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Feb 22, 2010 08:10 AM

Solo dining recs

Hi everyone,

I'm in town next week for business and will have 1/2 day to my self and wanted to get some nice recs for some good food solo dining. Probably eating a late lunch and dinner by myself. I'd really like good Southwestern and/or Mexican. I'm staying at the Embassy Suites next to the Biltmore Fashion Plaza, but will have a car and willing to drive to some good eats. Doing some brief searchs, Roberto's Mexican sounds good, but seems far. Wouldn't mind trying Bianco's since everyone raves about it, are they open in the afternoon? Is it less crowded if I show up after I arrive/checkin say 3-4? I'm game for any type of food other than Asian (I get my fill of it in Toronto!)


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  1. For Mexican I would try Barrio Cafe.

    You might also consider Noca.

    Pizzeria Bianco is not open until 5 p.m.

    1. Tarbell's ( will be very close to your location and they have great food, great wine and bar seating. Tarbell had solo dining in mind when he built the place, so they're very welcoming to those dining alone.

      1. Mexican/Southwestern options w/in a 5-mile radius of your hotel:

        La Condesa Gourment Taco Shop -- new arrival generating quite a buzz. Took my family there for lunch yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. Order at the counter and wait for food to be brought to the table. Interesting tacos fillings like chicken mole, mushrooms, battered dogish, etc. Impressive salsa bar and nice art. Food is more interior and coastal Mexican than the usual border food found in local restaurants.

        El Napolito -- hole in the wall in a battered strip mall, but excellent and inexpensive food. Chicken enchiladas with mole sauce are quite good.

        Rosita's Place -- old school favorite for border Mexican food done right. All the usual suspects are there: tamales, enchiladas, etc. , but there are also interesting caldos -- big soups -- on the menu. Salsas are killer. Red hurts; green really hurts.

        Gallo Blanco -- Mexico City style street food adapted to work in a boutique hotel restaurant. Stylish but cheap. There's a small counter facing into the kitchen. That's a good place for someone dining solo.

        Non-mex, but good for solo dining.

        Tarbell's mentioned above.

        St. Francis -- just nominated for a Beard award (albeit with some grumbling by local foodies). American food with an emphasis on the wood-fired oven. Sit at the small counter facing into the ktichen if dining solo.

        As for Pizzeria Bianco, you may luck out if you are flying solo and willing to sit at the bar. I still think it's less hassle to go late (around 9 PM) than early.

        2 Replies
        1. re: silverbear

          A correction:

          It's El Nopalito rather than El Napolito. I think I'm fixated on our former governor Janet Napolitano. Thanks to AZhotdish for dm-ing me about the error via Twitter.

          1. re: silverbear

            Thanks for the great recs, La Condesa seems like just what the doctor ordered, will try and report back! Still debating about dinner though...

          2. Padre's is a good mid-scale Mexican option near your hotel. It doesn't have the down-home character of El Nopalito or the sleek stylishness of Gallo Blanco (both places I like very much), but it does have a bar where a solo diner can feel at home. The menu features solid renditions of some of the usual suspects as well as a good selection of unique dishes.

            The non-Mexican options mentioned so far are all very good choices for the solo diner. Foodwise, Noca is at the top of my list, followed by Tarbell's, then by St. Francis. Noca and St. Francis both afford the solo diner an opportunity to watch the cooks in action, but Tarbell's does not. In the style department, I would rank Tarbell's first, followed closely by St. Francis.

            3213 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018

            El Nopalito
            2831 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008

            3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

            Padre's Modern Mexican
            1044 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ

            Gallo Blanco Cafe
            401 W Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85013

            St Francis
            111 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85012

            1 Reply
            1. re: hohokam

              Thanks for the recs, St Francis looks pretty interesting, I'm still researching, but I think it's top of list right now!

            2. I would also seriously consider going to Fnb in Old Town Scottsdale across the the canal bridge. You can sit at the bar and be right in the action.

              10 Replies
              1. re: duck833

                Maybe it's because I'm a girl, I don't know, but every time I've dined alone in Scottsdale, people seem to stare like you're an alien because you have nobody dining with you. I wouldn't suggest old town Scottsdale for solo dining unless you're oblivious to people whispering and staring!

                1. re: coastalgypsy

                  Thanks, ya I was planning on visiting old scottsdale, but now you have me sefl cnocious hehehe :) Will check out fnb (is that the actual name or some appreviation?)

                  1. re: Wil

                    FnB is the actual name of the place... I believe it stands for "Food and Beverage" if I'm not mistaken. Website is If you go, please post back about your experience!

                    1. re: Wil

                      I've dined solo in restaurants from coast to coast, and I have to say either I'm oblivious to the stares and whispers or my fellow patrons are generally oblivious to me. My firm belief is that the latter is almost always true.

                      The crew at FnB is one of the most warm and welcoming in town, so even if some Scottsdale "mean girls" show up, you'll have some great folks on your side. Definitely a good option for the solo diner. It doesn't hurt that the food happens to be top notch too.

                      7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                      1. re: hohokam

                        I travel a lot, and I find NYC to be the city I feel most comfortable dining alone. Scottsdale is the only place I've solo dined and actually had people talking about me loud enough that I can hear it. It's a clique-y town and those chicks are ruthless, especially after their second cosmo...

                        All that aside, I'm in Phoenix for business quite often, so if FnB really is as welcoming to solo diners as you say, I'll try that place on the next trip. Take-out is getting boring, and Tarbell's is starting to think I'm a stalker!!

                        1. re: coastalgypsy

                          The PR gal for the Peter Kaperski group (Cowboy Ciao, Kazmierez, FnB) can often be found hanging around the restaurant, and both of the chefs are female. And Pavle's wife Emily often greets / seats a lot of guests, so you'll be in good hands. The "clique-y" scene doesn't go to FnB.

                          1. re: coastalgypsy

                            The thing about FnB that makes it seem ideal for the solo diner is that about half of the seating in the restaurant is at the U-shaped counter enclosing the open kitchen. Someone who is feeling self-conscious can head to the back section of the counter where the kitchen can provide a bit of a buffer from the rest of the crowd.

                          2. re: hohokam

                            Thanks for all the tips everyone, FNB looks like a winner. Will report back when I am done. This whole "clique-y" thing sounds interesting too hahahaa, never realized the area was like that!

                            1. re: Wil

                              Finally got to check out FnB as a solo diner... everything they said was true! Pavle, who greeted me at the door, was super friendly & chatted with me throughout the meal, lots of laughs. They sat me right in front of the chef so my mind was occupied with the cooking show; never had to crack the book I brought. Had a great baked pasta dish (which came out pretty quick; no huge wait), then the chef gave me an unexpected side dish of delicious grilled eggplant to try. Had blackberry creme brulee for dessert, then they give me a little bite of peanut brittle with the check. They were so nice and didn't make me feel invisible, which quite a few places do when you're dining alone... it was actually the opposite. This is the PERFECT place for dining alone.

                              7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                      2. re: duck833

                        Great choice. Also, Posh. Great service and I know more than one female who has dined alone at the counter. Everyone there is very nice.