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Best Solo Dining in NYC

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My husband and I are both medical residents, and as such, our schedules often don't overlap, and we eat a lot of dinners alone. While he's content to throw together a turkey sandwich night after night, I find myself getting sick of the take out options in my neighborhood, and I'm not always up for cooking. I was wondering where my fellow Manhattanites turn when faced with this dilemma?

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  1. What is your neighborhood? That would help us narrow things down a little bit.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      the point of the post wasn't neighborhood specific.

      1. re: babydoctor

        Sorry about that -- sometimes posters post without mention of geography when in fact they do have particular areas in mind. Glad you've gotten lots of great suggestions, and I do agree with Thew's post, below.

        If up for a splurge, I recommend bar dining at La Grenouille.

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        La Grenouille
        3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

    2. I find that Manhattan is great for solo bar dining, especially at odd hours.

      Here's some places (not super formal but not super casual either) where you can drop in and get a good meal at the bar:

      Babbo - you might have to wait for a seat, or you could go to Scarpetta, both serve the full menu at the bar but Babbo won't do a tasting for the solo diner, Lupa and Otto are also solo diner friendly, especially at the bar
      Hearth - you can eat at the bar or ask for "the pass"... Terroir is next door as well if you want some wine and bites to eat.
      Minetta Tavern - go early or really late
      Prune - but the bar is pretty tiny
      Po - ditto
      Jeffrey's Grocery - they have a good sized bar and specialize in oysters, sandwiches, etc
      Smith & Mills - tiny place but the bar has like 8 seats
      Locanda Verde - the bartenders are great, you can order off the full menu, too
      Pearl Oyster Bar - nearly 1/2 of the restaurant is counter seating anyway
      Momofuku Ssam Bar - also solo diner friendly
      Momofuku Noodle Bar - ditto, actually I bet any of the ramen places could accommodate you, like Ippudo
      DBGB or Bar Boulud - although I think the seating set up at DBGB at the bar is kind of funky
      Gramercy Tavern - the bar and casual front room have a nice vibe to them, it's a la carte unlike the formal dining room
      Bar Room at the Modern - great atmosphere but it can get a bit loud
      Union Square Care - they save the bar and some walk in tables for those without reservations
      Txikito or El Quinto Pino - Most of EQP is counter style dining anyway
      Casa Mono - also solo diner friendly and you won't have a long wait if you're a party of 1 at an off hour
      Spotted Pig - if the downstairs looks crowded, ask the host about the upstairs bar
      Perilla - I think you can order off the full menu, this is Harold from Top Chef's place, not sure if his new Thai joint, Kin Shop, has a bar with full menu dining
      Maialino - although they don't serve the full dinner menu at the bar in the front room, it's an attractive and comfortable space
      Red Egg - one of the few Chinatown places with night time dim sum (made to order), and a bar, and I think a happy hour special

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      Lupa
      170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

      Pearl Oyster Bar
      18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

      Perilla
      9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

      Gramercy Tavern
      42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

      Babbo
      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      Casa Mono
      52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

      Momofuku Ssam Bar
      207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

      Spotted Pig
      314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

      Minetta Tavern
      113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

      El Quinto Pino
      401 W 24th St, New York, NY 10011

      Momofuku Noodle Bar
      171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

      Bar Boulud
      1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

      Ippudo
      65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

      Terroir
      413 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009

      Scarpetta
      355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

      Red Egg
      202 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013

      Txikito
      240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

      Smith & Mills
      71 N Moore St, New York, NY 10013

      Locanda Verde
      377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

      DBGB
      299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

      Maialino
      2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

      Jeffrey's Grocery
      172 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

      7 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        great post, i think the bar room at the modern is also a good place for solo dining although they aren't open too late.

        1. re: kathryn

          Great thread...I'll be following it closely as I'm in NY in Dec for a week.

          1. re: kathryn

            I like the idea of sitting at the bar. That way, your not facing that empty seat across from you, rubbing the solitude in.

            1. re: babydoctor

              rubbing it in? i like myself. solitude doesn;t bother me, sometimes i seek it out. there is no stigma to eating alone

              1. re: thew

                There's no stigma to eating alone at a table, but I can see how you might prefer the bar, so you could interact with the bartender or people watch. Sometimes I end up chatting with other patrons at the bar as well.

                1. re: kathryn

                  i do it as well, but that's a very different sentiment than "...rubbing the solitude in"

            2. re: kathryn

              As always Kathryn has shared her great knowledge of the NYC dining scene with lots of recs that are helpful. The great thing about our city is that you can really eat anywhere solo and nobody will frown down on you or make you feel uncomfortable. This has been my experience no matter where I go- neighborhood casual place or ultra ultimate high end.

            3. A few more options for solo bar dining:

              Aldea
              Osteria Morini
              The Breslin
              Tap Room at Colicchio and Sons
              Lupa
              Ma Peche (limited bar menu but the ribs are amazing)

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              Lupa
              170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

              Aldea
              31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

              The Breslin
              20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

              Osteria Morini
              218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

              4 Replies
              1. re: fm1963

                For Aldea, are you talking about the bar in front or the chef's counter in back? I could have sworn they don't serve the full menu at the bar up in front.

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                Aldea
                31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                1. re: kathryn

                  Yes, I just called Aldea and they verified that they serve the full menu at the bar up in front (I was offered the bar or a table the last time I walked in for dinner). I haven't tried the chef's counter yet.

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                  Aldea
                  31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                  1. re: fm1963

                    Oh, excellent! Adding it to my mental list now....

                    1. re: fm1963

                      The chef's counter IMO is by far the better option -- you get to watch the action in the kitchen and not be overrun by anyone. It's my favorite solo dining spot in NYC.

                2. I'm not a doctor, but my wife is in residency, and so I am in this situation frequently. Definitely don't be afraid to get out there as a solo diner and enjoy yourself. NYC is a great place to eat alone, and I've always felt welcome wherever I've gone.

                  Kathryn has given you a great and exhaustive list. If you want more specific advice, perhaps you can let us know what neighborhood you're in, and what types of food you like?

                  Maialino is one of my favorites. It's excellent Roman-style Italian food in a warm, relaxed atmosphere. I'm pretty sure the full menu -- with the exception of their signature "Maialino" suckling pig (though that's far too much food for one person anyway!) -- is available at the bar.

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                  Maialino
                  2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ml77

                    I was under the impression that they only served the "chicchetti" menu at the bar at Maialino. Did this change recently?

                    http://www.maialinonyc.com/_pdf/cicch...

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                    Maialino
                    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Check out this link:

                      http://www.maialinonyc.com/#/about/

                      It says "Bar Maialino serves as a coffee bar in the morning and offers the complete menu throughout the day."

                      I can't remember ordering from it at the bar, but I do remember that once I sat at the bar and asked for a spaghetti aglio e olio, which isn't on any of their menus, and they happily provided it.

                      IIRC, I think they weren't offering the full menu at the bar when they first opened, and later made the change, which may be where the confusion arises.

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                      Maialino
                      2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                  2. Great NY Noodletown

                    1. i have never been turned away or given shoddy service as a solo diner in manhattan, whether at the bar or a table, from highest of the high end to the holiest hole in the wall.

                      so wha i do is just go where i feel like going. maybe ramen, or chinese, maybe a burger or a steak, maybe high end. maybe not

                      1. Great list, kathryn. The other thing I was thinking is that some of these restaurants (the tapas places, maybe?) are kind of an experience meant to be shared. Then again, a place like Babbo is so freaking loud, its not like you would be having a decent conversation any way, so may as well hit is solo. Thoughts?

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                        Babbo
                        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: babydoctor

                          I actually had a great time at the bar at Babbo talking to the other folks on either side of me. They even let me sample some of their dishes. It was loud, but we could hear each other just fine. The bartenders were particularly helpful in choosing food and wine pairings. Other good bar food experiences I have had have been at Gotham Bar and Grill and Gramercy Tavern. The Modern Bar Room is a great place for a solo diner.

                          -----
                          Gramercy Tavern
                          42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

                          Babbo
                          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                          Gotham Bar and Grill
                          12 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003

                          1. re: ChemWork

                            Ditto, I love talking to the other people dining at the bar, and chatting with the bartenders. Watching them work is also fun.

                          2. re: babydoctor

                            True -- but it also means that if you have a favorite dish you don't have to share! There's no shame in leftovers either. I find bar dining also conducive to when you just have a random craving for a single dish (like the spaghetti at Scarpetta) and don't want to go through a whole multi-course meal either.

                            -----
                            Scarpetta
                            355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                          3. Is there a bar at Del Posto? Might this be an option?

                            -----
                            Del Posto
                            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011