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Manchester, NH - Best options for solo dining?

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I'll be up in Manchester on business the beginning of June for 4 days and will be eating out all of my meals. I've been collecting tidbits on all the best places to eat from this board, but how many of the better places have a decent bar that you can order/eat at? I figure it's more dinner I'm thinking of, as eating alone during lunch doesn't bother me as much (just weird that way, I guess!).

At this point, I'm definite for Golden Bowl and Siam Orchid, and I've been looking at Cotton and Z for more traditional, fine-dining options? FYI, I'm not interested in the Red Arrow Diner, I'm from the Worcester area and get more than enough of my fill of diners at home!

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  1. The bar at Cotton would be a really comfortable place for a solo diner.

    I think CR Sparks is really quite good too. It has a big, slightly corporate feel but the food is tasty and I think it would be comfortable for a solo diner. They also have Thursday night jazz, if that interests you. www.crsparks.com

    12 Replies
    1. re: Rabbit

      We've eaten at the bar at Sparks and it was very nice--the bartender was attentive and the food very good. I second Cotton--great atmosphere, excellent martinis, good food. We like Z Bistro--it's a small, stylish storefront bistro right on Elm Street. The owner Tom is very genial and if you engage him, he will ensure you have an enjoyable dining experience. Can't go wrong with a bowl of pho at Golden Bowl--the salt & pepper pork chops and grilled quail are also great. I'm not crazy about Siam Orchid--you might want to try Cafe Momo for Nepalese cuisine. The owner is great, and atmosphere is friendly, and the food is an unusual blend of Chinese and Indian influences.

      1. re: whs

        I am not a fan of Siam Orchid either. Last time I went the food was very greasy and the service was painfully slow even though the place was nearly deserted.

        1. re: gryphonskeeper

          Is there another Thai place that anyone can recommend? I just can't get good Thai in Central Mass, and the last couple of times I went I enjoyed Siam Orchid (of course, that was back in '06).

          1. re: Jeremy01506

            I keep hearing wonderful things about Lakorn Thai Restaurant (470 S Main st) but haven't been yet. I, too, have enjoyed Siam Orchid but many keep saying this place is really awesome.

            I agree with Cotton and Golden Bowl. We recently did Z and loved it, I think there is a nice small bar to sit alone. If you need something casual, I've always enjoy the meals at Cactus Jacks on S. Willow. The bar always looks active so dining alone shouldn't be an issue.

            1. re: lexpatti

              I can't agree with the reccomendation of Cactus Jack's. I've eaten there on several occasions, and the food just isn't very good. Last time I got a steak there it was all fat and inedible, and they sat me in this dark dungeon-like room in the corner. The skewers we a bit better, but they got cold fast and they're still far from great.

              1. re: Ratatouille

                Yea, I definately wouldn't get a steak there, when there are great options around. But I do love some of their cajun dishes - Love their bacon wrapped shrimp - they do a really nice job.

                1. re: Ratatouille

                  Ahh yes, but I'm thinking of a few Margaritas at the bar and some Chimichangas for dinner. This isn't my top choice, but it is in consideration at this point.

              2. re: Jeremy01506

                Yes, Lakorn Thai in Manchester on So. Main St, and Giant of Siam on Pearl St in Nashua. They are sister restaurants and are beyond words good/

                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                  Sold. I'll be there for sure!

                  1. re: Jeremy01506

                    I lived in Bangkok for 8 years so I'm kinda fussy about my Thai food--let me know if you like it.

                    1. re: whs

                      Where are your favorite thai places from Northern Mass up into NH?? We love thai. I think you've mentioned one in Nashua before but can't recall.

                      1. re: lexpatti

                        Thon Khao across the street from Building 19 in Nashua (Amherst Street). Ask for the beef salad and tell them you want it "hot like Thai people eat".

        2. Fine dining in manchester you MUST do Richard's Bistro, and if you can have the stuffed Lobster, it is beyond words.

          1. Richard's Bistro has a small bar for dining.

            1. Restaurants with bars:
              900 Degrees, CR Sparks, Cotton, Piccolia Italia, Yuki Japanese Grill (last two might not have many patrons at the bar depending on when you go)

              Bars with decent food:
              Murphy's Taproom, Wild Rover Pub (still on the fence with these two)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ratatouille

                I can second 900 Degrees, they have a decent bar there and pretty good wood oven pizza. Occasionally have live music as well. Also been to Murphy's Taproom, and will also say I'm on the fence about them. Seemed decent enough, but have only been there once and didn't really get into the menu, was just having a couple beers before a show at the Verizon.

                1. re: Whydon

                  Murphy's makes very nice looking dishes, but my main problem with them is that there seems to be something wrong with each dish I try.

                  For example, the beef stew has so much onion in it it's like a french onion soup. I like onions, but not THAT much.

                  And the shepard's pie would be excellent except there is some odd aftertaste to it which makes it inedible. I have no idea what would cause that, but I've tried it several times now. I didn't notice it the first time I tried it but the second and third time I tried it it was definitely there.

                  Even something as simple as chicken tenders they seemed to mess up. The batter tasted burnt. It didn't look burnt, but either they had the oil temperature too high, or something they put in the batter shouldn't be fried. I've been to a few places where they have this problem with the batter. Wild Rover's, if I recall, has the same issue with their fish and chips.

                  Lastly, the potato leek soup was just boring to eat.

                  I feel kinda bad about panning their food because I've met the owner a few times and he's really nice, but I've tried to like their stuff and find something I can enjoy with some regularity, and the only thing I've tried so far which I haven't found fault with is the cajun salmon, and that's delicious, but you can only eat the same thing so many times before you get bored of it.