Tips for Solo Traveler in Phoenix Area
I am going to be in Phoenix for work and decided to extend my trip for a few days. Ideally, I would like to be able to have dinner at a restaraunt with a bar where I will be able to get a seat and not feel totally out of place. A nice meal or some interesting apps would work. I have been reading the boards and have seen recommendations for everything from NOCA to Roaring Fork for happy hour, but most of the posts don't say much about the layout of the restaraunt. Any tips you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
I would look for places that have a community table, so that you can dine alone but still have company.
NOCA, as you've already mentioned, has a community table (at least they did when it first opened); it also has a bar area.
Other places with community tables that you might want to consider: Delux, La Grand Orange, Lola.
A place that has a nice bar dining option would be Crush Lounge, as well as Tuck.
Enjoy your stay.
NOCA has two runs of counter seating, one facing the parking lot (bleh) and one facing the open kitchen (yay!). I've done a couple of solo dinners at the kitchen counter and had great times watching the kitchen crew do their thing and chatting with the servers waiting at the pass. Though NOCA is open in the early evening, I don't think they run happy hour specials. I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
Tarbell's (kitty-corner to NOCA) has a great looking bar, though I've never eaten at it. As such I can't speak to the vibe at the bar there, but maybe others can.
Digestif also has an open kitchen, and many of its 32 seats are at the counter facing the kitchen. I haven't eaten at Digestif since they moved into this smaller space, but I enjoyed quite a few meals when Chef Curry (a pretty entertaining guy) and crew were in their previous venue. If you're looking for a fun time with good food, I'd suggest you give this place a shot.
The Parlor is another spot where a solo diner could get a good meal and not feel out of place. They have two counter areas--one facing the kitchen; one at the bar. I've dined solo there twice, but not at peak times.
Postino is another spot with a lively counter/bar scene. In my opinion, it is mainly a place for a late afternoon snack and a glass or three of wine--that is if they are still running their late afternoon wine by-the-glass special. The menu, which consists mainly of bruschette, sandwiches, and salads, however, isn't enough to motivate me to fight for places to park my car and my butt at dinner time.
In downtown Phoenix, both Sens and PastaBar have bars where the solo diner would be welcome. I'm guessing the vibe is going to depend a lot on the day of week, time of night, and who's on duty. On our visits to these restaurants, the bar scenes at both places were subdued but friendly.
I'm sure other will have great ideas to add to this list. Hope you have a good time wherever you end up.
3213 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018
3939 E Campbell Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85018
7114 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85351
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
705 N 1st Street 120, Phoenix, AZ 85004
705 N 1st Street 110, Phoenix, AZ 85004
The Parlor Pizzeria
1916 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
Thank you, both! I ended up going to NOCA -- a-ma-zing! Really the service and food were wonderful. And the bar was a really nice place to dine. Very close to the open air kitchen, which provided some entertainment and also had good service/conversations with the bartender who seemed knowledgeable not only about spirits/wine, but also about the food. The second night, when it was storming, I ended up eating at elements, the restaraunt at the resort where I was staying. Food was good, drinks were great, but service was lacking. I wouldn't recommend it, at least on a Friday night, to people dining alone. Looks like it would be a great date place though.
Thanks for reporting back. Glad to hear you enjoyed your meal at NOCA. I find it amazing how the NOCA servers seem to have same passion for and knowledge about the food one would expect from any member of the kitchen crew.
Too bad about Elements. I've never been there, but the reports here generally have been mixed. So, while it's regrettable that you had a less than perfect experience, it doesn't come as much of surprise to me.
I hope you have a chance to explore some of the other options around town if/when you come back.