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Recommendations for a woman dining alone in NYC (preferably at the bar)?

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luvgdfud Mar 20, 2011 06:11 AM

I am in a position to rekindle my love affair with NYC restaurants after an absence of many years. I am hoping to do a regular "tour" of excellent restaurants but am, quite frankly, intimidated at the idea of being "the woman eating alone at the bar". Does anyone have any good experience and recommendations in this regard? Are there any fun dining groups that maybe I could join?

BTW I am really not looking for a "pickup spot", just a good atmosphere and a great meal. Any advice is appreciated!

Thanks!

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    gutsofsteel RE: luvgdfud Mar 20, 2011 06:26 AM

    Women eat dinner alone at restaurant bars all the time in NYC - don't be intimidated - it's quite normal and common.

    One really fun one is Hearth - at "the pass" - you're sitting looking right into the kitchen, and you're served by the chef. And the food is quite good.

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    Hearth
    403 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10009

    1 Reply
    1. re: gutsofsteel
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      luvgdfud RE: gutsofsteel Mar 20, 2011 06:36 AM

      Thanks. I will look into it.

    2. thew RE: luvgdfud Mar 20, 2011 06:26 AM

      honestly - there aren't many places in NYC that are not accommodating to solo diners

      3 Replies
      1. re: thew
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        luvgdfud RE: thew Mar 20, 2011 06:37 AM

        I am sure I will get into the swing of it eventually. It's more that I only have a few nights each month when I am on my own and don't want to waste an opportunity to go somewhere fabulous.

        1. re: luvgdfud
          thew RE: luvgdfud Mar 20, 2011 10:21 AM

          well, i'm not a woman, but i do eat out alone at least once a week. used to be more. what i'm saying is that there is no reason to waste an opportunity for fabulosity just because you are alone. from dive to high end i've done it all alone. and fully fabulous

        2. re: thew
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          steakrules85 RE: thew Mar 20, 2011 08:11 PM

          yep thew is right- NYC does not frown about solo diners. They are very receptive and welcome you wherever you decide to eat.

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          lemons RE: luvgdfud Mar 20, 2011 06:58 AM

          I have happily eaten solo at the bar at the Union Square Cafe and Grammercy Tavern ever since they opened. I am sure that any of the restaurants of the Danny Meyer group would be equally hospitable. (Complete disclosure: Yes, I do know Danny somewhat distantly. I would never announce that at one of his restaurants, though; it's just way not necessary, anyway.)

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

          Union Square Cafe
          21 East 16th St., New York, NY 10003

          2 Replies
          1. re: lemons
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            luvgdfud RE: lemons Mar 20, 2011 07:03 AM

            Thank you. Curiously, those are the first two that came to mind when I was thinking about this for myself. I haven't eaten at either (yet). Is there an optimal time to get to these restaurants if you want to dine at the bar?

            1. re: luvgdfud
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              gutsofsteel RE: luvgdfud Mar 20, 2011 07:09 AM

              Consider Craft at the bar.

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              Craft
              43 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003

          2. Phil Ogelos RE: luvgdfud Mar 20, 2011 07:05 AM

            This topic has been dealt with repeatedly on these boards, lgf, which leaves me a little puzzled that there're no references at the bottom of the page linking you to them. Do a search, perhaps, or wait for the C'Hound resident archivists to save the day for you.


            P.S. "Dining groups" -now that's as good an idea as book groups! I suspect there are sub rosa groups of hounds who meet & dine together, but they're not easy to find. Then again, I don't tweet.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Phil Ogelos
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              luvgdfud RE: Phil Ogelos Mar 20, 2011 07:34 AM

              Yes, I saw some of the other threads for dining at the bar. I just thought there might be some specific suggestions for a woman alone, or, as you say, a dining group. Maybe I should start one!

              1. re: luvgdfud
                Phil Ogelos RE: luvgdfud Mar 20, 2011 07:41 AM

                Yes, you should initiate a dining group; you'd find a lot of takers here, I think.
                And there are numerous threads specific to women dining alone at bars, although as others have noted above, it's really not an issue in this city.

            2. s
              Simon RE: luvgdfud Mar 20, 2011 04:09 PM

              NYC is a great dining alone at the bar city...probably the best in the US...(Tokyo is wonderful too)...

              A few places that come to mind: Gotham Bar and Grill, Ushi Wakamaru, Keens, and Scarpetta...i'd put Scarpetta at the top of the list...

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

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

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                FoodDabbler RE: luvgdfud Mar 20, 2011 04:33 PM

                The bar room at The Modern has (a) seating at the bar (crowded at peak times), (b) away from the bar at proper tables, and (c) my favorite when dining there alone: low tables in a row with a long banquette facing the bar or chairs facing away.

                Plus, being the restaurant associated with MoMA, you get a more cultivated class of person here. I remember a man emerging from the toilet into the unisex washroom, still holding a beer in one hand, saying to me "Man, that was a great piss. You just can't buy that shit."

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                The Modern
                9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

                1. sgordon RE: luvgdfud Mar 21, 2011 08:23 AM

                  Personal favorite fr bar dining:

                  WD-50: the bartenders are really engaging, good conversation for a solo diner if you don't want to feel totally alone. Also, it's a small bar with only a few seats so you get a little more attention than you would at, say Gramercy Tavern. And the food - well, it's WD-50. You love it or you don't. I'm in the former category.

                  Gramercy Tavern: great food, a little impersonal if only because the bar area is always bustling at dinner time.

                  Colicchio & Sons Tap Room: These days I'm diggin C&S more than GT, personally, especially if it's tap room vs. tavern room menus. Great food, freindly staff, decent sized bar that doesn't get as crazy packed as GT.

                  Morimoto: sit at the sushi bar, there's a good amount of space between the seats. Skip doing a sushi course and stick with the composed dishes, I like to go cold app -> hot app -> entree with them (desserts tend to be just okay, I'd sooner do two apps than app -> entree -> dessert)

                  Soto: like Morimoto, skip the sushi and go with composed dishes. It'll get pricey - you might want to order four+ things as portions are small. But they are exquisite.

                  Babbo: if you can actually score a seat, that is.

                  Lupa: decent bar seating, boisterous crowd.

                  Planet Momofuku: Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar, whichever... all have good bar seating. I've eaten solo at both of them, never felt uncomfortable.

                  Aldea: I have yet to be blown away by the food, I admit, but it's solid if a little over-hyped. I include it because lots of other people are crazy about them and they do have a very comfortable bar area.

                  I'm sure I'll think of ten more as soon as I hit "post my reply" now...

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                  WD-50
                  50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

                  Lupa
                  170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                  Soto
                  357 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014

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

                  Babbo
                  110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

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

                  Morimoto
                  88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

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

                  Colicchio & Sons
                  85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

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                    hungrycomposer RE: luvgdfud Mar 21, 2011 09:01 AM

                    I had a wonderful meal of appetizers at the bar at Prune with my mother the other day - the sweetbreads and the monkfish liver were outstanding, the bartender was extremely nice and she mixed a great sidecar. Best of all, they seated us without a reservation at the dreaded 7:30 Saturday night slot. It's also very woman friendly (I'm a woman and I would happily go there by myself, but I would go almost anywhere by myself in NYC.)
                    I also second Momofuku noodle bar, esp. if you want to eat at the bar facing the kitchen, and Momofuku KO If you want to shoot the works.

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                    Prune
                    54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

                    1. s
                      secondbecky RE: luvgdfud Mar 21, 2011 09:43 AM

                      I used to sell wine, so I would go to restaurants by myself all the time. Opt for one with a bar and just chat up the bartender or bring a book. I truly enjoy eating by myself now, whereas I used to so fear it.

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                        Lady Grey RE: luvgdfud Mar 21, 2011 12:08 PM

                        The New York Times did an article on this a while ago. I've done it at Union Square Cafe. I think Babbo is known for it. And whatever the restaurant is now on Tudor Place - Convivio? L'Impero?

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                        Babbo
                        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Lady Grey
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                          mzito RE: Lady Grey Mar 21, 2011 02:20 PM

                          Actually, sadly, we just lost Convivio - it's currently shuttered and awaiting rebirth. But yes, I frequently ate at the bar at Convivio.

                          My preferred choices for dining at the bar - I like Giorgio's on 21st street, Annisa (get there early), 11 madison (who just built uip their bar menu quite a bit and has great cocktails), and oddly - Maloney and Porcelli in midtown. M&P is a decent, good/great not excellent steakhouse, but they have a long counter in the back that faces the kitchen, and is well-lit, meant for people who want to eat by themselves, have good reading light, and don't want to deal with the drunks at the bar. It's genius. And if you don't have a book, you can watch the chefs.

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                          Annisa
                          13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

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                          pdquinn RE: luvgdfud Mar 21, 2011 12:28 PM

                          L'artusi is a very good spot for eating alone. Nice long spacious bar in the main restaurant with cushioned stools and excellent food. Brussels sprouts are fantastic. Pastas are great as well.

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                          L'Artusi
                          228 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10014

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                            luvgdfud RE: luvgdfud Mar 21, 2011 12:34 PM

                            Wow--thank you for all the excellent recommendations! My mouth starts to water every time I research a new one. Since I am heading out in the prime time dinner rush on Saturday night, I may head downtown and arm myself with a list of spots, cruise by each one and see how crowded they each are. I feel spoiled for choice by all the expertise here on the Chow site.

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                              budgetrick RE: luvgdfud Mar 22, 2011 06:32 AM

                              Just stopped in at Craftbar last week, late in the afternoon, and sat at the bar for a negroni, olives, almonds, and cheese. Very pleasant and the rest of the menu was there for the asking.

                              You will probably have about eleventy billion meals on you tour of "excellent" places before you work your way to this one, but I have had a string of wonderful experiences dining alone at the bar at House of Brews on West 51st, between 8th and 9th It is pretty much what the name suggests it is, and the menu is modest. It seems, however, to draw a very diverse crowd of patrons, most of whom are very sociable. There seem to be regulars, tourists (it's just off the theater district), and a host of random people. The bartenders are welcoming. Most of what I've observed and all of what I have experienced consisted of people just talking, not attempting pick-ups or other bar buffoonery. Adjust your sights for decent pub fare as opposed to haute cuisine, and you'll have a decent time there.

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                              Craftbar
                              900 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

                              The House of Brews
                              302 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: budgetrick
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                                FoodDabbler RE: budgetrick Mar 22, 2011 07:09 AM

                                I agree with what you say about the general atmosphere at House of Brews, but I've found the food well below decent pub fare. You're better off drinking there and eating at the halal cart parked just outside.

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                                The House of Brews
                                302 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                                1. re: FoodDabbler
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                                  bronwen RE: FoodDabbler Mar 22, 2011 07:17 AM

                                  I love eating at a bar - try the Saloon bar at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station. I find most steakhouses have great bars to eat in too.

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                                  Grand Central Oyster Bar
                                  89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

                                  1. re: bronwen
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                                    gutsofsteel RE: bronwen Mar 22, 2011 08:31 AM

                                    If you're going to eat at the Grand Central Oyster Bar, eat at the oyster bar itself, not in the dark mens club saloon back room. It's a saloon, not a restaurant, and it's not very nice at all. My understanding is that the OP wants to eat in a restaurant at the bar, not in an actual bar.

                                    Plus other than oysters and clams (and I had very good shad roe last week), the food at the GCOB is lousy.

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                                    Grand Central Oyster Bar
                                    89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

                                    1. re: gutsofsteel
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                                      wander00 RE: gutsofsteel Apr 22, 2011 07:46 PM

                                      HI...i just logged on to find a dining group in Manhattan and found this board.....does anyone really want to start a dining group....I know I would like to join one....anyone have any info?

                              2. omotosando RE: luvgdfud Apr 23, 2011 08:55 PM

                                I recently had a nice solo meal at the bar at Veritas in Gramercy Park. The staff seemed to go out of their way to make me feel comfortable as a solo diner. Veritas is known for its wine list and has an interesting selection by the glass if you happen to be interested in wine.

                                I've also eaten solo at the bars at Babbo, Scarpetta and Bar Modern.. Babbo was very convivial, but tranquil it was not. A lot of people were jammed into the bar area and there was a fairly long wait even for a solo bar seat. Although other people seem to love the food at Scarpetta, I didn't like what I ordered at all and didn't find the bar particularly convivial. I didn't care for either the food or the service at the bar at the bar room at The Modern, but there were plenty of other solo diners, including the woman sitting next to me who spent the entire meal working on the huge laptop in her lap, which I found rather strange, sort of like she was at Starbucks.

                                I once had an amazing solo meal in the bar area at Del Posto, but I'm pretty sure I read that they did away with dining in that bar area, so I would guess that Del Posto is no longer a good solo option.

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                                Babbo
                                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                                Veritas
                                43 East 20th St., New York, NY 10003

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