Cabaret, live music and some of the city's best cocktails - Covent Garden has it all. Try the raunchy fun of cabaret bar Cellar Door, or hang out at relaxed wine bar Bedford & Strand. The area's drinking scene is diverse, so check out more of our picks of the best places for after-hours drinks in the area. Think we've missed a great bar in Covent Garden? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions. And don't forget to read our guide to Covent Garden pubs.
Kitsch, messy and a late-night legend, this basement bar attracts a regular crowd of debauched luvvies and miscreants. Play spot-the-soap-extra as you order a pint of Red Stripe, Kirin Ichiban, Heineken or Wells Bombardier at the bar, which is surrounded by signed black-and-white publicity shots of not-quite-familiar faces. The club is members only, but the trick to enjoying its way-past-midnight hospitality is to arrive before 8pm and stay put.
Paying homage to the near-bankrupt American city in name alone, this long-established urban cocktail mecca near Seven Dials is part Prague metro in appearance and part cool dive, although it's not for the claustrophobic...
Back in the late 1980s, this was the place to be. A hidden cellar with a faintly industrial feel, it carried with it a certain easygoing democracy, a welcome change from style-trial nightclubs and members-only enterprises such as the Groucho.
The Black Penny
It was a marketing wheeze that really, really worked. This new café/takeaway in Covent Garden sold every dish for a penny on opening day, and when we went a few days later there were huge queues waiting for tables and (mostly) takeaway. It reminded us of the old drug dealer’s trick to get new clients: ‘the first one’s free’. Addiction to Black Penny may become a recognised medical condition, but it won’t be because of cost – low though that is. When you finally reach the counter, you see dishes that look like those at many another coffee place: soup, sandwiches, salad, quiche, a stew, lots of baked sweet things. But when you finally sit down in the small back dining room, you realise this isn’t the stuff of two-for-a-penny cafés. The quality is high in both sweet and savoury dishes. Salads are a particular strength, with confident seasoning in the dressings and excellent assemblies of sprightly ingredients to carry them. The kitchen has a masterful pasty-maker, as we saw in both a savoury tart and a Pennsylvania-Dutch-style apple pie. They also had a good ceviche on the menu when we were there. Portions are enormous and prices eminently reasonable - £7.50 for a salad box that some people would be happy to share between two, sandwiches just under a fiver. In the food, the only downer was inelegant presentation of salad selections. The separate components were piled together so that their flavours blended in some unappealing ways: ceviche on top of couscous is never a good