The Ten: Stellar Spots for Dining Solo

Photo courtesy of Daikaya and Daniel Swarz of Revamped Media Inc.

Photo courtesy of Daikaya and Daniel Swartz of Revamped Media Inc.

So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.

Dining alone is an art. You need to pick the right restaurant, which boasts great solo seating options, friendly staff and, of course, food so good that you would probably ignore a guest if they were with you. Here are our favorite ten spots to go when we’re on our own.

Bourbon Steak
Grab a seat at the well appointed bar, where mixology mavens Jamie MacBain and Duane Sylvestre will make you a killer classic cocktail. We prefer our Old Fashioned with the Korean barbequed salmon burger topped with tingly kimchi, crunchy jalapeno circlets, and fermented kochujang sauce with a fiery kick.

This 14th street sandwichery boasts roots Jersey roots and Italian heritage. Tuck yourself into a booth with a primo chicken parm or the standout roasted cauliflower sammie – which you would be hard-pressed to find in Trenton or Tuscany – and you won’t feel alone.

Ramen is designed for the solitary diner. It’s meant to be eaten quickly, before the noodles lose their tensility and the broth cools. So even if you did bring a dining companion, you wouldn’t really have time to talk to them while you slurp away at the kitchen’s compact counter (seen above).

Snatch a counter seat by the kitchen, where you can quietly tuck into a Spicy Baja burger fired up with jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle mayo. Beat back the heat with a Butterfinger milkshake.

Bryan Voltaggio’s latest restaurant puts the epic in epicurean, so it’s easy to lose yourself in the crowd at his sprawling 300-seater. We always angle for a spot at the bar, so we can discuss mixology with beverage director Owen Thomson while he serves up several rounds of creative cocktails.

Solo acts should aim for a seat at the white topped bar, where you can enjoy a joyful cavalcade of salt foam margaritas. Complement your cocktails with a few appetizers, such as chipotle-sauced meatballs and pit-barbecued pork tacos.

If you want the best seat in the house, score a stool in front of the pizza oven with an eyeful of the open kitchen. You’ll have plenty to watch while you nosh on star small plates, like uni crostini, pancetta pepped oven roasted Brussels sprouts, and an order of pizza crust breadsticks with pepperoni sauce.

Ted’s Bulletin 14th Street
Nothing cures loneliness like a freshly baked Pop Tart. Or a just-fried doughnut. Or a boozy milkshake.

Gin Joint at New Heights
The knowledgeable bar staff are more than happy to educate you about their impressive gin list and which house-made tonics go best with them. The G&Ts are well complemented by flavor-packed small plates from the New Heights kitchen.

La Mano Coffee Bar
Located just a few steps from the Takoma Park Metro, this sliver of a coffee shop offers a small, but satisfying, lunch menu. Currently, we’re preferential to the buttery chicken pot pie, which you can scarf down at the slim counter running along the left side of the shop.


Is your favorite missing? Disagree with one (or more) of my choices? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @nevinmartell.

  • sleonard

    Why do “the best for solo diners” almost always have me sitting at a bar? How about the best for solo diners who would like a real table, not being jostled by people looking to catch the attention of the bartender? And a note to those restaurants that don’t accept reservations for singles – you just missed a diner, who will recommend elsewhere when dining with friends, & the server missed out on a tip from someone who is cognizant that a 2 top can mean higher income. Just saying.

  • Magnolia_virginiana

    Dining solo and being lonely are not the same thing. Why should someone dining alone hide out in a corner by the kitchen?