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Valentine's Day doesn't have to be sad if you're single. It just means there's more food for you!
For many, Valentine’s Day is an excuse to go out for a fancy dinner. For others, it’s just another reminder that they’re still single. But who says the two have to be mutually exclusive? Instead of sitting home on the couch drowning your sorrows in a tub of ice cream, give yourself a night out on the town complete with a meal that’s worthy of your sophisticated palate and all ‘round excellence.
With more restaurants embracing the communal dining trend putting extra long butcher-block tables front and center, solo dining is no longer taboo. Still, for those who are a bit more traditional or simply want their own space, we’ll admit, some restaurants cater to lone patrons better than others.
Either way, whether you’re on business in a new city or simply not afraid to break out “table for one” with gusto in your own town, we’ve scoured the map for a few eateries in which you’ll be proud to dine alone.
Simply observing the mastery that goes on in the open kitchen of Sable Kitchen & Bar Chicago will keep you plenty distracted while sitting alone, but you’ll also have fun perusing the diverse menu, too. Solo diners will be pleased to know they can order smaller versions of Sable’s most popular plates such as bacon wrapped dates, housemade beef jerky, ranch truffle butter burgers or New England lobster rolls without splurging. One more reason to love Chef Heather Terhune: She even shares her recipes.
Courtesy of Saen Mullix Photography
Sable's short rib sliders with root beer glaze. One for you, another one for…you.
Surround yourself with a cornucopia of delectable dips at the Persian oasis, Rumi’s Kitchen in Atlanta and you won’t even care if someone sits next to you. The newly designed restaurant features an open Mediterranean inspired kitchen, plenty of seating and a tranquil atmosphere that keeps you from feeling rushed. Solo diners can easily fill their plates with starters including Rumi’s famous dolmeh (ground beef, rice and mixed herbs wrapped in grape leaves and simmered in pomegranate sauce) or a variety of eggplant, garlic, yogurt and spice dips served with fresh, hot pilowy pita. Tender lamb and chicken kabobs or koobediah (ground chuck wrapped in flatbread) come with your choice of saffron basmati rice or rice with cherries, with enough piled on your plate to brown bag lunch for the entire week.
Channel your inner Descartes by grabbing a seat at Raoul’s in New York City and a goblet of Pinot Noir. Between the Euro-boho atmosphere and eclectic art gallery, you can easily lose yourself for a few hours taking it all in. Steak tartar and warm octopus salad are succulent and tasty any day of the week, but for a special night out, pricey as it may be, treat yourself to the Colorado grilled rack of lamb and a side of crispy pomme frites. Don’t forget to save room for the banana coconut bread or sticky fig puddings for dessert. C’mon, you know you’re worth it.
One could easily argue that the communal nature of the sushi bar was intended for the solo diner. Still, when you find one that stands out for the atmosphere as well as the food, it’s worth noting. So we’ll give a special shout out to Sugarfish in Downtown Los Angeles. For just under $20, we highly recommend the “Trust Me Lite” special which includes organic edamame, tuna sashimi, one piece of albacore sushi, salmon sushi, yellowtail sushi and nozawa shrimp sushi, plus a toro hand roll. Grab a spot at the spacious bar or linger longer in the comfy booths. Sugarfish doesn’t take reservations so you won’t be competing with couples who’ve had their Saturday nights planned for weeks.
You’ll get the most out of your solo dining experience at OLA Miami if you step outside of your comfort zone, sit at the bar (and yes, that means putting your book/phone away) and just see what happens. Prepare to dive right into the ceviche as well as the cast of characters who sit next to you (or chat it up with the bartender). You’ll fall in love with the wahoo ceviche with watermelon juice, fois gras empanada or the plantain crusted mahi. Of course no Miami culinary experience is complete without OLA’s deconstructed key lime pie.
If there’s ever a time to brunch alone, it’s at Revel Seattle, because you’ll want to keep a plate of bacon, hazelnut and pickled pear doughnuts all to yourself. The black currant porridge is also a treat, or, if you’re more traditional, go with the two eggs, bacon and scallion potato hash. Reservations aren’t taken for parties less than six, so you’ll be in line with the rest of ‘em the morning after your fabulous date with…yourself.
Still not in love with solo dining despite our venerable recommendations? Hey, it’s not for everyone. If you’re a woman, check outInviteforabite.com, a website created with the business traveler in mind, to allow solo female diners to meet up with other solo (female) diners anywhere in the world (sorry, guys). Or, check out grubwithus.com, an experience (available in select cities only) for solo diners who pre-pay for a meal and get a ticket to a specific restaurant to meet other diners.
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