Covent Garden Restaurants
10 Adelaide St., Covent Garden
Restaurateurs (and brothers) Sam and Eddie Hart were among the first to bring a tapas-centric menu to London. Their tiny Barrafina, which has three outposts, only offers seating at the bar, and since they don't offer reservations you'll want to get there on the early side. The menu is old-school when it comes to tapas, so we recommend classic favorites like the traditional Spanish tortilla or the chorizo with potato and watercress. There other locations are on Frith Street and Drury Lane.
43 Drury Lane, Covent Garden
Restaurateurs (and brothers) Sam and Eddie Hart were among the first to bring a tapas-centric menu to London. Their tiny Barrafina, which has three outposts, only offers seating at the bar, and since they don't offer reservations you'll want to get there on the early side. The menu is old-school when it comes to tapas, so we recommend classic favorites like the traditional Spanish tortilla or the chorizo with potato and watercress. There other locations are on Frith Street and Adelaide Street.
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.
36 Tavistock St., Covent Garden
This little sister restaurant to Angela Hartnett's Murano isn’t really a step down: It has a second address on St. James Street and a menu of hearty, Northern Italian dishes, like Fritto Misto, Linguine Vongole, and Osso Bucco perfected by Hartnett's deputy, Sam Williams. It’s the kind of place that’s great for both a leisurely family lunch (there’s even a kids menu) or a dressed-up dinner with friends in the private room that seats 22.
Chick ‘n’ Sours
1a Earlham St., Covent Garden
What started as a no-frills fried chicken spot in Haggerston with kitschy mismatched China and picnic tables for large groups outside, now has its upscale counterpart in Covent Garden's Seven Dials. It makes sense, too: Their phenomenal fried chicken just couldn't be contained to one small spot in Haggerston. Not only is their chicken incredibly succulent and their crust perfectly crunchy, but the flavors of their sauces are pretty otherworldly. Don't miss the intensely spicy chicken wings, or the K-Pop bun which comes with gochujang sauce, or their General Tso Fried Chicken. In fact, come with a group so you can order the whole menu and sample it all. While the concept of fried chicken and sour drinks is enticing, stick with their sangria, beer, or wine.
12 Upper St., Martin’s Ln., Covent Garden
This relatively new and growing chain of modern Indian restaurants reveals a new dimension to a city already well-versed in the cuisine. Expertly decorated to resemble an old Iranian Bombay cafe, the vibe is casual and, as tradition dictates, ideal for both large groups and singles reading the paper and having a chai. The long menu of rotis, naans, grilled meats, and stews is spice-inflected but not necessarily curry heavy. There are three more locations in Shoreditch, King's Cross, and Carnaby.
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.
16 Henrietta St., Covent Garden
For the last six years it’s been near impossible to land a table at Greg and Marie Marchand’s much-loved Paris restaurant Frenchie and its Bar a Vins offshoot across the street. Lucky for London, the Marchands have landed across the channel, opening the doors to a glistening new space, complete with an open kitchen downstairs as a nod to the original. Here, Marchand’s masterful, tapas-style menu incorporates his tastes from working in New York, Paris, and London’s best kitchens. In fact, Frenchie is a return to London for Greg, having earned his stripes at places like Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, where he also earned his nickname: Frenchie. From his elegant takes on the likes of Cornish Cod and Yorkshire Chicken, you can tell he’s having fun reigniting his friendships with the best London producers, all the while showing his French roots with an ever-changing sampling of French cheeses and worldly wines.
Great Queen Street
32 Great Queen St., Covent Garden
From the owners of Waterloo's famed Anchor & Hope is this stark, low-lit gastropub. The food here is best described as minimal British with an emphasis on game and an avant-garde twist. Be ready to try something you've never had before and to linger; it takes a while to roast wood pigeon.
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.
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