The Best Restaurants For Dining Solo In Houston
photo credit: Richard Casteel
There comes a time when a solo meal is necessary. Maybe you need a quick bite before meeting up with friends for drinks. Or maybe you just want to eat alone with headphones in as you watch the mid-season finale of your favorite show. Whatever the reason for your independent eating, here are 13 great places to dine solo in Houston.
A solo dinner at the Brays Oaks spot Cool Runnings Jamaican Grill can go one of two ways. You could follow the crowd, and place your order at the to-go counter up front. The temptation to leave with your styrofoam tray might hit, but head to one of the booths in the main dining room instead. We’re still working out the science, but the flaky beef patties taste 90% better with Sister Nancy in the background. And whether you’re at the bar or a table, the staff isn't intrusive, which is good since you'll want some privacy with the curry goat, anyway.
Whether you sit at the sushi bar or the bar-bar, dining solo at the izakaya and sushi spot Kata Robata in Upper Kirby never disappoints. Mostly because the sushi is very good, but it also has one of the best sushi deals in town: Kata Robata’s chirashi bowl. Served with 22 slices of sashimi at dinner and 16 at lunch (for $63 and $28 respectively), this surprisingly massive serving of sashimi (like chutoro, snapper, sea bream, and a mountain of ikura), comes with a heap of warm sushi rice, plus pickles. If you’ve got a few extra bucks to spend, pop into Kata whenever you want a meal that reminds you why you love the ocean.
If your ideal day after work involves watching a Rockets game on TV, frozen daiquiris, tables made of bicycle wheels, and lamb empanadas, then The Savoy in the Third Ward is the oasis you’ve been searching for. Often full of regulars and bumping great tunes, this is a great spot for an easy weeknight out. And during the Happy Hour here, frozen drinks and fluffy chicken sliders are half off.
At Oporto Fooding House & Wine in the Fourth Ward, dining feels cool anywhere you sit—this breezy Portuguese restaurant feels like it goes on for miles. The sleek bar with countertops that are shiny enough to make an HGTV cameo is where you should camp out with silky-smooth caipirinhas stuffed with fresh limes and some crispy piri piri chicken wings. Oporto also has a great Happy Hour, so double back for another pizette or lulas fritas on as many weekdays as you want.
At Reggae Hut, the counter-service Caribbean restaurant in the Third Ward, you can kick back next to your favorite jewel-toned mural and enjoy your meal in peace while reggae plays in the background. The entire place feels as though it was made for you to stay awhile. And while they do a brisk takeout business, when you sit in Reggae Hut’s chairs, you automatically recline. Because the food here, including some of the best oxtail we’ve ever had in Houston, is just as relaxed and comforting.
Chapman & Kirby is a swanky bar and grill in EaDo, and it’s a great place to go when you want to people-watch. Tables at Chapman & Kirby are often full, but there’s usually an open spot at the bar to cozy up with Thai glazed ribs and a “Hennything’s Possible” cocktail. After having a motivating drink or two at the bar, stroll out to their massive patio and take a selfie, or power rank all the snazzy outfits you see on the lawn.
Bourbon Sizzler, a Caribbean restaurant in the Medical Center, is lo-fi and relaxed. With a steady takeout operation happening, the dining room is mostly free for you to hunker down with a hearty meal. The best dishes to stick to are the jerk chicken that’s coated in scotch bonnet, the oxtail with enough rice and peas to grab every drop of gravy, and a spicy beef patty stuffed with ground beef.
At Tiny Champions, a cozy Italian restaurant in EaDo, the lighting is always set to a beautiful hue of amber. There’s plenty of space at the bar for you to rotate between some creamy burrata, a mushroom salad covered in a small mountain of parmesan cheese, and a plate of hearty rigatoni. Sip on an “evil eye” cocktail while you bask in the dreamy glow of the chandeliers, or head out to the patio and dig into a charred kale green pizza that deserves your utter devotion.
From the team behind Hidden Omakase, Sushi By Hidden is an intimate sushi counter that fits 10 people serving a 30 minute omakase. Which means you’ll be elbow-to-elbow with some strangers. But small talk isn’t really the name of the game here—you’ll need every second of the half-hour experience to focus on throwing back pieces of madai snapper and kanpachi doled out by the chefs who are like cool, sushi blackjack dealers.
You can see the bright pink and green exterior of Winnie's, a vibrant bar in Midtown serving Cajun-Creole food, from down the block. Grab a seat at the spacious bar, and you’ll have plenty of room to settle in with a hot chicken sandwich and cooling purple coleslaw. You’ll be swinging your feet at the yellow bar chairs, listening to a playlist that sounds like a Boiler Room DJ set, while you sip on a frozen drink.
Paulie’s, a casual Italian restaurant in Montrose, makes filling your body with delicious pasta quick, easy, and affordable. Because sometimes, that’s all you really want. Order at the counter and throw back some mozzarella paninis or get fancy with chicken piccata and a side salad. Or just grab a big bowl of canestri alla funghi and go to town. They even give you toast so you can pull the last bits of sauce from the bowl. Now that’s romance.
ToyoIf you’re wandering around Don Huang plaza in Chinatown, unsure of which of the many restaurants will offer you shelter and sustenance, fear not: Toyori, a ramen and sizzling plates spot, will provide you sanctuary. Dig into the spicy tan tan ramen, or order one of Toyori’s sizzling plates, essentially a super-charged version of a Salisbury steak TV dinner with a black pepper sauce and a pile of spaghetti. The food arrives fast—you’ll likely eat it just as fast—and the space is casual enough so you don’t feel rude occupying a whole booth for yourself.
The bar at Hillstone, a business casual steakhouse and grill in Upper Kirby, is jam packed every day of the week. Regardless of the time, you’ll likely have to wait for a seat, which is half the fun. Nearly every other bar diner is solo, probably with a martini in hand, and waiting for their French Dip sandwich or towering hamburger. Half of the bar guests are local celebrities, meaning the bartenders have their usual order memorized. Maybe one day you, too, can join such an illustrious list.