Party of One
Whether you're pulling up a stool at a restaurant bar or grabbing a seat at a food hall's communal table, dining alone can be empowering and enriching, giving you time to focus on the plate in front of you and freedom to order however you like—no sharing required.
Though every city has its own appeal, some places cater to solo diners better than others. As an avid solo traveler, I've done the homework for you and found amazing dining destinations beyond my home of NYC. Here are seven great cities for your party of one.
Counter dining: It’s everywhere in London and perfect for any solo meal. From the casual open kitchen with Thai-inspired dishes at Soho’s Kiln to the energetic scene at popular tapas bar Barrafina to modern-day Jerusalem cuisine at The Palomar Restaurant, there’s good reason to reserve, or queue up, for a cozy solo counter seat. Mention Sri Lankan hot spot Hoppers to any local, and they’ll probably tell you how good it is with a sidenote of “Good luck getting in!” With its no-reservation policy and typical wait time of hours, your best bet is to squeeze in alone and make friends with your neighbors.
Make a reservation for one, grab a bike and pedal to Copenhagen's charming Nørrebro neighborhood for steak tartare at Manfreds wine bar—an absolute must when visiting the city. Or meander through Torvehallerne market and Copenhagen Street Food marketplace on the waterfront, where you can eat, drink and lounge solo in the sun. Fuel up at Democratic Coffee with a perfect latte and almond croissant, or have cake for breakfast at Conditori La Glace. For lunch, you won't be the only solo diner at Amass, which offers the perfect-size tasting menu in its spacious, industrial setting. And Bo Bech’s Geist is practically designed for soloists, thanks to its vast countertop around the low-lit open kitchen. Request one of a handful of counter seats behind a glass partition at Barr in the original Noma space, and you’ll get dinner and a show.
San Francisco, California
The historic Ferry Building Marketplace is ideal for a solo stop, whether you're craving oysters from Hog Island Oyster Co., salumi from Boccalone Salumeria or ice cream from Humphry Slocombe. For a more formal meal, grab a spot at the large bar at Charles Phan’s The Slanted Door. Elsewhere in the city, bypass the inevitable line at Swan Oyster Depot by squeezing into a counter seat for crabmeat so fresh it will ruin all other raw bars for the rest of your life. For something more casual, grab a Greek bite at a Souvla location, or for fine dining, hit up the gorgeous bar at Mourad or Saison.
Before exploring this trendy travel city, take advantage of the unlimited coffee at Kex Hostel. When you hit the streets and smell the aroma wafting from Braud & Co, you'll be thankful you don't have to share the dangerously delicious cinnamon roll with anyone. Don't miss hot dogs at world-famous Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, and if you're up for a tasting menu, Dill, the first and only Michelin-starred restaurant in Iceland, will make you feel right at home. Traveling around the Golden Circle, don’t miss out on the freshest, unlimited tomato soup and bread bar at Fridheimar as you sit in its lovely greenhouse. Also worth the drive: a meal at Fjorubordid, where you should devour a bucket of langoustines.
When you discover the Amazonian ingredients at Virgilio Martinez Véliz’s Central or sit down at the Peruvian/Japanese sensation Maido, you'll be happy to focus on the experience without distraction. For livelier local scenes, seek out the freshest ceviche at La Picantería de Surquillo, the scallops on El Mercado de Rafael Osterling’s outdoor patio or a fabulous sandwich at La Lucha Sangucheria Criolla.
With more than 40 top food vendors—including 100-year-old Manteigaria Silva for charcuterie—TimeOut Lisbon’s grand food hall is reason enough for a soloist to visit. Make some friends at the communal tables or just enjoy the free Wi-Fi. José Avillez’s impressive and solo-friendly restaurants, including Bairro do Avillez and its giant tiger prawns, are another excuse to head to Lisbon, and at shellfish utopia Cervejaria Ramiro, you'll have a blast hammering crab claws whether you're at a table of one or 20. Whatever you do, don't leave town without a trip to legendary Pastéis de Belém for the best pastel de nata in town.
With its amazing food scene and culture, this Australian city is worth the long flight. Opt for an epic tasting menu at Ben Shewry’s acclaimed restaurant, Attica (where the staff offered reading material to me as I dined stag). For more casual meals, check Movida for tapas, Mamasita for contemporary Mexican and Longrain for Southeast Asian—you might be able to share with fellow diners at the spacious counter or communal tables. Finally, treat yourself to one of Pierrick Boyer’s irresistible desserts at Le Petit Gâteau.
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