In our experience, you’re usually going out to eat by yourself for one of three reasons. Either you’re sick of the options on your delivery app, you’re meeting someone for drinks later on and need to kill some time, or you’ve been trying to get a table at a particularly popular restaurant and have finally decided to just show up by yourself and accept the sad chair in the corner.
No matter what your reasons are, there will come a time in your life when you need a place to eat alone, and that’s what this guide is for. It’s a collection of restaurants around Philly that - whether it’s because of a particularly large bar that always seems to have a seat open or a view that’s better enjoyed by yourself than with a group - are perfect for eating alone with just your thoughts for company.
Some days just need to be about you. And whether that means spending an afternoon shopping, taking a hot yoga class that’s really just the most convenient substitute for a sauna, or heading to a spa, Rittenhouse is the place you want to be. Once you’ve spent the rest of your last paycheck “investing in yourself,” head to a.bar and finish it off with a few oysters and a ricotta tartine at the bar.
Most people get their food to go here, but if you’re not in a rush (or realize you can’t wait to get home to eat it), grab a seat for yourself at one of the few small tables. The Indonesian food this place serves is better hot anyways, and if you end up needing some extra hot sauce for your beef rendang, you won’t need to go out and buy some.
On a nice day in the summer, getting a seat outside anywhere near Rittenhouse Square Park is tough. Directly on the park? Near impossible. If you get to Parc early enough, though, you can grab a chair at one of the two tops out front, camp out with a book, and order a seafood platter. If it happens to be the middle of the winter when you’re reading this, they also have a long bar inside that serves the full menu. It’s no park view, but it still does the trick.
Maybe you’re getting dinner alone because you’re sick and none of your friends want to be around you, but whatever illness you’ve been fighting has finally stopped confining you to your bed, and you’re ready to take a baby step back into the real world. That’s when Pho 75 comes in. This South Philly pho spot is full of long cafeteria tables with people silently sitting a comfortable distance from each other while they eat huge bowls of noodles and scroll through their phones. It’s the perfect place to start your re-socialization into society.
Redcrest on East Passyunk only has a couple of tables and a small bar against the wall. But if you’re having a bad week and just need to decompress with some fried chicken without anyone giving you well-intentioned but completely irrelevant advice, this is the place you want to go. The chicken comes a lot of different ways (in a sandwich, by itself, and as wings) and they also have a bunch of different sides and sauces to choose from, so feel free to get creative.
You can show up at Hungry Pigeon any time of day - for breakfast, lunch, or dinner - and eat a meal by yourself without feeling weird about it. But the best time to do that is at night, when they offer a chef’s tasting menu at the bar. While that menu changes daily, you can expect to eat some really incredible food while having a good conversation with their chatty bartenders at what feels like your friend’s kitchen counter.
Like any fast casual place, Baology is mostly filled with people eating by themselves, staring blankly out the window, and thinking about life’s most important questions, like Who am I? What is my purpose? And how did the Egyptians pave the bricks on the top of the pyramids? Whatever existential crisis you’re in the middle of, you’ll find something delicious here to chew on while you think. They specialize in Taiwanese bao buns, but the pork and shrimp dumplings with a side of cold sesame noodles is the way to go.
Reading Terminal Market is the kind of place that you shouldn’t go to with another person, mainly because you’ll either get separated immediately and spend the entire time trying to find them, or you’ll end up following them around and not going to any of the places you want to hit. So put your phone on silent for a few hours, walk around the market by yourself, and, whatever you do, make sure you end up at Pearl’s Oyster Bar. It won’t be the place with the longest line or the most people taking pictures, but they have a counter that usually has a seat or two open, along with some really good snapper soup.
Yes, it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation at Zahav. But if you happen to be in the area around 5pm and don’t mind eating alone, getting a solo seat at the bar is usually pretty manageable. And to make it even better, they do a daily Happy Hour just at the bar from 5-6pm. Once you add a couple cocktails to some hummus and a few of their mezze plates, you’ve got a better Thursday night than most.
You decided to get rid of cable because it was adding hundreds of dollars to your bills every month, and you really only watch Netflix and HBO Go anyways. So generally, not having access to The USA Network and Freeform isn’t an issue, except when you’re trying to watch some kind of sporting event. That’s when you need a place like Nick’s in Old City, where you can show up solo, sit at the bar next to a bunch of other people who had the same idea as you, and eat a roast pork sandwich while keeping your eyes glued to the TV.
Having a big, long bar is one of the main things that makes a restaurant a good spot to eat alone, and Front Street Cafe has one of the best. It runs pretty much the entire length of the ground floor, and even though it gets crowded on weekends, it’s one of the few places we can always find an open barstool on a Friday night. Sit down, order the chicken fingers (they come with three different sauces) and a glass of wine, and message your group texts to figure out what the rest of your night looks like before closing out your tab.
A lot of people use Poi Dog as a spot to grab a quick lunch during the week, but it’s also great for a casual weeknight dinner by yourself. Almost everything at this Rittenhouse cafe is vaguely healthy, and they have some of the better poke bowls in the city. Order an ahi tuna bowl, put in your headphones, and catch up on the latest episodes of your favorite podcast without having to pretend to be interested in your friend’s long-distance relationship drama.
Spice Finch might have our favorite bar to eat at in the whole city. For one, it’s just pretty to look at, but also the bar is so wide that, even if you order seven different dishes for yourself, you won’t feel like you’re flirting with disaster if you move any of the plates. Most importantly, they have really good Mediterranean food. It’s a bit expensive, but the kind that’s worth gifting to yourself after a particularly long day at the office.
Street Side is a tiny Vietnamese BYOB on Girard that mostly does takeout, but they also have a few small tables where people tend to sit down alone for a quick dinner on their way home from work. The food here is mostly street food-inspired, and other than their pho (which is one of the better bowls of soup around), they mostly do small things that are easy to eat on the go. Get the pork belly rice paper roll, the kroeung beef skewer, and the pork and chive dumplings.
Murph’s specializes in huge plates of classic Italian food that come out about five minutes after you place your order. So whether you decide to stay after you digest to watch whatever game they’re showing on TV, or you’re just stopping by to grab some food before meeting up with friends, they’ll make sure you’re in and out within the hour, which is exactly what you want when there’s no one on the other side of the table to talk to.
Koukouzeli is a casual Greek spot in the Italian Market, and it’s a good place for a solo weeknight dinner. Everything is pretty affordable and you can get a gyro pita for $9 that’s better than whatever you get from your favorite street cart. They also have a bunch of mezze dishes like dolmades and kolokithia, and in case it matters to you, there are plenty of vegan options as well.