Few things rival a night out with friends when you’re all owning some “Feeling Myself” Beyonce energy. But people flaking out, impossible-to-get reservations, or just wanting to take yourself out on a date can lead to a situation where you’re ready to strut your stuff without any backup. From sceney spots packed with people to places that will hype you up because the food is so good, here are seven Chicago restaurants that are perfect for eating alone when you’re feeling hot.
Dining at this West Loop Mediterranean spot feels like you’re under a magnifying glass that boosts hotness—everyone looks infinitely better when framed within its plant-filled interior and backed by an “untz-untz” playlist. Unscientifically known as the “Aba Effect”, it’s why this place is so busy. And fortunately, the food is great too. Sit at the bar, order some tuna tagliata or lamb leg covered in a smoky cinnamon tomato sauce, and let the Aba Effect happen. Nothing, not even a spilled drink or an errant tomato sauce stain, will break through your impenetrable wall of confidence while you're here.
Trying to make a reservation for Monteverde is like the 13th Herculean task that wasn’t covered in your mythology class. So the easiest way to secure a bowl of some of the best pasta in the city is by showing up to this West Loop spot alone, grabbing a seat at the bar, and taking yourself out on a date. Their creamy egg yolk raviolo is a menu standout, or for something more classic, they have a fantastic spaghetti pomodoro. Though there will definitely be onlookers eyeing the bar for the next available seat, don’t let them rush you—you can just pretend that they’re admiring your beauty.
If you want to pretend you’re in a movie with a high-fidelity soundtrack, then there’s no better place than the Listening Room at The Exchange. Outfitted with top-notch audio equipment and a crisp speaker system, the music in this sleek spot in the Loop will automatically make you feel like you’re the main character. Grab a seat at the bar and let the pristine sounds of The Rolling Stones or Marvin Gaye determine your narrative as a hopeless romantic or time-traveling fugitive (possibly both) all while eating chicken vesuvio or snacking on crispy potatoes.
This dimly-lit, upscale English pub in Lincoln Park looks like a moody antique shop, so naturally, it’s a great spot to give the pinstriped suit you found in your grandparents’ attic a test run. While it’s fun to eat here with friends, reservations at Armitage Alehouse are always booked, so showing up alone is a better strategy. Walk in, find a seat at the first-come, first-served bar, and get one of their pot pies, truffle bucatini, or a juicy cheeseburger. The soft, sensual glow from the pineapple lamps combined with the 1920s jazz music will frame you in intrigue that will make the bar wonder if you’re a sexy hitman taking a fish and chips break between jobs.
photo credit: Sandy Noto
When you’ve been third-wheeling for too long and want to shine by yourself, check out this spot on the rooftop of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. Cindy’s is a very busy, swanky greenhouse of a restaurant with plenty of natural light and an unbeatable view of Millennium Park. Though the food here is ok, with options like striped bass aguachile or a ropa vieja hash, you’re really here to catch one of the best nighttime views of the city. With the illuminated skyline as your backdrop, you can stare off pensively and ponder if that face on the fountain belongs to the cute missed connection from your morning commute.
photo credit: Sandy Noto
Since it’s literally attached to Thalia Hall, Dusek’s in Pilsen works perfectly if you want to grab a bite before seeing a show. But if you’ve gotten all dressed up only to get a last-minute cancellation text, don’t let your hard work go to waste—the bar is the perfect place to flaunt an outfit that took you an hour to curate. While your date is MIA, Dusek’s constantly rotating menu has a lot of delicious options, like a classic cheeseburger, mussels cooked in fragrant harissa spiced butter, or a juicy pork chop with grits. By the time you’re done with dessert (get the housemade ice cream), the great meal will have you pumped for some solo headbanging and dancing next door.
You just got promoted, finally got verified on Twitter, or landed the starring role in Netflix's live adaptation of the Monopoly board game. Whatever leveling-up you recently experienced, there’s no better place to celebrate feeling amazing than Kyoten. This intimate Logan Square omakase spot only has seven seats, and the $450, 20-course meal is an investment. But the solo sushi victory lap will be worth it. The menu is constantly changing, but always includes high-quality cuts of fish, rice that’s expertly seasoned with red vinegar, and creative hot dishes like risotto with foie gras and uni. Before you finish your meal, you’ll be counting the days to your first Netflix paycheck so that you can book a return visit.