Best places to eat alone in Chicago
Pasta can be a daunting dish to tackle solo—until, that is, you visit this noodle haven in Logan Square. Carbs are front and center, but chef Joe Frillman’s market-driven approach results in variations that are lighter than most, while still packing big-time flavors. Sample your way through an array of options with the Feed Me menu, a tasting experience that allows diners to order half portions of the restaurant’s most prized picks (like the drool-worthy beet and dill agnolotti). Pair your noods with a selection from the Midwestern-driven wine list, which the team can offer in half pours, too.
Lit lovers adore this Loop locale, where an onsite library is theirs for the borrowing—complete with more than 1,300 books. Browse titles like Sophie’s Choice, Pride & Prejudice and The Great Escape, then snag one of 30 bar seats for a taste of market-inspired Italian cuisine from chef Zachary Walrath. Seasonally rotating pizzas are perfect for hungry guests, as are the lighter appetizers and half-portions of house-made pasta—like the saffron-infused gemelli with rock shrimp and fennel.
Dove's is the perfect low-stress situation for those who want to indulge in some quality time to themselves. The old-school diner’s interior is dotted with immobile stools and counters that stretch across the space. Even though there's usually a wait list at this popping Wicker Park mainstay, there's almost always a lone stool between groups and couples for a solo diner. Snag it and order the hearty chicken fried chicken with chorizo verde gravy, sweet peas and onions. You'll be glad you don't have to share.
Befriend other sushi fanatics at this intimate omakase restaurant, where just 12 seats surround the counter where famed chef BK Park works. Ask questions and mingle—or don’t—between upwards of 25 elevated bites, like king crab with uni miso, kusshi oysters with smoked trout roe, and duck liver with leek soubise. No matter who you’re sitting with, this hours-long meal is bound to leave you and your fellow diners with a sense of solidarity (sake doesn’t hurt either).
Expect French flavors and Midwest sensibilities at this sunshine-drenched Humboldt Park café, where chef Mike Simmons offers a rotating selection of à la carte comfort dishes and freshly baked, house-made viennoiseries. A counter toward the front of the restaurant is equipped with eight chairs that are ideal for folks who are dining alone, complete with people-watching along California Avenue. On Thursdays from noon to close, patrons can nab a steal of a meal they won’t have to share: a burger, beer and fries for $20.
Over the last 16 years, this beloved West Loop restaurant has cultivated a loyal, food-loving fanbase, many of whom enjoy dining solo or after usual dinner hours (food here is served until midnight—and until 1am on weekends). We credit that allegiance to an inviting 15-seat bar and chef Perry Hendrix’s European-inspired dishes, many of which are available in half portions. Try individual servings of specialties like chorizo-stuffed dates, mussels and seasonal greens alongside the bar’s standard 250-milliliter wine pours—the perfect anti-bottle antidote.
Take a break from Mag Mile mayhem with a visit to this bustling restaurant and wine bar, which features Mediterranean fare and a 1,000-bottle strong wine list to boot. While the menu is rife with hearty shareables (think bavette steak and lamb saddle), it also boasts plenty of perfect-for-one plates, such as chicken thigh kebabs, mortadella toast and milk-braised pork shoulder. The centerpiece of the sprawling interior is a long bar that beckons to lone guests.
Unaccompanied diners who are feeling fancy can head to this Michelin-starred restaurant, where chef Ryan McCaskey showcases elevated fare inspired by his childhood summers in Maine. The 10-course tasting menu is expertly coursed, but the hospitality team provides iPads to every table that requests one, which means you can pull up some reading material or peruse the digital wine list between bites. The restaurant's more casual bar is an even better option if you're alone; grab a barstool and order from the à la carte menu that’s brimming with hits, like the Acadia burger, which is layered with bacon-onion jam, truffle mornay and gruyere.
Solitary guests can saddle up at the chef’s counter of this Hyde Park hangout, where a dozen seats provide front-row views of the kitchen’s massive hearth. Get the full experience with dishes like roasted Brussels sprouts with white cheddar and currants or the sirloin, with ramp butter and hearth roasted broccolini—both great contenders for a craft cocktail (try the Reverse Manhattan, a tamer riff on the original that still packs a punch). Those seeking a post-dinner show can head upstairs, where rotating entertainment like live lit, concerts, and dance parties happen throughout the week.