Top Restaurants For Dining Solo

By Mathew Katz on January 15, 2013 7:41am 

NEW YORK CITY — In a city of dinner dates, birthday celebrations and nights out with friends, it can be refreshing to spend some time alone. Dining solo is the perfect opportunity to get stuck in a good book, try a place your friends would never go, have a chat with a bartender or just watch the world go by.

DNAinfo.com New York put together a list of some of the city's top places to eat alone.

The Meatball Shop

Address: 170 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Phone: 718-551-0520

Hours:  Sunday to Thursday: noon to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 4 a.m.

Good for dining solo because: The Williamsburg branch of this popular and expanding chain is a little less packed than its siblings, giving you a chance to relax at the long bar while enjoying an affordable meal and drink.

The restaurant's co-owner and general manager, Michael Chernow, cut his teeth as a bartender for years, and said he put special emphasis on hiring friendly, talkative staff behind the bar.

"It's a huge element for me — the lone customer is the best because they're loyal, they'll come in three to four times a week," Chernow said. 

"Our staff are really personable and are great to talk to — and our meals are really inexpensive."

With an ever-rotating selection of meatballs — 65 by Chernow's count — there's always something new to try. A particular favorite is the Everything but the Kitchen Sink salad, which has three meatballs with sauce, a selection of seasonal veggies and salad, all for $10. For another dollar, you can add a fried egg to make this mammoth meal even heartier.

Otafuku

Address: 236 E. 9th St., East Village, Manhattan

Phone: 212-353-8503

Hours: Monday to Thursday: 1 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday: noon to 11 p.m., Sunday: noon to 10 p.m.

Good for dining solo because: While staff here aren't the most talkative, taking an adventurous dive into the cuisine of this Japanese street-food joint will give you something to talk about with passers-by as you sit on its prime East Village bench and watch the world go by. While this spot has a brisk take-out business,  you can also sit for as long as you like and enjoy the food.

The menu is an offbeat collection of Japanese food that you'd never find at a sushi place, including takoyaki, a serving of deep-fried octopus balls, and okonomiyaki, an egg-and-cabbage pancake. 

Dean Street

Address: 755 Dean Street, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Phone: 718-783-3326

Hours: Monday to Friday: Lunch from 11:30 a.m., Dinner from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday: Dinner from 5 p.m. to Midnight. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Good for dining solo because: This bar and restaurant is rapidly becoming a go-to hot spot for brunch or after a game at the Barclay's Center, but Dean Street is also becoming a neighborhood mainstay.

Split into two sections — a front bar and a rear dining area with an exposed kitchen, along with a rotating menu of Cajun-inspired dishes designed by Chef Simon Glenn, Dean Street is a great place to grab lunch or have dinner and a drink while chatting with a friendly bartender. Owner John Longo said he added WiFi to the restaurant to welcome people to use it as a workspace — with great food.

"We have a strong network of people who bunker down and stay all day long," he said. 

For a snack while you hang out, try out the brisket duck bourdin balls. For a heartier meal, there's the massive shrimp po boy, which is a hit with regulars.

Cafe Habana

Address: 117 Prince St., NoLIta, Manhattan
Phone: 212-625-2001
Hours: 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Good for dining solo because: This oh-so-cool NoLIta Cuban joint spawned locations around the city, but the cozy original spot is a great place to get a snack of grilled corn, a Cuban sandwich for lunch, or a plate of enchiladas. 

"The place, it's small and compact," said manager Mark Davidoff. "People come alone and even if they don't know each other, they engage in conversations without any problems."

A smooth soundtrack adds to the ambiance of Cafe Habana, and quick service makes it an ideal spot for a solo lunch.

Ella Cafe

Address: 177 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Phone: 718-218-8079

Hours: Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Good for dining solo because: A respite from Williamsburg's busy Bedford Avenue, Ella is part coffee bar, part restaurant, and a popular brunch destination. Outside of brunching hours, it has a coffee shop vibe with restaurant-quality food, meaning you can sit long after you finish your quiche or sandwich. The front bar is a great spot to hunker down in the winter, while in the summer you can while away the hours at Ella's back patio.

Most food at this spot is made from organic, environmentally-friendly ingredients, including the milk and freshly squeezed orange juice. It also has a daily happy hour from 4:30 to 7 p.m., where you can enjoy $3 bottles and $4 wines. 

Frank

Address: 88 2nd Ave., East Village, Manhattan
Phone: (212) 420-0202
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Good for dining solo because: Advertising itself as "a place to eat," this no-nonsense, cash-only Italian joint serves up classic dishes with a twist, like a black kale Caesar salad. With its chaotic feel, the bar here is a great place to get a glass of wine and an affordable, filling meal.

"It's just an amazing spot to hang out," said The Meatball Shop's Michael Chernow, who cut his teeth at Frank as a bartender, chatting up a wide array of regulars.

Check out the ever-rotating list of specials, written on the chalkboard above the bar. Otherwise, try the black squid ink linguini, a longtime favorite, or the handmade tortelloni with minced pork.

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