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Table for One/dining alone in New York


bigred93
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I'm in Manhattan for business and am looking for an alternative to room service... where would you go to dine alone, without a reservation, and feel comfortable? Basically I'm looking for a spot where I'm not going to feel like the weird one at a table by myself. Something notable and memorable food-wise - cost is not particularly an issue - but of course since we're talking about tonight, reservations would be a problem.

Any suggestions? Craftbar? Gramercy Tavern front room? Grey's Papaya?

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I'm in Manhattan for business and am looking for an alternative to room service... where would you go to dine alone, without a reservation, and feel comfortable?  Basically I'm looking for a spot where I'm not going to feel like the weird one at a table by myself.  Something notable and memorable food-wise - cost is not particularly an issue - but of course since we're talking about tonight, reservations would be a problem.

Any suggestions?  Craftbar?  Gramercy Tavern front room?  Grey's Papaya?

In what part of town are you staying?

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You could sit at the bar alone at Craftbar or Gramercy Tavern and have an enjoyable time. Highly recommend both for solo dining. Also could go to Hearth (at the kitchen pass), Mary's Fish Camp (counter), and Veritas (bar) . . . . All have great food too.

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I'm in Manhattan for business and am looking for an alternative to room service... where would you go to dine alone, without a reservation, and feel comfortable?  Basically I'm looking for a spot where I'm not going to feel like the weird one at a table by myself.  Something notable and memorable food-wise - cost is not particularly an issue - but of course since we're talking about tonight, reservations would be a problem.

Personally, I don't feel weird by myself anywhere. Obviously I'd like a companion if possible (preferably an attractive one), but if I'm alone that doesn't bother me.

Now that we're in the OpenTable era, it's always possible to find a reservation at short notice. Just for the heck of it, I checked OpenTable for tonight at 7:00pm. It returned 253 restaurants with tables for one within an hour of that time, including many very fine ones (Artisanal, Hearth, March, Oceana, THOR, WD-50).

If you're willing to dine at the bar, the possibilities expand dramatically.

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but if I'm alone that doesn't bother me.

All of us dine alone - it's just the packaging that's different.

Landmarc Bar - you would be hard pressed to find a better combination of food, wine, conversation and service for one.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I would go to Craft and sit at the bar, rather then go to Craftbar. The food is MUCH better. Another idea is Casa Mono, which is small, intimate, and has a nice bar where you could eat.

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db Bistro Moderne in the forties between Fifth and Sixth Avenues has a communal table with bar stools if the bar/communal table idea appeals to you. All of the other suggestions so far have been good as well. Your options are many. It all depends on what you want in terms of food and atmosphere.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Sit at the bar, sit at the bar! Places you can do this...Union Square Cafe, Eleven Madison Park, Craft, Hearth (at the kitchen pass), Gramercy Tavern, Ouest, Bar Etats-Unis (across 81st Street from the restaurant)...

It's also totally normal to see someone sitting at a table by themselves, reading a book. You could do it in plenty of places and not feel weird at all. New York is full of single people flaunting their singledom (this one included), so it's hardly unusual to see someone seated alone, with reading material or without.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses! I am staying on the upper east side, but location isn't really an issue... and I'm going downtown towards Union Square to meet friends for drinks later. Lots of great suggestions here, I'm honing in on some options, but please keep the recommendations coming!

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As it turned out, I went to 11 Madison Park and had a very good time. Food was good - not great, good (seared foie, wild mushroom pizzette) but the wine was outstanding and the wine bar was a very comfortable environment. As it turned out, the next couple folks over included someone with whom I had shared acquaintances from business school.

Someone earlier had mentioned the idea that one shouldn't feel guilty or strange for dining alone... I agree in principle, but in practice it's been a harder barrier to get through. Normally, dining is a social event for me, so the risk of it being quiet and solitary feels strange - compounded by the possibility of odd looks and poor service in environments where single dining isn't as welcome. Maybe a large part of that is my own idiosyncracy, which if it is - que sera, sera. But, regardless, I do feel that this isn't a case of the theoretical world being exactly aligned with the actual world.

Thanks again to everyone for the thoughtful advice, and I hope this thread might be helpful to others going forward.

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As it turned out, the next couple folks over included someone with whom I had shared acquaintances from business school.

New York really is the smallest big city in the world! :wink:

Someone earlier had mentioned the idea that one shouldn't feel guilty or strange for dining alone... I agree in principle, but in practice it's been a harder barrier to get through.  Normally, dining is a social event for me, so the risk of it being quiet and solitary feels strange - compounded by the possibility of odd looks and poor service in environments where single dining isn't as welcome.  Maybe a large part of that is my own idiosyncracy, which if it is - que sera, sera.  But, regardless, I do feel that this isn't a case of the theoretical world being exactly aligned with the actual world.

I think this was me...

It can definitely be strange dining alone the first few times - it certainly was for me. I guess my point was more: don't worry that other people are finding it odd. If you don't like it for other reasons, that's one thing, but at least you don't have to be concerned about what the folks at the next table are thinking! :laugh:

Maybe that advice shows a bit of my own idiosyncrasies... :wink:

Glad you had a good dinner!

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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It can definitely be strange dining alone the first few times - it certainly was for me.  I guess my point was more: don't worry that other people are finding it odd.  If you don't like it for other reasons, that's one thing, but at least you don't have to be concerned about what the folks at the next table are thinking!  :laugh:

Just to add a "me too"....New York has a relatively high proportion of single people. The restaurants are used to single diners, and won't discriminate against you. That's a whole other matter from whether you personally are comfortable dining without a companion.

There definitely are restaurants where dining alone is less common. I'm guessing you don't see a whole lot of them at Alain Ducasse or Per Se.

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  • 5 months later...

It's time for my semi-annual trip to NYC and I'd love suggestions for solo dining. I mean, Buddakan intriques, but seems more appropriate for a group.

I have loved Babbo, WD-50, Cafe Boulud, and The Modern...as well as several less luminous dining establishments.

Please share: where would you go for something fresh and exciting when requesting a table for one?

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The Chef de Cuisine at Mistral said that he had a faboulous meal by himself at Gilt. He didn't mention he was a chef, but the kitchen came out and treated him very well. He says that most times he eats alone at nice places in NY, they guess that he's in the industry and treat him well. He also raved about Momofuku

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I wrote a column on this very subject recently. Here's the link:

charlotte.com

To cut to the chase, in the column I used Momofuko (go early), Hearth and Bread Bar at Tabla. But it was also about dining alone at restaurant bars with views of the kitchen.

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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