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Nov 30, 2009 11:27 AM

DC Area - Lunch for one. Ideas?

Hi, after reading so much lady Reichl, Ruhlman and some other food critics I've been thinking in doing something like that myself, at least once.

If anyone has any advice on a place I won't feel uncomfortable eating alone, I don't have to over dress and you love the food, I can't wait to hear recommendations =)


Metro accesible, no more than 30 mins walk from Metro Station.
Nice place, nothing fancy, nothing Fonda style either.
Budget hmmm... less than $50 + tip, do you guys think that's possible?

Oh well, can't wait to read your thoughts, on my first food critic wannabe experience =)

Cheers and thanks.

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  1. DC is actually pretty friendly to solo diners. I personally do it all the time and if you chose the right place, it can be a lovely experience.

    Some of my favorite spots to eat alone: Bistro Bis (I tend to eat at the bar), Central (I also eat at the bar or at one of the small tables in the bar area), Cashion's Eat Place, PS7 ( the bar), or Bistro du Coin.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      Add Hanks, Johnny's Half Shell and for lunch, specials at CF Folks.

      Sorry - saw that you mentioned lunch specifically, so: CF Folks of course fits the bill.

      1. re: Dennis S

        CF Folks? i will have to google that place.

        On the Johnny's Half Shell vs Hank's Oyster bar? I have been to Hank's and loved it, not crazy about the crabcake, but the oysters are great, even the breadpudding i had with caramel was pretty tasty... though i am very picky with desert... =)

        1. re: helenahimm

          The thing to note at CF Folks is to generally order from the daily specials, and to sit at the counter and enjoy the proprietor's show (though in warm weather, eating outside is nice, too). They used to have one of the best crabcakes in DC proper, but that was with the last chef and not the guy they've had most recently (Note that I haven't been now in 4-6 months).

          1. re: Dennis S

            Well that will be the place to visit on my next day off during weekdays. Thanks.

            Have you been to Cafe Atlantico, I've read great comments on their "inventive" dim sum. I wonder how good it is.


            1. re: helenahimm

              No I haven't gotten down there yet - but I think at this point the dim sum brunch would be what I'd go for. Hmm - maybe need to pull something together soon and try it out.

              I mainly get to DC solo during the weekday (before or after a client visit) or for happy hour time-frame with a friend or three. Date nights recently have only taken us as far East as Clarendon (based in Reston for work and home).

          2. re: helenahimm

            You should know that if you are in fact dining on a weekend, CF Folks is not open.

          3. re: Dennis S

            Yes Hank's is also a good choice. Had dinner there last week by myself and it was delicious! Plus they gave me a good table, which was appreciated (I hate when they stick single diners at the bad tables).

          4. re: Elyssa

            Thanks for replying Elyssa..

            It's just Monday, but it cheers me up to think about next Sunday's lunch. I have Central in mind.

            1. re: helenahimm

              Sunday lunch? That wipes out CF Folks, Central and Johnny's Half Shell - only open for lunch on weekdays.

              1. re: comestibles

                Really? hmmm... I will have to do a search on places open around 12 then. Thanks.

          5. I almost always eat by myself (I don't want to pay for anyone else's lunch unless they're making me money!) and I don't see what the big deal is. I don't like sitting at bars, so I ask for a table. Some people feel self conscious sitting at a table by themselves so they eat at the bar. Your choice. I suspect that having a bar (but not necessarily being one) is probably a rough gauge of how fancy you want. But you'd have to be someplace I've never been in order to spend $50 for lunch, unless it's a three-martini lunch.

            6 Replies
            1. re: MikeR

              Seconded; I can't think of a place in DC where you couldn't dine solo (which is how I eat many of my meals out), and only a handful of places where $50 wouldn't cover your tab unless you were having drinks (which can add up quickly at a lot of places).

              1. re: sweth

                I am actually not having any drinks just water, unless of course i ended up in a japanese place then i would love to try some sake.

                To be honest with you guys I have just eaten by myself in public twice in my life, big family, always with friends in my country and in here I cook most of my meals or go out with friends, so there you go...

                So I would like to try the whole having lunch by myself, and then another day i will dare to go for dinner instead =)

                Again I know it sounds ridiculous since in this area people are very independent but this lady over here it will be a first =D

                1. re: helenahimm

                  It's not silly at all. I have a number of American friends (especially females) that are independent in every other area of their life but have trouble dining alone. Personally I find it liberating. I enjoy my own company, treating myself to a nice meal and reading a good book....or chatting with a friendly bartender. Certain places I like dining at the bar because I personally like the bartenders (Central, PS7 come to mind) but getting a table is always nice as well.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    I think the book thing is a big part of it; some people just can't grok eating while reading, and while I don't think doing both together is a prerequisite for eating alone, I've never met a person who does both who has a problem with dining solo.

                    1. re: sweth

                      I read a lot, but I don't read while I am eating, unless is a coffee and a pastry, but not if I am having an actual meal... blame the whole diet thing... since I started working out I don't even watch TV while eating =)

                      Chatting with a Bartender I tried once in a bar and the person thought I was flirting, and perhaps I was, haha I will try this time a table by myself.

                      I told 2 friends about what I was going to do, now they asked me if I can make reservations for them to come along with me... do you thing I broke all the purpose of dining alone?

                      The good thing is that on Monday I will be off so I can try again if my wallet allows me =)

                      1. re: helenahimm

                        Yes, it would defeat the purpose of dining alone if your friends go along. Why not have them make reservations at other restaurants and dine alone; then you all can compare notes!

            2. Palena
              Bar Pillar
              Creme Cafe

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jay

                Forgot about the bar at Palena...but that's only for dinner.

                1. re: Jay

                  Bar Pilar is open for brunch only on weekends, dinner during the week. I wish they offered a lunch menu either time.

                2. I disagree with all the recs on this board for Johnny's Half Shell. It's an ok place to grab a quick bite at the bar if you're in the neighborhood, but I'd put most of the menu squarely in the "mediocre" range.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: scotcheroo

                    I used to be evenly split between Hank's and Johnny's, but my last two trips to Hank's were a disappointment. I've never had a problem with the gumbo, the seafood, or any of the po boys at Johnny's.

                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      I never really got the thrill over Hank's. I have been there quite a few times, and always walk out of there disappointing. I also think it's over-priced. I'd rather go to Tacklebox for nicer on the wallet and just as good if not better.

                      1. re: Jacey

                        Really? even the oysters and Po Boy? I should try another places to compare then =)

                  2. I will have have lunch with 2 friends so I broke the whole little project (will go to Eastern Market and then to Cafe Atlantico for their version of "dim sum", (has anyone tried it?)...

                    however on Monday I will have lunch all alone... I will take the Metro and may decide for something more simple... Anyone fan of Bankog Joe's? Or should I go to Amsterdam Falafel Shop? I've read great things about their falafels.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: helenahimm

                      I like Amsterdam and have eaten there a few times on my own. But Fla Ave Grill, Oohs and Aahs, and a few other places in that area have been my food delivery sources while dining alone.

                      If it's Monday then, I'd quickly go back to CF Folks. And SIT AT THE BAR.

                        1. re: sweth

                          No bar at cf folks, it's a lunch counter, so I think that's what Dennis means. It's the ambience that counts as well as the food, and it's kind of a dying breed, so grab a seat at the counter.

                          1. re: Steve

                            Ah, that makes sense. I haven't been to CFF in a while, but I do remember enjoying the people-watching at the counter.

                            1. re: sweth

                              Yes, the counter (bar without liquor). Anyway, also the guy who rings you up and sometimes takes your order. His banter.

                        2. re: Dennis S

                          I wonder also what happens at the bar =P CF Folks hmmm ok that will be the place for Monday =)

                        3. re: helenahimm

                          Atlantico's Latin dim sum is good, although from your other post on Panamanian food I would warn you that it's not authentic--just Latin-inspired, and generally good. I could eat their conch fritters all day.

                          1. re: sweth

                            Thanks for the info on the Atlantico's dim sum. I actually never minded anything "authentic" as long as it tastes delicious... I will try those Conch fritters!!