Eating out on your tod has never been so fun – solo dining reservations have increased more than twofold over the past few years and, accordingly, restaurants are getting better at recognising the solo diner and how to look after them. Table for one, anyone?
The best restaurants for dining solo are the restaurants dreamt up by those who like eating out on their own. So is the case at XU, where two single-seat tables come with some solid people-watching credentials. And, with Taiwanese tea and dumplings on the menu, it’s one of the best seats in Soho.
Hoppers St. Christopher’s Place
Unlike their original restaurant in Soho, this iteration comes with reservations and countertop dining. Food here is designed for groups, so in this case you’re usually best off with a larger dish, such as the silky bone marrow varuval, alongside an egg hopper or two.
Pubs and inns have served solitary travellers for centuries. One such refuge is The Green, a modern British pub from the people behind The Culpeper, who certainly know what they’re doing when it comes to pub grub. Their steak sandwich is a top choice for a solo lunch.
If in a slightly more spendy sort of mood, this legendary 150-year-old Mayfair restaurant could be your bag. Caviar abounds, along with the freshest fish and shellfish – oysters (six varieties, typically) in particular.
With no rules on where you eat it, street food is brilliantly suited to eating alone. Laphet’s Burmese kitchen in Spitalfields is one such example, where passing up the tea leaf salad is a difficult task. Generously portioned, with rice there’s easily enough for two. You never know – next time, might even be worth coming back with a friend.
Dinner is also theatre at Kitchen Table. Each seat looks in to an open kitchen, where for the chefs, as with their food, there’s nowhere to hide. Maybe the pressure of scrutiny is why the restaurant is consistently rated so highly. The tasting menu numbers 15 courses or more, so be ready to strap in for a few hours to yourself.
Wine buffs are in good hands at this Portuguese bar named after the wine region. Perch up at the counter and order Meio Quejio by the glass, alongside some salt cod fritters and octopus with sweet potato.
Morito’s defining feature is its impressive U-shaped marbled bar, which makes for especially good seating if you don’t mind occasionally catching the eye of a stranger. Dishes served here are in the vein of Southern Spanish and North African – keep an eye on their Instagram feed for daily specials.
If there’s anywhere you should think twice about taking a date, a ramen joint is it – if only for the likelihood of getting noodle-flung soup over your neighbour. Instead, take yourself to Tonkotsu (other great ramen joints are available) for some rich pork bone or miso mushroom broth.
Is it a coincidence the variety of antelope, from which this restaurant takes its name, often prefers its own company? Either way, the bar at Kudu makes eating the South African-inspired braai (barbequed) food unescorted a much more comfortable experience.
This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.