Din Tai Fung
5 Henrietta St., Covent Garden
Ask any Los Angeleno which restaurant justifies a slow crawl across the I-10 on a weeknight and the answer is almost always Din Tai Fung. The experience runs like a finely oiled machine from start to finish, to the point that it's (blessedly) predictable and outrageously tasty. Now, with an outpost open in Covent Garden, Londoners can breathe easy. Yes, you will wait, but you’ll wait with a ticket and a tick-the-box menu for no longer than half an hour. Once you’re seated, those delectable soup dumplings will be on the table in minutes, and the whole thing will cost you less than your weekly coffee order.
30 Henrietta St., Covent Garden
London is the kind of city where residents find it perfectly reasonable to eat sashimi flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market for lunch and an authentic Bangladeshi curry for dinner. Global cuisine is London cuisine—and vice versa. But when all you crave is unintimidating, wholesome grub executed well (especially before a night at the theater), Cora Pearl delivers. From the same people as Mayfair’s Kitty Fisher’s, the menu is made for rainy Sundays when only a rare roast beef and Yorkshire pudding will do. Monday through Saturday however, Cora Pearl's ham and cheese toastie with pickles, proper thick-cut chips, and old-fashioned trifle to share keep us quiet and contentedly well-fed.
14-15 Henrietta St., Covent Garden
Covent Garden is one of London’s most charming, central neighborhoods, but until recently, there was no place really remarkable to stay. The Henrietta Hotel changed all of that.
45 Great Queen St., Covent Garden
Margot brings a ritzy, glitzy (expensive) Italian dining experience to the heart of Covent Garden. And the kitchen delivers. Despite the formality of the space, this is still Italian cooking: Plates are meant to be shared. Nothing dispels stuffiness faster than four people helping themselves to an antipasto board of bread, prosciutto, artichokes, and more. Then comes the pasta—thick ropes of tagliolini twirled around prawns and sweet tomatoes, pappardelle with wild boar ragu, you get the idea. For dessert, order the tortino de riso, rice infused with vanilla and Marsala, topped with silky almond cream. You won’t be sorry.
ESPA Life at Corinthia
10 Whitehall Pl., Covent Garden
The Corinthia in Covent Garden is one of those places that generally lives up to all the hype. As soon as you enter the space you immediately understand why: the interiors are dark, it's covered in Italian marble, and the vibe is moody but polished. The ESPA is one of the city's largest with twenty-nine treatment rooms and even a stainless steel swimming pool. Along with a robust roster of treatments—signature facials and massages—there's also a selection of customized treatments that focus on detox, sleep, pregnancy, and weight loss. The best part? Their day spa offerings include access to everything from the gym and thermal floor to the sauna and steam rooms and relaxation areas.
Joy King Lau
3 Leicester St., Covent Garden
Known to its fans as JKL, this 3 storey Chinatown stalwart serves up lunchtime dim sum at quite possibly the best prices in town. It's nothing special in terms of decór, or atmosphere for that matter—orders are delivered to the kitchen via walkie talkie equipped waitstaff—but their traditional Cantonese dishes and dim sum make up for it. Don't miss the pork buns, fried turnip paste, and the scallop Cheung Fun. There's also a specials menu that is geared toward Chinese guests only: a definite mark of authenticity and a temptation for more adventurous eaters.
Indigo at One Aldwych
1 Aldwych, Covent Garden
Perfect for a meal right before showtime in the West End, the Indigo restaurant at the One Aldwych Hotel comes with the added bonus that its entire menu is gluten- and dairy-free. Head upstairs to airy, modern mezzanine overlooking the beautifully appointed hotel lobby and enjoy a guilt-free meal that's also pretty affordable.
16 Neal's Yard, Seven Dials, Covent Garden
From the team behind Palomar, a major hit for its take on Israeli food, comes this spot which delves deep into the food of the Barbary coast in North Africa, which greatly influenced Levantine cuisine. At the Palomar, everyone knows the best seats in the house are at the bar, so now at The Barbary, the only seats in the house are at the 24-seat bar where much of the food is prepared. The vibe is as electric as at its counterpart and the food is as spectacular if not more. Order a wide selection of dishes to share, and don't miss the roasted aubergine, the chicken msachen and the lusciously crumbly, buttery, knafeh for dessert.
16 Maiden Ln., Covent Garden
A mix between a bar and a taperia, Duende serves up some fantastically flavorful Spanish tapas complemented by gin cocktails—the large, Spanish kind that come in glasses the size of soup bowls—and Spanish wines. With its dark décor, slinky bar seating, and spiderweb-like ceiling installation, it resembles a nightclub more than a gourmet restaurant, which makes it a perfect preamble to a night out in town.
The Grand Building, 1–3 Strand, Covent Garden
Located a few steps from Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, and the National Gallery, Bronte makes a wonderful haven right on the well-beaten tourist path. In an enormous space with great views of the Strand nearby, Tom Dixon and his Research Design Studio have truly spread their wings and created a gorgeous and memorable space. There's the enormous pink marble bar at the entrance, the luscious green leather banquettes in the dining room, the lighting fixtures, of course, and Tom Dixon's classic fan chair dotted throughout the terrace overlooking Trafalgar square. In all truth, this spot is more about the atmosphere than the food, but there are some good, and affordable, snacks to be had, especially when you stick to standards like burgers and a classic English breakfast.