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Eating out Alone in NYC

k
kitkat703 Jul 14, 2008 10:50 AM

I'm staying in New York for a little while by myself and need some good places to eat. I'm a young female on a budget, and so far it's been a bit tricky finding places where I feel comfortable dinning alone. I'm staying in the UWS and spend most of my time here or in Midtown, but I'm willing to head to other areas if the place is really worth it.

I'm open to all types of food, though I'm not a big sushi fan. Also, I've been dying to find a really great diner-type place that serves breakfast all day. I'm know there's a million out there, I just don't know which ones are worth my time.

Thanks!

  1. p
    picklesister Jul 27, 2008 12:10 AM

    From the age of 24 through 26 I ate alone at Cafeteria (7th ave and 17th street) for lunch three times a week and loved it every time. Always ordered delicious omelettes (breakfast 'til 5pm) and never got hit on or bothered once because all the guys are gay. This was only a few years back so I doubt things have changed much.
    I also dine alone at Grey Dog's a lot, for breakfast or lunch or dinner. Both locations are great.
    The Mermaid Inn is a great place to dine alone at the bar for dinner without getting hassled by the men - nobody goes there for the bar, everyone is waiting for a table or eating at the bar, so you won't get harassed. Bartenders are incredibly nice and hospitable and they'll keep you stimulated conversationally-speaking.

    1. m
      meinNYC Jul 26, 2008 09:51 PM

      Agree that Balthazar is fine if you're alone, however someone suggested sitting at the bar, do NOT be lead in that direction. The stools are rock hard and very uncomfortable. Insist on a table, make a reservation and wear black.(Just kidding, but the hostesses are a bit of a fashion police type)

      1. d
        dangerous Jul 25, 2008 08:04 AM

        Sapporo? in the times square area 51st st. Great bowls of Japaneese Soup!

        1. f
          foodwhisperer Jul 21, 2008 04:33 PM

          The best type of place to eat alone is at a sushi bar. You even get to talk to people on both sides of you. Sushi Gari on the UWS is a good one. Otherwise eat at the bar at Henrys on Broadway and 105th.

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodwhisperer
            e
            eatyououtofhouseandhome Jul 24, 2008 04:31 PM

            Lots of good ideas but one thing I might suggest, especially if you just moved here is to go take out and delivery crazy, when my friends visit from other places they always remark on how much options we have in that dept that they don't. I mean not every night but it is a great thing we have here.

            Also join Kim's Video uptown.

          2. Mandymac Jul 17, 2008 12:31 PM

            Perhaps the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station? It's sort of a throw-back kick and made for solo dining.

            1. r
              rpk Jul 17, 2008 12:07 PM

              I'm kinda cheap, and I'm willing to go to all of these places, so I'm guessing they'll fit your budget. These aren't top spots, but my wife and I've always been pretty happy with the food at all of them, and they are all relatively casual as far as the kind of goings ons that they have.

              Sarabeth's Kitchen, 423 Amsterdam @81st
              Alice's Tea Cup, 102 W 73rd St @Columbus Ave
              Cafe Mogador, 101 St Marks Pl @1st Ave
              Hungarian Pastry Shop, 1030 Amsterdam Ave @110th
              Crepes on Columbus, 990 Columbus Ave @108th
              Island Burgers & Shakes, 766 9th Ave @51st St
              Virgils BBQ, 152 W 44th
              Le Grainne Cafe, 183 9th Ave @21st
              Elephant & Castle, 68 Greenwich Ave near 11th between 6th & 7th Ave
              Grey Dog's Coffee, 33 Carmine St @Bedford

              1. BluPlateSpec Jul 17, 2008 09:53 AM

                Some restaurants have common tables where you can eat and not feel isolated. You can meet and talk with others or not as per your mood. The assumed understanding is to respect the privacy of others at the table. One place on the UWS that has this is Le Pain Quotidien
                at 494 Amsterdam Ave and W 84th St . Another place is Angelica Kitchen, 12th St. just east of 2nd. Ave. My experience has been that there are usually more women if that would make you more comfortable. Maybe other Hounds can supply other place with common tables.

                2 Replies
                1. re: BluPlateSpec
                  f
                  foodwhisperer Jul 21, 2008 04:36 PM

                  Momofuko has a bar and common tables, Republic has common tables. De Gustation is a tapas bar. Setagaya or Soba Ko, or Soba Ya all have bars to eat noodles or soup and noodles. Big Nick for a burger , Boulez upstairs sit at sushi bar order from sushi chef or from regular kitchen... Spitzer's has common table and has excellent mussels

                  1. re: foodwhisperer
                    u
                    UWStoSONO Jul 22, 2008 05:20 PM

                    Yea that's great for a budget.

                2. Spiritchaser Jul 17, 2008 09:48 AM

                  Hey kitkat -

                  My newest rave is for a little place on 9th, Kyotofu (it's not Sushi). The menu on the website doesn't show enough to give you a good idea but it's a wonderful little place and I think you would be very happy as a solo diner.

                  1. s
                    Simon Jul 16, 2008 08:00 PM

                    hi kitkat...

                    NYC is a really great town for dining alone, as it's a very normal thing here (unlike, say Korea or Thailand, where it's viewed as strange)...

                    i don't have many UWS suggestions, as i'm not a fan of many restaurants in that neighborhood...but if you find yourself downtown:

                    -- Cafe Mogador: reasonably-priced Moroccan food, but also great breakfasts (i think they serve breakfast til about 3pm)...East Village: St.Marks between 1stAve/AveA

                    -- Lucien is a fun bistro in the East Village to dine at the bar (very crowded on weekends though)...but in the afternoon, a lovely place to get an endive salad, or a piece of chocolate cake...introduce yourself to the owner and tell him you heard it's great place to dine solo...

                    -- Balthazar is also pleasant solo, if you sit on the bar area...getting a trout/spinach salad (or the Balthazar salad and some frites) and a glass of wine is not so pricey...weekday afternoons are best...

                    Sorry i don't have ideas closer to your preferred areas

                    1. bolletje Jul 16, 2008 02:26 PM

                      I think Mandoo Bar is a great place to eat alone. They mostly serve Korean dumplings but they have some other stuff on the menu. It's pretty cheap too. It's at 2 West 32nd street btw. Broadway and 5th Ave. Look for the people making dumplings in the window.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: bolletje
                        n
                        nativeNYer Jul 16, 2008 04:44 PM

                        oh my goodness, bolletje! i had no idea this place existed. i was just in korea town a few months ago. how did i miss this? mandoo bar is the type of place i long to find. thank you so much. i'm so excited, i may even go tonight if i can get myself there before closing. THANKS!

                        1. re: nativeNYer
                          bolletje Jul 16, 2008 06:42 PM

                          It's a really small place from the front so it's really easy to walk right by it. The dumplings are delicious there, so I hope you enjoy it when you make it there!
                          Their tofu appetizer is really good too.

                          1. re: bolletje
                            h
                            heWho Jul 17, 2008 08:45 AM

                            Mandoo Bar is a gem. I literally stopped in my tracks the first time I walked by and saw an old Korean woman making dumplings by hand in the window. And they do not disappoint. You can also buy them frozen to take home.

                            I've also had the Bi Bim Bop (?) there, which was fantastic. It's served tableside and is really cheap. Hmmmm, maybe I'll head that way for dinner tonigh!

                            1. re: heWho
                              n
                              nativeNYer Jul 17, 2008 10:00 AM

                              i didn't get there last night b/c it was too late. you're killing me with these descriptions. thanks again! will try and report back.

                            2. re: bolletje
                              n
                              nativeNYer Jul 20, 2008 06:04 PM

                              i made it to mandoo bar friday night! the women in the window were great and, since we ordered dumplings to go after our dinner, i had an opportunity to watch them. sooooo cool. the dumplings were completely addictive (and this is coming from someone who did a dumpling tour in Chinatown last summer and tried them in countless other places throughout the city for years). We also shared the Joll noodles which were great. this is definitely a casual place and one can easily dine alone there . thanks for recommending it, bolletje. i'm already craving those dumplings!!

                              1. re: nativeNYer
                                bolletje Jul 21, 2008 06:53 PM

                                Glad you enjoyed it! It's been too long since I've eaten there...must think of an excuse to go to Ktown soon.

                                1. re: bolletje
                                  n
                                  nativeNYer Jul 21, 2008 09:24 PM

                                  i was craving those dumplings again today. casual korean places are so difficult to find... and this place had really good food on top of that. we sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable about going into some of the larger Ktown places with less than 3 people. it feels like having a banquet dinner with just 2 people and I tend to feel that the wait staff members look puzzled when 2 people order lots of food. I wouldn't dare go into any of those places alone perhaps with the exception of Shilla. Anyway, Mandoo Bar is nothing like that.

                                2. re: nativeNYer
                                  h
                                  heWho Jul 24, 2008 02:26 PM

                                  Thanks to this discussion I did, in fact, go to Mandoo Bar on the 17th. It was fantastic of course... we ordered an appetizer of the pan friend pork Mandoos, a full order of the Kimchi Mandoos and the outstanding Bibimbob. Each was great in their own right, but the crunch of the pan friend dumplings puts them over the top. Also, the huge cast iron bowl the Bibimbob is served out of is perfect for getting the rice nice and crisp... it actually gets more crispy as it sits in the bowl.

                                  This place is a true gem, we love it. I think the whole bill, plus a glass of wine, a beer, tax and tip was around $40.

                                  1. re: heWho
                                    n
                                    nativeNYer Jul 24, 2008 03:37 PM

                                    yup, i love smashing the rice against the pot and then just leaving it there to sit to make it extra crispy. i didn't order the bibimbap there but i do this at the Mill (UWS) all the time. Did you get dolsot bibimbap? i am just wondering whether they serve it with ground beef (more authentic for this dish)instead of sliced beef into larger pieces. i'm still thanking bolletje everytime i think of this place.

                          2. c
                            chowbeth Jul 16, 2008 12:43 PM

                            I'm surprised nobody has suggested Morningside Heights, since OP is on the UWS. All those places always have Columbia students in them solo. Plus, Tom's Diner (Bway/112) gives the true diner experience with the added fame of the Suzanne Vega song and the outside starring in Seinfeld.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chowbeth
                              D...DF Jul 16, 2008 01:30 PM

                              Sorry but Tom's is really bad. Even by diner standards.

                            2. malibu Jul 15, 2008 11:34 AM

                              Brooklyn Diner on West 57 St. is a nice spot to dine alone at the counter. I don't know how long they serve breakfast- if there is a cut off, but I always like having lunch there. last time I was there I saw Jerry Springer. It's a fun place for an out of towner to check out.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: malibu
                                r
                                RGR Jul 15, 2008 02:43 PM

                                I've not been to the Brooklyn Diner, but diners by their very nature have huge menus with something to please everyone, and I've never come across any diner that does not serve breakfast foods any time of the day or night.

                              2. u
                                UWStoSONO Jul 15, 2008 09:57 AM

                                Artie's deli on 83rd and B'way is great and offers breakfast all day. Zeytin at 84th and Columbus would be ideal for dining along. Sit at the bar, have some wine and appetizers and you're all set for the night. Great bartenders there too.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: UWStoSONO
                                  n
                                  nativeNYer Jul 15, 2008 10:18 PM

                                  i'll second artie's. they also did an outstanding home delivery recently for us - everything was hot and the order was delivered accurately with all condiments and extra neatly packaged. I could not have asked for a better home delivery experience. AS far as the food is concerned, I will also second Zeytin but the only time we ate their food was via a seamless web order so I can't comment of dining within.

                                2. D...DF Jul 15, 2008 07:22 AM

                                  You might consider dining at the bar at Babbo. Many of the bar patrons are walk-in solo diners. Well worth the trip.

                                  1. n
                                    nativeNYer Jul 14, 2008 08:04 PM

                                    the manhattan diner (Brdwy near W76) serves breakfast all day and may be the best diner in that nabe. i really love their french toast and their other breakfast items seem to get good reviews. i'll second good enough to eat and will recommend french roast which is open 24 hrs. for casual meals, i tend to eat in earthen oven, chai, china fun, ivy's cafe, cafe ronda, charm, thai market, noche mexicana, toast, the mill, pisticci, burger joint, island burger,uncle nick's/ouzeria, etc. menupages.com is a good source of info. you should not feel strange about dining alone in manhattan. i see it all the time. as long as it's not in a very high end restaurant without a bar, i'd feel comfortable and, from what i see, so do most people.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: nativeNYer
                                      r
                                      RGR Jul 15, 2008 09:39 AM

                                      I disagree with your comment with regard to high end dining. I have seen solo diners at upscale restaurants seated at a table and receiving excellent service. No need for a solo diner to feel strange in those surroundings.

                                      1. re: RGR
                                        MB fka MB Jul 15, 2008 12:35 PM

                                        Agreed. To the OP - I'm a solo female dining out alone in NYC (I just moved here and don't really know anyone), click on my posts to get some ideas.

                                        I just had a great experience at Blue Ribbon Downing Street and Casa Mono is a go-to for me. I've also been treated really well at Pearl Oyster and Otto.

                                        I was practically ignored at the bar at Gramercy Tavern this weekend. I'll never go back. I watched couples - and men in particular - get attentive service while I was left waiting. Not cool.

                                        1. re: MB fka MB
                                          l
                                          Lucia Jul 15, 2008 01:44 PM

                                          I'm surprised by your experience at GT and would give it a try. I've been before for a drink while waiting for a table at the tavern room. Granted, I was w/a guy but he was waiting in the background, and I was the one up at the bar getting the bartender's attention and ordering. He even started chatting w/me about my sparkling rose pick (he thought I was a wine expert... I'm not).

                                        2. re: RGR
                                          n
                                          nativeNYer Jul 15, 2008 10:14 PM

                                          RGR, Good point. I was just projecting, I guess. So the comment was probably related to my discomfort at eating solo in high end restaurants. I am not under the impression solo diners would receive bad service, though. In some cases, solo diners may even get better service if the managements thinks s/he is a food critics. HA!

                                      2. k
                                        kitkat703 Jul 14, 2008 05:58 PM

                                        Thanks for all the ideas! These places all sound great...now I just have to decide where to go first.

                                        1. julesj66 Jul 14, 2008 05:33 PM

                                          You might want to consider Barney Greengrass if you can go for a weekday lunch!

                                          -----
                                          Barney Greengrass
                                          541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: julesj66
                                            MMRuth Jul 14, 2008 05:35 PM

                                            That's an excellent idea.

                                          2. m
                                            msny98 Jul 14, 2008 12:24 PM

                                            If you're staying on the UWS a good breakfast joint is Good Enough to Eat. The Fairway Cafe (upstairs from the grocery at 74th and Bdway) is another good choice. Both are places you'd feel comfortable alone. Stay away from carnegie deli, especially in the summer tourist season.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: msny98
                                              r
                                              RGR Jul 14, 2008 04:31 PM

                                              I'd say stay away from Carnegie. Period.

                                              Sarge's Deli, on 3rd Av., b/t 36th & 37th Sts., not far from midtown, is a much better option. A woman dining alone would feel very comfortable there and be taken care of very well by the wait staff.

                                              Edited to add: The menu is diner-style in breadth, and breakfast is always available. Sarge's is open 24/7

                                            2. h
                                              heWho Jul 14, 2008 12:11 PM

                                              For your breakfast all day diner, the Frontier has that old school New York vibe and is within ear shot of Midtown

                                              1. MMRuth Jul 14, 2008 11:45 AM

                                                Bar Boulud might be a good option - sitting at the bar. Wonderful charcuterie, etc. - but depends on your budget (their menu is available on line). I don't eat alone much any more, but I'd be comfortable (as a woman) doing that. Also, if you like sea food, you could head to the Village to Pearl Oyster Bar or Mary's Fish Camp for a lobster roll and/or lots of other wonderful seafood. I see lots of single diners at both places.

                                                1. Spends Rent on Food Jul 14, 2008 11:42 AM

                                                  Two good places I've found when dining alone:
                                                  Small budget: Republic, eating at the bar overlooking the frenzied kitchen
                                                  Big budget: L'Atelier by Joel Robuchon eating at the bar overlooking the zen-like kitchen.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Spends Rent on Food
                                                    kcijones001 Jul 14, 2008 12:01 PM

                                                    Republic is a good sugestion, but if kitkat is midtown/uws, i dont think it's worth going to US for.

                                                  2. alkapal Jul 14, 2008 11:06 AM

                                                    i'd go hog wild during restaurant week!

                                                    btw, ate there last week: carnegie deli's pastrami was fantastic. sandwich big enough for two (hungry) people, as was the greek salad. there had to be at least 1/2 lb. feta cheese on that baby. only oil and vinegar dressing, though, and it had carrots! be prepared to take home a doggie bag if you don't like to see a lot of wasted food.

                                                    1. kcijones001 Jul 14, 2008 10:58 AM

                                                      EJ's Luncheonette is a great place for you!
                                                      http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/ejs-luncheonette03/
                                                      So is Carnegie Deli
                                                      www.carnegiedeli.com/

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