LAGuide

The Best LA Restaurants For Dining Solo

Eating alone at a restaurant deserves more respect.
The Best LA Restaurants For Dining Solo image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Eating by yourself is a lost art. Some people are in too much of a hurry to consider stopping anywhere else besides Starbucks, or are simply terrified of being left to their own thoughts for a half hour. But the solo diners among us? We know better.

No matter how crowded the place is, you’ll usually get a seat, you can order exactly what you want, and if you feel like staring off and fantasizing about being a dog for an hour, no one is going to stop you. This is your time. Here are the LA restaurants where you can make the most of solo dining.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Sandwiches

Beverly Hills

$$$$Perfect For:LunchDining Solo
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Eating a big Italian sandwich at Lorenzo will make you very focused, even silent. Decadent ingredients like prosciutto parma and truffle cream grab your attention right away, and it’s hard to have a conversation when your tongue meets brie drizzled with lemon zest. This upscale Italian sandwich counter in Beverly Hills is perfect for a lavish solo lunch—they’ve got a few bistro tables inside, as well as along the sidewalk, where you can contemplate the fluffy focaccia you’ve just consumed.

Lulu is a museum restaurant that doesn’t feel like a museum restaurant. It’s in the breezy courtyard of The Hammer, the menu is designed by the legendary Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, and massive tree lanterns hang above the quiet patio. There’s a non-stuffy a la carte menu of fresh focaccia sandwiches, vegetable soups, and rainbow-colored salads, but the restaurant also offers a three-course prix fixe option that changes daily. Come here if you want to do the whole farm-to-table thing after a solo museum day at one of LA’s best free museums.

One of the best things about eating alone is the people-watching, and Go Go Bird is an especially great spot for it. This popular food stall in Culver City’s Citizen Public Market serves Szechuan-seasoned chicken tenders with a thick, crunchy batter that reminds us of fish and chips. And we like to eat them at a high-top table in the corner and guess the jobs of random strangers passing by during the lunch rush. If they’re wearing Allbirds, the answer is probably software engineer, but with Birkenstocks, our money’s on “freelance book editor.”

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Dining solo at Cento in West Adams feels like sitting courtside at a pasta-making demo. You’ll watch beet spaghetti take shape behind the marble bar and suppress the urge to clap. You might even choke up at the sight of dollops of creamy ricotta and basil puree plopping onto conch-shaped noodles. Servers will chat with you like they’ve known you for years, and chances are, you’ll stick around much longer than originally planned. Pasta goes for about $25 a bowl, and if you want to walk in at the bar, we recommend showing up before 6pm. 

A collaboration between Jyan Isaac and Ghisallo in Santa Monica, Tre Mani serves Roman-style flatbread sandwiches that will become your personality for the week. You order at the front counter at Ghisallo and then can either hang out on the sunny patio and people-watch or head back to your car and do the slowly-cry-while-eating thing in your front seat (a pastime). We love the mortadella sandwich that comes with sweet balsamic onions and a little heat from the horseradish. 

We can’t think of a better definition of “me time” than eating seafood all by yourself. Holbox, a counter-service Mexican spot in South LA’s Mercado La Paloma, is our favorite place to do just that. Pull up a stool at their raw bar and order some of their Yucatan-style fish tacos, scallop aguachile, or the kanpachi and uni tostada with sea bass ceviche, chopped lime, onions, and uni all but hanging off a freshly fried tostada.

Rather than staring at your phone for the duration of your solo meal, head to the bar counter at Pizzeria Sei and watch a chef pull puffy-edged pies out of a wood-fired oven. This Mid-City spot specializes in Neapolitan-style pizzas, ranging from a perfectly executed margherita pie to a prosciutto and egg masterpiece with a chewy, blistered crust that we find hard to share for selfish reasons. Seating inside this tiny restaurant is limited, so we recommend dropping by for a solo lunch or casual dinner.

Ceviche Project is one of the few spots in Silver Lake where you’re better off dining solo. You can sit at the bar, have a glass of pet-nat from Baja, and watch the chef assemble your seafood like he’s some sort of tweezer magician. Most of the dishes at this walk-in only ceviche bar are hard to split two ways, so sit back and enjoy a fresh kanpachi tostada, some Kusshi oysters, or scallop and uni aguachile shooters on your own.

Unless you’re new to eating in Los Angeles, you probably don’t need us to tell you about Gjusta. This Venice establishment has a huge variety of sourdough loaves and baguettes available over the counter, plus dishes like a tomato confit sandwich, steak banh mi, and tuna conserva. There will probably be a short line here when you arrive, but that just gives you more time to plot your order and scope out an isolated table in their canopied courtyard.

photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto

As soon as you walk into this classic Inglewood diner, you’ll be greeted by a sea of families, groups of friends, and solo diners who have been coming here weekly for 35+ years. We always get the fried catfish and an order of waffles (our favorite in town). Grab a seat at the counter and let the waitstaff shower you with attention, coffee refills, and fun conversation.

Tail O The Pup’s newly revamped space includes a massive, two-story patio, a retro interior, and an iconic hot dog-shaped stand-out front. Our favorite dogs on the menu include the fully loaded Chicago Pup and spicy Jalapeno Pup, but don’t skip the Sassy Cheese, a fast food-style burger with a layer of crispy, griddled cheese inside. If you’re short of time, ordering here is swift and efficient—you could easily be in and out in 15-20 minutes. Otherwise, we recommend kicking back, ordering a beer or canned wine, and soaking up the nostalgia.

It’s hard to feel self-conscious about dining alone when you’re surrounded by curly fries, black pastrami Reuben sandwiches piled a mile high, and stuffed cabbage. For this exact order, head to Brent’s Deli for a bucket list experience. This iconic restaurant in Northridge, known for defining Jewish food in the Valley, feels more like a museum than an actual restaurant. The servers will treat you like a regular who’s been coming for decades, and someone will absolutely call you “hun” in an endearing way.

Located on Sunset Blvd. in Thai Town, NTFC is one of the best new Thai restaurants to open in LA in years—and also one of the smallest. The menu consists entirely of Northern Thai specialties, so expect jackfruit salad, one of our favorite bowls of khao soi in town, and a spicy sausage we’re still sweating over. The dime-sized space only has a few tables, so expect to eat your lunch pressed up against a window next to a stack of old newspapers. But when the food is this incredible, you’ll happily eat it anywhere.

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 we love hitting Shibumi solo. Order some sake, the sashimi, and some grilled pork, then 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.

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 omelet right now.

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