Joe Allen

North American·
Bronze Award

SquareMeal Review of Joe Allen

Bronze Award

It was a dark day in Theatreland when it was announced that the unofficial actors’ canteen, Joe Allen, was going to close – not least because it was to make way for a boutique hotel owned by one of their own, Robert de Niro. But the move around the corner has re-energised this luvvies’ classic that first opened its doors on Exeter Street in 1977. 

A tighter, less labyrinthine layout concentrates the hubbub of the room, while fittings that have been moved lock, stock and piano from Exeter Street look as if they have been here for years. And the American comfort food is the same as ever – adequate rather than amazing, but more than cutting the mustard if you’ve come to soak up the pre- and post-theatre atmosphere or for a boozy weekend brunch with friends; it’s also as well suited to feeding an eight- or eighty-year-old. 

‘Eggs Joe Allen’ is a nicely poached Burford atop a thick slice of potato cake, spooned with hollandaise sauce; well-timed calf’s liver comes with mash that is stodgy, not smooth; apple strudel is an as sweet as something you’d want to end Sunday lunch. To drink, a well-priced wine list has bags of choice for under £40, while an evening spent at the bar with classic American cocktails would be a hoot. Remember your waiter’s face: like former staffer Graham Norton, he may well be a star of tomorrow.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
North American
Fun, Lively
Food Occasions
Breakfast, Brunch, Late night dining
Special Features
Wheelchair access
Celeb spotting, Child friendly, Group dining [8+]
Food Hygiene Rating

About Joe Allen

Located in the heart of Theatreland, this American restaurant was first opened in 1977, as a sibling to the original restaurant in New York. The restaurant quickly became famous, as it was a project led by actors and producers eager to seduce punters to their shows. Joe Allen’s or the ‘West End’s Canteen’ is no stranger to a famous face, with many a celebrity dining at the restaurant. Plus, with its great location, situated in Covent Garden, in close proximity to major theatre venues, it’s a no brainer to have a pre- or post- theatre dinner here whether you’re an audience or cast member.

The interior of the restaurant is filled with movie memorabilia and pictures of famous faces, and is dimly-lit with plush furnishings. The mood is buzzy and exciting, in part due to the well-stocked bar which is a main feature of the room, lined with hundreds of bottles of booze.

The main dining menu offers an authentic selection of north American classics from hearty rounds of burger sliders to juicy sirloin steaks serves with French fries and a peppercorn sauce. The restaurant also does a fantastic, moreish smoked beef frankfurter hot dog replete with all the toppings, while an oak smoked baby back rib platter with Asian slaw and sweet potato fries will satisfy all your BBQ cravings. The restaurant also does a great brunch menu featuring fluffy Belgian waffles topped with crispy fried chicken a la American, and offers more regular dishes of breakfast buns and avocado poached eggs. Don’t skimp on dessert, the apple and mixed berry crumble is a delight, and the pecan pie goes nicely with a hot cup of coffee.

If you’re planning on sighting a celebrity, stick around for innovative cocktails such as salted caramel martini or pink squirrel featuring crème de noyaux, white cacao, and cream.

Location for Joe Allen

2 Burleigh Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7PX

020 7836 0651


Opening Times

All day
Mon 12:00-23:00
Tue 12:00-23:00
Wed 12:00-23:00
Thu 12:00-23:00
Fri 12:00-23:30
Sat 11:00-23:30
Sun 11:00-21:00

Reviews of Joe Allen

Share your thoughts with other diners

Write a review

31 Reviews 


26 July 2019  
Classic, classy and quality food. The venue just feels like home as soon as you walk in the door!

Julie C

28 June 2019  
A go to restaurant that always delivers and delivers in style. From the wonderful ambience and the great decor, to first class service and ribs that just melt in your mouth. Whether it's to grab a pre-theatre bite, or celebrate an occasion with friends and family, Joe Allen's never fails to impress. Great food, fab cocktails and good value for money in the heart of the West End.

Elaine S

Plonking piano
10 June 2019   - Verified Diner

A mixed experience. Excellent Caesar salad. Rather tough broiled chicken piled over a mess of spinach and some green sauce, cold fries. Knickerbocker Glory good but served in a tall parfait glass, hard to eat and easy to spill. At other places served in a small bowl.

The meal accompanied by the noise of a terrible cocktail pianist.


Food & Drink

Julie R

No drama
17 August 2018  
The sad and unexpected closure of the fabulous Bedford & Strand forced me to cast my sights a bit wider for a replacement pre-theatre venue, in an area where chain mediocrity and high end restaurants tend to dominate. Having written Joe Allen’s off previously as a tourist magnet at worst and a late night venue at best, it was with somewhat low expectations that we found ourselves entering its darkened interior on its new (apparently) location on Burleigh Street. I don’t mind admitting that along with a great meal, I also had to eat my words and am now rueing the fact that it has taken so long to discover this little treasure. The staff just get exactly what pre-theatre means and ensured that despite our over-ordering, all the food was delivered promptly enabling us to have an enjoyable rather than rushed meal. Three of us opted for the not-so secret burger and it was absolutely bang on the money and when we turned down the offer of desserts and coffee, the bill just appeared without us having to chase for it. I’m sure I went to the old Joe Allen’s many years ago but too long ago to make any meaningful contribution as to which location is better. But on the basis of this meal and how we were treated, it is now firmly on my “will return” list.
Food & Drink

Ross W

17 July 2018  
Classy institution.

LInda B

27 June 2018  
Great atmosphere food and service - great for pre theatre.

David P

Great time - but one thing worried us
20 December 2017  
First time we've been following JA's move. Really impressed to see how the atmosphere is just as good as it always was. Real effort has gone into making it feel right. The food was perfect - tasty chicken parmagian, and my friends enjoyed their steaks. The only thing that concerned us was that the end where we realised that the service charge does not go to the waiter (or even split between the waiters). it seems to go to the business to help with the payroll. This did not seem attractive to us. We instead asked to have a new bill with no service charge on it, and then made a separate payment to the waiting staff. But I'm not sure how I feel about going back now. I'm very wary of restaurants arguing that service charges should not be fairly distributed to the service providers and reflect directly the service that has been given. Using it to "ensure all our staff have a living wage" seems questionable - surely they should have this anyway.
Food & Drink

Trevor C

Hello Old Friend
25 November 2017  
It was like Joe had never been away. The big move, from Exeter to Burleigh Street, is in fact a mini trek of around 75 yards but all has been done so skillfully and it's just like old Joe's but better. No more the descent from the street to the initial darkness it's now a just a step up to the smart new entrance and you're in. It's all, still, so totally theatrical and inviting - packed on Friday lunchtime with ladies who lunch prior to an early matinee - with a front of house dining area that gives way, through a small arch, to the main theatre comprising spacious downstairs stalls overlooked by the circle. Charming and faultless service from non-Brexit-fearing staff happy to be here, happy to be working and intending to stay who provided a top commentary on all of the regular dishes. Our table for three went historically and immediately off menu choosing three Joe Allen, classic bacon/cheese burgers with all the trimmings accompanied by a bottle of El Caminito Malbec - delicious. Dessert of the day was Classic Pecan Pie & ice cream with espresso chaser and mint teas. The welcome, the food, the drink & the service charming and faultless. The end story £113. (inc service of 12.5%) plus a small, additional cash in hand that brought a warm Lithuanian smile & a big thank you. We shall return.
Food & Drink

Siri H

10 May 2017  
Always good service, honest food, fun place to 'spot the actor'.

Brenda M

04 May 2017  
Bistro type food, great ambience, service can be iffy.
Book a table

Call Joe Allen to make a booking on:

or visit their website

Other restaurants we like near Joe Allen

Check availability
Back to restaurant
Complete your booking

Book Joe Allen for people on at .

Select a special offer

These offers are optional, and there's no commitment.

Error adding booking details, please try later.

First Name is required field
Last Name is required field
Email Address is required field
Phone Number is required field
Diner First Name is required field
Diner Last Name is required field

By clicking 'complete booking' you agree to the SquareMeal User Agreement