Eating by yourself is a lost art form. Whether we’re all in too much of a hurry to consider stopping anywhere else besides Starbucks, or simply terrified of being left to our own thoughts for a half hour, walking into a restaurant and eating a full meal by yourself simply doesn’t get the respect it deserves. But we’re here to tell you - it f*cking rocks.
No matter how crowded the place is, you’ll always get a seat, you can order exactly what you want when you want, and if all you want to do is stare off and fantasize about being a dog for an hour, no one is going to stop you. This is your time and no one else’s. So throw away that sad granola bar in your glove compartment, and don’t you dare pull into the Arby’s drive-through. These are places you actually need to be eating at alone in LA.
Solo dinners are a pro move - the kind of thing you’ll only be ready for after mastering breakfast or lunch alone. But when you’re ready for that step, Belle Vie in Brentwood should be your place. This French spot is staffed by some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, so get a seat at the bar, order the salmon gravlax, and let them choose the wine. It’s 100% better than drinking boxed wine on your couch by yourself.
If you’re anything like us, you’re very protective of your pastrami, so hitting Wexler’s without any hangers-on is always going to be your best bet. And the Santa Monica location has a lot going for it - it’s never as busy as the Grand Central Market original, and you can post up at the counter with a coffee and chase that pastrami on rye with some babka. Sharing is overrated.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to have a spiritual experience over fermented vegetables, then Baroo is for you. Hidden in an odd-even-for-a-strip-mall strip mall in East Hollywood, Baroo is usually very quiet, but that just means you can give your bowl of kimchi fried rice your full attention. Just because it’s like a monastery in here doesn’t mean it isn’t busy, so arriving solo is also your fastest way to a seat.
You walked into a five-alarm fire at work this morning and just need to get out. Go cool off at Jinpachi. The sushi combo of eight pieces of nigiri and a cut roll goes for $22, and you won’t have to talk to a single person while you eat it by yourself in the corner. Sounds like you need an order of spicy tuna crispy rice too.
Shibumi doesn’t really seem like the kind of place where you’d want to have a meal on your own. It’s a fancy-ish Japanese restaurant downtown, with lots of small plates and plenty of people on dates. But actually, we love hitting Shibumi solo. Order some sake, the Japanese ‘caviar’ (aka fish jerky that’s better than it sounds), the sashimi, and some grilled pork and laugh at the people who have to share those things. Do that silently though, it’s a bit weird to just start laughing to yourself in a public place.
Culver City is full of fast-casual places for the Fox Studios masses, but the only one that’s really worth your time is BäcoShop. A bäco is essentially a taco, but with thicker bread, and it’s one of the messier things you can consume for lunch - and therefore perfect for solo eating. We would get the chile shrimp version every day if it was socially acceptable. Fine, we do that anyway.
Sushi as a whole is always a solid choice when dining alone. But few places cater to the solo mission better than KazuNori. The stark downtown sushi counter is bar seating only, and that means no one will blink twice when you stroll in as the confident individual you are. So choose from one of their three set hand-roll menus, and then just sit back, relax, and scroll through Instagram in peace.
You have a meeting in Century City at 10:30am, a Buffalo Wild Wings audition back in Hollywood at 1pm, and you’re worried of collapsing with hunger some point along the way. BCN is here for you. The Barcelona street food cafe in the heart of Weho is cranking out the kind of on-the-go food that’ll actually fill you up while still keep you light on your toes. And that’s needed because your audition will actually just be you jump-roping until they’ve made their decision.
The last thing you need right now is coworker Greg latching onto your lunch plans. The good news is he can’t come with you to Rice Bar, because there’s literally no room for him. The Filipino rice bowl shop in the heart of downtown has only a few seats to go around and one of them is definitely yours. So chow down on some pork longganisa in silence or chat with the owner who might be one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Unlike Greg.
On a chilly 72-degree day in LA, few things beat a bowl of Nong La pho by your lonesome. With locations on both Sawtelle and La Brea, the modern Vietnamese cafe has built a large following around its efficient service and excellent Vietnamese comfort food. The sesame steak banh mi and pork noodle salad are other must-orders for when you come back by yourself tomorrow.
This Parisian-inspired cafe is almost too small to function. So unless you want to wait two hours to eat your dinner with friends pressed up against a mirror, your only move is to come alone. Fly in solo and you’ll be assured a seat at the bar in no time. And despite the tightening grip of claustrophobia around you, the food continues to be worth it. Give us that omelette right now.
Most people might not think of pasta eating as a solo activity, but you’re not here for them. You’re here for that warm bowl of carbs and some actual time to decompress. Few places cater to that agenda better than Osteria La Buca. The casual Italian tavern across the street from Paramount Studios is the ideal spot to pull up to the bar, grab a bowl of pasta, a deep glass of red wine, and realize talking to other people is actually very overrated.
If you’re out there alone in the world, ramen is always one of your best bets for nourishment. And while you can’t go wrong with most ramen spots in LA these days, our move for a solo journey is always Tsujita LA. The Sawtelle staple has lines out the door before noon, so if you can get over there early, you should. And then stroll up to the bar and enjoy dip ramen in the company of your favorite person in the world.
Strolling into a wine bar alone is one of our go-to power moves, and Froma on Melrose will not only give you some much-needed solo Pinot time, but delicious food as well. The Alpine and Caprese sandwiches are both tremendous, and the bartenders are really nice too.
There isn’t a single person in LA who looks forward to driving over the Cahuenga Pass, but at least there’s Joe’s Falafel to stop off at until the traffic dies down. This tiny, no-frills strip mall spot has some of the best falafel in town, and plenty of other fantastic Mediterranean staples too. Send word to friends over the hill to go eat dinner without you.
Sushi bowls are one of life’s great hacks - get more fish, pay less money. And one of our favorite spots in the city to get that big bowl of raw fish is Murakami. Build your own bowl or choose from the menu (their $15 spicy trio bowl is the move). If you’re running around mid-city by yourself, Murakami is where you should be eating.