There have been times when you have business trips, short days away in the city or are just in a rush for a quick meal. But if you are like me, you don’t just want to grab and go to some place like McDonald’s heaven forbid or Chinese takeout. If you are a foodie like me just because you are alone doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your palate for mediocre food. Here are some solo dining, reservation for one, restaurants that I highly recommend in New York City.
Best Restaurants for Solo Dining in New York City
65 4th Avenue, New York, NY
between 9th and 10th street
Exquisite ramen creations in a bowl, created by the Ramen King, Shigemi Kawahara. You can sit at the bar and watch the master at work creating your bespoke meal right before your eyes.
*look for their little sister restaurant, Kuro-Obi, at the City Kitchen in the ROW NYC Hotel, as of February 2015.
102 Norfolk Street, NYC NY
Lower East Side
Try the Langosta a la Mantequilla or the Hanger Steak a la Parrilla
Serious drinks: Oaxaca Express (mezcal, combier royal (like a tripe sec), jalapeño infused agave, lime juice, basil and cucumber) or the Matador Norteno (sotol – distilled spirit made from the Desert Spoon plant), pineapple, cilantro, lemon juice, agave syrup). This place is small and quaint and is happy to take solo diners.
*for those that have never tried mescal (its the smokey flavor cousin to tequila)
Sushi of Gari
402 E. 78th Street, NYC NY
Upper East Side
Sushi bars in general I think are great for the solo diner. You can concentrate on the skills and artistry of the sushi chefs at work rather than rant with your neighbor about your day’s end. Order off the menu or dare say try the Gari’s Choice, an omakase (tasting menu) made of the best seasonal items of the day. Your only purpose is to focus on the fresh dish being created in front of you and the savory morsels going down your belly.
31 West 17th Street, NYC NY
Request a seat in front of the open kitchen, where you can see it all in action. Try the Arroz de Pato, the famous duck paella, with duck confit, chorizo, olive and duck cracklings. Or the appetizer, Salt Cod Croquettas, cod fish cakes, with a creamy smooth filling. Book ahead of time, even for a reservation for one, this place gets packed.
222 Waverly Place, NYC NY
Tradition middle-eastern dishes with a healthy gourmet twist.
Everything in this quaint little place tasted delicious. I didn’t love the Sabich, but I must confess, I have never been a big fan of eggplant and much of it is that. A must try indulgence is the French Fries with the Saffron Aioli. I could have eaten them for days. I will have to go back and try the Falafels (either as a sandwich or a platter), they come in three flavors: green (cilantro and mint), red (roasted red pepper) and Harissa (with Harissa), supposedly the best falafels in NYC. The menu is strictly vegetarian, but if you are a carnivore, I promise you, you won’t miss much. The smoothies are a popular drink to try and quite a few veterans came in for them. One that looks enticing was the strawberry, raspberry and Thai basil smoothie. I’m a sucker for anything with ginger so I tried the homemade fresh ginger mint lemonade and it was gone in like a minute. The fresh ginger was not overwhelming, the mint added a refreshing energetic zing to the drink and the lemonade was not overly sweet which was to my liking, since most tend to be too sweet. The place is very small and the seating is limited so if you are eating solo you are at more of an advanced than others to be able to sit and enjoy your meal.
*Taim is by far my favorite solo place…brings me back to my Israel trip last year when we had Falafel sandwiches in the market. I mentioned my delightful experience on my Instagram page and they offered me a discount…they might do the same for you if you like the place. Try is out…it’s not only delicious but also great if you are on a budget.
228 W. 10th Street, NYC NY
between Bleecker and Hudson)
This place was unfortunately booked when I felt the urge to go, so I cannot honestly comment about the taste and feel of the place. But from my research I will say that the menu looks appetizing and frequent visitors have suggested that this place is a great find for solo dining. Treat yourself to a nice Italian meal and head over to the long bar and additional counter seating along the open kitchen. Innovative Italian cuisine with some not so grandma style food. Start off with the Hamachi Tartare with grapes, chives, lemons and walnuts or the Fluke Ceviche with grapefruit, radish and celery. In the mood for pasta, try the Garganelli with mushroom ragu with ricotta salata or the Ravioli with butternut squash (check out the image above), brown butter, sage and parmesan. For a seafood lover, the Italian Branzino with roasted lemon, olive and honey looks appealing.
I’m sure that there are more out there but these look the most substantial with the right components for a great solo dining experience – bar and counter space, customer service catered to individual diners and creative delightful menu. Any restaurant takes single diners but if you don’t feel awkward being in the restaurant venue alone, that makes the dining experience so much better. When you are in a sea of couples it can be quite uncomfortable even for the most brazen of solo diners. So I hope that you enjoy this list and try them out…alone!
If you have any other suggestions, I am happy to hear it! I am always venturing out on my own so it’s nice to find new places to eat. Let me know your thoughts and your personal experiences.