When I first started traveling alone in 2010, finding the best restaurants for solo dining was a lot harder than it is today! As an expert solo traveler and a self-proclaimed “foodie,” I am going to tell you how to find the best restaurants for eating alone!
I am happy to report that in general, solo dining has become a popular trend in recent years. More people, especially women have become more comfortable dining alone and embracing the joy of savoring a solo meal.
Whether you’re a solo traveler, a busy professional, or simply seeking some “me time,” dining alone can be a delightful and rewarding experience.
However, finding the best restaurants for solo dining can be a bit challenging, as not all establishments cater to solo diners with the same warmth and comfort as they do for larger groups.
In this blog post, we will explore some valuable tips and strategies to help you discover the perfect restaurants that make your solo dining experience truly exceptional.
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10 Tips For Finding The Best Restaurants For Solo Dining
Below is my list of the best tips I have for finding restaurants when planning to eat alone. Use these tips while away or in your home city!
1. Search For Local Bistro Style Restaurants
When I’m looking for a great spot for solo dining, I love exploring the local culinary scene as it can be incredibly rewarding. Instead of opting for familiar chain restaurants, venture out to discover local eateries!
These local cafes and bistros are the perfect place for single diners who are seeking unique and authentic experiences.
I find they embrace the concept of sharing their culture and cuisine with individuals from all walks of life.
So when you are searching for a place to eat, search “best bistro restaurants in city X”. This will help greatly to narrow your search to the perfect spot.
2. Read Blogs & Online Reviews
The internet is a treasure trove of valuable information when it comes to finding the best restaurants for solo dining. But I would advise you to take websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Reviews almost with a grain of salt.
Some of the feedback can be helpful, but I have come to notice people will leave bad reviews because they were having a bad day. Not because the restaurant was bad it was just not a good choice for them.
A great example of this would be if someone found the restaurant to be too “hip” when they were looking for a romantic setting. The one-star review they leave has nothing to do with the restaurant, just how they felt about it at the moment.
When I look for great options of places to eat, I am looking for the restaurant setting and I do have a look at the general feedback about the food.
* When going to a bar or pub alone I do advise you to troll the forums to see what they have to say about the vibe, and if it’s safe.
I do also consider what fellow diners are saying about the service, and whether they complain about long waits.
My best tip is to look on solo travel blogs for recommendations then I do secondary research myself.
3. Ask Locals for Help
Looking for suggestions where the locals would eat alone? Ask them! I typically start my night in the best bars for a pre-dinner drink.
Then I just get advice from the friendly bartenders on where they would eat in the city.
This tip works great if you are traveling in a city big enough where there are lots of places to eat and where you don’t need reservations in advance.
4. Look For Restaurants Inside the City Center
I typically use Google Maps to first find a number of restaurants in the local area and then go through them to decide if they look good for eating alone.
I’d really recommend staying in the city center when looking for restaurants to eat solo in. I have made the mistake of traveling outside the city center when looking for a good restaurant.
Maybe the reviews seem great, but if you get all the way there and for one reason or another you want to leave, it can be a bummer.
5. Find Restaurants With Tapas & Small Portions
A well-curated menu can be indicative of a restaurant’s commitment to solo diners. Look for eateries that offer a diverse range of dishes, including single-serving options or smaller portions of their signature dishes.
Restaurants with “small plates” or “tapas-style” menus are particularly my go as a solo diner. I like to try as much as possible so if I can order a bunch of apps I find it the better way to dine alone. Ordering multiple appetizer dishes is my way to do solo dining without overindulging.
Some pre-fixed menus are ideally for 2 so be search to research ahead of time. You don’t want to get there and find out all the meals are designed for 2 people to share.
6. Find Places With Counter Seating Options
My best tip when finding a restaurant for dining alone is to find a good place that has a more relaxed and social setting.
For example, sitting in the bar area or at the counter is an excellent choice. Perhaps try a wine bar or sushi bar for a more lively bar seating experience.
Counter seats not only provide an unobtrusive spot to enjoy your meal but also allows you to interact with the restaurant staff and other customers.
Nothing feels more isolating to me as a solo diner than eating in the dining room of a romantic restaurant alone. Dining solo can feel lonely if you don’t have a dining companion in these types of settings.
The best seat in the house for a solo diner like myself is on the bar stools in the lounge areas.
7. Consider the Ambiance
Finding the right ambiance in a restaurant plays a significant role in enhancing the solo dining experience.
When it is your first time looking for solo-friendly restaurants, pick a place where a lot is going on. Maybe a place with a live event, definitely a welcoming atmosphere, and where if you are the only solo diner you won’t feel like anyone would notice.
I look for places where I blend in and feel comfortable spending time with my own company.
8. Find Restaurants That Take Reservations
As a solo diner, you may be able to secure a table more quickly than larger groups.
However, some restaurants might still have long waiting times, especially during the peak social hour. Before heading out, call ahead or check online for reservation options or estimated waiting times.
This way, you can plan your visit accordingly and avoid unnecessary delays.
9. Join Foodie Communities
If you are a food lover looking for a good restaurant, the first thing to do is join a foodie group. This will help you find the favorite spots of others and then you can determine whether you think it would be a great place to eat alone.
Online foodie communities and forums are excellent resources for solo diners seeking recommendations. Platforms like Reddit, food blogs, and social media groups often have discussions about the best places to dine alone.
Engaging with these communities allows you to tap into the collective knowledge of fellow food enthusiasts, who can point you toward hidden gems and solo-friendly establishments.
10. Find Restaurants For Solo Dining in Safe Neighborhoods
There are plenty of places I have found online that I wanted to eat but wasn’t comfortable getting there alone. It is important to prioritize your safety and convenience when choosing a restaurant for solo dining.
Opt for well-lit areas, especially if you plan to dine in the evening.
Additionally, consider the accessibility of the restaurant, especially if you rely on public transportation or have mobility challenges.
How to Find Cheap Restaurants for Solo Dining
Traveling solo on a budget and looking for tips to find the best affordable restaurants?
When I am looking for great food but don’t want to spend a lot of money I always look to see if the city has a local food hall!
A food hall can be an excellent place to find a quick meal for under $10! Typically you get a mix of street food and a local specialty. Great craft beer can also be found in these market halls.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Restaurants for Solo Dining
Solo dining can be a delightful and empowering experience if you choose the right restaurants that cater to solo diners.
It really comes down to finding the restaurant in the best location, that has a lively atmosphere and reasonable prices.
Embrace the opportunity to explore the local culinary scene, research online reviews, and prioritize establishments with a welcoming ambiance and menu variety.
By engaging with staff and seeking recommendations from foodie communities, you can uncover hidden gems that will make your solo dining experiences memorable and enjoyable. Remember to prioritize your safety and comfort as you venture out to discover new flavors and savor the joy of dining alone.
FAQ’s Solo Restaurants for Solo Dining
The best way to enjoy eating solo in a restaurant is by having something to do when you are waiting for your meal. This could be reading emails, editing photos on your phone, or responding to text messages.
When looking for the best places to dine alone consider places that have communal tables, bar or counter seating, and places that have a social atmosphere. Casual cafes and street food vendors are a popular choice for solo travelers.
It is very normal and acceptable to enjoy a meal alone. If you are traveling alone for the first time eating solo can feel a little awkward. With some practice, it will be easier and more enjoyable!
If eating alone in a restaurant makes you lonely and uncomfortable, then eat at the bar. Sitting at the bar is more social and can be a great way to have conversations with the bartender or surrounding customers.
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