Covent Garden is surprisingly short on bars that aren't full of tourists. Mars's rather wacky mashed-up mosaic frontage might go some way to explaining its freedom from them, as it looks as though it might be some sort of post-nuclear design emporium. Its ground floor bar is small, tubular and jolly. In the restaurant upstairs, with its walls from which chunks of plaster have been untimely ripped, its naked floorboards and bare pipes, cheery blokes slap down a menu so eclectic as to be almost camp and are good-tempered if you respond in kind. Five minutes from the Opera House (for a contrast) and roughly the same from Shaftesbury Avenue.

Mars, Endell St WC2 (071-240 8077)

(Photograph omitted)