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Jan 5, 2012 08:46 PM

New Year Resolution: Solo dining!

Oh hey there!

So, this year, my new year resolution is to eat some amazing food...alone. I've always admired all those BAMF dining solo and just enjoying their own company. Going to start with Saturday lunches but maybe when I get braver, dinners? Who knows!

Anyway, do you have any suggestions of laid back restaurants that you'd recommend for solo lunches on saturday (Manhattan or BK)

Thus far, I've only been to Epistrophy. But, have tried Chuko for a late wkday dinner prior to the resolution.

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  1. If I eat solo, I prefer amazing food places with chef counters, or sushi bars, or just bars. So my choices are Kyo Ya, BrushStroke, Osteria Morini, Blau Gans, Sakagura, 15 East, Casa Mono, Degustation, Jewel Bako. I have gone to other places solo and sat at tables and did not have a problem. Recette, Cercle Rouge, Plein Sud, I've even had dinner at the Gotham solo. No big deal, just go eat with a smile

    15 East
    15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

    Casa Mono
    52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

    211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017

    239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

    Jewel Bako
    239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

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

    Blaue Gans
    139 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013

    Kyo Ya
    94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

    Cercle Rouge
    241 W. Broadway, New York, NY 10013

    328 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10014

    Plein Sud
    85 W Broadway, New York, NY 10007

    Osteria Morini
    218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

    30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

    3 Replies
    1. re: foodwhisperer

      OH! yes! chef bars, you're right! most of these require reservations for lunch right?

      1. re: paprikachip

        Many restaurants are not open for Saturday lunch or are serving brunch menus, FYI.

        Kyo Ya -- not open for lunch
        Brushstroke -- not open for lunch
        Osteria Morini -- serves a brunch menu on Saturdays mid-day
        Blaue Gans -- serves brunch menu on Saturdays mid-day
        Sakagura -- only open for weekday lunch
        15 East -- open only for weekday lunch
        Degustation -- doesn't serve lunch
        Jewel Bako -- doesn't serve lunch
        Recette -- closed Saturday mid-day, serves dinner and Sunday brunch but not Saturday brunch
        Cercle Rouge -- serves brunch
        Plein Sud -- serves brunch
        Gotham Bar and Grill -- only serves weekday lunch

    2. My favorite restaurant for solo dining is Momofuku Ko. The three hour lunches on Friday/Saturday/Sunday are among the most decadent and delicious way to enjoy the weekend.

      Momofuku Ko
      163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

      1 Reply
      1. re: ellenost

        good suggestion. i'm going to try that!

      2. You know - maybe some of those BAMFs dining solo and just enjoying their own company that you've admired are actually just sad, lonely, unlikeable people with no friends. Just sayin'.

        Anyway... for me, dining solo is about cheap eats. Going to fancy restaurant, the meal is about sharing, tasting each other's dishes, good company, etc. One tends to eat faster when dining solo, naturally. So on those nights where for whatever reason my girlfriend's nto around and I don't feel like cooking, I hit up some cheap eats spot, or to hit a place for a dish I'd be into but maybe she wouldn't - say, it's a perfect excuse to go to Ah Ping Snack Bar, or to get that dried-squid-and-pig-stomach dish I'd been eyeballing on the Ping's menu the last time we were there, but refrained from ordering for her sake.

        But that aside, my favorite higher-end place for solo dining is easily WD-50. Not that I wouldn't dine there with the gf or a group, but if I was flying solo and felt like a splurge, dining at the bar there is pretty great, especially if Jafrul or Tona are working the bar - they're both very engaging with the solos for conversation, and happy to walk you through some of their amazing cocktails. Granted, we're semi-regulars there and they recognize us, but even from the beginning they've been that way.

        50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

        7 Replies
        1. re: sgordon

          WD-50 would be really fun. Note to the OP, it is only open for dinner.

          1. re: kathryn

            Yeah, I somehow missed the "lunch" line....

            But in that case I'll add: Momofuku Ssam Bar's duck lunch, especially the duck-over-rice, upon which you then slather the amazing ginger-scallion duck fat schmaltz at the table. And it's not too busy on the weekends, when everyone else is doing brunchy things.

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

            1. re: sgordon

              Interesting that so many of the momofuko restaurants are being referenced here. i went to ma peche (not solo) and wasn't that impressed.

              ANYWAY, ginger scallion duck fat sounds amazing and the perfect thing to eat after a yoga class on saturday... so i will be testing out Ssam Bar. Let you know it goes! Thanks for the suggestion.. keep em coming :)

              Ma Peche
              15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

              1. re: paprikachip

                FWIW, I'm a big fan of Ssam Bar (both the duck lunch, and regular menu at dinner) and Ko, but was completely unimpressed by my trip to Ma Peche.

          2. re: sgordon

            I got used to solo dining when I was selling wine, so I'm not a sad, lonely person - unlikeable maybe....
            So, I always sat at the bar, chatted up the bartenders and ate well. Often with free drinks to boot. I've done Capital Grille on East 42nd several times by myself and it was always a pleasure. Union Sq. Cafe also had a great solo diner at the bar thing going on. (I actually really prefer eating at the bar, even when I'm with someone.) Atlantic Grill was easy to eat at.

            Honestly, I don't think I've ever had a bad time eating by myself. I actually quite like it. I find myself more social talking to strangers! Think of all those couples sitting together, both on their iphones or just having nothing to say to each other... with a friendly bartender, you're always able to stay engaged!

            I don't like eating at sushi bars alone though because I often find the sushi chefs unattentive to the patrons. Maybe that's just me.

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

            Atlantic Grill
            1341 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10021

            Capital Grille
            155 E 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017

            1. re: secondbecky

              Unless you speak Japanese - kidding. Actually, I've been to more than one restaurant where the sushi chef was surprised and delighted to chat with my Italian American friend in her perfect Japanese. As for me, I tend to leave them alone because I imagine it's not easy to converse and handle a knife simultaneously. And I don't want to slow them down or be the cause of a nasty cut.

              1. re: secondbecky

                I totally enjoy dining solo. I'm not sad or lonely. But I do get hungry. I'm friendly and always meet people at the places I eat. Also, get a stronger relationship with the chefs, if at the chef counter or sushi bar. Eating solo has advantages over eating others, you can eat what you want and not try to please everyone ( I like ordering for everyone when i eat with a group). I do enjoy ordering for a group of people also. In any case, you can eat as much as you want what you want , and engage in conversations that ordinarily you wouldn't if dining with others, as you would be conversing mostly with them. I have met some amazing people while dining solo. Especially when drinking sake. Also, eating at a table is OK, enough sake and you can get up and dance on it. But it is a friendlier scene eating at a bar or counter.

            2. when you get to dinners, i highly recommend (some of which were already mentioned above by foodwhisperer and kathryn):

              -- Cercle Rouge
              -- Gotham Bar and Grill
              -- the sushi bar at 15 East (pricey)
              -- the wine bar Ten Bells
              -- Scarpetta
              -- Le Promenade des Anglais
              -- Quartino
              -- DBGB at the bar (super-friendly bartenders: if you tell them your thoughts on solo dining, they will happily chime in with ideas, opinions, etc)
              -- Kin Shop
              -- Blue Ribbon
              -- Soba Koh (also nice for a quiet solo lunch at a table)

              15 East
              15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

              309 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

              Blue Ribbon Brasserie
              97 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

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

              Cercle Rouge
              241 W. Broadway, New York, NY 10013

              11 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

              355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

              The Ten Bells
              247 Broome St, New York, NY 10002

              299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

              Kin Shop
              469 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

              La Promenade des Anglais
              461 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

              1 Reply
              1. i'll also add that i find NYC to be one of the best cities in the world for solo dining...prior to moving back here a few months ago, i spent most of the last 4 years traveling/living in Asia and Europe...some cities are great for solo dining (NYC, Tokyo and most of Japan, London, Vancouver) and some are terrible or at least very problematic for solo dining (e.g. Seoul)...others have pros/cons...for example in Paris, they'll happily give you a table for one, and there are cafe/wine-bar options, but there is very little of the full-menu-at-the-bar that we enjoy in Thailand, they'll happily give a big table meant for six people to a solo diner, but they'll also find it incredibly sad, almost karmically tragic, that you are alone...etc...

                In NYC, the solo diner is respected: this is a city for lone wolves, ronin, new arrivals, passing ships, and lost souls channeling Edward Hopper paintings...enjoy, and please report back on your impressions :)

                15 Replies
                1. re: Simon

                  Really, NYC? Yes, if there's a bar area where they can shunt you off to or communal seating. I have rarely seen solo diners at a table. None of my friends feel comfortable eating at a table alone here, even though their work hours make it sometimes hard to meet up with others for dinner and eating takeaway or cooking at home is not an option. When I dine alone, I avoid places where I am unable to eat at the bar or there's isn't communal seating, because it seems awkward to eat alone at a table by myself and I have rarely seen it done here. Fyi, I'm not someone who feels odd doing things alone.

                  1. re: lulumoolah

                    Yes, NYC is great for solo diners, even at a table. I love dining alone and always request for a table because I hate climbing (and climbing down) bar stools due to my (lack of) height. Table all the way and it's awesome!

                    1. re: Cheeryvisage

                      lulumoolah- I don't know what neighborhood you're in, perhaps it's mainly families, but I've never had or seen a problem with single dining anywhere in midtown - 40s to 60s, east and west, and in the middle.

                      1. re: Jane A.

                        I've lived in the EV, Midtown, UES, downtown Brooklyn, etc. I've hit the gamut in terms of neighborhoods with lots of singles or lots of families or a good mix of the two. Actually, this is a conversation I've had with friends here in the city who tend to work crazy hours and the consensus is they would feel uncomfortable dining alone at a table and would avoid that situation if possible.

                        Kudos for you who feel comfortable and enjoy dining alone here in NY and think the culture here supports solo dining at a table. It's news to me and to many of my friends who tend to eat most of their meals out because of their work/social situation.

                        1. re: lulumoolah

                          i did a few solo lunches in europe when i was traveling w friends over thanksgiving. i really enjoyed it a lot which is what made me examine my extremely social eating habits when i got back to nyc. this is really what spurred my new years resolution.

                          plus, i do agree with you that i've seen a lot of places immediately suggest bar seating. that's great, but i like windows and i don't care to talk to a bar tender (unless it's the chef).

                          anyway, i tried my first solo dining adventure this year today at Ideya. It was very pleasant!

                          1. re: paprikachip

                            I do think it's great. For me and my friends, sometimes the only time we can meet is for dinner or drinks. At times we have had to wait weeks or months for a few us to be available to check out a particular restaurant. I've gotten to the point where I'm willing to go alone if I'm in the mood for a particular meal. Also, I'm hoping to travel solo later this year so I will have to get used to eating alone, especially at a fine dining establishment. I don't want to limit myself to street food, outdoor stalls, food trucks, bistros, bars or the bar area of a restaurant.

                      2. re: Cheeryvisage

                        Cheeryvisage, if you see a Korean guy eating alone at the table next to you, taking photos before eating, that's me! :) As much as I enjoy dining with friends, I enjoy solo dining as well. That way, I can focus on the food more.

                        1. re: kosmose7

                          lol, I think I'll be able to recognize you from your blog. I'll be sure to say hi!

                          Yeah, solo dining really is great. I tend to remember a lot more details about the food itself and the restaurant when I dine solo.

                      3. re: lulumoolah

                        I eat solo in New York every time I visit - at tables including Daniel and Per Se for dinner and Marea, Jean Georges, and Le Bernardin for lunch. At JG and Le B I saw other solo diners and at The Modern dining room there were FOUR other solo tables during lunch.

                        As I'm not "From" New York and come once or twice a year I think this is pretty indicative that it is actually quite common (or that I just happened to repeatedly hit "rare" days.)

                        It remains shocking to me that people are so self-conscious.


                        Per Se
                        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                        Jean Georges
                        1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                        Le Bernardin
                        155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                        1. re: uhockey

                          I think it's great that you have had great experiences dining solo here. I don't think it's that unusual that people are so self-conscious. To be honest, I don't know how I would feel about dining alone at high-end restaurant alone, partly because I've never been in that position and partly due to the fact that I want to share the experience with like-minded friends. When I plan to travel solo later this year, I will definitely try solo dining at a restaurant I wouldn't have considered eating at a table alone.

                      4. re: Simon

                        I would have to say I don't think a restaurant would decline you if you decide to dine solo at a table or make you feel uncomfortable. However in terms of the dining culture and perceptions, I don't think it's as widely accepted or part of the fabric.

                        I've known people to take clients and colleagues out for dinner on the weekend here so they wouldn't have to dine alone.

                        1. re: Simon

                          I disagree that Seoul is a terrible city for a solo diner - perhaps not as great as New York, but I wouldn't say it's "very problematic" either. BBQ restaurants won't serve a solo diner, but other than that, one shouldn't have a problem being served as a solo diner.

                          I know it's not related to OP but didn't want potential visitors to think they'll have a problem dining out alone.

                          1. re: uwsister

                            It's not just bbq places: even pajeon (seafood pancake) places won't take solo diners as the tables are for restaurants places also have big group tables (and often no bar stool seating)...i was there three weeks and it was uniformly the worst city for solo dining i've ever been to in the world (and i've spent time in 35 cities over the last four years)...on the plus side, the samgyetang places will take you because it's a one-person dish: so i ate and enjoyed a lot of that...

                            1. re: Simon

                              I honestly do not recall having any problem dining solo in Seoul - I spent quite a few years of my life there. I also asked my Caucasian husband who worked there for three months and he said the same thing, he didn't have a problem dining solo. I am obviously not discounting your experience, but it could have been the places you have tried, the neighborhood you stayed in, etc.

                              If you ever do go back to Seoul, I'd say try: octopus ("nakzi") restaurants, jook/congee places, boonsik (street food) places, izakaya type places, cheap day laborer lunch joints (usually located in alleys serving jjigaes and such,) department store food courts (usually in basements, oftentimes surprisingly high-quality and delicious,) youshoku type places (don't know what you'd call it in English or Korean, serving omurice, hamburg rice, etc.) fried chicken joints, dumpling places... all of these places would welcome a solo diner.

                            2. re: uwsister

                              I've eaten seoulo in Seoul, there were several places to do that. In Kyoto, you cannot get a true kaiseki meal if you are a party of one. Two is perfect.