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Aug 15, 2011 04:43 PM

Recommendations for a solo diner in Philly

I'm heading to Philly for one night and am looking for good options for a solo diner. I'll be staying in center city, but am willing to head to the old city for dinner. I've been reading good things about Zahav and Dandelion. Are either of those spots suitable for a solo diner? Any other suggestions? I've eaten at Alma de Cuba on past trips and enjoyed the meal and atmosphere. My budget is about $75.

Also, I'll be up near Penn the following day. I hear that there are some food carts worth checking out. Which ones stand out?

Many thanks.

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  1. Zahav's bar is good for a solo diner. They also have a few high tops near the bar. Another great place to eat at the bar is Barbuzzo. They have 2 bars - one overlooks the kitchen.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jl0328

      I would recommend a,kitchen. You can sit at the counter and watch the chefs make the food.

      1. re: jl0328

        +1 for Zahav as a place to eat alone. They are very accomadating at the bar. I have eaten alone at Barbuzzo, the one thing I would suggest is you do not want to be TOO close to the stove/oven area as it gets quite warm there.

        Dandelion is ok for dining solo. They will tend to seat you upstairs at a table that is physically attached to a fireplace they have in one room. Its a bit cramped. The food though is quite good. If you are in on Sunday or bank holiday and you like traditional roast with yorkshire pudding, its worth going to.

        The one other place I would recommend as a solo diner is Osteria. Eat at the bar, and you will get great service.

      2. +2 for Zahav the high top tables next to the bar are perfect for a solo, good food friendly people and an active bar should make for an enjoyable experience.

        1. Thanks for all your input. Will it be difficult for me to snag a seat at the bar or at one of the high-top tables at Zahav on a Thursday night around 7:30 p.m.?

          Also, anyone have any intel on the food carts near Penn?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Desidero

            I would give them a call and ask them. With the hightops and the seats at the kitchen I do not think you should have a problem, the bar would be my last choice for dinner. They will make sure you have a seat for dinner. Always room for one more!

            1. re: Desidero

              I like the Sugar Philly truck... tasty macarons (38th between Locust and Walnut).

              I could see if you'd actually like lunch, though... if you don't mind a little walk, I would check out Cucina Zapata, on Drexel's campus (, I ate their food at the Vendy's and it was great. I've also heard good things about Don Memo (closer to Sugar Philly: I really liked the Tyson Bees truck the few times I tried it last spring, but I've heard it's under new direction, so I can't speak to it now (33rd and Spruce, My staples while at Penn were the Magic Carpet truck (vegetarian, 34th and Walnut) and the chinese truck next to the newer, fancy gym on Walnut.

            2. The best food truck going right now is Tacos don Memo, which makes truly terrific tacos and burritos. it's on 38th St. b/t Walnut and Chestnut. Be prepared to wait 20 minutes or so for your food, but it's worth it. Sugar Philly is right down the block toward Walnut.

              If you want a nicer lunch, Distrito (Jose Garces' upscale Mexican) has a very good lunch special: app, entree, and beverage for $15. Depending on what you order, you may be in a food coma for most of the afternoon. That's at 40th just above Chestnut.

              1. Question about dining solo at Zahav: Do they allow solo diners to order the tasting menus?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Spade

                  I think you will have no problem with the Ta'un menu. The one with the lamb shoulder might be a bit much for a solo diner, unless you are an endocrinologist with an overactive metabolism (uhockey... ).

                  Dandelion is easily able to accomodate solo diners. For a comfortable seat you may want to make sure you do not get the seats in the room that are attached to the fireplace. These tables are small, and the chair is uncomfortable. I have dined solo at them on multiple occasions but will not do it again.

                  My favorite place to dine solo is at Osteria. The service at the bar is as good or better than the main restaurant, and it is a great way if you are having multiple courses to get pairings of the food and the libations together.

                  1. re: Spade

                    I would call and ask them about the tasting menu. I've found Zahav to be very accommodating and the roasted lamb is truly excelllent.