One of the city's oldest inns, the Black Swan, Peaseholme Green (tel. 01904/679131), is a fine, timber-framed house that was the home of the lord mayor of York in 1417; the mother of General James Wolfe of Quebec also lived here. In front of a log fire in a brick inglenook, you can enjoy pub meals such as fish and chips, burgers, and steaks. This is one of York's "musical pubs," featuring live folk music on Monday and Thursday, jazz on Wednesday and Sunday, and hip-hop every second and fourth Friday, with a small cover charge starting at £4.
Situated at the base of the Ouse Bridge, a few steps from the edge of the river, the 16th-century Kings Arms Public House, King's Staith (tel. 01904/659435), is boisterous and fun. A historic monument in its own right, it's filled with charm and character and has the ceiling beams, paneling, and weathered brickwork you'd expect. Because of its location by the river, the pub can flood if rain is heavy enough. Expect a virtually indestructible decor, the kind that can (and often does) sit under water for days at a time. In summer, rows of outdoor tables are placed beside the river. Your hosts serve a full range of draft and bottled beers, the most popular of which (Samuel Smith's) is still brewed in Tadcaster, only 16km (10 miles) away. The ghost walk we recommend leaves here every night at 7:30pm.
On a pedestrian street in Old York, Ye Olde Starre Inne, 40 Stonegate (tel. 01904/623063), dates from 1644 and is York's oldest licensed pub. An inn (of one kind or another) has stood on this spot since A.D. 900. The pub (said to be haunted by an old woman, a little girl, and a cat) features cast-iron tables, an open fireplace, oak Victorian settles, and time-blackened beams. The owners added a year-round glassed-in garden so guests can enjoy the view of the minster from their tables.