Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Dec 7, 2011 08:07 PM

solo dining in SF?

Looking for restaurant recommendations suitable for a solo traveler. I'll be staying in the Nob Hill / Union Square area for 4 days, but am open to exploring any area of the city. Interested in places where I won't feel uncomfortable by myself. For breakfast, looking for casual places where I might be able to linger over coffee and a paper. For lunch, looking for a place with either good atmosphere, nice view, people watching, or something unique to San Francisco (this is my first visit). For dinner, looking for more upscale places with bar seating and a good wine selection by the glass.

Thanks for your help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. This question is asked regularly. Most restaurants have a bar and every one has full menu at the bar. It's one of my tricks in life: eat at the bar. CH in NYC tipped me off to Le Bernardin, where you don't have to reserve ahead if you eat at the bar. It's a little crazy to do a $600/pp meal without reservations at the bar, but what the heck!

    So you should really simply ask for the kind of food you like. One that pops to mind is RN74, but arguably it's the kind of high end restaurant that could be anywhere, since it's a Michael Minna.

    Anyway, back to san francisco:

    1. Check out Canteen at the counter. You should still reserve but it's totally cool for a solo diner and you can see some of the cooking and prep. They recently changed the stools though so can't comment on the new ones' comfort factor :-).

      1. My current favorites for solo dining are Barbacco, Perbacco, Cotogna, Bar Tartine, and Incanto. The latter's exceptionally comfortable as there's a wide step for your feet.

        Note all the automatic links to older topics at the bottom of the page.

        1. Boston hound here, heading in tonight for a conference at the Moscone Center and will likely be dining solo for the next few nights. I'm staying at the Marriott Marquis. I've gone through the threads here and these are the places that interest me the most so far in roughly descending order:

          Nojo (dying to go because Boston has no yakitori and I am obsessed)
          Bar Tartine (a little far but looks great)
          Press Club (mainly because it's so close)

          Which of these do you think is likely to be the least slammed on a Saturday night? I like a lively, social place, but I also don't want to wait for any more than a half hour for a bar seat... Obviously this is tough on a Saturday night, but my flight lands at 7:30 and I'll be starving for something delicious by the time I check in. I really am dying to go to Nojo. Any other Japanese izakayas that you guys really like that fit into the above list? Thanks!

          7 Replies
          1. re: Mike5966

            Probably all busy on a Saturday night except maybe the Press Club, but for a solo diner there's often an odd seat at the bar.

            How did you pick Nojo?

            Bar Tartine's just a few blocks from BART.

            1. re: Mike5966

              I love the Izakaya Yuzukii at 18th and Guerrero (short walk from 16th St. BART station - around the corner from Bar Tartine.. :-) I've been there many times and it's wonderful. Very authentic, subtle Japanese flavors. I originally went there on the recommendation of a terrific sushi chef. Oh, yes, and I've eaten there solo each time!

              1. re: Mike5966

                If you're "dying" to go somewhere, then go there!I haven't heard much good about the food at Press Club. Otherwise I don't think you can go wrong with that list. I personally loved AQ and it's big enough that they should be able to squeeze you in somewhere.

                1. re: Mike5966

                  It's heading onto saturday, but a fun place that doesn't seem to get slammed is Skool. It's not that far via taxi, don't miss the uni flan.

                  I would skip Zuni these days. It's just on the tired side. Nopa works on the early side - always a little crowded. Zero Zero should have made your list - it's not just pizza, the non-pizza dishes are awesome.

                  1. re: Mike5966

                    Thanks for all your replies. I ended up at Nojo. There were 4-5 empty seats at the bar when I arrived around 9 PM. I had one of the best solo dining experiences I've had in a long time. I took advantage of it and ordered a ridiculous amount of food for one person. In addition to a few glasses of shochu and a beer, here's what I had:

                    Chicken thigh/skin
                    Chicken skin
                    Chicken gizzard x 2
                    Hiza, chicken knee cartilage x 2
                    Pork jowl
                    Duck liver

                    Roasted asparagus with French radish and miso
                    Chawanmushi with dungeness crab and nameko mushrooms
                    Spam rice ball with nori/scallions
                    Agedashi monkey-faced eel

                    I found this place on the article on the top 100 places in San Francisco. I used this as a starting point since it had a map showing everything close to my hotel. It ended up being exactly what I was looking for. The standouts were the gizzards, the hiza (hadn't had this before, even in Japan), the chawanmushi (really hot, silky, with really tender dungeness crab meat and nice, chewy mushrooms), and the agedashi eel (what a cool idea). Also really enjoyed the raw yolk and soy sauce that comes with the tsukune. Spam rice ball was also fantastic. They make the "spam" in-house and, as a true spam-from-a-can lover, this reminded me more of a pate de campagne than spam. The actual rice ball had a really crisp rind to it which I liked.

                    I can't say enough good things about this place -- great food, great staff, great atmosphere. Anyway, thanks again folks.

                    1. re: Mike5966

                      Thanks for reporting back. I'm glad it worked out so well for you!