Shake off the social stigma of solo dinners at one of New York’s best restaurants for dining alone.You can grab a stool at a noodle counter for some of the best ramen NYC has to offer, settle in at a communal table inside an upmarket food court and perch on a deli stool for one of the best pastrami sandwiches in NYC. Highbrow sushi counters to low-key burger joints, these are the best New York restaurants for solo eaters.
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Best restaurants for dining alone
Calling all solo diners: Ramen chain Ichiran, which combats the social stigma of eating alone with individual “flavor concentration booths” at its 60 locations in Asia, brings its introvert-friendly service system stateside with a Bushwick outpost. The dining process consists of filling out an order form—the kitchen concentrates on pork-bone tonkotsu ramen, but you can specify preferences like “flavor strength,” “noodle tenderness” and “fat content”—and pushing a call button in the partitioned solo booth. A server lifts the bamboo shade in front of you and delivers your ramen with nary an attempt at small talk before leaving as quietly and quickly as they arrived.
If the dining room represents the more restrained side of Gramercy, the lively, walk-in–only tavern, which serves a simpler à la carte menu, is its laid-back counterpoint. In fact, it's an apt setting for a solo dinner—simply pull up a barstool for dishes like clam flatbreads with salsa verde, meatballs with Swiss chard and a deep-dish apple-and-buckweat pie with cheddar ice cream.
There’s no set menu at Semilla (Spanish for “seed”), Williamsburg's intimate, vegetable-forward chef’s counter, with a rootsy output (8–10 courses for $97) that changes weekly, sometimes daily. The dining room is dominated by the 18-seat communal counter, great for prompting conversation over high-flying plates like a drape of roasted beet matched with a neat, bracing dot of fermented-ramp aioli and a scattering of sunflower seeds.
Snag a stool at the teakwood counter, where you can slurp up Ippudo's silky tonkotsu varieties—spicy karaka-men, miso-laced akamaru—made with dashi (bonito-and-kombu-based broth) for extra-briny depth. Appetizers including sea urchin on torched bread and crab-avocado wontons are location specials, along with a shojin (seasonal, vegan and gluten-free) ramen. In addition to sake, you can quench your thirst with a Brooklyn Brewery Kaedama Ale, a russet-hued Belgian number crafted exclusively for the restaurant.
The 15,000-square-foot retail-dining mecca is divided into eight culinary stalls—such as Blue Bottle Coffee, and Brooklyn Kitchen—as well as a full-service NYC Velo bike shop. The food court includes Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, where the noodle guru offers his famed shio, shoyu and chili-sesame varieties, and El Colmado tapas bar from Seamus Mullen (Tertulia). Each stall has communal tables, with garage doors opening to sidewalk seating outside El Colmado and the Cannibal's cocktail-and-charcuterie post.
Treat yourself to one of New York's loveliest, liveliest omakases: Rock-star chefs Jimmy Lau and a beanie-capped Nick Kim—longtime disciples of sushi demigod Masa Takayama—serve luxe items like luscious, marbled toro, a usually late-in-the-game cut affectionately known as the kobe beef of the sea that boldly arrives first, even before sweet Spanish mackerel with barely there shreds of young ginger or sea bream dabbed with plummy ume shiso.
In a white-tiled slip of an East Village eatery, former James Beard Award-winning Del Posto pastry great and erstwhile punk-rock drummer Brooks Headley gives his uberpopular veggie burger pop-up the brick-and-mortar treatment, offering the namesake patty, tofu-cabbage wraps, vegetarian sloppy joes and vanilla-labna gelato. The fast-casual meal is generally taken out but can be enjoyed at one of six desk-like tables that line one of the shop's walls.
Two doors down from Jeremiah Stone and pastry chef Fabian von Hauske’s avant-garde tasting-menu den, Contra, lies this 45-seat sister restaurant. Contra already had an understated, almost mumblecore approach to set menus—five courses clocked in at $55 when the place opened; elevated to its current $67, it’s still a bargain—but Wildair is even more low-pressure, set with sardine-packed bar tables, a fuzzy midaughts soundtrack and neighborhood affability.
Located in a tricked-out 1920s dining car that was once home to a greasy spoon, Diner has earned iconic status as the pioneer of Williamsburg’s restaurant scene. Locals steam up the windows in the winter and cram the patios during the summer for stylish, seasonal dishes by chef Caroline Fidanza. Elegantly executed wild kale salad, roasted-garlic-and-potato-soup, grass-fed steaks and individual cherry pies reaffirm Diner as a Brooklyn destination.
After shuttering for three months in 2015, the rave-reviewed Lower East Side sushi counter reemerged, with chef John Daley buying out his business partner to assume majority ownership of the 11-seat operation. In this simplified iteration, the three-tier-priced dinner service is stripped down to just one $175 omakase featuring seafood sourced from Japan’s famed Tsukiji and Fukuoka fish markets. Cell phones and photography are strictly prohibited as before, but the tech-targeting ban is lifted for a newly introduced lunch service, which offers cooked Japanese items such as miso soup, soba and a house roll, with upgrades available for premium ingredients like uni and toro. (The à la carte menu is also offered to walk-in guests after 9:30pm.)