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Suggestions for eating alone in New York?
September 26, 2011 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions for eating alone in New York?

I live alone in New York and I'm tired of ordering Seamlessweb all the time. What are your suggestions for places where somebody can eat by themselves without feeling out of place?

I tend to favor mom and pop / hole-in-the-wall / diner sort of places for eating alone. I go to Chinatown a lot for eating alone, both because I like Chinese food and because many places there have a very unpretentious vibe.

I don't feel comfortable eating alone at places where all of New York's richest/prettiest/trendiest congregate. I prefer hole-in-the-wall type places, but really anywhere quiet and low key is fine. Besides Chinatown I like some of the Japanese places in the East Village.

Bonus points for places within walking distance of lower Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn.
posted by pravit to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just go anywhere that appeals to you. Seriously. Don't overthink it. Just go. Nobody cares here in NYC. Better to go and enjoy the food and the experiences than miss out. You won't be looked at as some kind of weirdo.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:09 PM on September 26, 2011 [22 favorites]


Grand CentralOyster Bar
posted by Ideefixe at 6:21 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dumplings.
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 6:23 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would take myself to Vanessa's Dumpling House!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:24 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love eating at the bar of a decent restaurant when I'm alone. You can chat a bit with the bartender if you want, or read a book. It feels more like an adventure and less like a lonely chore.

In the Little Korea area, try Mandoo for dumplings.
posted by bunderful at 6:27 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


From Hope Floats: "It's not for sissies you know, dinning alone....The trick is to seem mysterious, like the choice is yours."

So, yeah . . . eat anywhere and own it!
posted by Sassyfras at 6:29 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


You shouldn't feel out of place anywhere, eating alone is really not a big deal. Nobody will judge.

Hit up some of the more upscale/trendy places on a week night or off time, if that would make you feel better. You'd be surprised how often there is someone dining alone.
posted by Funky Claude at 6:36 PM on September 26, 2011


Yep! I love eating alone. I don't usually do it at a trendy Manhattan place on a weekend, that feels lonely. Try weeknights, and eat at the bar. The bartender and other eat-aloners will chat with you. Also, I do this a lot in Brooklyn.
posted by sweetkid at 6:53 PM on September 26, 2011


I eat out alone in NYC all the time! I take myself on dates as a treat to my awesome. I go anywhere--I watch people, sip some wine, enjoy my meal.

Sometimes I have my journal along and I write what comes to mind. (Note: if you pull out your journal and take notes, some restaurants will assume you are a critic and give you incredible service.) Sometimes I have a book.

My only rule: I cannot check my phone while at the table. It makes me look and feel like I am waiting for someone, when I am already completely fine on my own. I always see other solo diners doing this, and I think it keeps them from really enjoying their meal, or even having that thoughtful time that only comes when you are still, and quiet, and thinking and watching.

In other words, eating alone has become a bit of a sacred ritual for me.

Fear not. Go anywhere. The culinary world awaits!
posted by whimsicalnymph at 7:02 PM on September 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


Café Reggio in the Village. The tables are so small it's hard to sit two at a time anyway!
posted by usonian at 7:06 PM on September 26, 2011


nthing that eating alone in NYC isn't a big deal (although I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I didn't sometimes feel a little self-conscious about it - but that's all me; no one has ever made done or said anything). Anyway, because I frequently stay in the West Village/Greenwich Village neighborhoods and tend to be a creature of habit, I often eat at French Roast. It's a local chain...pretty decent French bistro style dishes. I like it but would be the first to admit that it's not the most awesome food ever, but it's pretty good and the price is right. It's a relatively low key place to go if you want to sit at a table rather than a bar. It's usually busy for dinner, but has a lot of tables. I feel very comfortable eating there solo, even on a Friday or Saturday night.

I also had a nice dinner, and a nice chat with some locals, while having a dinner of tapas and sangria sitting at the bar of El Faro.
posted by kaybdc at 7:08 PM on September 26, 2011


Punjabi deli, Houston and Ave A, on the North side of Houston west of whatever bar is on the corner. It's a sikh taxi stop with cheap and good Indian food that has a standing counter to eat at and sone stools in the back. Apparently thier samosas are world famous but it litterally is a hole in a wall.
posted by fuq at 7:12 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


the only place i really like eating alone is Veselka on 2nd and e9th
posted by elizardbits at 7:16 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not hole in the wall but Cafetasia on 8th off University is great. They have a (less great in my opinion) restaurant on Avenue A just off Tompkins Square Park as well. The whole thing is cafeteria-style so there are long tables and a counter by the window and you just generally wouldn't feel weird.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:50 PM on September 26, 2011


Oh, and I meant to say it's Thai food, very reasonably priced, absolutely delicious curries especially.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:51 PM on September 26, 2011


the only place i really like eating alone is Veselka on 2nd and e9th

Oh my God, me TOO! I sit at the counter all the time and read and eat potato pancakes and blintzes. It's my favorite thing to do alone. (So if you see me, LEAVE ME ALONE. (JK! Say hi!))

Also B&H Dairy on Second Ave. Fabulous counter.

Also EVERY ramen shop in the East Village, which is like, nine of them now.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:58 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, for pete's sake, this is New York City. We do everything alone, in public. Nobody will notice or care, because there are millions of us doing all kinds of things alone, every minute of every day.

Go! Take a book! Anywhere you like! Sit at the bar if you feel like it. No need to put on an air of anything. Just enjoy your book.*

As far as a specific place? Do you mind a little loud? Because Marshall Stack on the Lower East is an a pretty unpretentious-to-irreverant place that serves cheap and delicious bar food. Sometimes I can handle the loud and sometimes I can't. YMMV.

*I disliked eating alone once, now I need to for my sanity's sake. It's "me" time now.
posted by functionequalsform at 8:23 PM on September 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


At Ditch Plains you can get a half bottle of wine and drink it by yourself. Which is its own kind of awesome.
posted by sweetkid at 8:26 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's almost cliche now to eat at the bar at Raoul's (Prince and Sullivan), but early on it'll be quiet enough for your purposes.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 9:00 PM on September 26, 2011


All of my friends and my SO keep kosher! So if I want to eat in a restaurant, believe me, I do it solo. Short of Ducasse (and maybe even there) you'll be fine. Just enjoy your food!
posted by skbw at 9:50 PM on September 26, 2011


nthing eating at the bar (or counter if it's a diner type place). I love to eat at the bar. From the nicest restaurants to the grungiest lunch counter, you will never look (or should you feel) out of place eating alone at the bar. Go some place where you love the food, bring a book or the paper, or just enjoy a meal without the distraction of conversation.
posted by soy_renfield at 10:06 PM on September 26, 2011


I should give some specifics I guess.

Veselka is great
any ramen shop
any french bisto type place like Bar 6, Cafe Centosette, Flea Market Cafe

Also, street carts! NYC is having a street cart explosion. Get some grub and eat on a park bench and people watch!
posted by soy_renfield at 10:08 PM on September 26, 2011


Hide chan for a specific, cozy ramen shop
posted by slateyness at 3:20 AM on September 27, 2011


Shopsins.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:20 AM on September 27, 2011


I've spent many happy nights eating at the bar at Vandaag, on 2nd avenue and 6th street.
posted by whitneyarner at 8:11 AM on September 27, 2011


And I remember right after I posted it that I've also enjoyed eating at the bar (and drinking tasty beer and/or cocktails) at both Heartbreak (2nd and 2nd) and Mayahuel (2nd ave and 6th street).
posted by whitneyarner at 8:13 AM on September 27, 2011


Any place with a lunch counter type option for seating, e.g., diners, delis, sushi places.
posted by Paquda at 8:41 AM on September 27, 2011


Also, restaurants that have bar seating.
posted by Paquda at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2011


I go to Chinatown a lot for eating alone, both because I like Chinese food

I do too but unfortunately the Chinese usually travel in groups and don't seem to understand or cater to the solo diner, except for take-out. (Maybe they should target that market, and replace some of those big round tables with counters, for us!)

My solo venue of choice was The Brasserie in the Seagrams Building but the last time I visited, I was disappointed -- they'd changed everything around; it wasn't the same.

And my tip for not feeling out of place? The book I'm reading. Can't fathom eating alone without someting to read -- what are you supposed to do with yourself? In fact, I do my best reading while eating, in restaurants ideally surrounded by people speaking languages I don't know.
posted by Rash at 8:46 AM on September 27, 2011


Dojos near NYU. I ate many a dinner there at the bar reading a paper/book or sometimes just people watching. Plus, the vegetable yakasoba, for a non-veg such as myself, was eye-opening.
posted by haqspan at 5:57 PM on September 27, 2011


I do too but unfortunately the Chinese usually travel in groups and don't seem to understand or cater to the solo diner, except for take-out. (Maybe they should target that market, and replace some of those big round tables with counters, for us!)

At many Chinese places they seat solo diners at the big round tables so they're effectively communal tables - I actually prefer it to sitting w/ my back to everything at the counter. I've always found Chinese BBQ pork/duck noodle places perfect for solo dining - cheap, tasty, and often a lot of other people eating alone. Most Chinese meals are eaten shared but noodles just lend themselves to being eaten separately.
posted by pravit at 6:14 PM on September 27, 2011


And thank you everyone for your suggestions.
posted by pravit at 6:21 PM on September 27, 2011


These are all great suggestions (particularly Veselka!) but also go to nice restaurants and eat alone, if you can afford it! I've done the solo-at-the-bar thing at Gramercy Tavern a bunch of times and Ssam Bar or Noodle Bar a few times, and never regretted it. Bring a smartphone or book if you want to have something to read, but otherwise just get out there and enjoy the money saved, while also being able to unrepentantly ask your server all about every aspect of your meal. I'd probably think Maialino and Vandaag (ah, mentioned above, I see) are good for this too.
posted by anildash at 9:29 PM on September 27, 2011


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