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Dining Alone -- Need Some Tips

I'll be in NYC for a few days, and rather than order room service, would like to try a nice restaurant or two. Any suggestions for places (preferably not too far from Chelsea) where people watching is good and a person can sit, enjoy dinner and kind of blend in with the crowd? Bar dining is fine -- great actually, especially if the bartenders are nice.

I like all cuisines. Right now I'm just more interested in finding a place where I can go and have fun taking everything in. So far, I like the sound of Gramercy Tavern and Tabla's Bread Bar. Any other good ones?

I'll be coming out of a show around 9:30, so it also needs to be place where you can dine late (if that's even late in NYC!).


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  1. If you like bbq, you can check out RUB on 23 St. bet. 7 and 8 Ave. (closer to 7 Ave). That's in Chelsea.

    I've eaten here on my own once waiting for somone and I sat at the bar. Bartenders were friendly on a Tuesday night and I even met a few people. The bar is small and you can always walk off the food back to your hotel.

    There are many good "people watching" places in the meat packing district - - not too far from Chelsea. It's more of a scene though. Check out Son Cubano if you're into loud places with live salsa/merengue bands. Drinks are potent and although I've only gone for drinks, the people are beautiful and I hear the food is decent.

    1. You'll have no problems eating after 9:30 in NYC. In Chelsea, Red Cat has a bar you can eat at and is a good vibe and great food. It's on 10th near 23rd Street.

      1. I just last night had dinner alone at the bar at The Spotted Pig on W. 11th. It was full but not crazy crowded. The bartender and the people around me were friendly and talkative, there were plenty of other diners to stare at, and I thought the food was pretty terrific (duck egg w/ bottarga, ricotta gnudi, marinated fig salad). Since the menu is mostly composed of small and medium plates, you can order them one by one and make your meal last.

        1. Gotham Bar and Grill has special dining tabletops that are placed on the bar to enhance the dining experience. Normally I go just for dessert, but you can have a full meal if you like. The bartenders are friendly, too.

          1. Le Zie has great food in a casual environment. Every time I eat there I am surprised at the large number of solo diners. It has a neighborhood vibe. They are on 7th Avenue, just north of 20th street.

            1. For the OP (this will help you decide on one of these three):

              (1) http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

              (2) http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

              (3) http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

              Being you're from TX, RUB might not impress you much. Just a FYI.

              1. I had a very nice lunch dining solo at DBModerne on 44th St. the other day - meant to post about it. They have "bar" seats that are tables with bar stools, but not actually at a bar. I had the burger with foie gras and braised short ribs, which I actually was not overwhelmed by and wouldn't have again. But, the service was incredibly gracious and the set up works well for a lone diner.

                  1. re: jenniebnyc

                    Second Pastis and add Jake's Saloon, for a casual, bar dining experience.


                    Also, what about Bistro Cassis?



                    1. re: TexasToast

                      The link looked blank, just a big red screen, but if it's the Jake's Saloon on W. 57th, I was there a couple years ago and was VERY disappointed. Has it changed owners again?

                  2. I JUST had a solo dinner at the Bar Room at THE MODERN 2 weeks ago. I didn't sit down until 9:30 or so, and was floored at how busy the dining room was at 10:00 PM on a weeknight.

                    Rather than sit alone at a table, I opted for the bar and my bartender, Juan-Alberto was delightful and funny. His brother is also a famous chef, so we had a great time talking about the local & Chicago food scenes (where his brother just opened a restaurant). He was just as happy & adept at serving the food as he was the drinks, and suggested a wine pairing that went beautifully with my meal (no easy feat, considering it was arctic char followed by sausage).

                    I would suggest sitting at the short end of the bar, perpendicular to the main dining room, as the long side keeps your back to the action. I'll also add that the Rock. Center location makes for a pretty safe walk back to the subway or Times Square if you're travelling solo.

                    All in all, it was a terrific evening!

                    1. Dining alone looks to be nice at Bellavitae at the chef's counter. There you can mingle with others and watch a chef work and interact with said chef if you like.


                      1. You could go to Otto...They have quartinos of wine, which is the perfect quantity for one person and the food is really okay also. They have the same concept in Spanish cuisine, small plates and quartinos, on Irving place which is called Casa Mono. You can sit at the bar at both places. At casa mono, you can sit in front of the kitchen while they prepare the food.

                        1. Thanks so much for the replies and I apologize for taking so long to check back. Muchas Gracias!

                          Food Fan, I'm going to Google "Rub" right now. I've never even heard of that, but it sounds like the perfect atmosphere. Only trouble is, I'm from Texas and if I go to NYC and eat barbecue, I'll get razzed by my family....but I do love barbecue and am going to look it up. My show is on 26th street so it sounds close.

                          Quentin, funny you should mention Red Cat, I just ran across that in my guide book and it sounds pretty cool too.

                          Small, I've heard of Spotted Pit. It might be a good lunch spot.

                          Larry, Gotham is high on the list, but a little farther from the venue. However, it sounds like it might be worth the trip. I will Google that too.

                          Le Zie is one I've never heard of, so thanks for the tip, Bobby. I'm going to Google that one as well

                          Cheeseboy, thanks for the Menu Pages link. Very helpful

                          Ruth, Moderne is near my hotel -- another good suggestion.

                          Jennie, Pastis is on the list -- never heard of Republic.

                          Texas Toast, I am going to look over your links. Thanks!

                          Foodiegrl, I will look up The Modern as well. I suppose that is different from the one Ruth mentioned, eh? I like the idea of sitting at the bar and interacting with the Bar Tender/Chef. So places where you can do that are at the top of the list.

                          DSN, Degustation is going on the list too. Counter service = thumbs up.

                          Bellavitae! EXCELLENT. Going on top of list as well.

                          Cricri, I ate at Otto one afternoon and the place was empty. The food was incredible, and it would be fun to go back when it is bustling. Now Casa Mono is a bit more interesting sounding and I am going to google that right now.

                          THANKS SO MUCH! I couldn't have gotten better answers or advice and I really appreciate this forum. Without some suggestions to narrow down the list, it's quite possible I would have found myself in the hotel or at the bar at Houston's (which would be sad, because we have one here in Austin).

                          Now I've got a good list.

                            1. re: jenniebnyc

                              Republic? Really? I've been there a couple times and that was more than enough, and they are near my office. It wasn't terrible, just nothing to write home about, and there are excellent Japanese noodle places around.

                              RUB, I think, is the best BBQ in NYC, but, as the poster said, to eat BBQ in NYC when you are from Texas.....well....there's so much ELSE to eat here!

                              Another possibility is the bar at CraftBar, which is quite friendly and good food.

                              1. re: plf515

                                Dinosaur BBQ is much better than RUB, IMHO

                            2. Thought Republic may be OK for a late meal. Although I always eat here at lunchtime (usually a pit stop before or after the farmers market), I thought this a good place to eat solo and people watch.

                              You are right, it's not top choice, but I always seem to find this a comfortable place to eat alone...for cheap...I think the soups are tastey...and there's always a buzz.

                              1. Casa Mono for certain. What about sushi at a place like Yasuda?

                                1. The Red Cat. Excellent food and great place to sit solo at the bar. I've done this myself...and it is in Chelsea.

                                  1. Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe are good dining at the bar options as well.

                                    1. Hi -
                                      since you said Chelsea, my best recs would be either Cookshop (seasonal american, lovely room) or Tia Pol (super authentic tapas in a small and buzzing spot).
                                      I have eaten in both of those places by myself, have always felt very comfortable, and enjoyed great food.
                                      have fun!

                                      1. Sushi is okay, but I have to be in a certain mood for it.

                                        Right now, Red Cat is looking to be the best bet. If it seems busy and there is plenty of people watching to be had, then I'll probably go there.

                                        Casa Mono sounds very fun, but weird meats aren't my thing. Of course, I'm sure there's other stuff on the menu.

                                        So many restaurants, so little time....

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Clarissamarie

                                          I'm not into "weird meats" either, but I had no trouble at all finding many more "normal" things to eat at Casa Mono.

                                          Since I notice you mentioned Tabla's Bread Bar in your o.p., you might also consider eating at the bar at Eleven Madison Park, which is on the other side (24th St.) of the same building as Tabla (25th St.). Chef Daniel Humm's cuisine is superb, and the space is gorgeous. I've only eaten in the dining room; however, EMP's personal are extremely nice, as well as professional, so I can't imagine the persons tending bar would be anything but.

                                          Enjoy our visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

                                        2. Raoul's on Prince street. Get yourself a seat at the bar and order the bar steak. You will thank me. In Union Square Republic is a place I go to when dining alone. Not great but solid and fun.