A magnet for London visitors, Covent Garden is packed full of places to eat – but to avoid the tourist traps it helps to tap into some insider knowledge.
Buzzing with the excitement of the opera and theatreland, Covent Garden is a constant hub of activity. Talented street performers stop pedestrians in their tracks while the shops and boutiques that line the area’s central piazza add to the bustling atmosphere. No surprise, of course, that the district also has an almost limitless choice of restaurants. And with this many options, it can be tricky to pick a winner. So using our London expertise, we’ve picked out 10 Covent Garden eateries that won’t disappoint.
Best for fine dining: The Delaunay
Awash with sumptuous green leathers, dark wood, granite flooring and brass fixtures, stepping into The Delaunay makes you feel a world apart from the unpolished street entertainment taking place just a few minutes’ walk away. Inspired by the grand cafés of Central Europe, the all-day café-restaurant from renowned restauranteurs Corbin & King positively exudes elegance and refined style, drawing a steady stream of well-heeled patrons for breakfasts, lunches, afternoon teas and dinners. Menu staples include goulash, stroganoff, wiener schnitzel and tartes flambées.
Best for a date: Clos Maggiore
With its buzzing atmosphere and proximity to theatres and a whole host of entertainment, Covent Garden has always been a popular date destination – but Clos Maggiore dials the romance factor up to 11. Styled on beautiful country inns in Provence and Tuscany, its wood-panelled rooms, atmospheric candlelight and retractable glass roof make for an enchanting dinner spot, but it is the verdant foliage entwined around the walls and ceiling that are the restaurant’s real signature feature. The fine French cuisine provides more than a match for these delightful surroundings.
33 King Street
Best for a quick bite: Din Tai Fung
Back in 2018, when world-famous Taiwanese dumpling chain Din Tai Fung announced its first-ever London opening, the capital’s foodies were sent into raptures. The result? Round-the block queues of ravenous diners keen to sample their latest offerings of pleated, twisted and steamed dumplings. Gratefully, the restaurant now runs an efficient messaging service that informs you when your table’s ready, leaving you free to shop, amble or find a watering hole until you’re called up. Once seated, the food comes thick and fast, making it an ideal spot for a quick – but delectable – bite of authentic doughy loveliness.
5 Henrietta Street
Best for steak: Flatiron
In a city where you can order (gold-plated) steak for the price of a brand new car, the hugely popular Flatiron chain continues to serve as a reminder that to eat well in London you don’t need to break the bank. With branches across London, their principal offering of tender, well-marbled Flatiron steaks for just £12 continue to represent some of the best value-for-money food you’ll find anywhere in the capital. There are also daily specials featuring other flavoursome but inexpensive cow cuts, while the complimentary pre-meal popcorn and post-meal ice cream are (without wanting to confuse matters) the cherry on the cake.
17-18 Henrietta Street
Best for pizza: Pizza Pilgrims
So often do you hear pizzerias claiming to serve the most authentical pizza outside Naples that it has begun to fall on deaf ears. Sometimes, however, the assertion is backed up by hard evidence, and in the case of Pizza Pilgrims the proofing is in the pudding (or the dough, to be more accurate). Nestled between Covent Garden and Leicester Square, the joint has gained a city-wide reputation among Italians and locals alike for its delicious Neapolitan pizzas featuring dough made fresh daily and ingredients sourced directly from the mother country – including mozzarella, basil leaves and the almost sacred San Marzano tomatoes.
23 Garrick Street
Best for sushi: Sushisamba
With its fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, Sushisamba’s second London restaurant is city destination dining at its finest. Perched atop the historic Market Building within the famed Opera Terrace, it features a glass roof, spiral staircase, and beautiful rooftop views across the piazza. This bold creativity extends to the open kitchen and sushi bar too, where brilliantly roasted and flavoured meats, vegetables and fish are concocted and served as small plates to encourage shared dining. Above the sushi bar, a beautiful ceiling installation featuring South American and Japanese plants provide a notable talking point.
35 The Market
Best for burgers: MEATliquor
Originally a pop-up street food truck, in 2011 burger purveyors MeatLiquor capitalised on their popularity by opening a debut London restaurant, quickly becoming known for its long line of diners prepared to wait hours for a table. Today they have outlets all over the city, including in Covent Garden, and while the crowds have eased, it remains the go-to choice for burger aficionados everywhere. Favourites include the Dead Hippie, comprising mustard-fried beef patties under melted cheese, topped with soft white onions and pickles, and smushed in between two soft buns that soak up the secret Dead Hippie sauce.
Jubilee Market Hall, The Deck, Tavistock Street
Best fish and chips: Rock & Sole Plaice
There are few things more quintessentially British than fish and chips. And while it is perhaps most traditionally associated with seaside towns, there are also plenty of city-based ‘chippies’ that are worth their salt (and vinegar) too. Established way back in 1871, the family-run Rock & Sole Plaice can certainly be counted among them. A veritable local institution, their locally-sourced fish is a major hit with both local workers and tourists who have bothered to do their research. Their unique selling point is that they fry their fare in peanut oil, giving it a distinct flavour that sets a high watermark for this iconic national delicacy.
47 Endell Street
Best for Italian: Café Murano
If in doubt, go Italian. This time-honoured culinary principle rarely fails – and is certain not to do so at Café Murano, a relaxed and inviting eatery by acclaimed British chef Angela Hartnett that offers a modern take on timeless Italian flavours. Specialising in food hailing from northern Italy, the restaurant is adorned with swanky leather banquettes and a long marble dining bar that add a sense of occasion to the dining experience. A small, carefully thought-out menu features a mixture of Italian classics, such as Chicken Milanese and Osso Bucco Risotto, as well as seasonal specials and handmade pasta.
34 Tavistock Street
Best for Indian: Cinnamon Bazaar
With an extensive menu inspired by the bazaar-style markets of the age of empire, this modern Indian restaurant & cocktail bar mixes real Indian heritage with urban London. This cross-cultural dining experience embraces the democratic spirit of a marketplace, making for a true cultural melting pot and the perfect place to eat, drink, relax and celebrate. The restaurant’s colourful, bazaar-themed space transports you back in time, while the inventive cuisine provides a twist on classic Indian street food and the innovative cocktails add a contemporary flourish.
28 Maiden Lane
Best for celebrity spotting: The Ivy
Part of the vast business empire of Richard Caring, which includes a sizeable portfolio of upscale restaurants, The Ivy is one of those rare places that never fails to meet the exceedingly high expectations it has set down the years. One of London’s most legendary fine dining establishments, it remains at the pinnacle of old-school British luxury and flair with its stylish décor and menu featuring a mix of classic and modern British dishes. An illustrious line of famous faces continue to grace the restaurant with their presence and, pleasingly, it is compact enough inside to make celebrity-spotting an oft-rewarding endeavour.
1-5 West Street
Best for quirkiness: Ave Mario
This hip and happening Italian trattoria-style restaurant and bar is as large in size as it is in character. Spread over three self-contained spaces, a basement bar and two gigantic terraces, the venue is a masterclass in high-energy eccentricity – and it’s a concept that works a treat. The restaurant’s stripey walls were designed to mimic Florence’s magnificent Duomo cathedral, while the menu whips up a wide range of meat dishes, pizza, pasta and desserts, plus an enticing weekend brunch. Don’t miss out on the Dolci, where a feat of engineering has created a 60cm tall Gelato Tower.
15 Henrietta Street