The first couple of times I dined solo I, freely admit it was awkward. For all of five minutes, that’s how long it took me to get over my fear—of everyone judging me, of what would I do with no one to talk to—and simply enjoy the meal. Dining solo has its advantages, especially while traveling. There’s no need to compromise with anyone, you can go wherever you want. You don’t have to listen to anyone loudly chewing their food. And in NYC it can be easier to secure a seat at that trendy restaurant you’ve been reading about. Whether you’re in the mood for brunch, dinner or an afternoon treat these places are made for dining solo. Step away from the Seamless App, grab a book or your iPad, if it makes you more comfortable and come hungry.
This Italian eatery on the Upper East Side has a cult-like following. It’s my go-to, for everything from a solo late afternoon bite after shopping to a birthday brunch with friends. If it’s nice out, you want to wait for a table to open up on the back patio. Trust me: you’ll feel like you hopped a plane to an Italian garden. Settle in and order from the homemade pastas or the sweet and savory brunch items that include chocolate crepes and Italian style omelets.
31486 2nd Ave, Upper East Side; 212.472.4552 or uvanyc.com
Photo: Christian Harder
Whether you’re in the mood for breakfast, lunch or dinner this NYC farm-to-counter favorite has you covered. I have stood in line, longer than I care to admit for their market bowls and with more than 12 locations throughout the city, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find a Dig Inn wherever you happen to be when your stomach starts to growl. Seating options vary by locations but you’ll likely find many other solo diners popping in for a quick bite and you can always get something to go as well. Various Locations, diginn.com
The cozy walk-in only tavern is the perfect place to steal away for lunch or to end an evening. Choose from dishes like swordfish with romano beans and currants topped with a red pepper sauce or grilled lamb with garlic butter and market greens or order dessert first and indulge in the cookie plate with milk. The vibe is laid-back and it’s a Danny Meyer experience which everyone visiting NYC should have. Insider Tip: If go during lunch ask about the off-the-menu soup and sandwich special. 42 E 20th Street, Flatiron; 212.477-0777 gramercytavern.com
Photo: Yakitori Totto
Rumor has it this Midtown spot is one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorites. Alas, I’ve never run into him here but Yakitori Totto is still worth the visit. Known for its Japanese street food it’s a taste of Tokyo in NYC, and while the space is fairly small it’s got great counter seating perfect for the solo NYC diner. Choose from the varied menu (almost everything comes on a skewer) or create your own. 251 W 55th St., Midtown; 212.245.4555 or tottonyc.com
It seems like every time you blink there’s a new food hall opening in NYC, which is a dream come true for solo travelers and foodies. Chelsea Market, though, is my-go. Wander the market and you’ll find it hard to only buy one thing, but hey you’re traveling, so the diet doesn’t count. After you finally manage to decide what to eat, snag a seat in the communal dining area and settle in for some people watching or if it’s nice out eat al-fresco at the High Line. 75 9th Ave Chelsea, 212.652.2110 chelseamarket.com
Some of our other favorite restaurants to dine solo in NYC are: