Eating by yourself is a lost art. Whether you’re in too much of a hurry to consider stopping anywhere else besides Starbucks, or simply terrified of being left to your 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, 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 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-thru. These are places you actually need to be eating at alone in LA.
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.
Located in the outdoor food court at the Westfield mall in Arcadia, Side Chick’s tiny counter will have a line pretty much at all times, but the Hainan chicken is worth the wait. A mix of both white and dark meat with seasoned cucumbers and ginger scallion sauce, it’s a perfect, kind-of-healthy lunch - and the garlic rice on the side is some of the best we’ve ever had. This is a great spot to hit on your lunch hour, or before doing some solo shopping.
Com Tam Thuan Kieu’s broken rice platter is the best value for a solo meal in OC’s Little Saigon. This low-key spot doesn’t have the big crowds or high energy of some of the surrounding restaurants, and that’s exactly what we like about it. It’s the kind of place you can come to on your lunch hour or after a long day, sit by yourself in blissful silence, and eat an $11.99 platter of broken rice (fractured rice grains) topped with seven different items that range from grilled pork to egg rolls to tofu shrimp paste. Don’t worry, you’ll definitely have leftovers and they’ll be just as good tomorrow. Cash only.
This Italian supermarket’s selection of hard-to-find cheeses and imported pastas already make it one of the best spots in Pasadena, but when it’s only Tuesday and you’re not totally sure if you’re going to make it through the workweek, head to the back and snag one of the nameless, pre-wrapped sandwiches sitting on the deli counter. It’s as simple as a sandwich can get - a couple slices of provolone, capicola, mortadella, and some salami on a freshly baked roll - but with ingredients this excellent, it’s all a sandwich (and your sh*tty week) really need.
Woon is a family-run Chinese restaurant in Historic Filipinotown that’s great for almost any situation, but really great when you’re crossing town by yourself and need a quick meal that’ll fill you up. The order-at-the-counter spot has a fairly condensed menu (there’s about ten items total), but whether it’s tofu fishcakes, pork belly bao, or beef noodles, know that everything is going to be delicious. Also, the most expensive thing is $11, so if you can’t decide what to order, just get a few things to try.
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.
You walked into a five-alarm fire at work this morning and just need to get out. Go cool off at Jinpachi. This still-sorta-secret sushi spot doesn’t just offer some great combo deals, it also provides a welcome bit of refuge - we promise you won’t have to talk to a single person while you eat 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 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.
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 spot features 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 four set hand-roll menus, and then just sit back, relax, and scroll through Instagram in peace.
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 that talking to other people is a waste of time.
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.