The heart of London’s theatreland and home to the world-famous piazza, there’s no denying Covent Garden is a tourist hotspot. Yet in recent years, the area has become a food destination in its own right. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to dine pre-theatre, fancy a date night in town or are hosting a big birthday dinner, there’s something for everyone in the ever-buzzing central neighbourhood. Read on for the C&TH pick of the best restaurants in Covent Garden.
Best Restaurants in Covent Garden
It’s a big year for Tom Sellers: alongside Dovetale, he has also opened a Parisian-style rotisserie restaurant in Neal’s Yard. Rotisserie chicken is the main focus, served alongside house salad and French fries, alongside dishes like crab linguine, hand-dived scallops, and a re-interpreted version of a signature dish from Restaurant Story: snail bolognese on toast with parsley butter. A special wine programme, meanwhile, means guests will have the opportunity to try rare and exceptional wines which would usually only be available in full bottle format.
17 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP; storycellar.co.uk
It’s worth dressing up for Louie, the glitzy restaurant in a converted Covent Garden townhouse, chosen by Rihanna for her most recent birthday celebration. A joint venture by French restaurateur Laurent de Gourcuff – the name behind a string of Paris’ most stylish destinations – and Guillaume Glipa of Annabel’s, Zuma and Chiltern Firehouse, Louie is a multi-layered mille-feuille of style and sophistication, each floor offering a different look and vibe thanks to the interior artistry of Maxime Dion. In the first floor dining room rattan contrasts with rich tones of emerald and ruby while crystal glass and silver twinkle seductively under fringed lamps. Head chef Slade Rushing’s menu is an interesting mix of classic Creole flavours with French gastronomy, served with panache. Pig cheeks and langoustine, oysters Rockefeller (with a hint of liquorice), and Louisiana style crab cakes get the taste buds dancing. And that’s the aim. Music is at the core of Louie – the name derives from jazz legend Louis Armstrong and Louis XIV (royalty won when it came to the spelling). DJ sets and live music always feature, with dedicated Tuesday jazz night’s now on the menu. Head upstairs after supper to the lounge bar and cosy into one of the velvety nooks while listening to a celebration of late, great musicians such as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and of course, Louis Armstrong. A wonderful way to be transported into the wee small hours. And it has the Rihanna seal of approval – beat that.
13-15 West St, London WC2H 9NE; louie-london.com
Floral by LIMA
Floral by LIMA is the younger, less pricey sister of Virgilio Martinez’s famed Fitzrovia restaurant. Found on Covent Garden’s Floral Street (hence the name), Floral is a more accessible option – classy without being formal, ideal for dates. Expect more of the cooking Martinez is famous for: unusual ingredients cooked with flair and imagination. The slightly lower price tag means you can go all out on the dishes: some of the best are the smoked chicken causa, the sea bream ceviche, and the Chinese cauliflower, served with ginger chimichurri and Rocoto mayonnaise. Afterwards, continue the party at buzzing basement bar The Lost Alpaca, where you can enjoy colourful surroundings and an innovative cocktail list featuring not just pisco, but rum, tequila, mezcal and more.
14 Garrick St, London WC2E 9BJ; limalondon.com
For something a little more low-key and neighbourhoody amid the bustle and theatricality of Covent Garden, pop into Frenchie, where the interiors are simple yet chic with soft pink and blue chairs and globular lights hanging over the bar. This is the British outpost of Frenchie from Gregory Marchand, founder of the popular Parisian brand which has garnered a Michelin star at its Rue du Nil location across the channel, alongside a ‘to go’ venue and wine bar. Championing seasonal ingredients cooked in a refined style, Frenchie is surprisingly less French than you’d expect, splicing high quality ingredients with international influences, including the vibrant dining scene in London.
Start with a small bowl of indulgent, hearty and homely Elwy Valley Lamb Ragu, scooping the widest strands of pappardelle into your mouth along with kalamata olives; the perfect winter warmer. Then move onto the likes of Woolley Park Farm Quail, delicately cooked with super sweet parsnips and blackberries cutting through the subtle gaminess of the bird, served with an indulgent sauce poured at the table. Or opt for the lighter Gigha Halibut with florets of roasted cauliflower dotted across the plate. End with one of the indulgent desserts – try the Banoffee, Nutmeg and Caramelized Pecan for divine burned banana nuttiness – and accompany all with delicious wine selected from the extensive menu (the dessert wine glasses are especially delicate and pretty). By Olivia Emily
16 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8QH; frenchiecoventgarden.com
Hailed by many as London’s most romantic restaurant, you couldn’t dream up a better date spot than Clos Maggiore. With high-end modern European cuisine, a conservatory featuring a ceiling of hanging flowers, a glowing fireplace and a glass roof looking up to the starry night sky, it’s no surprise the restaurant witnesses several marriage proposals each week. But it’s not all style over substance: food is also excellent, inspired by the country inns of the South of France and Tuscany and made using local and seasonal ingredients wherever possible.
33 King St, London WC2E 8JD; closmaggiore.com
Situated in the newly reopened Theatre Royal Drury Lane, The Lane has become quite thesp hotot for theatre lovers. The 17th century venue underwent a restoration project headed up by Andrew and Madeleine Lloyd Webber in 2019, and only resurfaced in Covent Garden again recently with the West End debut of Frozen. Now, with a newly decorated entrance and theatre, as well as the Cecil Beaton Bar, Theatre Royal Drury Lane is back like never before. Visit the Grand Salooon for afternoon tea, where artisan baker and cake designer Lily Vanilli has created a special Regency menu featuring seasonal mini pies, scones and an impressive array of desserts.
Catherine St, London WC2B 5JF; thelane.co.uk
Restaurants in the Big Mamma Group have always gone big, with larger-than-life interiors and generous portion sizes, and the West End outpost is no different: a 7,000 square foot restaurant on Henrietta Street. Just like its sister restaurants, Ave Mario is all about the fun factor, dubbed a ‘cheeky interpretation of the Church’. Décor is bold, with red banquettes, black and white striped walls and a myriad of bottles lining the walls of the main dining room. Food is equally extravagant, with a dedicated list of Venetian caviar dishes alongside sharing pizzas made using the ‘Biga’ technique, a 24-hour process that ensures the dough is extra pillowy. The pièce de résistance? A 60cm-tall fior di latte ice-cream shaped into a giant cake, marbled through with crunchy Stracciatella chocolate. Go hungry.
15 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8QG; bigmammagroup.com
Sister venue to Soho hotspot The Palomar, The Barbary is a counter bar restaurant in Neal’s Yard serving food inspired by the Barbary Coast, North Africa’s Mediterranean coastline. Pull up a stool at the bar and get stuck into some sharing plates, which blend North African spices with Mediterranean ingredients. Begin with halloumi fries and za’atar crisps, plus a selection of dips and freshly baked breads to mop them up with (the signature ‘naan e berber’ is a winner). Mains span land, sea and earth, all packed with interesting flavours – think harissa lamb chop, black salmon spiced with dukkah and Jaffa-style cauliflower. With its electric atmosphere and friendly service, this spot is great for catch ups with friends.
16 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP; thebarbary.co.uk
‘Fish and chips’ doesn’t have to mean batter and a tiny wooden fork. One of our favourite fish restaurants in London is FishWorks, now open in Covent Garden and serving up some of the freshest fish and shellfish in the capital, responsibly sourced from Devon and Cornwall’s markets and day boats. Forget popping to the local chippie and take your next fish supper to fine dining standards with a meal in this beautifully decorated restaurant with in-house fishmonger, marble oyster bar and light and comfortable dining area. For the ultimate seafood feast, opt for the tasting platter for two with a selection of hot and cold fish and shellfish treats, including the delicious oysters and must-try Dover sole. And on the side? It has to be the double cooked chips with sea salt. After all, what is the finest fish in London without a deep-fried potato to accompany it?
2-4 Catherine St, London WC2B 5JY; fishworks.co.uk