After a long day at work, or when you didn’t sleep well last night because of your neighbor’s new chickens, sometimes it’s best to start or end your day with a meal by yourself. While you can comfortably go to 90 percent of Austin restaurants on your own, certain places are better suited for parties of one than others, which is why we put together this guide of 20 ideal spots for dining solo. Some of them have great bars, while others have patios where everyone will be working on their laptops, but each place serves food that’s ideal for someone grabbing a meal by themselves, like burgers and salads, rather than tapas or Korean barbecue.
Unlike their dinner menu, which is mostly made up of shared plates, Odd Duck’s lunch menu is designed with solo eaters in mind, and always includes a few great sandwiches and salads, along with one of our favorite burgers in town. Stop by for lunch and grab a seat at their wrap-around bar when you need a break from the office, or even more so, your coworkers.
Pasta is a great food to share. If you’re on a date, you can split a few different types so you won’t end up second guessing your choice of rigatoni over orecchiette later on. Some nights, though, you just want to sit at a bar, drink a glass of wine, and eat a bowl carbonara or gnocchi in silence. When that’s the case, head to L’Oca d’Oro in Mueller. They have a popular bar and an interesting wine list, and serve some of the best pasta in the city, which you can enjoy all by yourself.
Cafe No Sé
If you want to grab lunch or dinner by yourself, but also want to bump into a like-minded stranger, go to Cafe No Se in the South Congress Hotel. This all-day spot serves a number of dishes great for a party of one, like salads, sandwiches, and grain bowls. Also, they have two different seating options if you’re eating by yourself. There’s the window counter for when speaking words other than, “I’ll have the salad” is more than you can handle or the large communal table for when striking up a conversation with a stranger might be in your wheelhouse.
Maybe you had a bachelor/bachelorette party this weekend. Or maybe you just realized that you’ve “accidentally” had queso seven days in a row. This is the time to go eat a very large salad at Vinaigrette just off South Congress. This place is basically a nicer and way swankier version of Souper Salad, and you can build a salad to your exact specifications and detox in silence, either inside or in their large backyard.
Bouldin Creek Café
The bar at Bouldin Creek Cafe is one of the best solo eating destinations in the city, especially during brunch hours when there’s rarely more than one seat open at a time. Bouldin also has one of the nicest staffs around, so even if you’re eating some sweet potatoes tamales or tofu scramble by yourself, you’ll probably end up knowing one of the bartenders’ entire life stories by the time you leave. And if that’s too much interaction for you, just ask for a small table on the patio instead.
T22 on Burnet is the new hot chicken place from the team behind Salty Sow, and while you might not want to eat one of their huge chicken sandwiches in front of a date or coworker, it’s a great place to grab a beer and some food by yourself after work. Seating-wise, you can join your fellow solo diners at the bar or grab a small table outside if the chicken alone isn’t making you sweat enough.
Everyone has their favorite spot to grab breakfast tacos on the way to work, but if you want to sit down for a while and not be bothered while you answer a few emails between bites, Cenote is the best option. This place is basically an unofficial coworking space, with nine out of ten people on their laptops while they eat breakfast. If there’s space inside, grab a small table or a spot on the couch. If not, there are shaded picnic tables outside, too.
Komé: Sushi Kitchen
When Kome moved into a larger space further up Airport Blvd a while back, they added a much longer bar that quickly made it our go-to solo sushi spot. They also have a great Happy Hour Monday through Thursday from 5-6pm, which includes fried chicken, signature rolls, and beer specials, so you can order enough food for two and still be able to pay for a sad desk lunch tomorrow.
The first thing to know about Drink.Well is that the bartenders are very chatty and quite serious about the drinks they serve. The second is that this small cocktail bar fills up fast. So if you want to come to a bar by yourself to have a drink and eat a burger, but secretly want to befriend some strangers, this is a great place to do it. Should you change your mind, though, they also have a few window-facing tables that are perfect for a party of one that doesn’t want to be disturbed.
Cherrywood is (basically) always open, so regardless of whether you want to grab a quick breakfast on their patio to center yourself for the day, or stop in for dinner at the bar, they’ve got you covered. And if you’re looking for some non-judgmental companionship, have a drink outside post-dinner and there will probably be a dog or two wandering around that’ll want to be your friend.
Salt & Time
This butcher shop and restaurant on East Seventh is a great place to go with a few friends and share some charcuterie. However, on the nights when you don’t want to hear about your friend’s second promotion this year, or see pictures of her new dog, it’s an ideal spot to pull up a seat at the bar and order some pasta, a burger, or a steak for yourself. Feel free to ask the bartender 100 questions about where the meat in your bolognese came from, or just ask them for a second beer. They’ll be happy to help either way.
Quickie Pickie is where you go fully intending to just pick up a box of Good Pops and a bottle of wine, until you find yourself having lunch or dinner on the patio without realizing how or why. This high-end convenience store and all-day cafe has two locations now, but the original on East 11th is the more low-key of the two and is a great place to grab a sandwich, salad, or burger on the patio. Just make sure you don’t forget about the popsicles slowly melting in the bag by your feet.
If you work downtown, Parkside is the perfect place to sneak off for a solo Happy Hour after work. Their entire menu, including both food and drinks, is half off from 5-6pm, which means you can get a dozen oysters and a cocktail for about $20 without having to share. Take a seat at the bar downstairs or grab a small table on the second floor to ensure your office mates don’t see you when they all come in together for the tail end of Happy Hour.
This East MLK sandwich shop serves sandwiches, salads, and tacos all from a to go window. They have a few picnic benches beside the shop, but you can also take your food next door to The Wheel if you’d like a beer or cocktail (and maybe someone else’s dog) as your only companion.
Yes, Elizabeth Street Cafe is a popular date spot and you should definitely come here sometime with someone you like. But for the nights when you’re going solo, they also have a great bar where you can order a banh mi or bowl of pho and befriend the bartender along the way. If it’s nice out, and the patio isn’t already full, claim a spot outside instead and have a cocktail while you get through another few pages of that book you borrowed from your friend six months ago.
When you want to eat some good Tex-Mex without any chance of randomly running into that person you keep half-trying to make dinner plans with, head to Julio’s in Hyde Park. This cash-only spot is a neighborhood staple and you’re more likely to see a few UT students or families here than someone you matched with on an app. Order some tacos or the roast chicken, have a margarita, and start thinking of a good excuse to put off meeting up with that person for another week.
Ramen is one of the best foods you can eat by yourself: it requires a lot of focus, everyone eats it a little differently, and it’s hard to share. The bowls of tonkotsu and tsukemen served at Ramen Tatsu-ya are no exception, and are best enjoyed at one of their small tables, or at the low bar that faces the kitchen.