The Kingston Hotel is ironically located just outside of Kingston in Griffith, 5kms south of the CBD. In the early years of Canberra's history it was illegal to buy alcohol between 1911-1928 and Canberrans used to travel over the border to Queanbeyan to get their stash. The Kingston Hotel was one of the first pubs to open after the law was abolished and has been serving the community for over 80 years.Thirsty locals and people from all across the region came to celebrate at this iconic pub in the social hub of Kingston. Today it is just as popular, with Canberrans affectionally calling this pub "The Kingo" and continuing on the tradition of having a community pub that everyone can enjoy.
The Kingston Hotel has a relaxed, family friendly atmosphere with plenty of outside seating to sit back and enjoy the weather. There is a large beer garden at one end of the building and a number of shady smaller tables that run down the side verandah. This is a pleasant spot to sit with a drink and a meal, surrounded by greenery and under the speckled light of the awnings.
As you walk into the pub, the decades of history in this iconic building surrounds you. There is dark panelling, bushranger art of the walls and a labyrinth of hallways showing additions that have been made over the years. There are three main inside areas to sit and enjoy a meal - Maddies Bistro, The Steakhouse and the Sports Bar.
Maddies Bistro is a welcoming dining area, with an extensive menu to choose from (see here) or pick from the selection on the Specials Board. Maddies Bistro is where you can really take in the historical features of this historic hotel, with two original fireplaces - perfect to warm yourself up by in Winter.
Maddies Bistro is open for lunch 12pm - 3pm Sunday to Monday (closed Saturdays for lunch) and 6pm - 9pm for dinner (Thursday to Sunday nights until 9:30pm).
The Steakhouse has pizzas, burgers, pasta, pizza, schnitzels and a variety of pub choices as well as the "Cook your Own Steak" option at the central indoor BBQ. See menu here. This is a popular area of the pub where locals can enjoy a casual meal with the enticing smell of steak cooking on the BBQ nearby.
The Steakhouse is open 12pm - 3pm for lunch and 6pm - 10pm for dinner, 7 days a week.
You can also order your meals from the Sports Bar next door and then play pool at one of the six pool tables available, or watch a game on the big TV. With Manuka Oval nearby, it is only a short 5 minute walk to the pub after a game to commiserate or to celebrate in the Sports Bar. The Kingston Hotel offers a range of boutique beers, draught beers, cider and rum on tap for when socialising responsibly with friends (see list here).
After you have ordered, you can sit where you like in this large establishment. On our visit, our family decided to sit in Maddies Bistro to enjoy a meal inside on a hot Summers day. With a Chicken Burger ordered at the Steakhouse and Bruschetta ordered at Maddies, we could enjoy something off the menu from both eateries.
Chicken Burger with grilled chicken breast, topped with bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, red onion, fresh avocado and aioli ($15) - ordered at The Steakhouse
Although we don't live nearby, we instantly felt like "locals" in this welcoming hotel and this is why people keep coming back time and time again. With friendly chatter and background music, this popular pub is a great spot to catch up with friends, cook your own steak or have a meal with the family. With such interesting history in every room, it isn't hard to imagine what this pub would have been like when it opened in the 1930's to thirsty locals, desperate for a place to go for a quiet beer and be part of the community.
With Kingston still a social hub of the Canberra scene, "The Kingo" is still going strong after all these years and will continue on for many years to come.