Good Restaurants for One

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 Cafe16th 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.
  • Avec615 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’s281 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 CommonSW 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.
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  1. I have to agree about Monk’s. I lived a few block’s away for a few years and it was a great place to have as a neighborhood default bar. One of the few quality places outside of the immediate downtown area in PHL. Great beer selection, menu, atmosphere, and service. I always liked the back room bar…

  2. Mark, I second the vote for Monk’s, excellent choice. I will disagree with Allen though that it’s one of the few quality places outside of the immediate downtown area in Philly. The amazing restaurants in the city are too numerous to count, and they’re spread all through the city. South Philly alone has some of the best small Italian restaurants around. But again, great recommendation and great site!

  3. HCIC – Spoken like a true person from Philly.

  4. Another Philadelphia recommendation — I continue to be a fan of Jack’s Firehouse — across the street from the Eastern State Penitentiary on Fairmount Ave. Nice bar, great food, not crowded, but a bit out of the mainstream…

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