in pairing both you with the right drink, and it with complementing food. All of which doesn’t mean you can’t call in for a pleasing pint, as whilst the beers may not be on draught, the bottles and cans are faultless and local, including from the city’s own Treboom Brewery and Brew York.
Another independent gem that has brought a contemporary European feel to the area whilst keeping things local is The Nook. This small and understated cranny is a soothing social that serves ethically aware soft drinks and locally roasted coffees, as well as a fine booze menu and eclectic street food. Yorkshire ingredients travel the world to make up the latter, a mix of small plates, specials, tacos, burgers and bao buns.
All washed down with a thoughtful choice of drinks, from natural wines and inventive cocktails to a fridge full of craft beers by ace micro-brewers from all over the UK, travelling between Verdant down in Cornwall and Turning Point right here in York.
Wherever it’s come from, the beer on Castlegate is making the area a rising spot to stop for a rousing pint.