A lack of dining companions should never be an impediment to enjoying good food. And while some restaurants can make solo diners feel like second-class citizens, the ones on this list never will — whether the diner is seated at the bar, eyeing the action in the open kitchen, or lost in a book at a table for one. From omakase menus to arepas, tongue-tingling hot pot to perfectly cooked steaks, there’s something to fit every mood and budget. It’s a whole lot of incentive to skip the Seamless and treat one very important person to a night out.Read More
21 Restaurants Ideal for Solo Diners
One is never the loneliest number at these spots
1. 108 Food Dried Hot Pot
A bubbling cauldron of Sichuan hot pot is a communal affair, but the dry hot pots at this Upper West Side restaurant are an incendiary pleasure that can be enjoyed sans company. Join the throngs of Columbia students at 108 Food Dried Hot Pot in the evening and compose a bowl from 48 different ingredients. Chicken gizzards, tofu skins, squid, and Napa cabbage all are equally tasty when doused in the custom blend of oil tinted scarlet from 20 kinds of dried chiles, Sichuan peppercorns, and medicinal herbs.
New York, NY 10029
Thanks to the arrival of restaurants like Diana Tandia’s Berber Street Food and JJ Johnson’s FieldTrip, African cuisines have been getting some overdue limelight in recent years. For his restaurant in the Africa Center, Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam emphasizes ethically sourced West African ingredients such as fonio, a fluffy, nutrient-dense grain. Teranga’s fast-casual format makes it easy for diners to load up on dishes like Ghanaian fried plantains and Senegalese-style yassa yassa chicken topped with caramelized onions.
3. JG Melon
There may be trendier, heftier burgers these days, but the ones at J.G. Melon have stood the test of time. First opened in 1972 by Jack O’Neill and partner George Morgues, both the original location and its branches have hosted scores of politicians and celebrities over the years. A deeply browned, craggy patty blanketed in American cheese on a squishy bun is still the move here.
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At this proudly unhip Cuban restaurant in Midtown West, the mojitos are stiff, the five-piece band is loud, and the joint is popping on an average weeknight. Guantanamera, opened in 2005, is not the place for fussy craft cocktails — it is, however, very much the place for plates of vaca frita, shredded skirt steak tossed with tangy mojo, and textbook cubano sandwiches. Regulars order enough meat to soak up the Cuba Libres, then ask Juan de la Cruz, a “professional Cuban cigar expert,” to roll them a smoke. Come early, talk to strangers, and dance the cha-cha until midnight.
5. Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
A fixture in the dining scene since 1913, the Grand Central Oyster Bar is one of those rare New York tourist institutions that merits multiple visits. The people-watching in the grand, vaulted dining room designed by Raphael Gustavino is great, as is the anachronistic oyster pan roast. The recipe for the creamy dish with six Blue Point oysters hasn’t changed over the last century. It’s worth arriving well before your train to savor a plate with a glass of bubbly.
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6. Arepa Lady
Former judge Maria Cano, also known as the legendary Arepa Lady, has been serving arepas in Queens ever since fleeing bloodshed in Colombia more than three decades ago. After a developer razed her first brick-and-mortar restaurant, she opened a new one with her son Alejandro Osorio in Jackson Heights. Loaded with cheese, carne asada, and other toppings, these hearty arepas are definitely fork-and-knife food. There’s also a location in the Dekalb Market food hall in Brooklyn.
7. Mu Ramen
Long Island City, NY 11101
As the popularity of Ichiran, a Japanese import where ordering requires zero human interaction, proves, ramen is sometimes a dish best slurped alone. Mu Ramen, opened by Joshua and Heidy Smookler in 2014, doles out premium bowls with toppings like dry-aged ribeye. Stocks made with Kurabuta pork and duck make for worthy twists on the usual tonkotsu, shoyu, and spicy miso options.
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Elmhurst is packed with regional Thai restaurants, from Hug Esan — which serves crisp-skinned grilled chicken daily until they run out — to Raan Kway Teo — which specializes in boat noodles in a spiced broth rich with pig’s blood. One of the best is Lamoon, where chef Arada Moonroj has been serving the Northern Thai dishes she grew up with in the city of Lampang since 2018. Kang hung ley, a Burmese-inflected curry with tender pork belly, and nam prik ong, a fiery dip of ground pork, fermented shrimp paste, and chiles served with garnishes for dunking, are particular standouts.
9. Gramercy Tavern
Flying solo is no reason to miss out on a fancy evening at a New York institution, especially a Danny Meyer classic dating back to 1994. Tasting menus in the Dining Room tend to be steep, but the Tavern’s a la carte options are a more manageable splurge. Order a round of roasted oysters or a brick-pressed chicken with Fresno pepper sauce and feel like a million bucks.
10. Nami Nori
Three Masa veterans are behind this temaki-focused West Village spot, which opened in 2019 to rave reviews. While an omakase experience at their previous employer’s restaurant costs a cool $595, handrolls here start at just $6 and spotlight top-notch seafood. At $28, the chef’s set of five is one of the best sushi deals in the city, though premium rolls with uni or tempura lobster can quickly drive up the price.
11. Superiority Burger
In 2015, long before Impossible Burgers began to proliferate, Del Posto alum and punk rock drummer Brooks Headley opened this ambitious veggie burger counter-service spot. Just about everything at Superiority Burger is made on the premises, many items are vegan, and nothing costs more than $10. For a satisfying, sustainable bite on the go, it doesn’t get much better than the classic Superiority Burger topped with Muenster cheese, pickles, tomato, and iceberg lettuce. The space is so small, that a solo diner will have an easier time than anyone else.
12. Chez Ma Tante
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Made with crunchy romaine and Treviso showered with shaved Parmesan and anchovy-buttered bread crumbs, the Caesar salad at this Greenpoint French-Canadian bistro is what every other Caesar salad wants to be. The same could be said of the steak tartare, house-made charcuterie, pancakes, and just about everything else on the menu. Chez Ma Tante has gotten increasingly popular since opening in 2018, but wait staff will still make solitary diners feel welcome through a leisurely dinner. In the winter months, the inside is a cozy, Quebecois-inspired haven, while the sidewalk tables under fairy lights are just right in summer.
13. Sushi on Jones
New York, NY 10012
Omakase dinners free from deep-pocketed sushi bros and under $100 are becoming a rarity these days. That’s why the timed 30-minute menu at Sushi on Jones is so refreshing. Owner Derek Feldman opened the small al fresco space in the Bowery Market food court in 2016 and has since expanded to a second branch in the West Village. At all locations, diners can dig into 12 pieces of high-quality seafood or Wagyu beef nigiri for $58.
14. Ho Foods
Few things are more soul-soothing than a bowl of 24-hour-simmered, marrow-slicked bone broth swimming with toothsome noodles and braised beef shanks. There’s little else on the menu at Ho Foods in the East Village, but with Taiwanese beef noodles this good, there doesn’t need to be. Snagging more than one of the 10 seats at peak times is a challenge, making this ideal for an unaccompanied diner.
15. Uncle Boons Sister
Michelin-starred Uncle Boons in Nolita serves some of the best khao soi noodles in town, but most of its dishes are designed to be shared with a group. Fortunately for lone diners, Per Se alumni Ann Redding and Matt Danzer opened up this smaller, more affordable sister restaurant in 2017. The herbaceous sai oua sausage arrives on a platter with sticky rice or, less traditionally, a hot dog bun, garnished with the Thai flag and a mound of brightly acidic som tum.
Although New York slice is arguably the perfect meal for one, these trapizzini make for a welcome change of pace. Pizzaiolo Stefano Callegari invented the street snack in Rome in 2008, then brought it to the Lower East Side at Trapizzino in 2017. In lieu of a thin crust pie with roni cups, picture an airy sourdough pizza bianca made with a 200-year-old Italian starter stuffed oxtail ragú and other homey Roman recipes from Callegari’s grandmother. Soft-serve gelato makes for an ideal finish to a meal.
Husband-and-wife duo Mika Ohie and Yoshihito Kida preside over several Japanese restaurants in New York, including Goemon Japanese Curry and Shabushabu Macoron. Cocoron, opened in 2011, remains a jewel in their small Manhattan empire. The earthy, ethereal soba noodles here are rolled out in-house daily and make for extremely enjoyable slurping at one of the communal tables. Served in a sesame broth with minced chicken, the signature mera mera soba is next-level comfort food.
Seating is in short supply at this popular Iberian tapas joint, which the team behind Hart’s and the Fly opened in 2017. For larger groups, reservations at Cervo’s are essential, but single diners can often sidle right up to the bar for natural wines and seafood-centric small plates like Manila clams in vinho verde. Diners looking for a more substantial main course should opt for the Spanish mackerel or whichever whole fish is on the menu that day.
19. St. Anselm
Dinner at Keen’s, Peter Luger, or any of New York’s old-school steakhouses is a ritualistic affair consisting of the consumption of multiple bottles of Bordeaux and a heart-stoppingly expensive piece of meat over the course of several hours. For those who just want a really great steak without the fuss, St. Anselm, opened in 2011 by Joe Carroll, is the way to go. The best seats in the house are by the open kitchen, and at $28, the butcher’s steak is better than most cuts of meat double the price. It needs no accompaniment, but those looking to gild the lily should order the pan-fried mashed potatoes and spinach gratin.
20. Win Son Bakery
Making the most of a visit to Win Son means sharing a truly excessive number of dishes family-style around a lazy Susan. Luckily for diners who don’t want to wait to assemble a group, the same crew opened Win Son Bakery right across the street in 2019. Umami-loaded Taiwanese-American dishes like a pillowy milk bun stuffed with fried calamari and lemon aioli make for a satisfying, self-contained meal. At breakfast, be sure to end with a chewy millet mochi doughnut or one of the other sweets.
Opened in 2017 by L’Artusi alumni restaurateur and sommelier Joe Campanale and chef Erin Shambura, Fausto ranks among Brooklyn’s finest Italian restaurants. Pastas like orecchiette with bitter greens and pork aim for simplicity and highlight stellar produce from Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket. Sit at the bar and allow the knowledgable staff be a guide through the thoughtfully chosen menu of French and Italian wines.