It’s three years since I last wrote a guide to eating in Covent Garden and while I still have some unchanged favourites, there are of course some new places to recommend and I thought it would be great to share them with you. I also thought it would be fun to list them by cuisine – French, Spanish, etc. – so if you’re thinking, ‘I fancy an Italian meal’, or ‘Let’s go Spanish’, then this is the place to look!
For the ‘grand café in Paris’ experience, go to Balthazar in Russell Street, close to The Piazza and Royal Opera House. Open from early in the morning for breakfast until late at night, you can go for a drink, a snack or the full-blown French meal with classics like Steak Tartare, Moules Frites, Bouillabaise and Apple Tarte Tatin. (Click here for full review.)
Greek: The Real Greek
OK, so it’s a chain but I don’t know of any good independent Greek restaurants in the area – if you do, please let me know! And I’ve always enjoyed food in The Real Greek so don’t hesitate to recommend it if you’re in the mood for souvlaki, hummus, grilled halloumi or tiropitakia and want a reasonably priced meal. (Click here for full review.)
If you’re looking for great pasta, this is the place! It’s become a firm favourite with me and I’ve been a few times. You sit at a bancone (bar) and it’s a simple choice of antipasti, pasta and dessert. It’s lively, informal and relaxed with a great atmosphere. It’s always busy so book or be prepared to queue. (Click here for full review.)
Indian: Cinnamon Bazaar
A new find but an old ‘family’ as I’ve been to Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen many times. More relaxed than its older siblings, it brings the informality of an Indian bazaar to its decor and menu. The food is wonderful and there’s a good value Lunch and Early Evening set menu. (Click here for a full review.)
Middle Eastern: The Barbary
Tucked away in the quiet courtyard that is Neal’s Yard, The Barbary opened to a fanfare of excitement due to the popularity of its older ‘sister’, The Palomar, which is one of my favourite restaurants. I went soon after it opened and have to confess to being slightly disappointed, perhaps due to my high expectations, but keep meaning to go back now its settled down and has since won many accolades and awards. This is some of the food I like best and certainly, despite some reservations when I visited it in its infancy, most of the food was spectacular. (Click here for full review.)
This is a little place I discovered last year; the kind of place to go for breakfast, a simple lunch or wine with plates of cheese and/or charcuterie in the evening. (Click here for full review.)
Spanish: Barrafina, Adelaide St
This has remained a favourite place to eat since I first discovered it about 4 years ago. When anyone asks, Where’s your favourite place to eat? I always say, Barrafina. It’s very much my kind of place – relaxed but with a nice sophisticated edge and great buzzing atmosphere; you sit at the bar (there are no tables), the service is always friendly and you can watch the chefs in action – they will even talk to you sometimes. The food quite simply is awesome; it’s the kind of food that stops you in your tracks – or conversation – and you think, Wow! There’s no booking so be prepared to queue – but it’s worth it. (Click here for full review.)
US-American: Joe Allen
A theatre land favourite for over 40 years, it’s been a regular haunt of mine for at least twenty. Opened as a ‘sister’ to the Joe Allen in New York, it continues to bring the stars and stripes to London … and plenty of theatre land stars too! You’re quite likely to recognise a famous face. Its lunch and early evening set menu is great value if you’re wanting a meal before going to the theatre. (Click here for full review.)
Vietnamese: Com Viet
This is a simple place for a quick lunch or supper when you fancy a nice warming bowl of pho, right in the heart of Covent Garden in Garrick Street. (Click here for full review.)
… for something sweet
If you just fancy a sweet treat or maybe ‘dessert’ later in the evening, perhaps after theatre when you’ve eaten a meal before, then there’s a great choice of gelaterias. Here are my top London gelaterias (click here) but you’ll find great ones in Covent Garden: Gelatorino, Gelatiera (my very favourite), Amorino and Scoop. And if you fancy one of those gorgeous little Portuguese tarts – pasteis de nata – then head to Santa Nata.
This article is now available on the GPSmyCity app. Why not download it and have it with you next time you’re in Covent Garden? Click here for link.