Traveling alone doesn’t mean missing out on fine-dining experiences. Quite the opposite: Many restaurants provide the adventurous individual with a more-than-satisfying meal. These seven dine-in spots—a mix of domestic and international restaurants—feed the art of flying solo.
1. Plume at The Jefferson in Washington, D.C.
Plume has a fine-dining bar that specifically caters to the unaccompanied eater. The “first-come-first-serve” bar expresses an upscale style that blends with the rest of the restaurant—it even operates on the same schedule and offers the chef’s tasting experience, a four-course menu that ends with petite madeleines. If you seek a more casual experience, pop over to Quill, the Jefferson’s cocktail bar and lounge that’s equipped with its own certified sommeliers.
2. Quality Eats in New York, NY
Usually “steakhouse” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a place to dine alone. But at Quality Eats, where nicely cut steaks range from $19 to $29, the casual atmosphere welcomes all. Single diners can take a seat at the 15-person bar covered in carved graffiti and humorous puns about meat. The best way to embrace your solo status? Order the “Home Alone” cocktail, a mix of bourbon, homemade spruce bitters, and cinnamon.
3. Canele in Los Angeles, Cal.
Owners Corina Weibel and Jane Choi serve “direct, simple, comforting, but irresistibly tasty” food to diners of all numbers. Parties of one are welcome to sit at the communal table in front of the window, where they can choose from the many farm-to-table items on the menu. And every Tuesday, all are invited to participate in “Friends Cook at Canele”—an interactive experience that involves cooking up a three-course menu alongside the chefs.
At this Floridian seafood restaurant, the “Dinner for One” menu ($70) gets right to the point. The three-course menu starts with half a dozen oysters sourced from both the East and West coasts, before moving onto the “catch of the day” main entrée. Then end with the Orange Chocolate Texture—made up of rock lava coulis, feuilletine, and blood orange sorbet.
5. Eenmaal (Belgium, England, The Netherlands)
This pop-up concept restaurant is filled with personal tables that only seat parties of one. Marina van Goor started her solo dining concept to “create an attractive place where eating out alone is accepted and even cool.” Customers are seated at desklike tables spread out around Eenmaal, where they are served seasonal four-course meals paired with natural wine selections. The pop-up restaurants have made appearances in Amsterdam, Antwerp, and London, and Marina has dreams of opening permanent spots in Asia and the United States.
6. Moomin Cafe (China, Finland, Japan)
These international cafes—inspired by the Finnish animation series, The Moomins—have revamped the notion of dining alone. Since first opening in Japan over a decade ago, Moomin Cafés have continued to welcome diners with plush versions of their classic hippo-like characters. Customers are seated with the Moomin stuffed animals, who make for great company (no forced conversation OR food sharing—a win-win). The chain sticks to its Nordic roots and serves an array of traditional cuisine, such as Finnish bread or salmon milk soup, with its latest opening in Finland specializing in pancakes.
7. Ichiran Ramen (Japan)
Although the many locations handle customers differently, this ramen chain maintains a private atmosphere for individuals across the board. In the Tokyo location, customers take a ticket from a vending machine upon arrival, and then sit at a private booth with partitions on either side. After filling out a ramen customization sheet, a staff member opens the booth’s shutter and takes the ticket, returning shortly with a steaming bowl of pork bone or tonkostu. This is one of 15 working ramen shops throughout Japan, with the first Irhiran Ramen in the United States slated to open later this year.