Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants for Solo Dining in NYC

Published On 12/09/2015 Published On 12/09/2015

The prospect of solo dining may seem akin to that nightmare of showing up to school in only your underwear, but more than ever before, New Yorkers are dining out alone and discovering that going solo can not only be pleasurable, but also have unexpected advantages -- like being able to secure the best seat in the house, or not having to listen to your obnoxious friend slurp his ramen. There's no need to fear dining out alone in NYC, especially if you're eating at these 13 places.

Flickr/Shinya Suzuki

Gotham West Market

Hell’s Kitchen

This modern food hall provides an excellent solo dining situation with its variety of delicious venues, including El Colmado, The Cannibal, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, and newly added Uma Temakeria. Grab a seat at one of the restaurant counters or take your order to go and dine at the communal tables. Both options are conducive to mingling, so you won’t have to pretend to be on your cell phone the entire time you eat. Or, if you’d prefer to do just that, you can also take advantage of the free Wi-Fi while enjoying your solo eats.

Gabriele Stabile 

Momofuku Ko

East Village

Open kitchens turn dinner into theater, and at this new location of David Chang’s two Michelin-starred Ko, you can have a front row seat to the show. Make a reservation for one at the chef’s counter surrounding its gorgeous kitchen, and sit back while Executive Chef Sean Gray and his team prepare a fantastic multi-course tasting menu just for you. The three-hour meal will fly by as you savor each bite without any distractions.

Marta

Marta

Midtown East

Perhaps you didn’t think pizza was good for soloists. Think again. Marta’s Roman-style, cracker-thin-crust pie can easily be enjoyed by one, as can the antipasti “alla brace” and wood-fired dishes; plus, taking leftovers to-go is always an option. The pro move is to ask to sit at the chef’s counter in front of the open kitchen’s pizza ovens. You’ll be able to watch and chat with Chef Nick Anderer and his team while they prepare your pizza in all of its glory! Note: all of Danny Meyer’s establishments, from Maialino to Gramercy Tavern, are solo-dining approved.

Upstate Beer & Oyster Bar

East Village

Go stag to this quaint neighborhood spot, which has one of the best happy hour deals featuring a half dozen oysters and craft beer for $12. The staff will gladly recommend a fine brew to pair with your meal. Upstate’s freshly prepared dishes -- including fettuccine with clams -- will satiate your appetite as you dine in the company of seafood lovers who are also in-the-know.

Flickr/Joanne Wan

Yakitori Totto

Midtown West

For late-night cravings, head upstairs to this popular Japanese yakitori spot. The best way to guarantee getting in is by going alone. Flip through the large menu of grilled skewers with choices from chicken oyster to tsukune (meatball), and create your own custom feast. Who knows, you may wind up next to Anthony Bourdain (it’s one of his NYC favorites).

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer

Meatpacking District

Saddle up to the bar at this second branch of SoHo’s well-received burger pub and enjoy a tasty gourmet burger and draft beer of your choice. Burgers range from the hearty Steak Au Poivre Burger to The Spicy Mexican, a chorizo-style burger. Black Tap's multiple TVs will provide solo entertainment, and maybe you’ll even make some friends (or rivals), while watching a game.

Lupulo

Lupulo

Midtown South

With ample stool seating around a vast horseshoe bar that dominates the room, this new Portuguese restaurant -- inspired by the famed cervejarias (or breweries) of Lisbon -- is designed for soloists. Choose from a dozen craft beers on tap and enjoy Chef George Mendes’ rustic fare, from seafood to wood-fired dishes, in the social setting.

Sadelle’s

SoHo

Have a solo nosh at Major Food Group’s latest hit, which features freshly baked pastries and upscale Jewish deli fare. Treat yourself to a smoked fish platter served on a fancy tower, and perhaps a tasty sticky bun, while you take in the scene. Sit up front for great people-watching and hot bagel action, as baker Melissa Weller’s house-made bagels get delivered to the bakery via long, slender poles. All of the energy in the room will easily make you forget you’re on your own.

The Camlin

The Camlin

Williamsburg

Soloists will feel at ease at this stylish new wine bar, which offers over 25 wines by the glass, plus spirits and classic cocktails. Take a seat on a comfortable backed stool at the large bar, and make a quality solo meal out of small plates, charcuterie, and cheese. The $1 oysters (all day, every day) are also a major steal. 

Angela Hadl

15 East

Union Square

Sushi bars were made for solo dining. Your favorite local sushi joint will do, but if you want to up your game, reserve a seat at 15 East’s nine-seat sushi counter and let the magic begin. Order Ă  la carte, or omakase -- $65 for 10 pieces of sushi or sashimi -- and enjoy a personalized tasting from newly appointed Chef Noriyuki Takahashi. 

Mimi Cheng's Dumplings

Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings

East Village

Dumplings for one? Yes, please! This authentic Taiwanese-Chinese dumpling heaven run by the Cheng sisters is great for solo diners. You can’t go wrong with any of their homemade recipes, such as The Reinvented Classic with pasture-raised pork, baby bok choy, and cabbage. Order at the counter and then settle in at the communal table or counter as you wait for your dumplings. Prime seating is by the windowsill, where you can watch Second Ave passersby, who will definitely have some dumpling envy.

Chefs Club by F&W NY


Chef’s Club by Food & Wine

SoHo

Enjoy a unique solo dining experience at this beautiful, spacious restaurant led by Culinary Director Didier Elena. Request to sit around the open kitchen -- specifically at the chef’s table in front of the chef’s pass -- for a spectacular view. With its rotating list of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs,” you’ll partake in a specially curated, one-of-a-kind menu. Inquire about upcoming dinners in its private studio, which is also ideal for single individuals with its communal seating arrangement.

Semilla

South Williamsburg

If you’re in the mood to try something different and don’t completely despise vegetables, this is your place. Chef JosĂ© Ramirez-Ruiz’s vegetable-forward tasting menu is perfect for solo diners at Semilla, which features an intimate, U-shaped counter that allows for easy conversation with neighboring guests. Make a reservation for one and watch the chefs in the partially open kitchen and the staff gracefully execute service within their limited space. Pamela Yung’s bread alone is worth a visit, and as a soloist, you don’t have to share yours!

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Shari Bayer is the Founder/President of Bayer Public Relations, and Host/Producer of All in the Industry on Heritage Radio Network. She is a fearless solo diner and traveler. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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1. Gotham West Market 600 11th Ave, New York, NY 10036 (Hells Kitchen)

Since Gotham West Market houses nearly a dozen of the city's best vendors -- such as Blue Bottle Coffee, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, and Choza Taqueria -- calling it a food court would be doing it a great injustice. This next-level gathering of purveyors in Hell's Kitchen supplies guests with ample cuisine options, and is truly the first of its kind in the city.

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2. Momofuku Ko 8 Extra Pl, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

The fanciest and hardest-to-get table in the Momofuku empire is tasting menu-ing it up in a larger space in Extra Place alley.

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3. Marta 29 E 29th St, New York, NY 10016 (Nomad)

From Danny Meyer and the excellent chef of Maialino, Nick Anderer, this Roman-style pizza joint in the Martha Washington Hotel is serving up simple pies like a Margherita with buffalo mozzarella, and less simple pies like the Capricciosa with mozz, artichokes, prosciutto, olives, and egg.

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4. Upstate 95 First Ave, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

This East Village oyster bar, run by a husband-and-wife duo, is a neighborhood favorite with rare oysters paired alongside interesting craft brews. You can expect a wait, but the food and drink -- and the owners' adorable bulldog, BuckShowalter -- make it well worth the wait.

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5. Yakitori Totto 251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019 (Midtown)

This second-floor Japanese yakitori spot in Midtown specializes in skewers of grilled chicken. Traditional yakitori isn't cooked all the way through, so if you aren't adventurous enough for the partially-cooked chicken thighs, the menu also includes tofu, vegetable, and noodle dishes. Totto is open until 12 AM during the week (1 AM on weekends), so it's a great late-night spot, especially if you're trying to snag one of the coveted counter seats that are usually occupied by regulars.

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6. Black Tap 529 Broome St, New York, NY 10013 (Soho)

Black Tap is rolling seven burgers deep. with creations like the steak au poivre prime steak burger (with blue cheese and green peppercorn sauce), the lamb burger (with Swiss and homemade pickles), and the falafel burger (with tahini, pickled onion, feta, and hummus). Michelin-starred Chef Joe Isidori’s burger & milkshake spot is doing a very serious brunch burger and cocktail list, too, including a spicy Bloody Mary and sangria.

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7. Lupulo 835 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10001 (Flatiron)

The first thing you notice about Lupulo is how gorgeous it is -- there are blue tile-lined walls, hardwood floors, and a huge U-shaped bar serving craft beer, Portuguese wine, and speciality cocktails until close. The rustic Portuguese restaurant from Chef George Mendes' (the chef behind Michelin-starred Aldea) is inspired by Lisbon's cervejarias (breweries), and though the beer list -- featuring domestic and international varieties -- is obviously excellent, the food is something else. The menu is seafood-heavy with understated but impressive dishes like spicy chicken Piri Piri, squid ink rice with clams and blood sausage, and wood-grilled sardines.

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8. Sadelle's 463 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012 (Soho)

During the daytime, this elevated Jewish bakery and appetizing restaurant from Major Food Group serves hand-rolled bagels that are of the highest quality: they're parboiled with barley-malt syrup and rise slowly in the oven before taking their crisp, compact shape with a glossy finish. While the bagel sandwiches, like house-cured salmon on an everything bagel made with fennel, are what you’re here for, the homemade babka, cheese blintzes, and sticky buns certainly hold their own at brunch. In the evening, Sadelle's transforms into an candlelit brasserie, featuring a menu that puts an emphasis on freshly baked bread and fish entrees, as well as traditional Russian caviar and vodka.

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9. The Camlin 175 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (New York)

Named after the river in Ireland where one of the owner’s husbands grew up fishing, this sleek Kent Ave spot is perfect for when you're not sure what exactly you want to drink (or eat). There's an impressive selection of 100+ bottles from all over the globe to choose from, plus a number of great by-the-glass options, and the menu offers plenty of small, interesting bites (there are lots cheese and charcuterie options, and oysters are just $1 all day every day). The Camlin also does brunch, serving up the classics like eggs Benedict and some of the city's best Bloody Marys.

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10. 15 East 15 E 15th St, New York, NY 10003 (Union Square)

15 East is a Union Square sushi joint that's doling out some of the best omakase in the city. Specialties like ice-cured wild sea bass are prepared minimally so all the different flavors and textures can shine in all unadulterated glory. The Michelin-starred Japanese eatery also augments its super-fresh ingredients with seasonal produce from the Union Square Market. Sushi bars were made for solo dining and of course your favorite local joint will do, but if you want to up your game, reserve a seat at 15 East’s nine-seat sushi counter and let the magic begin. Order à la carte, or omakase -- $65 for 10 pieces of sushi or sashimi -- and enjoy a personalized tasting from newly appointed Chef Noriyuki Takahashi. Don't be surprised if famed chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten are sitting next to you.

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11. Mimi Cheng's Dumplings 179 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

The sisters behind Mimi Cheng's, Hannah and Marian Cheng, know the secret behind authentic and delicious Taiwanese-Chinese food: home cooking. The dumpling focused restaurant is appropriately named after their mother, who inspired the menu, and uses only high-quality, sustainable, and organic ingredients. You can order at the counter and then settle into a communal table, or if you're lucky, snag a seat by the window.

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12. Chefs Club by Food & Wine 275 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012 (Nolita)

Located in the Puck Building, Chefs Club, created by Food & Wine, pulls from the magazine's roster of Best New Chefs to head the kitchen and serve up eats like pastrami flatbread; seafood pan roast with grits, Carolina roe & paprika; and Colorado lamb chops with cotechino, endive & faro.

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13. Semilla 160 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (Williamsburg)

Eating at Semilla in Williamsburg is like attending an intimate dinner party as this slim space features just one 18-seat wooden bar that diners gather around for a vegetable-centric tasting menu. The dinner lineup features 10 dishes that change with the seasons and are based on what's available from Semilla's farmers. Shaking up the menu this often leads the chefs to create inventive meals that are always plated with beauty and precision, like an heirloom tomato tart with shiso & red onion, and rhubarb-marinated scallops. You'll have to make reservations well in advance, but walk-ins are welcome for drinks and light bites when space is available.

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