Dining alone in NYC

I’ll be taking a trip to New York next week. I’ve been there several times, but this will be my first trip alone. It will give me the opportunity to sidestep the touristy stuff, see some sights relevant to my family’s history, and to do something I generally avoid: dine alone.

On previous “lonely guy” trips, I’ve made the mistake of ordering takeout when I should have been out enjoying the local flavor. This time I’m determined to get over my discomfort and sit down for as many meals as possible.

So, I’m open to recommendations, including but not limited to: restaurants with a full menu at the bar, cool diners, and places that are just so damn great I should get over myself and ask for a table for one. Oh, and I’m not at all picky when it comes to cuisine; I love trying new stuff.

So, in essence, what are your favorite places? I’ll be everywhere that’s accessible by subway, and I’m also spending some time in Yonkers.

My favorite spot for tea, after-work drinks, lunch and dinner has always been the Algonquin, on 44th between 5th and 6th. The food’s only OK, but the place itself is like stepping back into Old New York.


  1. Sushi/Sashimi: Takahashi (Lower-East Side) - On the west side of Ave A. and below 6th Street. Same supplier as Nobu, without TriBeCa prices.

  2. Thai: Olieng (Hell’s Kitchen) - A really small, really inexpensive authentic Thai place. Like Takahashi, it’s not a Chinese-owned imposter.

  3. German: Zum Schneider (Lower-East Side) - On the corner of Ave. C and 7th St. Get there before their landlord evicts them. It’s a great place for Weissbier und Wurst. Eat out on the sidewalk or sit inside at their long banquest tables.YonkersItalian: La Grata (861 Midland Ave): You can’t get better. Fairly priced - but not exactly in the cheap range.

If you wanted to meet other NYC-area Dopers, you might want to ask this thread be moved to MPSIMS. If you’re the shy type, I don’t think it would appear too imposing to e-mail Billdo and ask him if he wants to dust off his NYC Social Director’s clipboard.

I’ve always been partial to Greenwich Village Southern Italian places when I dine out alone…the sort of restaurants that are often described as “checked-tablecloth-and-candle-stuck-in-wicker-Chianti-bottle” joints, even though none of them still actually HAVE checked tablecloths and candles stuck in bottles. They do, however, put red sauce on things, and are as comfortable as an old pair of shoes.

My two favorites are Villa Mosconi, 69 MacDougal Street, between Bleecker and Houston; and Volare, 147 West Fourth Street, just east of Sixth Avenue.

Shopsin’s General Store in the Village is a great place to dine alone, you would have to show up naked to feel awkward. In fact, someone is likely to strike up a conversation with you, possibly the owner. Who’s, um, an eccentric. (Don’t answer your cell phone.) The absurdly long menu is available as a PDF at that site. Too bad the hours have gotten so sparse.

Check out Khyber Pass on St. Marks. It’s dark, cozy, and has delicious Afghani food.

That’s an understatement. I counted 94 different breakfast plates. Thats not including the pancake wafle type plates. I would never be able to choose.

I can’t tell you places, I do want to say good on you for trying it out. Dining alone has its own very special feeling.

If you’re shy about dining alone in New York, it helps to bring along an interesting screenplay. Just pretend you’re really important in the movie business and of course you’re dining alone, you’ve got to cast this thing by Monday!

One of my favorite places is a little vegetarian Dim Sum place in Chinatown. I think it’s actually called Vegetarian Dim Sum, although i’ve never paid much attention to the name; i just remember the location.

It’s on a short street call Pell Street, just off Mott St in Chinatown. I guess if you’re not a vegetarian you might not be interested, but i know quite a few non-vegetarians who love the place.

It’s super cheap. Last time i was there, four of us ate so much we were about to burst, and the total bill came to $42 including a pretty generous tip.

And there are often a few people in there eating alone, which might reduce any self-consciousness you feel.

Thanks for the great suggestions!

And sit at the bar, no one will even notice.

Lucien near Houston and 1st (Seinfeld] the nexus of the Universe [/Seinfeld] is a great French place avec bar.

It also has a freakishly tall and skinny staff - male and female. It’s very strange and can’t be coincidental.

:eek: That is far out.

Odder still, the menu used to change all the time, so there were a raft of rotating items that wouldn’t be listed all the time. He also seems to have toned down the conceptual weirdness – a lot of the menu was once items like “Indonesian blintzes” and it was sort of up to you to figure out what the hell it was supposed to be. The owner is a piece of work: he’s like the culinary Charles Bukowski. And he really will throw your ass out for talking on the cellphone, I’ve seen it twice. Most people can tell by the descriptions whether they’d like this place or not.

Oh, they also have a lot of board games.

So, uh, what’re Indonesian blintzes like?

Actually, I made that one up (feel free to play along at home), but “Hanoi Hoppin’ John” is still on the menu. There’s also a salad called “Thai Cobb.”

Since you’d like to sample the local cuisine and you’re coming from California, I’d also recommend one of the Lower East Side Eastern European/Jewish joints like Veselka. That’s pretty New Yorky. (Katz’s Deli on Houston Street is maybe too big a dose of that.) There’s always chicken and waffles at Amy Ruth’s in Harlem. A good and unusual place to chow solo is the teeny-tiny Caracas Arepa Bar on East 7th – Venezuelan comfort food.

Ooooh! Huevos Rancheros! I think a pilgrimmage is in order.

Ah, I have a question about chicken and waffles. I’ve seen one of these places from afar a few times. Is the idea that it’s a place that sells chicken and it sells waffles, or do the chicken and waffles come together in synergy to form a foodstuff?

Yes, they’re served together. It’s some good stuff.

The Pink Tea Cup, famous soul food restaurant on Grove Street in the West Village, has a breakfast special of pancakes and maple syrup with pork chops.

The combination of savory/sweet personally icks me out, but hey, whatever floats your boat.