In past TravelCommons episodes, we’ve talked about how important it is for a frequent traveler to find good restaurants that welcome a single diner. In spite of a former colleague’s advice to “never eat alone“, I often find myself with nothing but the USA Today as a dining partner. Sure, I could dine in the hotel bar, but I can only eat just so many Cobb salads and watch just so many re-runs of ESPN SportsCenter. Here are 4 recommendations to eating alone in your hotel room.
- Monk’s Cafe – 16th and Spruce Sts, Philadelphia – I traveled to Brussels on a regular basis in the early ’90’s and developed a taste/passion/weakness for Belgian beer. Monk’s Cafe in Center City Philly has the best selection of Belgian beers I’ve seen anywhere. Though I hear they have a great burger, I’ve never been able to get past the moules frites (mussels and fries), the national dish of Belgium. The back bar has a bit more elbow room than the front bar, but I’ve always gotten friendly and knowledgeable service at both.
- Avec – 615 W Randolph, Chicago – No, I don’t eat alone in my home town. But if I had to, I’d be a regular at this West Loop restaurant. They have a good selection of Portuguese wines — not always an easy find — and “small plates” menu focused on Mediterranean flavors. I like to sit about 2/3rd’s down the bar in front of the wood burning oven and watch the chefs do their thing — much more interesting than any ESPN-blaring plasma screen. I get a large order of the salumi plate, a selection of 5 sausages cured in the fridge behind the bar, and then a vegetable dish to assuage my guilt.
- Sushi Sam’s – 281 E 3rd Ave, San Mateo, CA – Sushi restaurants seem to be second only to hotel sports bars as the default hangout for many travelers — trading high cholesterol for mercury poisoning. However, when I’m in the Bay Area running up and down the 101, I always end up at the sushi bar ordering up the omakase sashimi — the chef’s choice. It’s not cheap, but Sam serves up a selection of fish and preparations I rarely see at other sushi joints.
- Clyde Common – SW 10th and Stark, Portland -This recommendation may violate my rules — Clyde Common seems to be the restaurant for the Ace Hotel — but the great food and communal table seating wins it a recommendation for a dining-alone traveler. The menu is probably the most adventurous of my four recommendations, but a good choice if you’re willing to color outside the lines a bit — grilled rabbit, salt cod, ravioli with beef heart.