Solo dining is not as awkward as it used to be. For some time now there’s been little or no stigma around going solo in a cafe for breakfast or a coffee, or taking your lunch break at a nearby eatery while engrossed in your smartphone, but for some reason the taboo still lingered around having a dinner for one.
More and more people however are discovering the pleasures of solo dining. Minus the distraction boring chat and the expectations of others (who says you can’t order three starters instead of a main, or dessert first?), plus zero risk of food envy – what’s not to like?
But the real enlightening pleasure of solitary dining lies in the fact that you can focus entirely on the food – and frankly, when allowed to fully immerse yourself in the sensory experiences of the meal, food is often the only company you need.
So put down the smartphone, we’ve picked 10 of the best restaurants for solo dining in Dublin, that don’t come with a side order of shame.
One of 2016’s hottest new restaurant openings, this narrow neighborhood wine room and kitchen, a sister project of John and Sandy Wyer’s Forest Avenue, is perfect for solo dining. All the seating here is high-stooled, with the majority of seating along a marble dining counter, where solo diners will be accommodated. From there you can look smugly from your perch as you get to see chef Ciaran Sweeney and his team at work, who will invite you to interact and ask as many questions as you like. Linger over each incredible dish and savor each bite without any distractions.
With only 38 seats at this Italian influenced Merrion Row eatery, the intimate dining room works in favour of those eating alone. Those cosy vibes, informal air and dim lighting coupled with the friendly staff make this is the ideal place to settle in for the night with Bib Gourmand standard food and great wine – of which you can taste up to 8 blackboard-listed wines by the glass from Etto’s wine taps. Choose the Chef’s Tasting Menu for a considered selection of dishes from the main menu so good that you won’t want to share, anyway.
In the heart of Temple Bar, Rock Lobster’s little sister Klaw runs with the tagline Crabshack Dining, and its casual high stool only set up makes it a perfect pit-stop for the solo diner. From a chalkboard menu chose from freshly prepared seafood dishes and the largest variety of oysters in any restaurant in Ireland, and enjoy on paper plates with plastic forks in the company of seafood lovers who are also in-the-know.
Communal seating is another go to option for the solo diner, and is usually found in a big casual, convivial sort of restaurant – wagamama is just that sort of place. Though wagamama really comes into its own as a haven for soloists when Japan’s famed broth, ramen, is ordered. What with trying to delicately manoeuvre slippery noodles out of a soup and into your mouth with chopsticks, without making awkward slurpy sounds or splashing both your and your dining companion’s face, ramen is best eaten alone in our opinion.
With a reservations hard to secure at the hottest new restaurant in town, requesting a seat for one might just help you skip the queue at this hip Chinese eatery. While the booths designed to mimic those in a Chinese subway are suitable for groups only, the bar seating in this narrow restaurant is perfect the lone foodie in search of a flavour experience. Order a number of small plates, that arrive in quick succession, enjoy the tracks spun by the late night DJ, and as the night goes on allow yourself to be transported to the coolest bar in Beijing.
Like at wagamama, the long communal benches at both Yamamori Noodles, South Great George’s Street, and Yamamori Sushi, Ormond Quay, make them magnets for solo diners, and you can slurp down some solo noodles without a drop of shame. In the mood for something different? A large menu means you can opt to try a variety of sushi, nigiri, and small plates a la carte, or order a chef’s selection. Make a reservation at front window facing bench at Yamamori Noodles to watch the world go by – when your attention isn’t consumed trying to master the art of chopsticks that is.
Soloists will feel at ease saddled up at the bar of this tiny wine and tapas bar on Cow’s Lane, just off Dame Street. With tapas at just €3 a pop you’ll get to taste a multitude of authentic Mediterranean dishes, and although the amount of wines by the glass is limited, the addition of a Coravin to Piglet’s arsenal makes sampling a number of wines from their lengthy by the bottle list an affordable option – so no need to commit to a bottle.
Singletons will be well looked after at the boldly designed bar that dominates Ireland’s only contemporary Mexican restaurant, 777 – where the bartender will have one of their infamously addictive Margaritas in front of you within minutes. Sample a range exciting Mexican food from a menu layout encourages you to choose a number of smaller dishes. The vibrant food, eye-catching decor and the energy in the room will easily make you forget that you’re on your own.
Sushi bars were made for solo dining, and while your favorite local sushi joint will do, if you really want to immerse yourself in Japanese culinary experience reserve a seat at the bar at Taste at Rustic. Make yourself comfortable on plush leather stools where you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the expert chefs at work in this open, high-end kitchen. Let them take you on journey through the fives tastes – sweet, savoury, sour, bitter and umami – and the flavours of not only Japan but Spain and South America too.
The appeal of this gastropub in Dublin’s Creative Quarter for solo diners lies in the fact that you can choose to dine either at the bar or by the window on your own. One of the few bars in Dublin where you can actually hear yourself think, you can relax in casual, relaxed and comfortable surroundings with comforting, hearty food to match. Reading the menu alone of their extensive range of worldly beers will keep you occupied.
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after completing a law degree, she went on to do a Masters in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.