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.
Keith McNally, an English ex-pat, is big on the New York restaurant scene 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 a spectacular room.
Popular from the moment it opened, Bancone's key attraction is its head chef who trained in Locanda Locatelli who's behind those amazing 10-hour cooked ragus.
The ever-popular Barrafina's Drury Lane outpost has a lovely wraparound terrace, giving it an alfresco edge over the Adelaide Street and Dean Street branches.
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, with George Barson in charge of the menu.
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. 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.
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.
Located in the old Watney-Combe brewery, complete with original vaulted brick ceiling, the new 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.
The second Jidori, follows in the footsteps of the popular Dalston original. So you'll find yakitori and other Japanese treats are at the heart of the menu. Plus, if you're in the mood, head to the basement for sake and karaoke.
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 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.
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 comes from Paulo De Tarso and Nicolas Jaouën, who both have a strong pedigree in the London restaurant scene. With them in charge, the service is top notch and it's one of the smartest Italian restaurants in the area.
The first follow up to MEATliquor is more of a convenience food affair. Here they serve up their classic burgers and hot dogs, alcoholic milk shakes, soft serve developed with Ice Cream Union, and the option for take out if you can't grab a table.
Mon Plasir 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.
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.
This is Neil Rankin's temper restaurant in Covent Garden 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.
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.
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.
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.
The best of Covent Garden
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