Everyone is catching up these days because, well, now we can. But if you’re reading this guide it’s probably because you’ve recently learned the hard value of good, solid alone time - you time. And no matter how much you try and convince yourself that you’re here for this newly sparked era of socializing, this is all still a bit too much. No shame in feeling these feelings. So if you’re looking to eat and drink in the presence of your own company, and in a spot that’s comfortable and chill, look no further than this guide. Here are 21 spots in SF where you can do just that.
If you’re hunting down a place to have a nice drink in a spot that’s an upgrade from your local dive, try this nautical-themed Mission bar. Lost Resort has excellent cocktails and plenty of nooks for you to post up in - and maybe make a new friend: inside at the bar, at a communal table out on the covered patio, or on the roomy sidewalk seating area. Their food also happens to be very good. And yes, the excellent mochiko chicken bites, sourdough clam beignets, and other small plates are meant to be shared, but there’s nothing stopping you from getting a few for yourself - or just rolling with the great burger or fish and chips.
This Mexican restaurant from the Son’s Addition folks is a great new neighborhood spot in the Lower Haight - it’s casual, vibey, vegetarian-friendly, and a pretty easy spot to snag a reservation. If you’re dining alone, slide up to the bar, order a tequila or mezcal cocktail and any of their tacos (the masa for the tortillas is handmade in house) - but the one with hen-of-the-wood mushrooms is phenomenal.
One thing you probably won’t be doing at Underdogs Tres if you’re hanging solo - pretending you’re busy by responding to non-existent text messages. That’s because this taco spot, which recently moved to the Inner Sunset, has plenty of TVs playing sports to keep your eyes busy. Keep your mouth busy by eating a few street tacos and sipping on a beer or margarita.
This place in FiDi isn’t just the oldest continuously running restaurant in San Francisco, it’s the oldest restaurant in California - and the long, wooden bar and art deco interior certainly reflect that. But the ambiance of this old-school spot is what makes it perfect for a midday martini, some crab cakes or oysters Rockefeller, and small talk at the bar with one of the servers in white coats.
photo credit: Stephanie Court
Besharam is in the Dogpatch, an inherently chill neighborhood where dining out never feels like being sucked into a loud scene-scene. One spot that falls into this category - and is also very good - is Besharam. The Indian restaurant does amazing things with heat and flavors, like fire charred eggplant, spicy house-made chutneys and pickles, and semolina puffs drenched in herb water. They also have a spacious bar, a really cool, colorful mural to admire, and an open kitchen where you can see all the action.
Cinderella Bakery makes some of our favorite borscht and pelmeni in the city. This fact alone should be reason enough to book it to this casual Russian cafe in the Richmond. It’s also why this place is always busy, so be prepared to wait in a long line before you order. Once you do, grab a seat on the patio (it’s outdoor seating only) and prepare yourself for a quick, hearty meal that’ll probably fill you up for the next day.
We’d like to make a mold of the katsu sandwich from this small SoMa spot, and place a statue of it on our nightstand to admire each morning - the sandwich is that good. Every element of it is flawless, from the crispy, golden-brown chicken to the tonkatsu sauce and mayo. So drop by this relaxed Japanese cafe for one and enjoy it inside on a stool by the bar, or out on the parklet. They also make an incredible Japanese curry, and serve beer and sake if you’re looking to make things interesting.
Sometimes you just need to unwind from a long day with a big glass of wine, Olivia Pope-style. Do that at Ungrafted. The wine bar in the Dogpatch is two stories and looks like a trendy warehouse. You’ll have a huge bottle and by-the-glass selection to choose from, and solid food options like salt and vinegar fries and za’atar pull-apart bread with labne. More important, this spot is very laid-back and not wine-bar-stuffy, so don’t be surprised when your one glass turns into three. Ungrafted also has wine classes if you’re looking to relax/sip and learn.
If you come to this Japanese restaurant in the Inner Sunset with a group during the lunch or dinner rush, there’s always a wait. But if you come solo, you’ll most likely get whisked straight to a seat at the long bar, and get to order quickly. Get one of the bento boxes or a few rolls, and maybe some sake and call it a day - this place gets loud and crowded, and feels a bit fancy thanks to a sleek wooden ceiling, but that’s why we love it.
We love taking dates to sit at the bar at Nopa, even if we don’t have a reservation. The drawback of bringing a date is that you have to keep one eye on them so that they think you’re listening, and one eye on the bar so you can snag someone’s seat before the ink on their check is dry. If you’re alone, you luckily don’t have to do all of this multitasking. Plus, you can get that one empty seat between groups that are never in use. Order the burger or the pasta and for once you’ll get to enjoy it all to yourself.
The fast-casual Cuban restaurant in the Mission has a good amount of seating against the wall and windows, so if you’ve made the very normal decision to not share your food with anyone because no one else is around, you can focus on your Instagram feed instead. At least until they deliver your cubano, because once that happens, there’s no chance you’re going to look away from it until you’re done.
Burritos may be able to feed three people, but they’re meant for one. And while you could pop into any of the great burrito places around town, we like eating alone at Taqueria El Buen Sabor - both because the carnitas are great and they have plenty of bar seating along the wall.
Sometimes dinner alone is an excuse to get a little bit fancy and still keep the price under control. Other times, you just want to eat some comfort food. Cocotte, a tiny French restaurant in Russian Hill, checks both of those boxes. Grab a seat at the bar and order dishes like mussels, rotisserie chicken, and vegetable gratins, but the two best ones are the coq au vin and the beef Wellington. There’s also live jazz music daily from 6-9m.
Pretty much all the seating at this Divisadero spot is communal, given that it mostly consists of large outdoor picnic tables. Grab some brisket or their “best damn grass-fed cheeseburger” and revel in the fact that you don’t have to share the bark on your brisket with anyone else.
Hit up the Lower Haight location of Iza (their SoMa location closed during the pandemic), order a beer, and spend some quality time with a bowl of ramen. Here, the excellent broth is made from a combination of pork, dashi, and chicken, and you have a range of add-in options, from cloud ear mushroom to fresh spinach. There can be a wait for bigger groups, but if you’re on your own it’s easy to get a seat and receive your noodles at lightning speed.
One of our favorite spots in the city, this Italian restaurant in Jackson Square is ideal for treating yourself - and only yourself. There are a solid number of bar seats at the back that are usually snag-able. Get a bowl of pasta or an entrée and some of the house focaccia, and you’re good to go.
As convenient as Souvla may be, they don’t sacrifice quality. Bar seats line an entire edge of the Hayes Valley location, so order at the counter and then hang out back there. It’s impossible to order incorrectly at any of the locations of this place, except if you skip the frozen yogurt for dessert. The menu is short - there are salads or sandwiches with a choice of protein and excellent fries you should definitely consider. Maybe put the fries in the salad, and order some wine.
This Mexican restaurant is pretty casual (it basically shares an entrance with a grocery store), and is also one of our go-tos for weekend lunch. They also have plenty of outdoor seating that’s first-come, first-served. Whatever you do, make sure to get the carnitas.
This little sushi bar in Hayes is small enough to feel cozy, but big enough for you to position yourself in a corner and fill the surrounding area with rolls. Domo is a relaxed neighborhood spot that you can hit up whether you’re in gym clothes or work clothes and feel perfectly at ease. It’s well-priced, and pretty damn good.
Causwells is all about the burger. And for good reason - it’s fantastic. The ribs are also a good order. There are a bunch of bar seats inside, but on a nice day, grabbing an outdoor table and watching the humans and dogs of Chestnut Street stroll by should provide all the entertainment you need.