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Jan 16, 2013 05:24 PM

Solo dining in NOVA or DC

I will be in the DC area for a few days in February and will have a couple of evenings on my own. I'm looking for a great place for solo dining (kitchen bar would be perfect) that is close to a Metro station (I'll be staying in Arlington). I'm from the PNW (for those of you who know Portland, I love Tabla, Pok Pok, Tanuki, Le Pigeon) and would prefer something that's definitively DC-ish -- whatever that means. I prefer beer to wine, bold flavors to subtle, and a warm ambience to white linen. I'm omnivorous, but don't tend to order a big hunk of meat on my plate (unless it's fish). The only things I don't care for are some organ meats. I'd appreciate any ideas, and promise a trip report. Live music (particularly Americana/blues/folk) would be a huge plus. OTOH, tasting menus are fun, too. Ideas?



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  1. Well, it may not be what you're thinking of, but I'm a big fan of Dino in Cleveland Park:

    I've eaten there solo many a time and had a great meal. And it's a few feet from a Metro stop. There are many other places around there as well you can check out; Palena is quite good too:

    1. Best place for solo dining is Bistro Lepic in upper Georgetown. Many restaurants in DC have an attitude or resentment to solo diners and will treat you badly. I often go to a restaurant alone before taking guests to check it out, and I have found it quite the eye opener. At Bistro Lepic they will treat you well, they have a huge selection of half bottles, and they have a good selection of small portions.

      9 Replies
      1. re: law_doc89

        Georgetown is not exactly convenient to get to.

        I've pretty much never had a negative experience with solo dining, but usually I end up sitting at the bar or going on a week night when business is slower.

        1. re: ajyi2012

          "but usually I end up sitting at the bar or going on a week night when business is slower."

          Try asking for a real table at a good location in a restaurant,

          I will not sit at the bar, nor in a high traffic corridor.

          1. re: law_doc89

            I eat at the bar or get a table all the time when I dine solo---very rarely have an issue.

            1. re: law_doc89

              I concur. I don't drink (or rather, I don't pay bar prices for drinks) and while I know that it's not required when eating at the bar, I have a sense that it's expected.

              I don't see the compulsion to sit at the bar if you're by yourself, but I guess some people enjoy the feeling of company. I try to avoid busy hours, which gives me a better shot at a decent place to sit by myself.

              I do get a bit miffed, though, when the first question when I say I'm dining alone is "Would you like to sit at the bar?" I don't know if that means they really think I would (in which case I would have asked) or that they would rather not waste a table on a solo diner. I suspect the latter.

              Then, when they show me to the worst table in the house first and I ask to sit elsewhere, it's usually "OK, anywhere you want."

              1. re: MikeR

                Hah! Yes, I agree on many counts. I do like a drink but do not like the assumption that single diners sit at the bar. But to be fair it is not universal. I ask for a table and have no problems speaking up if I don't like the direction we are headed.

                1. re: Milocat1

                  I love sitting at the bar, even when I'm not alone! Granted, it's typically less comfortable, physically (although not always), but I just find it a more sociable experience - which I like. We usually end up chatting with the bartender and other patrons. Obviously, if we're in the mood for quiet conversation, or if we're doing the fine dining thing, we opt for a table. The other big plus for the bar area is that there usually aren't any children - and yeah, yeah, I know there's well-behaved children out there who go to restaurants. For me, the bar area seems less formal, less-constrained if that makes any sense. I always feel like I'm on a "schedule" at a table. I understand they need to turn it, of course - I guess I'm just a barfly, ha ha.

          2. re: law_doc89

            I disagree about solo dining in DC. It doesn't make sense in some places or could be uncomfortable, but overall I haven't found DC to be a place that has an "attitude" towards solo diners. I think you just need to find the right place.

            1. re: law_doc89

              I have been treated very well when dining solo in DC.

              1. re: law_doc89

                +1 for Bistrot Lepic. The OP doesn't mention jazz, but you can enjoy it (check their website, but I think they have music on Monday & Wednesday) upstairs at the wine bar. Very friendly service & good food.

              2. Hi Erika,
                I dine by myself all the time in DC. My go-to place use to be the bar/lounge at PS7 but sadly it closed recently. A few places that might interest you where you can easily dine at the bar and have a great meal are Brasserie Beck, Art and Soul, Bibianna, Ris, and Rasika. No live music at any of these places, but excellent food!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Elyssa

                  Note: There are 2 Rasika locations....I prefer the West End location especially since the bar area is larger.

                  Also I forgot to mention Central---a great place to dine solo, and to also try to cooking of one of DC's best chefs!

                2. I do DC solo all the time and many restaurants are very good at it and good for it.

                  Rasika, Rogue and Tosca.

                  1. For a tasting menu and kitchen counter, you could try Suna in Eastern Market. I had a very nice solo meal there. You can make a reservation for their kitchen counter (though I'm not sure whether they currently require the 8 course at the counter or if you can get the 4 course. When I made the reservation, they said you need to get the 8 course at the counter. But then when I was there, they seemed to give me the choice. I got the 8 course anyway.)