Dining solo in the Big Apple
December 31, 2008 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Where are the best places for dining solo in Manhattan?

I'll be in the city for a few days starting tomorrow and was wondering if anyone could suggest good places for when you're eating alone? I'll mostly be on the east side (from 1st to about 80th) and would love to find some great, cheaper ($10-15) places to grab a quick lunch or dinner. I'm open to any ethnicity and just mostly looking for anything that's a step from pizza or hot dogs, though sitting a lunch counter or bar is perfectly fine.

Also, a big plus if at least one of the places will be open tomorrow (New Year's Day).
posted by bill the tinman to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Rai Rai Ken is a nice place to get authentic, affordable ramen noodles on tenth street near 2nd Avenue. It's close to the more expensive, less authentic but really tasty Momofuku. They both feature counters where eating alone wouldn't feel awkward.

You could also get some tasty soup dumplings and spicy cold beef at Grand Sichuan on St. Marks.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:27 PM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hummus Place, 1st and 8th. I guarantee, the _best_ hummus you'll ever have, at least on this side of the Atlantic. I've been here a few times alone and have usually found someone else sitting alone as well, as long as it's not on a Friday or Saturday night.

The numerous Yakitori places on St. Marks (8th) between 2nd and 3rd -- sit at the bar, watch the amazingly efficient cooks slide mouthwatering dishes past you to the servers.

Woorijip, around Ktown. It's sort of diner-y but the food is great and it's always filled with people at any given time. It's one of my favorite pit-stops -- you can get a drink, grab some food, join the other five or six people eating alone, and you won't feel out of place.
posted by suedehead at 8:32 PM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

For cheap lunch, pretty much nothing beats the $6 vegetarian Thai lunch special at Pukk. Great food and a great place to eat alone.
posted by saladin at 5:15 AM on January 1, 2009

Related thread on Serious Eats.

(You don't mention that you're one of those people who gets nervous about dining alone, but please note that dining alone in Manhattan at virtually any restaurant is far, far more normal than pretty much anywhere else. You won't be conspicuous.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:24 AM on January 1, 2009

i highly suggest going to clinton/hells kitchen. the 9th ave area from like 57th to 34th or so. hundreds of terrific pars/pubs/restaraunts/lunch boxes all for very reasonable. its usually only locals there so prices are better.

some of my favorites:

island burger, between 51st and 52nd on 9th avenue. awesome burgers and shakes. (think gourmet burger

pigalle french restaraunt. get the beef bourginone. on 8th ave between 48th and 49th.

bobby flays mesa grill. niec and high end but like most high end places, EXTREMELY affordable delight at lunch time. 5th ave around 15th.

and lastly the coolest place i know of in the whole world. the burger joint at the parker meridian hotel. if you didnt read about hear you would never find it or know it exists. go to the parker meridian hotel entrances from 56th and 57th between 6th and 7th. go near the checkin desk. (watch for celebrities...) there will be a very tall wall to the right of the check in desk covered in ugly green drapes. walk down this hallway ((you'll see a tiny neon hamburger at the end of the hall). take cash. its awesome. best deal, total NY insider place, celeb hangout at night, best hamburger, sam adams and fries in america.

have fun.
posted by chasles at 5:28 AM on January 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

Absolutely agree that dining solo in Manhattan is commonplace. Now cheap, that's another matter.

Similar to Bookhouse's suggestion, Men Kui Tei is a ramen noodle shop in Mid Town - on 56th just off 6th Ave as you are heading towards 5th. Cheap, authentic. My poison of choice is the Tonkotsu Ramen, with spicy greens and pan fried dumplings as a starter. Beer? Yes please, a large Kirin, thanks. Go with just the ramen noodles (a huge helping by the way) and you'll easily get out the door with change from $15 - even after the tip.

They also have a place in the east village, but I've not been there - though others hear on AskMe have recommended it in the past.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 9:01 AM on January 1, 2009

If you're feeling like having a really, really kick-ass burger, Paul's is on 2nd Ave and ... er ... St Marks, I think.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:59 AM on January 1, 2009

Paul's is indeed just south of St. Mark's. Look for the anthropomorphic fast food figurine. The burgers are good, but monstrously huge.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:22 AM on January 1, 2009

Seconding the Burger Joint.

Sakagura is a great Japanese place hidden in the basement of an office building on East 43d St.

Ippudo ramen on 4th Ave below 10th St will serve you more delicious ramen than you can probably eat for $13, with extra noodles just in case!
posted by nicwolff at 1:56 PM on January 1, 2009

18 Arhans for lunch, though it's kind of on the edge of little Italy/Soho.

It's just above Grand St., opposite the old Police building on Center St. It's super veggie, but also really good. The nun who runs the place is kind of cool as well.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:20 PM on January 1, 2009

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:50 PM on January 1, 2009

Little Poland on Second Avenue, between 12th and 13th street. Awesome polish food, eat like a king for not much, and I've never felt weird eating there alone. Not much for atmosphere, but they feed you well.
posted by Citrus at 9:17 AM on January 2, 2009

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