Hattie Lloyd 09/08/23
Think the restaurants in Covent Garden are there solely to cater to tourists? Then the only thing you’ll be eating are your words.
From kebabs at a hidden chef’s table to slap-up steak dinners, lively counter-side spots and a grand Central European-inspired cafe-restaurant that looks like it’s just waltzed out of Vienna, Covent Garden’s restaurants have so much more to offer than just pre-theatre dining.
So, whether you’re off to see one of the best theatre shows in London or stand-up at The Top Secret Comedy Club (though you didn’t hear that from us), here’s 16 of the best restaurants in Covent Garden that you absolutely can’t miss:
Frenchie is one of the best restaurants in Paris. So it makes sense that this second branch, nestled among the many restaurants around Covent Garden’s piazza, isn’t too shabby either. It’s brought more than a soupçon of Parisian charm with it, in the form of parquet floors, soft vintage globe lighting and smooth marble counters – a suaveness you’ll also find in the menu. Expect English ingredients incorporated into elegant French cuisine, like Cornish brill with pan-seared gnocchi, girolles and ceps; and duck breast with Mirabelle plums, apple, black pudding and sage – all with one of the city’s best wine selections to boot.
Details: 16 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8QH | Book here
Tom Sellers’ first Story was pretty good (after all, it only won two Michelin stars…) and his follow-up here in Neal’s Yard ain’t bad either: a more casual space where you can sit up on marble counters and watch the chefs go to work on racks of succulent rotating rotisserie chicken. Downstairs, there’s a walk-in wine cellar and a couple of plushier sit-down tables surrounded by banquette seating, coloured in a deep shade of red. That’s the other side of the story…
Details: 17 Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials, London WC2H 9DP | Book here
Dishoom Covent Garden
Every Londoner needs to go to Dishoom at least twice in their lives (not just for dinner, but for breakfast too). These Bombay cafe-inspired restaurants are considered more of a must-visit than many London attractions, and with the queues to boot – though at least you’ll receive a cup of warm chai tea for your troubles. The Covent Garden restaurant is the original don and offers up all the Modern Indian dishes that have taken the capital by storm – the black daal, bacon naans, chicken ruby – in a swish setting styled after old cinemas from Bombay’s 1940’s Talkies Era.
Details: 12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane, London, WC2H 9FB | Book here for breakfast, lunch & larger groups
Following up one of the most acclaimed restaurants in London (The Palomar) is tough. But The Barbary makes it look easy. All they had to do was pick a good spot (the colourful nook that is Neal’s Yard), do that spot justice on the inside (achieved via low-key, bare cement walls left from the previous tenants, and a smooth, zinc horseshoe dining bar), riff on the cuisine that brought their debut so much acclaim (here, it’s inspired by the Barbary Coast – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), and do it really well. Which, luckily, they have done.
Can’t get a seat at The Barbary? Head to The Barbary Next Door, located…right next door. It’s essentially a mini Barbary, where, sat up at the counter, you can feast on similar North African fare, but this time with sommelier-extraordinaire Honey Spencer (Sager + Wilde, The Mulwray) curating the wines.
Details: 16 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP | Book here
Blacklock Covent Garden
When your inner caveman is crying out for premium cuts of red meat and plates piled with charcoal-grilled chops, Blacklock will do the trick. The Covent Garden restaurant is the growing empire’s biggest yet, with waiters wheeling out porterhouses, juicy cheeseburgers, steak sarnies, Sunday roasts, pork chops and everything in between to its capacity of 110 hungry carnivores. If the selection is already triggering the meat sweats, opt for the All In, which gives you and a pal a share of everything for £25 a head. Do leave room though for their legendary white chocolate cheesecake – trust us, you won’t want to be sharing that…
Address: 16a Bedford Street, London WC2E 9HE | Book here
The Delaunay is a stately Central European-style café-restaurant that wouldn’t look out of place in Bavaria or Vienna, and comes with the food to match: schnitzels, tarte flambée, sausages, strudel… they’re all here. They also run special menus for the theatre, but if you’re especially strapped for time, you can always nip by their takeaway counter for traditional sweet and savoury pastries.
Details: 55 Aldwych, WC2B 4BB | Book here
Oyster spots generally shuck. But Parsons is an adorable, date-worthy little eatery coming to you from the team behind The 10 Cases (another great restaurant and wine bar, just across the road). Tucked away on Endell Street, it’s a little oasis in the madness of Covent Garden, with intimate, tightly-packed tables, beautifully-cooked seafood and plenty of wine to settle in to an evening with.
Details: 39 Endell Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9BA | Book here
Lahpet West End
A cosy, relaxed follow-up to Dan Anton and Zaw Mahesh’s hit Shoreditch restaurant, Lahpet serves up warming Burmese dishes like mohinga catfish chowder and moreish snacks sizzled on the robata grill, all alongside refreshing cocktails…
Details: 21 Slingsby Place, WC2E 9AB | Book here
Brought to us by the same maximalist restaurant group behind Gloria and Circolo Popolare, the team’s Covent Garden restaurant is a feast for all the senses. Three floors of outrageous design, OTT food, and strong drinks: it’s Italy on acid, and a guaranteed great time.
Details: 15 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8QG | Book here
Hidden away behind a floor-length, pastel pink curtain in the basement of another restaurant is, no doubt, London’s poshest and prettiest kebab shop. Well, technically, it’s more of an intimate chef’s table, with seats for just eight diners around a bespoke countertop (onto which the food is directly served). New head chef Pamir Zeydan will treat you to an innovative menu fusing Kurdish and Mediterranean influences, like dover sole and spit roast cağ (lamb) kebabs.
Details: Below Maison Bab, Mercer’s Walk, Covent Garden, WC2H 9QE | Book here
Bancone Covent Garden
If you’re looking for fresh pasta, this is one place you can bancone being good. It’s all hand-crafted daily, from silk ‘handkerchiefs’ with walnut butter and confit egg yolk to bucatini cacio e pepe, served alongside a small selection of Italian antipasti and a list of all-Italian wines.
Details: 39 William IV Street, Covent Garden, WC2N 4DD | Book here
Hawksmoor Seven Dials
Perhaps no restaurant has so rapidly become inwoven into the fabric of the London restaurant scene as Hawksmoor, whose second branch sits underground on a Covent Garden side street. You’ll find juicy steaks (Yorkshire Longhorn, sold by weight from the blackboard), classic cocktails (each one has a small biography printed in the menu), excellent sides (the fries are cooked in beef dripping, of course), and gorgeous interiors (it’s set inside a former brewery, with all the dramatically lit, revamped industrial features you could hope for).
Details: 11 Langley Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9JG | Book here
Cora Pearl was a renowned 19th century courtesan who accrued vast amounts of wealth, jewellery and clothing as mistress to society’s elite. And now she’s gone and got herself a Covent Garden restaurant, too. A follow up from the Kitty Fisher’s team, it’s an elegantly designed spot serving up a concise menu of Modern European dishes, and what can only be described as a super-chip…
Details: 30 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8NA | Book here
A glitzy, four-storey temple to New Orleans cooking, tucked down a surprisingly quiet side street in Covent Garden. Head chef Slade Rushing puts together a menu of fresh seafood, traditional gumbo and po’boy sandwiches in the verdant dining rooms, while upstairs sits a gorgeously plush cocktail bar and roof terrace, with live jazz every week.
Details: 13-15 West Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9NE | Book here
Despite being deeply polished and sophisticated, this is essentially the ‘Jeans’ label to Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred flagship, Murano. Which means for a remarkably decent price tag you can score unbelievably delicious Italian grub, in a totally date-worthy setting.
Details: 34-36 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7PB | Book here
You might know Rules as the self-proclaimed oldest restaurant in London. Established by Thomas Rule in 1798, it serves hyper-modern Asian fusion cuisine traditional British food. But it hasn’t made it this far by refusing to yield to new ideas, and although the menu involves classic game pies, puddings, and roasts, they’re throwing in new & inventive ingredients like pomegranates and dandelion, and there’s a top notch cocktail bar, too, where you can even attend cocktail masterclasses to learn from the best. This one literally made the rules for restaurants in Covent Garden.
Details: 35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7LB | Book here
Tucked discreetly away from Leicester Square down a little flagstone-paved alleyway by Wyndham’s Theatre, Sheekey’s decor is elegant and unfussy, leaving the spotlight to shine on the excellently sourced and prepared seafood, from melt-in-the-mouth stone bass with prosciutto, to razor clams served in their long shells, to the oysters they’ve been famed for since they opened in 1890.
Details: 28-32 St Martin’s Court, Covent Garden, WC2N 4AL | Book here
Barrafina | Drury Lane & Adelaide Street
Hopefully, Barrafina’s extraordinary reputation precedes it. If not, allow us to give you a very brief rejoinder… Imagine walking into a scleral-white, cozy eatery packed with stainless steel, marble and mirrors, and sitting down at an open kitchen bar where London’s most prestigious tapas team are plating up a colourful mixture of contemporary and traditional Mallorcan and Catalan tapas dishes. Then enjoy it all for real at either of their two Covent Garden restaurants.
Details: 43 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, WC2B 5AJ | 10 Adelaide St, London WC2N 4DH | Book here
Liked exploring these fine Covent Garden restaurants? Time to discover the best Covent Garden bars, too
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