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Solo Dining Under $100: Must-eat restaurants with bar seating

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Hey all, so here is my situation...I'm a younger (23) male who has no problem going and exploring nice restaurants on my own - I definately prefer bar seating when I do this, though.

Most of my friends, whose paychecks lack as much as mine, however, prefer to grab a bite rather than go out for meals. I on the other hand, just got back from a trip to Barcelona, which I planned after seeing Andrew Zimmern visit La Boqueria on 'Bizarre Foods'...so surely you can see my problem. I can't afford to go 'all out', but I know there's so many places I'm missing out on because my friends prefer a $12 meal, rather than a $12 glass of wine to go with their meal.

What are some of the must eat restaurants in Manhattan that have full food service at the bar, where ideally I can get out for $100 including tip - yes I wish I could afford more - for an appetizer, main dish, desert and a drink?

I'm willing to travel around the city and the only type of food I really don't like is westernized Chinese food (though I imagine there wasn't going to be too many suggestions for that anyways). Thanks to all for the neverending great recommendations on this board-

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  1. I recently tried two places that would fit the bill - Momofuku Ssam and Degustation. Momofuku was pretty good, but Degustation was life changing! Here's my review:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/511075

    The 5 course tasting is $50, the 10 course is $75, so even with wine you'll be able to stay under $100. The whole place is a bar so it's really an ideal spot for a solo diner. I will go back again and again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Atelier Joel Robuchon (Four Seasons Hotel)
      Eleven Madison Park

      Easily under $100:
      Union Square Cafe
      Bar Moderne (MoMA)
      Bar Boulud (Lincoln Center)

      2 Replies
      1. re: tigger99

        Ditto Robuchon. Have a few apps (eel with foie gras), skip the entrees. When we went all dessert choices were sorbet so we skipped dessert.

        Falai. Bar area is small so it might be better on a weeknight.

        Ditto Degustation

        You might want to skip USC, to be fair we only had dessert at the bar there recently. They were the original greenmarket restaurant - long before Market Table, Irving Mill, Blue Hill, etc.

        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          I recently went to USC because a friend was in from out of town and wanted to try it. Everything we had was very solid (gnocchi dish, pappardelle, a risotto dish which I believe was a special, and the fagilio alla toscana). That said, I don't think I'd make a special trip to go back any time soon.

          And regarding 'weeknights,' I should've mentioned that for the most part I'd rather go to all of these on weeknights as I realize it's often easier to just pop in rather than deal with the weekend masses.

      2. esca. go with the crudo, pasta and some good italian wine.

        1. Definitely +1 for Degustation. Must be tried.
          Another bar I like is Yakitori Totto. Get there early and eat your way through all the "chicken special" skewers, the daiginjyo tofu, and anything else that strikes your fancy.

          1. Babbo. If you like pasta and Italian food that you have to go to Babbo. While sitting at the table requires 30 days of advanced reservation, you can walk in at 5:30 and sit at the bar and have the best pasta in the city. Do a search on Babbo and plenty of reviews will come up.

            If you want to get some tapas in New York, try Casa Mono. You can sit at the bar/kitchen counter and watch the chef preparing your food. I am sure it is no comparison to the tapas you have in Barcelona, but it should satisfy any craving if it strikes you.

            Boqueria is another place great for tapas, as well as Tia Pol.

            If you are only getting a single drink, then you can even do Craft. Perilla and Perry Street will also be doable.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kobetobiko

              second the bar at Babbo--this is my favorite for solo dining.