Poll: What’s the Most You Spent Dining Solo?

Splurging Solo Photo by Shawna Dawson Beer
Dining Solo: Republique's Fromage Blanc Cheesecake by Caroline on Crack

Dessert for one at Republique. Believe it.

When your friends aren’t available or your significant other is out of town, and you’re addicted to quality food and drink, you still crave a nice meal at a sit-down restaurant even if that means dining solo. But for myself I still can’t help but regard such indulgence as the equivalent of drinking or watching a movie alone. Not that I wouldn’t do either or have an aversion to them, but it’s just nicer when you have someone there to share and discuss the experience with. Bond over Barolo, squee over quinoa. So I saved the great restaurant experiences for company.

In any case, the other night when my boyfriend went out of town I felt the pull of Republique. Figured a three-cheese plate, salad and glass of wine would make for a satisfactory dinner alone. I’d sit at the bar, chat with the bartender, quietly enjoy my cheese. I’d be in and out within an hour.

But then that plan for an abbreviated meal quickly expanded to a nearly two-hour extravaganza with appetizer, entree, two glasses of wine, dessert and an espresso. It felt right, and comforting. I even made friends with the date-night couples sitting on either side of me. And yet when I got my bill I couldn’t help but cringe: $100. All on myself? I instantly felt guilty. That’s too indulgent. Dining alone is meant to just sate hunger, I told myself.

But then realized: Isn’t spending money on an indulgent meal alone the equivalent of splurging on a fun car instead of a practical one, or treating yourself to an expensive box of chocolates that you don’t intend to share with anyone? What’s wrong with enjoying life the best way we know how every now and then? Nothing!

Here are my five favorite places* for drinking and dining solo. It goes without saying that the best place for dining alone is at the bar and at these restaurants you don’t have people coming up behind you all the time to order their drinks so score to that. And they’re not too loud so you can actually hear your own thoughts.

1. Republique: Obviously (see above). Best time to go to this hot restaurant is around 6, definitely before dinner time which seems to kick into high gear around 7:30, so you can be sure to grab a seat at the bar. Favorite seat is three seats in from the left, that way you’re not shoved into a corner and you’re in front of one of the wells so can watch the bartender make drinks.

2. A.O.C.: I’ve lucked out the times I’ve went in that it seemed like the bar here is just a stopping point for those waiting for a table. Best time to go is during happy hour transitioning into dinner time.

3. Craft: The bar area is separate from the dining room, which is around the corner so if you have a tendency to feel insecure about dining by yourself you won’t feel so inconspicuous here.

4. Sotto: Man, I love this place. Especially when stopping in to kill time during rush hour. Have a pizza, a glass of wine and/or cocktail and chat up Bryn, the bubbly blonde bartender.

5. Pizzeria Mozza: OK, another Italian spot but you gotta love that late night deal where you can get a pizza, glass of wine and dessert for only $20 after 10pm!

* Note: I live in Mid-City, that’s why they’re all centered around there. I don’t stray too far from home when dining alone since I don’t have a DD then and Uber won’t break my wallet. 

POLL: So what was the most you’ve ever spent on yourself while dining alone? Not paying for yourself at a dinner with friends but going to a restaurant and just enjoying a meal by yourself?

11 Responses to Poll: What’s the Most You Spent Dining Solo?
  1. Chris
    March 31, 2014 | 5:37 pm

    I don’t often dine alone (aside from frequent drive-thru episodes), but I’m inclined to think that if I were to “take myself out” for a nice dinner, I’d spend between $20 and 30. However, I don’t drink… and I wouldn’t order appetizers because I’d feel too indulgent. Dessert, on the other hand…

    • Caroline on Crack
      March 31, 2014 | 5:58 pm

      That’s EXACTLY how I usually feel! That’s why I was torn but after this excursion I highly recommend it. At least once in awhile.

      • Chris
        March 31, 2014 | 8:20 pm

        I’m gonna do it sometime – pull out all the stops. Why not?

  2. Lisa
    March 31, 2014 | 6:27 pm

    Nobu in South Beach- $240 (gulp) and worth every penny.

    • Caroline on Crack
      March 31, 2014 | 6:31 pm

      WOW! Good for you! Did you know going in that you were going to eat as much as you did? Was it a tasting menu?

      • Lisa
        March 31, 2014 | 7:22 pm

        I was there for work and while the guys went to get sushi at some random place across the street, I knew Nobu would not disappoint so I put on a fancy dress and asked the server to bring me whatever the chef recommended. I ordered drinks and dessert too so I knew what I was in for. 🙂

  3. kent
    March 31, 2014 | 9:58 pm

    am a big fan of dining solo and would rather do that than eat with a picky eater.

    love the bar at barbrix where you can eat alone and make friends with the people around you and regularly drop $50 there for a some pasta, duck prosciutto, cheese, and a glass of wine or two.

    just stopped at hirozen in west hollywood tonight for the chef’s 3 piece sushi special, a sake-ikura don, miso, and a bottle of eichigo. $50 and worth every penny.

    i’ve done a couple $100~$150 omakase meals with sake and beer at sushi restaurants around town and a couple prix fixe meals pushing $200 with wine. that’s about the upper limit of what i’ll spend on myself but have easily spend twice as much per head with others.

    • Caroline on Crack
      April 1, 2014 | 9:24 am

      Yeah, I think I’m a new fan! Great tips, by the way. Thanks!

  4. SteveB_LA
    April 1, 2014 | 11:15 am

    About $120.00 at Rivera. My birthday.

  5. Michael / South Bay Foodies
    April 3, 2014 | 11:23 pm

    $200+ at Rubicon in San Francisco in 2005 or 2006. Included a drink or two, appetizer, entree, and dessert. If they were open I’d go back without a second thought.

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