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What are L.A. Hounds' fave places to dine solo?

m
Mellu Jan 1, 2008 01:16 PM

L.A. is BRIMMING with people "new to L.A." and a lot of us are on our own.

I have friends here who might not necessarily be up for eating out as often as I like to, which is a LOT! So I often find myself looking for a place to contentedly eat alone, and it's not always an easy search for a new transplant from "back East".

I'd love to hear some of your recommendations for great places to dine solo. Bonus points for friendly bar/counter dining, unpretentiousness, and diversity!

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Servorg RE: Mellu Jan 1, 2008 01:21 PM

    You may have overlooked this recent discussion:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/441595

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg
      wutzizname RE: Servorg Jan 1, 2008 07:09 PM

      And this one:

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/473515

    2. SauceSupreme RE: Mellu Jan 1, 2008 02:29 PM

      In addition to counter service spots, I like dining solo for burgers, sushi, tacos, and Vietnamese. Part of the fun of dining solo is people watching and so places like Mozza are a lot of fun for me, too. Some cuisines or styles just scream for group dining, especially izakayas, Thai and Korean, so I save those for group outings.

      It also depends on the time of day. Anybody can dine solo at breakfast or lunch.

      1. l
        la tache burger RE: Mellu Jan 1, 2008 03:32 PM

        I love eating alone in LA. On the more upscale front, I've had some of my most enjoyable evenings dining alone at the bar at Lucques -- I've eaten well and met fun and interesting people. My favorite thing right now, by the way, is eating alone at the bar at Cut. In fact, I've been way more times than I can afford, and almost always alone. I don't go there to meet people though, I go to eat amazing meat, drink a 20 dollar glass of Bordeaux, hear extremely loud music, people watch, and flirt with the female bartenders.

        16 Replies
        1. re: la tache burger
          wutzizname RE: la tache burger Jan 1, 2008 07:05 PM

          Haven't been to Cut so wasn't aware of the bar option. Does the scene there invite a lot of dining at the bar (like Jar, Luques, etc) or is it more of a drink while you're waiting bar? And is it fair to assume that you can sit and eat at the bar without a reservation, like most places, or do they somehow regulate that area as well?

          Appreciate the low down!

          1. re: wutzizname
            l
            la tache burger RE: wutzizname Jan 2, 2008 07:57 AM

            It is a totally separate room, across a "lobby" from the restaurant proper (it's not the main hotel lobby, it's off the back parking entrance). It's a great room in and of itself -- a cocktail lounge with the same basic design as the restauarant, with couches, comfy chairs, and a bar, maybe seating 12. Loud music. They discourage ordering kitchen food in the cocktail area, but encourage it at the bar. No reservations, no micromanaging of the seats, but extremely helpful staff. The last time I was there I ordered a steak and a glass of wine. With my steak came an order of incredble Brussels sprouts with bacon, which I didn't order, and which I was not charged for. I simply said yummy, and thank you. After my steak was finished, the bartender brought out a small dessert sampler and an ounce or so of desert wine, also gratis. At the bar! Hello!

            1. re: la tache burger
              Servorg RE: la tache burger Jan 2, 2008 08:32 AM

              The actual "bar" has the full Cut menu available to anyone sitting at it. The tables have available only a "restricted" menu (at least that was the way it was a couple of months ago) which I am sure that they have done to keep from turning bar lounge into Cutlet.

              1. re: Servorg
                wutzizname RE: Servorg Jan 2, 2008 12:03 PM

                Ah...thanks for the info la tache and servorg. I knew the bar across the way had their own separate apps menu, but didn't realize the Cut goods could be brought over as well. Very sweet option.

          2. re: la tache burger
            k
            kevin RE: la tache burger Jan 2, 2008 09:50 PM

            I only had a drink at the bar at Cut, but you know I thought it's such an urbane, classy place to eat. And usually I really hate all those pretentioius places. I think they serve the full menu at the bar is that correct???

            1. re: kevin
              l
              la tache burger RE: kevin Jan 3, 2008 08:22 AM

              Yup, full menu at the bar.

            2. re: la tache burger
              OCAnn RE: la tache burger Jan 3, 2008 03:47 PM

              Me too on eating alone whether in LA or elsewhere; it's quite enjoyable b/c it opens you up to meeting interesting folks. Being alone never stopped me from eating anywhere. That said, I don't differentiate btwn solo & non-solo restaurants. I go where my tummy/cravings lead.

              1. re: OCAnn
                k
                kevin RE: OCAnn Jan 3, 2008 05:56 PM

                Also, if i go with someone who's not that into food, then they get weirded out by me ordering those crazy or more interesting dishes which puts a damper on the evening.

                ah, there are the hounds, and then there are the non-hounds.

                1. re: kevin
                  k
                  kchangambrose RE: kevin Jan 3, 2008 08:46 PM

                  I really don't understand non-hounds. I just don't get it.

                  1. re: kchangambrose
                    l
                    la tache burger RE: kchangambrose Jan 4, 2008 07:18 AM

                    So agree. Nothing diminishes a meal more than eating with people who don't REALLY care.

              2. re: la tache burger
                t
                thomtompkins RE: la tache burger Jan 5, 2008 12:31 PM

                After reading this I now know I need to pack my crap and head to Cut right away. That sounds great. I would expect nothing less from Cholicio though so I shouldnt be surprised.

                I dine alone for all the same reasons as La Tache Burger and find myself often falling into a bar seat at Spago, eating some agnolotti (sp?) and exploring their smart by the glass list. Having the lovely Lilly behind the bar to chat with also definately helps.. But I also stop to dine at Campanile pretty often. The seats at the bar are very comfy, the full menu is available while setting there and the bar staff if first rate. They also serve you a very nice plate of assorted olives, extra virgin and La Brea bread to nosh on while your waiting for things to start rolling. They also make a spectacular Hendricks martini there that cant be beat. I live in Pas though and about twice a week land at Houstons on Arroyo by my place. The bar is super comfortable, the staff remembers you like a friend and the full menu is available. In fact, most evenings the bar is full of nothing but regular diners setting alone. And if you are a regular, they will also provide preferred seating whenever possible....no matter how busy they are and thats really nice. They have it all figured out..... Enjoy.

                1. re: thomtompkins
                  o
                  omakase RE: thomtompkins Jan 5, 2008 12:49 PM

                  Thomtompkins, I was at Cut by myself sitting at the bar on Thursday. I, too, decided to go there after reading La Tache Burger's review. Thank you La Tache. I got there at 5:00, parked on the street (meters), no reservation, sipped a few martini's, and munched on complementary olives, seasoned almonds, and homemade potato chips. You can start ordering from the full Cut Menu and Bar Snacks Menu at 5:30. I was treated wonderfully by the bartenders. It didn't start getting crowded until about 7:00. Had the most delicious melt-in-my-mouth Nebraska cut Rib-Eye - 16 oz, no bone. You'll definitely have a good time, but bring lots of $$$$.

                  1. re: omakase
                    k
                    kevin RE: omakase Jan 5, 2008 03:32 PM

                    Exacty. Just because you're seated at a bar counter, doesn't mean it's going to be $20 per person like at the Apple Pan.

                    Think on at least 55 or so per steak, another ten for a side (unless you order the potato tarte tatin at 16 bux and you probably should, reminscent of the famed Parisian bistor Chez l' ami louis) add in a glass of wine and dessert and an appetizer and it'll easily reach close to 200 per.

                    Omakase and la touche, did you get the cheese popovers and knishes and other tidbits (besides the tray of almonds/olives/chips) when eating at the bar????? thanks.

                    The last time i was at the bar i was at event that ended at one of the banquest halls across the valet stations, and sat there till my car arrived and munched on some olives, smoked almonds, wasabi-peas, and ordered the cheese puffs (i think that was cool ten bucks righ there) and a nice Hemingway cocktail, Great great stuff, and much more relaxing than the bar at Spago for some reason.

                    1. re: kevin
                      o
                      omakase RE: kevin Jan 6, 2008 12:25 AM

                      Hey Kevin, I missed the cheese popovers. That'll be a must-try next time. Thanks for the rec. The Tuna Tartare is also excellent - on both the Regular Menu and Bar Menu.

                  2. re: thomtompkins
                    Servorg RE: thomtompkins Jan 5, 2008 12:52 PM

                    >>After reading this I now know I need to pack my crap and head to Cut right away. That sounds great. I would expect nothing less from Cholicio though so I shouldnt be surprised.<<

                    Are you getting Cut (Wolfgang Puck) confushed with Craft?

                    1. re: Servorg
                      t
                      thomtompkins RE: Servorg Feb 10, 2008 07:52 AM

                      Servorg/ yes I did confuse them. The second I hit the sent button, I knew I blew it but I didnt have time to chance it. I knew you guys would get what I meant. Thanks though!

                2. m
                  maudies5 RE: Mellu Jan 1, 2008 03:55 PM

                  I love the counter at Toscana in Brentwood. Fun watching the food prepared; friendly service, good ambiance and as you watch the food being prepared you can decide what looks good to you. Could be a pizza out of the wood-burning oven, you might be inspired by the salad-maker, the grill chef or the scent and look of a pasta or risotto waiting to be served. I love the counter at Toscana-- lunch or dinner works for me. Off-menu is a chicken salad. Just lovely greens, tomatoes and perfectly grilled chicken breast.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: maudies5
                    perk RE: maudies5 Jan 1, 2008 05:08 PM

                    Thanks for the info. I eat out by myself a lot, and will definitely try Toscana. Haven't been there for a while.
                    I also find that most good restaurants are very receptive to solo diners. If you're going to a top spot by yourself, it stands to reason you're interested in the food and/or wine....as opposed to it being just a social evening. (not that there's anything wrong with that) I've had some lovely solo meals at Patina before and after Disney Hall concerts.
                    And my local neighborhood spot, Blair's, always has a number of happy, solo folks.

                  2. tatertotsrock RE: Mellu Jan 1, 2008 04:02 PM

                    Izayoi (bar/counter)

                    Shiro

                    Orris (bar/counter)

                    K-ZO (bar/counter)

                    Bashan

                    Hungry Cat (bar/counter)

                    York (bar/counter)

                    Gingergrass

                    All of the above are great when I'm solo...I go to them quite often, alone. The ones that aren't counter/bar are still wonderful even while dining alone.

                    1. velozo155 RE: Mellu Jan 1, 2008 04:57 PM

                      Sushi bars, izakayas, and steak houses are "lone wolf" types of spots. "Brimming" is an understatement. LA is being OVERFLOODED with non-native Angelenos. It's just becoming way too crowded.
                      To the poster below, izakayas were not necessarily designed to be for "large groups". It's just a thing to go in large groups to share all the differerent appetizers. They were originally for workaholic Japanese business men to unwind and have some good appetizers with their beers.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: velozo155
                        m
                        Mellu RE: velozo155 Jan 1, 2008 08:22 PM

                        Thanks to those posting their suggestions!

                        And thanks to Velezo for the welcoming, warm reception!

                      2. n
                        nosh RE: Mellu Jan 1, 2008 09:18 PM

                        Two suggestions on the westside: Nook Bistro has a bar and also a large communal table. Really good food, fine service, excellent value -- a take-off on the heralded Father's Office burger for $12 with fries, a generous, comforting order of shortribs over mashed potatoes for under $20. Or for a divy bar experience, try Philly West on Westwood just south of Santa Monica Blvd. on the east side, free parking in the back. Good beer, excellent philly cheesesteak, and the best burger in L.A. for single digits -- an oblong half-pound fire-grilled patty with grilled onions and condiments served on a roll rather than a bun. Ordinarily served medium rare, juicy, and messy. (Note -- if you see a younger guy cooking at dinner rather than the salt'n'pepper older cook normally at lunch, be sure to specify medium rare and easy or no mayo.) Their cheeseburger is about $6.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: nosh
                          j
                          Jase RE: nosh Jan 2, 2008 02:47 PM

                          Second Philly's West. When I moved into the area last year, Philly's became a quick favorite for a place I could wander in by myself to have a burger or cheesesteak while catching a game. Great low key dive bar that had a friendly vibe.

                          1. re: Jase
                            b
                            broncosaurus RE: Jase Jan 2, 2008 10:05 PM

                            Yep, the burger's good, and if you want a very nice burrito just walk north about 40 meters to Eduardos. It's a fast food joint so nobody cares if you're dining alone.

                        2. m
                          marlane RE: Mellu Jan 1, 2008 10:45 PM

                          Enterprise Fish Co in Santa Monica has a great bar for dining and often filled w/ many solo diners. Service can be a little spotty when busy. Very congenial atmosphere; mostly 30 something singles at the bar. Lobster bisque is very good. Make sure to try the potato romanov (sp?) as a side.

                          1. love2eat RE: Mellu Jan 2, 2008 11:18 AM

                            I love eating alone as much as I love eating with friends. Two of my favorite places for solo dining are the mozzarella bar at Osteria Mozza and the bar at The Hungry Cat. The servers are friendly at both and the people-watching can't be beat.

                            1. b
                              b0ardkn0t RE: Mellu Jan 2, 2008 10:19 PM

                              Try any of the restaurants on the Westside that got a Michelin rating, or a bar/pub in Pasadena(friendliness), and definitely try any Chinese(San Gabriel Valley), Mexican(really anywhere), Japanese(Westside, maybe a few SGV), Thai(Thai town), Persian, Peruvian, Vietnamese, Guatemalan, Salvadorean, as these are some of the best represented cuisines anywhere in the US.
                              If your looking to go native try some local no frills fast food joints, In-N-Out, CPK(for California style pizza, or Zelo's, Vito's), Tommy's, etc. and maybe some local California fusion eateries.

                              1. b
                                brandygirl RE: Mellu Jan 3, 2008 10:35 AM

                                In addition to Cut, any of the other steak joints are great places for solo dining at the bar--I eat solo at Ruth's Chris often, and see many solo diners at Morton's.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: brandygirl
                                  k
                                  kevin RE: brandygirl Jan 3, 2008 10:58 AM

                                  thanks, never though of Ruth Chris' solo.

                                  One of the greatest to eat solo is The Grill on the Alley, classic place, classic service but not too overbearing crotchety like Musso and Frank. The Grill doesn't suffer the patina of age that Musso's does.

                                  do you sit at the bar or get one of those great booths at Ruth's. The only problem with eating solo I have at Ruth's is that it is corporate and they're looking at their bottom line so they may offer worse service if I take up a booth by myself. And it seems like that joint is never hurting for business.

                                  1. re: kevin
                                    SauceSupreme RE: kevin Jan 3, 2008 12:13 PM

                                    I like Grill on the Alley also, but I think the reason why it doesn't seem as crotchety as Musso is the fact that it's a little tucked away from tourists. And it also feels more well-lit.

                                    1. re: kevin
                                      b
                                      brandygirl RE: kevin Jan 3, 2008 02:23 PM

                                      I eat at the bar when eating solo at Ruth's Chris. I always have a great time, especially at the Woodland Hills location. I ate solo at a table in the Beverly Hills location once, and you're instincts are right--I received terrible service. However, I have a feeling that the service would be good for solo diners at a table in Woodland Hills.

                                      1. re: brandygirl
                                        k
                                        kevin RE: brandygirl Jan 3, 2008 05:57 PM

                                        I've near been to the WH location, but I'll take your word for it.

                                        The BH one I've passed by many many times and it's always packed to the gills.

                                      2. re: tatertotsrock
                                        k
                                        kevin RE: tatertotsrock Jan 6, 2008 07:13 PM

                                        Not necessarily only solo places, but I'm usually on the road so here goes:

                                        Din Tai Fung
                                        Sushi Nozawa
                                        Apple Pan
                                        Cut (will now be added to my list)
                                        Wiener Factory (way too many times, but now alas it's closed)
                                        Carney's.
                                        Pita Pockets
                                        Stuffed Sandwich
                                        Casa Bianca Pizza Pie (last couple times, I hit it alone, and it was great).
                                        Pizzeria Mozza ( I hate to say but I've been here way too many times in the past, and i'm really not there biggest fan).
                                        Terroni
                                        Bollini's Pizza in Monterey Park.
                                        Eastside Deli.
                                        Sasabune.
                                        Arnie Morton's for the great cheeseburger (it's the cheapest though best thing on their menu, but only for lunch if i'm not mistaken).
                                        Pina's Bistro in Orange County.
                                        Ruth's Place in Santa Ana (great fried chicken, and meats n threes)
                                        Langer's Deli (of course, for the pastrami)
                                        Flossie's in Torrance (fried chicken, and great great great sides).
                                        Dan Tana's (killer 1 pounder Dabney Coleman NY strip)
                                        Cafe Blanc in Costa Mesa
                                        Hollingshead's Deli in Orange.
                                        Echigo (for the lunch special).
                                        Snug Harbor (for bfast/lunch hours, and always ordering the same breakfast dish, good stuff, been here way too many times).

                                        Come to think of it most of these places are not that pricy but damn good or just comforting
                                        and you can go solo at all these places or not.

                                        one place i hate to admit going to solo or not, is Oki Dog for their pastrami burrito and a coke, but sometimes especially for breakfast on a sat morning nothing quite hits the spot like Oki's.

                                    2. o
                                      omakase RE: Mellu Jan 3, 2008 03:01 PM

                                      Mellu, I love this Post you've started. It took awhile for me to feel comfortable dining solo because I felt self-conscious about it, but now I'm at the point in my life where I simply don't care. Most of my friends don't eat out as much as I do, so I go alone. They tell me, "I could never do that." Anyways, I feel fine dining solo at almost any restaurant. Living in the San Fernando Valley, these are some of my favorite places to eat alone:
                                      1. Boneyard Bistro - 13539 Ventura Blvd. - great BBQ - no bar to sit at, but it's has a real friendly vibe.
                                      2. Fleming's SteakHouse - 6373 Topanga Blvd. - anything can be ordered at the bar - wonderful service - great place to catch a game.
                                      3. Roy's - 6363 Topanga Blvd. - next door to Fleming's - tasty Asian/Hawaiian Fusion - another great bar area to order anything from the menu.
                                      4. Spark Woodfire Grill - 11801 Ventura Blvd. - you can sit at the bar or at a table - good salads and pizzas.
                                      5. Wine Bistro - 11915 Ventura Blvd. - French - owner JB is as friendly as owners come -
                                      full service at the bar or booth.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: omakase
                                        k
                                        kevin RE: omakase Jan 3, 2008 06:00 PM

                                        i went once to Boneyard alone, but I don't know if it was that friendly. But the best dish I've ever had there occured on that, which is the venison with foie gras and a reduced sauce with truffled mashed potatoes. Pure bliss. Oh, and the waitress was a pure doll.

                                      2. Emme RE: Mellu Jan 5, 2008 06:26 PM

                                        I second a lot, so I'll try not to repeat too much... I love to dine alone because I'm a Chatty Cathy and meet lots of people generally...

                                        Ed's coffee Shop on Robertson sitting outside w/ an egg white omelette, some veggies, and grits after the gym

                                        Eat Well... nice servers (yay Josie!) for the Buddha Bowl

                                        Hirozen or Sushi Ike or Zo

                                        Hugo's

                                        Barney Greengrass

                                        Nate'n'Al's... for a dose of grandma

                                        Chaya

                                        Rustic Canyon

                                        Violet

                                        Nook

                                        The Little Next Door

                                        ...and I'm sure there's more...

                                        The Parlor

                                        Father's Office

                                        Griddle Cafe

                                        Rahel

                                        Bin8945

                                        Vibrato Jazz 'n' Grill

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Emme
                                          o
                                          omakase RE: Emme Jan 6, 2008 12:31 AM

                                          Emme, you rock!! I love going to Vibrato's to hear great music, sip martini's, and dive into a good (if not great) steak. It has such a fun, clubby feel.

                                        2. c
                                          Cynderella RE: Mellu Jan 5, 2008 06:29 PM

                                          Dukes in Malibu overlooking the ocean. They have nice entertainment at the Barefoot Bar which includes fun Hawiian dancing girls. It's a great place to go alone or with one or more people.

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