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Covent Garden area guide

What to see, do, eat, drink and more in London's glitzy district of theatres, shops and restaurants

Gavin Anderson

High on every tourist's visiting agenda, Covent Garden offers a mixed bag of restaurants, shops, hotels. The area is synonymous with the Royal Opera House, hosts daily alfresco entertainment at its central piazza, and is surrounded by a plethora of theatres. Chain stores have moved in, but it’s still a nice place to stroll – if you can catch it early on a fine morning.

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Restaurants

Benito's Hat

London’s Tex-Mex eateries are currently ten a peso, and the branded interior of Benito's Hat looks ripe for replication – no doubt something owner Ben Fordham, a former City lawyer, has considered. Lime and orange walls overlook functional wooden tables, with cactus pots sitting precariously among the condiments. The fast-moving production line serves some of the best burritos in town. We plumped for one loaded with slow-cooked pork, and loved the soft, floury tortilla, the freshness of the fiery salsa brava (made several times daily) and the black beans, which were authentically flavoured with avocado leaves. Chicken, steak and vegetable options are also available, as are suitably merciless margaritas.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs

Phoenix Artist Club

This legendary late-night bar and brasserie has been going through something of a revamp over the last year or so - all in an effort to return it to its art deco roots. Sagely they've kept the walls much the same, still festooned with headshots. Membership is required to gain entry after 9pm but if you've been to the theatre show the guys on the door your stub and, if there's enough room, they'll let you in. And if you really like what's inside? Membership starts at £70 a year.  Keep an eye out for cabaret, musical theatre open mic nights, impromptu performances and more - more often than not from West End casts (they often make a beeline for here). The brasserie serves seasonal British food Tuesday-Saturday evenings, with late-night pizzas available from 9.30pm. There's free wi-fi and portable chargers, too.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Restaurants

Monmouth Coffee Company

Founded 30 years ago, Monmouth sets itself daunting standards for quality and ethical trading, and meets them consistently. This is pre-eminently a place for single-estate and co-operative coffees. You’ll always be able to find a good Kenyan coffee here, and Central and South America are represented by excellent ranges. Founder Anita Le Roy is an industry leader in the campaign to help growers improve quality and earn higher prices. The original shop-café in Covent Garden is tiny and cosy; the Borough space is larger and serves fabulously moreish cakes and savouries to enjoy with your fine brew.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Shopping

BOW WOW London

BOW WOW London is Covent Garden's shop for dogs, providing accessories and more for pampered pooches. BOW WOW sells high quality dog clothes, leashes, bedding and bowls, as well as essential kit for animal grooming. There are also fancy dress canine costumes available in store for owners looking to get their dogs seriously dressed up.    

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Museums

London Transport Museum

From the entertaining entrance, where audiovisual recordings of transport systems in New York, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai and New Delhi, as well as London, are shown on screens, you are whisked by lift to the second floor – and back to 1800. The capital's first licensed public transport was the sedan chair, an example of which is on show, but the gorgeous horse-drawn omnibus, from 1805, its painted, flower-bordered designs announcing still-familiar routes, is a bigger draw. Progress leads you ever onwards, to the building of our first passenger railway – from London Bridge to Greenwich in 1833. The first floor of the London Transport Museum holds perhaps the most exciting displays, including the first underground engine (steam-powered) and a wooden Metropolitan Railway coach (converted to electricity in 1901); one of several exhibits you can board. Frank Pick, the man responsible for rolling out the London Underground brand and giving each line its own character and ensuring the emblematic bar and circle logo became an intrinsic part of London's visual identity, to the extent it now signifies 'tube station' without the need for words, is the focus of the design display. London Transport's posters – by the likes of Abram Games, Graham Sutherland and Ivon Hitchens – are on show throughout museum. Many are design icons, though none is greater than Harry Beck's original tube map. A family play zone for children aged 0-7, All Aboard, features a fleet of mini vehicles to climb into a

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Things to do in Covent Garden

Restaurants

Cheap eats in Covent Garden

Finding somewhere decent to eat on a budget isn’t always easy in central London, but if you know where to look, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into in the Covent Garden area. From British to Japanese, Indian or vegetarian have a look at our top picks below. Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.

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Shopping

Where to shop

Covent Garden is brimming with fashion boutiques and vintage stores. Home to fashion favourites such as Rokit, Orla Kiely and Opening Ceremony, as well as a smattering of beauty and skincare stores, Covent Garden is a real shopping destination for the fashion forward - and with amazing new shops like Farrell and Y-3 popping up, there's more reason than ever to stop by this evolving shopping destination.Think we've missed a shopping gem in Covent Garden? Let us know in the comment box below.

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Bars and pubs

Covent Garden's best pubs

Covent Garden boasts an array of pubs ranging from traditional (like Cross Keys) to modern (Porterhouse). The area is home to one of London's oldest pubs, The Lamb and Flag. Use our guide to discover WC2's best watering holes. Think we've missed a great pub in Covent Garden? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions. And don't forget to check out our guide to Covent Garden's best bars.

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Bars and pubs

Covent Garden's best bars

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.

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See a play in the West End

Theatre

Top 10 West End theatre shows

Make sure you're booking for the best of the season with our critics' guide to the ten most recommended West End theatre shows on right now. The list will be updated weekly as new West End plays and musicals open and old ones close.

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Theatre

Cheap West End theatre tickets

Unless the show is very hot or the run is short, you should be able to shop around and get discounted tickets to any West End show via third party sellers like our own Time Out theatre tickets service and TKTS.  Cheap seats aren't guaranteed to be great seats but many big shows release excellent day tickets on the day of performance, generally at a cheap rate, available from the box office only. See below for show-by-show info on day tickets and Time Out's best West End offers.

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