It’s time to discard the tired image that solo diners are friendless weirdos. And instead embrace the perks of eating alone. Maybe it’s skipping the queue, or not having to compromise on what you really want to order. Or perhaps you like a little alone time that comes with wine and good food. Whatever it may be, if you’re in Sydney for business, travelling solo, seeking your next food adventure or just looking for some down-time, these are the places that’ll help you finesse your solo-dining ventures, and make you glad you didn’t have to share dessert.
Best restaurants for solo dining in Sydney
Good for: Traditional french fare and an extensive wine-list in a theatrical setting.
Your solo dining feat at this French bistro might just see you fast-tracked past the queue as you slide onto a stool at Bar Pincer or Normandy. Perched up here, you’ll get the choice of both the bar and a-la-carte menus, rules be damned. And if the wine-list seems daunting, you have a friendly bartender in front of you to mull it over with.
Hot tip: Dine on Wednesday or Thursday evenings for live jazz.
Good for: Fancy business trip dinners with the company card.
This is our number one fine diner that cannot be missed if you consider yourself an experience hunter – especially if it’s on the company card. A booking here is a coveted affair, though your chances are multiplied by your party-of-one status.
Hot tip: There are five seats at the bar that operate on a walk-in basis and here you can order eats a la carte if you can’t face a whole deg alone.
Good for: A casual, boozy lunch, with cheese and charcuterie. This neighbourhood haunt is great for when you can’t find a lunch date. Settle yourself down at the marble bar and Mikey Nicolian (Time Out’s Bartender of the Year 2017) and his team of vintage-styled bartenders will provide conversation to equal the delicious drinks and meatball subs.
Hot tip: This is the time to splurge on imported tin fish and fancy charcuterie – no need to share.
Good for: Sustainable and local produce
Securing a seat at Fred’s is a hard task made easier sans company. Propped up at the bar you’ll be amidst the hustle of the open kitchen, where the chefs tend to the hearth, and split broad beans on the same bench you’ll be devouring pappardelle with goat. The result, a wholesome dining experience where one feels as though they’re sitting at a close friends kitchen bench, you’ll almost feel guilty for your idle hands.
Hot tip: Order the lamb, which is one of the most popular dishes on the menu.
Good for: Curries, hoppers and sambal
If you like your food punchy, spicy and full of flavour, make a trip here for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. The casual vibe will ease any awkwardness about your solo-dining venture, and the way the menu is constructed means a coule of hoppers and a curry is perfect for one.
Hot tip: If you like your wine but won’t drink a whole bottle, they do 500ml carafes here.
Good for: Carnivores and anemics
This smokehouse is not for the plant-based diners among us. Dining here means big, meaty decisions; whether it’s smoked sausage or spiced blood sausage, beef short rib or smoked beef tongue. Rolling solo means you’ll want to dine up at the bar, so you can get your drinks at double time to balance all the meat on your plate.
Hot tip: Order the Brussels sprout salad to break up all the meat-on-meat action.
Good for: Groovy natural wine
Being in such close proximity to the bar is not a bad thing when it is boasting one of the biggest selections of Radikon in Sydney. Especially when paired with roasted rock oysters and king prawns in fermented shrimp butter. With the right balance of food, booze and funky music, Ester is the only company you need for a good time.
Hot tip: Walk-in spots at the bar are easier to score as the restaurant books out most days.
Good for: Those who can stand the heat and want to eat in the kitchen
The theatre of a Murray Cod hanging over exposed hearth, while 164-day-old dry aged beef rib nestles on top of glowing coals is exactly what it takes to forget you’re by your lonesome at this fire-powered restaurant. And if watching the chefs butcher a beast in front of you isn’t enough, you’ll get a welcome surprise when the teams pet fish Ember joins you in it’s glass tank for company during your second course.
Hot tip: Ask about a carafe, they’re a great way to enjoy your meal without the by-the-glass price-tag and the cloudy head of a full bottle.
Good for: Some of the best sushi in town
The best way to enjoy a solo meal at Sokyo is to order the Omakase menu at the sushi counter. Although the price is a steep $165, you’ll be served personally by the head chef at their eight-seater bar. They’ll give you the best produce that’s available that day, so you can switch into auto-pilot and enjoy your meal without making stressful decisions.
Hot tip: Come in early to secure a spot.
Good for: Argentinian barbecue, Spanish wine and next level hospitality.
A seat at the bar is prime real-estate: from here you can see the daily beast cooking over the asador, enjoy close proximity to the bartender and their banter all the while admiring the elegant fit out with succulent berkshire pork in front of you. The drawcard here for solo-diners is the open-armed service.
Hot tip: Order the empanadas, they’re handmade daily by co-owner Elvis Abrahanowicz’s mother.
Good for: Euro holiday vibes
This Italian restaurant is the perfect place to take yourself out on a date. With its thoughtful wine list and carb-loaded menu, moderation is not an option. Park yourself on a bar stool and start with the whipped bottarga pretzel then end with the cloud-like tiramisu, and if you can’t fit much in between there’s noone there to judge your choices.
Hot tip: Bring a book to read while you eat
Good for: Traditional yakitori in a cosy setting.
Chaco bar is for when you want a delicious meal without the price tag and fine-diner fuss. The communal tables bring solace to your seating anxiety, flanked either side, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is what skewers you’re going to get.
Hot tip: Go on Monday evenings for ramen