Once only somewhere you'd find tourists eating out, Covent Garden's fortunes as a foodie destination are now such that there's almost too much choice. Which is where our handy edit to the best restaurants in WC2 comes in. We've brought together the very best restaurants in Covent Garden, surrounding the main market and beyond.
Ave Mario is from the people behind Gloria and Circolo Poplare, and once again it's another hit for them. Expect no holds barred on the design and BIG food, like the enormous ice cream cake that they wheel about the room. Specialities here include a caviar section, massive cocktails and a veal milanese that's twice as big as your head.
Keith McNally has been big on the New York restaurant scene for years where Balthazar is a go-to place for both tourists and locals in the Village. He returned to the UK to open this, serving brasserie style food in an impressive dining room.
Popular from the moment it opened, Bancone's main event is its freshly cooked pasta, with the "silk hankerchiefs" being a huge draw.
The ever-popular Barrafina's Drury Lane outpost has a lovely wraparound terrace, making it one of the best in the group for alfresco dining. It recently rebranded as Barrafina Mariscos to reflect the menu's focus on seafood.
The Covent Garden Cafe Murano was the second of Angela Hartnett's diffusion restaurant range to open. It also features a shop and cafe next door where you can pick up freshly made pasta and sauce (as well a decent bottle of wine) to take home with you.
Originally set up in Haggerston, this fried chicken restaurant is a collaboration between Carl Clarke and David Wolanski. As well as serving excellent fried chicken - tenders, wings and burgers, they also do a mean line in sour cocktails. Not to mention the amazing Szechuan Aubergine, one of our favourite London dishes.
This wine bar comes from the same people behind the hugely popular Experimental Cocktail Club and this bar's sister site in Paris. Expect the wines to steer clear of the mainstream and the food to be a mix of seasonal British and French cuisine.
Condesa is a small tapas restaurant in Covent Garden with dishes inspired by both Spain and Latin America. Here you'll find a combination of Spanish tapas like jamon Iberico next to beef cheek tacos and ceviche along with plenty of cava and sherry, of course.
Following on the success of their Shepherd Market restaurant the team behind Kitty Fisher's opened their second restaurant on Covent Garden's Henrietta Street. They set out their stall as 'complex comfort food' and the always-on toastie is a good example of that.
After huge success with the original restaurant in Carnaby, Asma Khan has moved Darjeeling Express to Covent Garden. It's split into two - introducing an all-day deli alongside the main restaurant where the much-loved biryani and more is on offer.
The hugely popular Taiwanese dumpling restaurant arrived in London to serve up their famous steamed soup dumplings and lots more. The queues around the blocks may have gone, but the consistency is still there.
This is the original Dishoom, the self-styled Bombay cafe that propelled them to success. Now even bigger than before, you'll find small plates, inspired by Indian street food - not to mention bacon naans.
Eneko Atxa is best known for his Basque restaurant, the three Michelin starred Azurmendi. This is the London outpost of his more informal Spanish restaurant - but still with a Basque menu at the heart of things.
Flat Iron are known for bringing affordable steak dinners to the masses, but without losing the quality. You can get a really good steak and chips here without breaking the bank, all thanks to mainly serving up the affordable flat iron cut. Be prepared for a wait for a table at peak times, it's very popular.
This is the second restaurant from Virgilio Martinez whose original in Fitzrovia was a big hit. This Covent Garden restaurant adds a ‘piqueos bar’ - the Peruvian equivalent of a tapas bar.
Launched by the same folk who run the popular French neighbourhood restaurant Frenchie in Paris, their London restaurant has a French/British twist to many of the dishes - all with British sourced ingredients. Look out for excellent cocktails.
Adam Handling has brought his Frog concept from Spitalfields to Covent Garden. Expect a bigger, more traditional restaurant and some dishes unique to this location.
Located in the old Watney-Combe brewery, complete with original vaulted brick ceiling, this Hawskmoor restaurant looks as though it's been down this narrow Covent Garden street forever. There's also a private dining room for up to 14 people and a bar where you can pop in for 'a casual burger and beer'.
Often seen as both the theatregoers and the actors' port of call post-theatre, Sheekeys is a London institution. Best known for its seafood, including an incredible fish pie. A must-visit for every Londoner.
This long-running Covent Garden restaurant has moved from its original location, but somehow looks almost identical. There's a brasserie menu but made sure you order their excellent burger (it's not listed on the menu - you have to be in the know).
Lanzhou Lamian Noodle Bar serves up hand-pulled noodles in its location near Leicester Square tube. It's definitely the noodles that you're coming here for (stick to those), served up into the early hours of the morning.
This is from the same people as the original Le Bab - but it's a restaurant of two halves. Upstairs you'll find their next-level kebabs which are inspired by and are paying homage to great kebab houses. And downstairs is the hidden counter dining restaurant Kebab queen. This is a different beast altogether, offering a kebab tasting menu like no other.
This high-end Italian restaurant in Covent Garden has a strong focus on service and it's one of the smartest Italian restaurants in the area.
Mon Plaisir is billed as London's "oldest French restaurant" - with its current owners keeping it in the family since the 1940s. As you might imagine from such a traditional establishment this does the classic dishes very well.
This sees boutique US hotel group NoMad has expanding outside the USA for the first time and they've done it with style. It combines a world-class bar (the cocktails are truly excellent) with one of the best looking restaurants in London and became an instant hit. The Chicken Dinner is definitely worth a look and the bar is very welcome for an area of Covent Garden that isn't blessed with them.
The people behind the 10 Cases wine bar opened this, their second restaurant, just across the road from the first. The focus is on seafood, with daily catches on the board every day and the wine list is excellent.
Petersham Nurseries has opened in Covent Garden with two restaurants. La Goccia focuses on Italian aperitivo while the main restaurant is The Petersham, with the same approach to slow food cooking as the original in Richmond.
The people behind New York's infamous Pac Man dumplings have made it to London. The menu here is a modern take on Chinese dim sum with a few NYC influences too.
One of London's oldest restaurants, there has been a Rules serving food in and around this part of Covent Garden since 1798. Here is where you come if you're after history and classic British dishes, served well. The upstairs cocktail bar is legendary.
The Temper restaurant in Covent Garden is where cooking over fire is a big thing and you can get some of the best tacos, flatbreads, steak and meats in town.
Just near Covent Garden, this bistro offers a "small but ever changing wine list" and a menu that changes every day to match the list.
This is the sibling restaurant to the hugely popular The Palomar. It features food from the Barbary Coast of North Africa to Jerusalem and it's a solely counter dining restaurant, with the exception of the terrace.
Chris Corbin and Jeremy King (The Wolseley, Zedel) are behind this huge restaurant, designed by the late David Collins. It's in a super position for pre and post theatre and the cafe at the front is handy as well.
One of London's great, classic restaurants, the Ivy had a major revamp not too long ago. The changes brought in a new central bar area with plenty of counter dining spaces. The menu has a mix of classic Ivy dishes like the Shepherd's Pie and more contemporary fare.
From the same stable as Salt Yard and Dehesa, this serves tapas-style dishes in a refurbished pub setting. Their teeny Iberico pork and foie gras burgers are worthy of the trip here alone.
The Oystermen originally started up as an oyster-shucking pop-up but their Covent Garden restaurant is so much more. It started tiny before they acquired the next-door space and doubled the size. But all along, they've been serving up excellent seafood from a menu that depends on the catch of the day.
Tredwells was originally part of the Marcus Wareing group, but it's now owned and run by Chantelle Nicholson who has taken this "casual but informed restaurant" and turned it into a popular Covent Garden haunt with a strong focus on veggie dishes.
The best of Covent Garden
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