Dining out alone is not a lonely activity: If done right it can be one of the most luxurious ways to experience New York. The right spot is about more than food, though. The restaurants on this list meet certain criteria: a dining room or counter, where you can slip right in; other solo diners; and portions fit for an individual, not a group.Read More
The Best Places to Eat Alone in NYC
One is never the loneliest number at these restaurants
188 Bakery Cuchifritos
Jose Coto’s Caribbean lunch counter remains a fantastically porky establishment for a quick, affordable bite in Fordham Heights. Literally order anything: the chewy alcapurrias, tender pernil, starchy mofongo, crisp chicharrones, or bouncy blood sausages with cilantro.
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 alone. Join the throngs of Columbia students at 108 Food Dried Hot Pot in the evening and compose a bowl from 50 different ingredients. Chicken gizzards, tofu skins, squid, fish balls, and cabbage all are equally tasty when doused in the custom blend of oil tinted scarlet from dried chiles and medicinal herbs.
8090 Taiwan Cuisine at New York Food Court
At this under-the-radar food court, find around two dozen stalls, mostly Chinese and Taiwanese businesses whose prices are affordable and whose menus are only sometimes translated into English. 8090 Taiwan, specializing in grilled meats, is one of the best options for solo diners. Its most popular item, a Taiwan-style steak, is drenched in black pepper sauce and served over noodles with corn kernels, eggs, and a salad on the side. It’s a full meal.
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 is great, as is the classic 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 strong martini. Note: the business is currently closed on Saturday and Sunday.
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The 40-foot counter at S&P Lunch makes it an ideal option for a meal alone. Pull up a chair, where customers dine elbow-to-elbow alone and in pairs, and pick from an old-school menu with affordable pastrami, egg creams, and peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. The restaurant is surprisingly affordable for the area.
Lou Yau Kee Chicken Rice
A food hall is one of the best places you can eat alone: Almost everyone is dining solo, and those who aren’t (colleagues or classmates) probably wish that they were. Lou Yau Kee, which specializes in Hainan chicken rice, is one of the best options at the Urbanspace food hall in Union Square. A large portion of poached chicken over rice costs about $15.
What started as an ice cream pop-up in the pandemic has blossomed into a boozy ice cream bar with plenty of savory snacks. Given that most of the seats in this tiny spot are bar stools, it’s best as a decadent solo afternoon snack: order one of Caleta’s small plates, like its chicken liver mousse, with a glass of wine. Finish the meal off with one of its rotating flavors of Bad Habit’s ice cream sundae. It’s an order-at-the-counter situation, so nothing about it feels fussy.
Few things are more comforting than a bowl of slow-cooked, marrow-slicked bone broth with chewy noodles and braised beef. There used to be little else on the menu at Ho Foods, and that was fine because you didn’t need much more than Taiwanese beef noodles this good, but the small restaurant now has zha jiang noodles, sesame noodles, pork chops with rice, lu rou fan, and Taiwanese breakfast on weekends. Getting more than one of the 10 seats at peak times can be a challenge, making this ideal for an unaccompanied diner.
Dashi Okume, a dashi shop and grilled fish counter, is one of several Japanese businesses that operate out of the building at 50 Norman Avenue in Greenpoint. Salmon, mackerel, and other fish are imported from Japan’s Toyosu Fish Market and then grilled as part of set meals that come with miso soup, rice, and seasonal sides. There are only three tables, with more seats at a counter, but the restaurant feels lively thanks to customers milling about at other businesses in the space.
Husband-and-wife duo Mika Ohie and Yoshihito Kida have owned several Japanese restaurants in New York, including Shabushabu Macoron. Cocoron, which opened in 2011, remains a jewel in their small Manhattan constellation of businesses. The earthy, ethereal soba noodles here are rolled out in-house daily and make for extremely enjoyable slurping at one of the communal tables. The recently opened Cocoron Market over on Delancey offers takeout and has only eight seats — friendly to solo visitors.
Equal parts coffee shop and cafe, Davelle opened in 2018, from the owner of Chinatown hotspot Dr. Clark. The space is quite small and casual, good for hanging out with a book, over black sesame cream cheese checkerboard toasts or chicken katsu curry. The team also runs a takeout spot next door.
Shu Jiao Fu Zhou
Shu Jiao Fu Zhou, in Manhattan’s Chinatown, is a solid option for a quick meal alone. Around dinner time, the dining room at this counter-service restaurant is usually full, with many customers sitting alone, or sharing larger tables with other solo diners. The restaurant’s most popular dish is an order of peanut noodles heaped onto a plastic plate; it costs just a few dollars.
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When Ichiran opened in Bushwick in 2016, it attracted hundreds of customers who waited in lines for its ramen, designed specifically for solo diners. The hype has died down, making it easy to grab a seat, but the experience remains largely the same. Sit at one of the sectioned-off booths designed for individuals to slurp on noodles alone, where orders are written down and sent to the kitchen via a button.
Win Son Bakery
Making the most of a visit to Win Son means sharing an excessive number of dishes family-style around a lazy Susan. But when dining alone, head across the street — where the same team opened an all-day restaurant and bar in 2019. Order at the counter, then find a seat in the dining room, where customers sip cocktails and work on laptops side by side. Taiwanese American dishes like mochi doughnuts, fried chicken, and scallion pancakes have kept this restaurant sequel popular years after opening.
With just a few counter seats and some outdoor tables, Syko is really more of a takeout restaurant. But squeeze in alone and saddle up for one of South Brooklyn’s most creative menus. Syrian and Korean flavors, reflective of the owners’ roots, are harmonious here. Don’t sleep on the “Fat Boy,” a burrito stuffed with bulgogi; if weather permits, it’s really best eaten alone — so no one can see it drip down your chin — in Prospect Park, a block away.