Think the restaurants in central London are there solely to cater to tourists? Then the only thing you’ll be eating are your words.
Here is a list of 15 great places 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, over in Covent Garden, 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 dainty 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: Open daily 12-2.30 (3pm Sun), 5.30-10.30pm | 16 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8QH | ££££
Following up one of the best received 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 The 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: Open daily 12-10pm (9.30pm Sundays), with a break in service weekdays 3-5pm | 16 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP | ££££
Hidden away behind a floor-length, pastel pink curtain in Covent Garden is, no doubt, London’s poshest and prettiest kebab shop. It’s essentially a highly-polished restaurant kitchen, with a small central bar. Here a posse of critically-acclaimed chefs, headed up by Manu Canales (previously the sous chef at two Michelin Star Le Gavroche) serve up the likes of rum-aged, spit roast Fesenjan duck and BBQ’d Foie Gras Kebabito…direct off the countertop.
Details: Open Wednesday-Saturday | Mercer’s Walk, Covent Garden, WC2H 9QE | ££££
It’s the debut London restaurant from lauded Scottish Chef Mark Greenaway – a special occasion kind of place, housed within a beautiful 18th Century Townhouse, serving exclusively a four or six course Modern British tasting menu that works as both food and art.
Details: Open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday | 3 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8LU | ££££
With ex The Palomar Head Chef Jeremy Borrow at the helm, it’s no surprise this pink and pistachio beauty – serving up picture-perfect Modern Iranian fare – has quickly become one of Covent Garden’s all time best restaurants.
Details: Nutshell is open for dinner Tues-Sat, plus lunch Tues-Fri and brunch on weekends | 30 St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, WC2N 4ER | £££
Floral by LIMA
Set inside the airy HQ of what used to be one of London’s leading stained glass manufacturers, Lima The Sequel’s serving up ambitious, colourful dishes largely made up of mysterious Andean ingredients which – unless you’re familiar with cherimoya and maiz morado – you’ve probably never heard of.
Details: Open daily 12-10.30pm (9.30pm Sun) | 14 Garrick Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9BJ | ££££
Oyster spots generally shuck. But Parsons is an adorable, date-worthy little eatery coming to you from the team behind The 10 Cases. Tucked away on Endell Street, it’s a little oasis in the madness of Covent Garden, with intimate tables, beautifully-cooked seafood and plenty of wine to settle in to an evening with.
Details: Open Mon-Sat, 12-2.45pm and 5-11pm | 39 Endell Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9BA | £££
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: Open daily 12-10pm (9pm Sundays) | 21 Slingsby Place, WC2E 9AB | £££
After a short stint in Kingly Court, Asma Khan and her “all-women team of housewives” have started bossing it in Covent Garden. Armed with recipes passed down through generations, they’re delivering their same homely Indian cooking, just in a bigger, better space. All of the dishes have been artfully crafted to complement each other in a big traditional ‘daawat’ (feast), which, at lunchtimes, can be crafted by you à la carte and at dinner comes in the form of a three-course set menu or – even better – Royal Thali.
Details: Open Wed-Sat, 12-4pm and 6-11pm | 2a Garrick Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9BH | £££
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, or course), and gorgeous interiors (it’s like stepping into the very finest restaurant the ’30s could provide).
PS: Can’t get a table here? Blacklock are now open in Covent Garden too, and they take walk-ins and bookings.
Details: Open weekdays 4.30-10.30pm (11pm Fridays), Sat 12-11pm, Sun 12-9.30pm | 11 Langley Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9JG | ££££
If you’re looking for fresh pasta, this is one place you can bancone being good. It’s all hand-crafted daily, everything from their silk handkerchiefs with walnut butter and confit egg yolk to their bucatini cacio e pepe, served alongside a small selection of Italian antipasti and a drinks list of all-Italian wines.
Details: 39 William IV Street, Covent Garden, WC2N 4DD | £££
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 dateworthy setting.
Details: Open Mon-Sat 12-11pm, Sun 11.30am-4pm | 34-36 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7PB | £££
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…
Details: Open Tues-Sat 12-2.30pm, 5.30-10.45pm, Sun 12-3.30pm | 30 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8NA | £££
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.
Details: Open Sun-Weds 12-10.45pm, Thurs-Sat 12-11.45pm | 35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7LB | ££££
Tucked discreetly away from Leicester Square down a little side-street 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 shell, to the oysters they’ve been famed for since they opened in 1890.
Details: Open Mon-Sat 12-3pm, 5-12am; Sun 12-3.30pm, 5.30-10.30pm | 28-32 St Martin’s Court, Covent Garden, WC2N 4AL | ££££
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…
Details: Open Mon-Sat 12-3pm and 5-11pm, Sun 1-3.30pm, 5.30-10pm | 43 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, WC2B 5AJ |££££
Last updated: March 2022 | Main image: Nutshell
Liked exploring these fine Covent Garden restaurants? Time to discover the best bars, too