Alone time can be downright delicious, an opportunity to recharge your emotional juices, warm them up on the electric thrum of peace and quiet. A chance to let yourself think your thoughts uninterrupted by considerations about how you’re being perceived. A moment of reprieve from the need to make conversation.
Eating out alone takes that equation one step further, inviting introspection to the tune of slurping ramen or chewing a roasted carrot. The idea of dining solo is revered — romanticized, even. There’s an art to it, one that I haven’t quite mastered myself, but the times I’ve pushed myself to attempt it have been rewarding in different ways. It makes you more aware of your surroundings, more in touch with all the things you can see and smell and hear and taste when you’re on a date with you and you alone. Such was the impetus behind Repeller’s “Hot Date With Yourself” bundle, which consists of our Picnic Tote in napkin print, Tomato Earring, and Sir Scarf-a-Lot in napkin print. A tangible embodiment of the lesson that loneliness and solitude are two very different things. Especially when fancy bread and tomato jam are involved.
So, in the spirit of warm summer nights and opportunities for fancy bread consumption that lie ahead, I asked Team Man Repeller to tell me their favorite places to eat by themselves in New York. Read their answers below, and add yours in the comments.
348 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Recommended by: Elizabeth, Market Strategist
Why it’s perfect for solo dining: The tables are small and, honestly, really cramped when you’re eating with another person. They also bring dog bowls if you happen to have a k9 companion (is that cheating?).
If I’m there, I’m eating: Tea, and hopefully they bring me free cheddar biscuit or pastry of some sort. I love the salad with the anchovy dressing (which I believe is one of the only items on the menu when you go at an abnormal meal time like say, 3:30/4 p.m., which IMHO is the most ideal time to eat alone).
I’m entertaining myself by: People watching, thinking, enjoying my food. Probably talking to my dog if she’s with me.
Ideal dining-alone outfit: Bike shorts or comfortable pants so I can sit with my legs crossed, and a men’s linen button down because hopefully it’s a gorgeous summer day but I’m in the shade so it’s a bit breezy. Sunglasses, too, so I can optimize my solitude behind an eyeball shield.
768 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10065
Recommended by: Leandra, CEO of the physical person, Leandra Medine Cohen
Why it’s perfect for solo dining: Because of the build-out, a long marble bar that greets you when walk in, which is always where I sit. But also, when the weather is nice, the front windoors (that thing when the windows moonlight as doors) pop open and whether or not you’re sitting outside, you’re kind of outside. In the winter, it’s great too, because it’s so bright in there. But also because of the entertainment — the people-watching and eavesdropping among the women of upper Manhattan and recently off-work men is a feast for two senses and the food is a feast for another. That’s three senses satisfied in but one fell experience.
If I’m there, I’m eating: A double omega-3 wambam-thank-you-ma’am in the form of: Salmon tartar and a tuna salad replete with corn, avocado, asparagus, capers and I ask to hold the tomatoes because tuna x tomato is the quite possibly the most horrific gastronomic combination since raisins and mustard.
I’m entertaining myself by: Ordering a glass of rose no matter the time of year (or day) to start me off with some green olives and parmesan cheese chunks, and sometimes I bring a book but never actually to read, it’s a decoy to make the eavesdropping less obvious.
Ideal dining-alone outfit: The outfit equivalent of your best friend. For me, that’s a load of disparate layers. Like a collarless jacket, with a button down shirt and a pair of relaxed pants !plus! wedge mules.
28 8th Ave, New York, NY 10014
Recommended by: Harling, Fashion Director and Brand Strategist
Why it’s perfect for solo dining: The service is insanely fast, so it’s great for a quick meal where you’re guaranteed consistent efficiency. There’s also so much hustle and bustle that the fact that you’re eating alone won’t bat a single eyelash (I often get self-conscious or have a weird feeling that everyone is watching me when I’m alone in a restaurant, so this is key).
If I’m there, I’m eating: Blueberry pancakes with a side of scrambled eggs.
I’m entertaining myself by: Either reading a book (I just finished The Power so I’m hungry for recommendations, if you have any) or listening to a podcast (never not Armchair Expert).
469 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011
Recommended by: Gyan Yankovich, Managing Editor
Why it’s perfect for solo dining: It’s extremely low-key and they have a section of bar seating, which is perfect for solo lunch or dinner dates. I’ve been alone many times and have always opted for a bar seat, even when there have been tables available. It’s also my absolute favorite ramen in the city, so I’ll make any excuse to go there.
If I’m there, I’m eating: I always get the EAK Shoyu ramen with extra garlic and onion. If I’m really hungry, I’ll also order the pork gyoza.
I’m entertaining myself by: It depends on my mood. Sometimes I’m more than happy to have my thoughts keep me company. Other days, I need an audiobook. At the moment, I’m listening to Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.
348 Bowery, New York, NY 10012
Recommended by: Patty, Head of Partnerships
Why it’s perfect for solo dining: There’s very limited seating, so it’s great for a lunch getaway outside.
If I’m there, I’m eating: I’m on a personal journey to try all of their personal pizzas, so could be anything. But definitely pizza.
I’m entertaining myself by: Reading a book, always.
990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
Recommended by: Starling, Office Coordinator
Why it’s perfect for solo dining: There’s so much joy to witness! Little babies screeching with delight at flowers and then falling on the cushiony grass, kids on field trips learning things with genuine interest, older people on loving strolls. If that’s not enough for you, there’s also a rotating selection of gorgeous plants, so it’s a new experience each time you’re there.
If I’m there, I’m eating: A baguette dipped in a tiny jar of honey with goat cheese I smuggled in my backpack.
I’m entertaining myself by: People watching, plant sniffing.
1 Howard St, New York, NY 10013
Recommended by: Dasha Faires, Director of Product Development
Why it’s perfect for solo dining: They have a bar that’s perfect for dining alone and the food is healthy-ish depending on what you order.
If I’m there, I’m eating: A kale cashew grain bowl.
I’m entertaining myself by: Probably listening to a podcast about business, creative, or spirituality.
Near the 9th street entrance of Prospect Park
Recommended by: Amalie MacGowan, Social Media Manager
Why it’s perfect for solo dining: You have to be cool with a potential dog shake or two from wet pups emerging from the water, but this place is pure visual joy. I have only ever snacked, but I believe a sandwich or a salad could easily be situated lap-side if you installed yourself on a bench.
If I’m there, I’m eating: Usually iced coffee in a reusable container and a gluten-free dairy-free baked good from Gather.
I’m entertaining myself by: Just observing. The entertainment is already there, ready for your love and attention.
Ideal dining-alone outfit: Full athleisure. Bright blue Girlfriend leggings, an Outdoor Voices top, some cool long-distance running sneaks, a Repeller picnic tote to bring along my goodies, and a good attitude.