When your friends aren’t available or your significant other is out of town, and you’re addicted to quality food and drink, you still crave a nice meal at a sit-down restaurant even if that means dining solo. But for myself I still can’t help but regard such indulgence as the equivalent of drinking or watching a movie alone. Not that I wouldn’t do either or have an aversion to them, but it’s just nicer when you have someone there to share and discuss the experience with. Bond over Barolo, squee over quinoa. So I saved the great restaurant experiences for company.
In any case, the other night when my boyfriend went out of town I felt the pull of Republique. Figured a three-cheese plate, salad and glass of wine would make for a satisfactory dinner alone. I’d sit at the bar, chat with the bartender, quietly enjoy my cheese. I’d be in and out within an hour.
But then that plan for an abbreviated meal quickly expanded to a nearly two-hour extravaganza with appetizer, entree, two glasses of wine, dessert and an espresso. It felt right, and comforting. I even made friends with the date-night couples sitting on either side of me. And yet when I got my bill I couldn’t help but cringe: $100. All on myself? I instantly felt guilty. That’s too indulgent. Dining alone is meant to just sate hunger, I told myself.
But then realized: Isn’t spending money on an indulgent meal alone the equivalent of splurging on a fun car instead of a practical one, or treating yourself to an expensive box of chocolates that you don’t intend to share with anyone? What’s wrong with enjoying life the best way we know how every now and then? Nothing!
Here are my five favorite places* for drinking and dining solo. It goes without saying that the best place for dining alone is at the bar and at these restaurants you don’t have people coming up behind you all the time to order their drinks so score to that. And they’re not _too_ loud so you can actually hear your own thoughts.
Republique: Obviously (see above). Best time to go to this hot restaurant is around 6, definitely before dinner time which seems to kick into high gear around 7:30, so you can be sure to grab a seat at the bar. Favorite seat is three seats in from the left, that way you’re not shoved into a corner and you’re in front of one of the wells so can watch the bartender make drinks.
A.O.C.: I’ve lucked out the times I’ve went in that it seemed like the bar here is just a stopping point for those waiting for a table. Best time to go is during happy hour transitioning into dinner time.
Craft: The bar area is separate from the dining room, which is around the corner so if you have a tendency to feel insecure about dining by yourself you won’t feel so inconspicuous here.
4.** Sotto:** Man, I love this place. Especially when stopping in to kill time during rush hour. Have a pizza, a glass of wine and/or cocktail and chat up Bryn, the bubbly blonde bartender.
- Pizzeria Mozza: OK, another Italian spot but you gotta love that late night deal where you can get a pizza, glass of wine and dessert for only $20 after 10pm!
- _Note: I live in Mid-City, that’s why they’re all centered around there. I don’t stray too far from home when dining alone since I don’t have a DD then and Uber won’t break my wallet. _
POLL: So what was the most you’ve ever spent on yourself while dining alone? Not paying for yourself at a dinner with friends but going to a restaurant and just enjoying a meal by yourself?