Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in London Covent Garden
Hardens guides have spent 32 years compiling reviews of the best Covent Garden restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 118 restaurants in Covent Garden and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Covent Garden restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Covent Garden Restaurants
1. Chez Antoinette French restaurant in Covent Garden Unit 30 The Market Building - WC2
“Invitingly tucked away off Victoria Street”, “it feels like stepping into Paris” at this “good little bistro”, where “helpful staff” deliver “a short but interesting” all-day menu of “simple but delicious fare” at “good value prices” (“excellent saucisson, and good bavette steak, duck leg… a very good tarte Tatin and reasonably priced house wine!”). Only fleeting mentions for the branch cutely located in the tourist hell of Covent Garden on the lower ground level of the market itself, but all good.
2. Cinnamon Bazaar Indian restaurant in 28 Maiden Lane - WC2E
The “gorgeous food, with amazing flavours and presentation” at this Covent Garden café matches the high standards Vivek Singh sets at his grander Cinnamon restaurants, some of the best-known Indian kitchens in London. It’s a useful destination pre-theatre.
3. Volta do Mar Portuguese restaurant in Covent Garden 13-15 Tavistock Street - WC2E
An “always good”, culinarily interesting Covent Garden three-year-old, from Salt Yard founder Simon Mullins and his Portuguese wife Isabel Almeida Da Silva. Named after the ‘return from the sea’: it serves a menu not just from Portugal but from the territories it traded with or colonised, from Brazil in the west via parts of Africa to Goa, Macau and Nagasaki in the east.
4. Le Garrick French restaurant in Covent Garden 10-12 Garrick Street - WC2
“The cramped basement is super-cute and atmospheric” (“its booths and candles making it one of the more romantic venues in town”) at this “little piece of Paris in the heart of Covent Garden”. With its “decent French provincial-style cooking” it is particularly tipped as a “very acceptable pre-theatre option”.
5. San Carlo Cicchetti Italian restaurant in Covent Garden 30 Wellington St - WC2
These “slick and professional” Italians (offshoots of the national San Carlo chain) are “buzzy and convenient sorts of places, where you can enjoy an upbeat bite without hanging around too long”. They serve “an extensive menu of small Venetian sharing plates”: “at best they’re excellent” and almost invariably a meal is “good fun”. The best known outlet is steps from Piccadilly Circus – “it might look like a tourist trap in its prime location but it’s a reliable and smartly decorated venue”.
6. Frog by Adam Handling British, Modern restaurant in Covent Garden 35 Southampton Street - WC2E
“Outstanding showmanship” (“food theatre for the TikTok generation”) “but matched with exceptional cooking running behind the gimmicks” (“dry ice, melting bubbles etc thrill but don’t hide the perfect texture and a palate of savoury flavour combinations”) has carved an impressive reputation for Adam Handling’s acclaimed Covent Garden flagship. Despite its status as a foodie temple, staff are “so relaxed and fun” and the atmosphere generally is very “informal”, which fans feel “makes the experience even better”: “you can really focus on the food”. And with “the kitchen being open, it allows you to see Adam leading his very disciplined brigade”. On the downside, ratings dipped a little this year, with some diners questioning “startling prices”, or accusing the culinary pyrotechnics of allowing “a triumph of style over substance”. (“The technical excellence is unquestionable, but really too much showing off… serving waffles with caviar and honey ought to be a capital offence!”). Success came in other respects, though: it was finally – not before time – awarded a Michelin star.
7. Bunga Bunga restaurant in Covent Garden 167 Drury Lane - WC2B
Five years after the opening of the legendary Battersea bar and pizzeria, Bunga Bunga has come to Covent Garden with an even bigger and bolder version of the original. On the ground floor, discover a family pizzeria and bar, BungaTINI. Below accessed through the meat locker li...
8. MEATmarket Burgers, etc restaurant in Covent Garden Jubilee Market Hall, 1 Tavistock Ct - WC2
2019 Review: “Sitting above the indoor market at Covent Garden adds to the greasy-spoon vibe” of this central spin-off from the MEATliquor chain – “a good spot for a quick burger fix when out-and-about for the day in town”. There’s “not a worry about calories in sight” – just “burgers at their best, an excellent choice of sides (e.g. chilli cheese fries, monkey fingers and jalapeno poppaz) that add a bit of fire to the proceedings; and the milkshakes are a must-try!”
9. Shake Shack Burgers, etc restaurant in Covent Garden 24 The Market - WC2
2021 Review: In less than 20 years, Danny Meyer has transformed his New York City hot-dog cart into a global fast-food brand giant with eight outlets in London – including a Covent Garden flagship that was revamped earlier this year. Ratings remain remarkably solid for “a chain that does what it’s supposed to do”.
10. Sushisamba Fusion restaurant in Covent Garden Opera Terrace, 35 The Market - WC2
“Views are to die for” on the “glitzy” 38th floor of the Heron Tower, which – with its swish bar, outside terrace and vibrant dining space is “still a great place to see and be seen!” With “imaginative” and luxurious Japanese/South American fusion cuisine, the City branch of this US-based group should have it all, but enjoyment is blunted by the “exorbitant bill” and “service that seems like it’s ‘dialled in’”. The Covent Garden location, on the first floor of the market itself and with a large outside terrace overlooking the back of the Royal Opera House, also occupies a prime London site: feedback is more limited, but similar in tone.
11. VyTA Italian restaurant in Covent Garden 21 The Market - WC2E
2022 Review: In the heart of tourist Covent Garden – on the corner of the market itself, near The Punch & Judy pub – this large (200-seat) Italian arrived in late 2019. It’s the first venture outside Italy for Nicolo Marzotti, who has 13 restaurants back home. The jury is still out on whether or not it transcends its tourist trap location (including some seating on a balcony over the main market square).
12. The Petersham Italian restaurant in Covent Garden Floral Court, off Floral St - WC2E
The undoubtedly “beautiful central London location” of this Covent Garden spin-off from the famous Richmond plant nursery makes it – for some reporters – “worth paying for the pricey food” in its two restaurants, especially if you have romance in mind. Plenty of others disagree, complaining of “disappointing” food in an operation that is “not even a decent shadow of the home port”.
13. The Oystermen Seafood Kitchen & Bar Fish & seafood restaurant in Covent Garden 32 Henrietta St - WC2E
“Lovely oysters and fab fresh fish generally” from a “daily changing blackboard of specials” fuel a meal at this successful joint which is “just like eating in a seaside restaurant”. It’s “a bit cramped and uncomfortable” for some tastes, but conversely “feels surprisingly intimate for Covent Garden”.
14. La Goccia Italian restaurant in Covent Garden Floral Court, off Floral Street - WC2E
The “gorgeous setting”, in Covent Garden’s newish Floral Court development and with an outside courtyard, is a highpoint at this venture from the family who own Richmond’s well-known Petersham Nurseries: “perfect for a date”. Although “expensive”, it was complimented more often this year for its “lovely”, simple Italian cuisine.
15. Cora Pearl British, Modern restaurant in Covent Garden 30 Henrietta Street - WC2E
“Romantic but with a buzz”, this Covent Garden crowd-pleaser excels for its “consistent mixture of ambience, service and quality food”. Not surprisingly “a pre-theatre favourite”, it offers “no real gastronomic experiences” but superior comfort food, such as the “delicious and imaginative mini ham-and-cheese toastie starter portions: to die for!”. Like its older sister Kitty FIsher’s in Shepherd Market, it’s named after a courtesan who, in times gone by, frequented the area.
16. The Ivy Market Grill British, Modern restaurant in Covent Garden 1 Henrietta St - WC2
“You wouldn’t go for ‘haute cuisine’, but as a jolly place to eat comfort food in a spectacular setting, it is hard to beat” – that’s the upbeat view, anyway, on this now-“ubiquitous” brasserie chain. Eight years and 40 openings later, the spin-offs increasingly eclipse the Theatreland original (see also), whose Edwardian features provide the style-guide for its nationwide ‘roll out’. “Even if the unchallenging food reaches no heights, there’s a consistent buzz”, which makes them a “posh”, “fun” choice for a get-together, if not a particularly foodie one. This is particularly the case at the landmark London off-shoots: at ‘Chelsea Garden’ (“gorgeous greenery”); Kensington (“slick”, with a “pretty glitzy crowd”); and on the Thames (“great views over Tower Bridge”). But while it’s always been acknowledged that the mass offering is “a shadow of the mothership’s” – with “average grub at not-so-average prices” – the feeling that the brand has become just “a chain that does not excite” is gaining ever-stronger currency. Service seems more “stretched” nowadays, and a sliding ambience rating is making the whole offering seem ever-more “overrated, for all its modern art and perky décor”.
17. Din Tai Fung Chinese, Dim sum restaurant in Covent Garden 5-6 Henrietta Street - WC2E
The London offshoots of a famous Taiwanese dumpling brand (in Covent Garden, Selfridges and, scheduled for late 2022 opening, a big 13,500 sq ft debut in Centre Point) are by most accounts “great fun”, although “it’s quite a different proposition to the Asian formula” – “more upmarket”. There’s plenty of enthusiasm for the “soup dumpling heaven” provided by the signature pleated dumplings (xiao long bao) – although be warned: they are “more expensive” than in Asia and “the bill can add up pretty fast”.
18. Bageriet Sandwiches, cakes, etc restaurant in Covent Garden 24 Rose St - WC2
“Fabulous Swedish cakes and good coffee” are the siren call to this tiny Scandi kafé in Covent Garden, if you can nab a seat – but “it’s just so small you can’t always get in”. Top Tip – “the prinsesstårta is to die for”.
19. Rules British, Traditional restaurant in Covent Garden 35 Maiden Ln - WC2
“It could so easily be a tacky tourist trap and is a bit pricey”, but there remains a whole lot of love for this Dickensian landmark in Covent Garden (London’s oldest restaurant to operate continuously on the same site – since 1798). The “beautiful” period dining room is “steeped in West End history and character” and the menu is “proper old-school” too – “no surprises, nothing extraordinary, but well-cooked and professionally served” grills, game, pies and puds. “And they do wonderful cocktails upstairs” too in the “splendid bar”. Top Menu Tip – “well worth it for old favourites like steak ’n’ kidney pudding followed by sponge pudding”.
20. Clos Maggiore British, Modern restaurant in Covent Garden 33 King St - WC2
“Get lucky and score a table in the conservatory and you’ve landed the most romantic rendezvous in town!” at this “lovely” oasis in bustling Covent Garden – for many years now, reporters’ No. 1 choice “for celebrating anniversaries, engagements, weddings, etc…”. The “beautiful glazed dining room is hung with blossom and has both a roof that opens in warm weather and a cosy fire for cold days”. And not everyone feels that all is lost if you don’t nab one of these prime seats (“everyone raves about the garden room but there is a small dining room upstairs that we love too!”). Though it has never been a prime foodie destination, the kitchen typically wins acclaim for its “accomplished modern European cuisine”, which is backed up by “the longest wine list ever seen” (although pricing of some vintages gave cause for complaint this year). There continues to be a school of thought that its food is “sadly not as good as it was pre-lockdown” or that “staff changes have made it seem less welcoming”. But ratings recovered well here this year after a dive last year, and on most of the very many reports we receive: “you always feel special here!”
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