Whether traveling for business or pleasure, there are times when you have the opportunity to dine and drink alone. I’m writing about this because flying solo is often under appreciated.
If you do find yourself sans people, here’s a simple guide that makes 1 better than 2.
Best Place To Unwind in NYC After That Boring Business Dinner or Bad Date:
It doesn’t matter if you like jazz or not. The bar is small but the red-vested bartenders know how keep it classic and classy. Whether your favorite is a G &T, martini or prefer to keep it neat, you can be sure the ambience of amber lighting, piano playing and fanciful Madeline illustrations on their historic walls will allow you to fall into a world of whimsy for awhile.
Side note: From September through July, Bemelman’s host some incredible performers.
Favorite Place to Mingle on a Weeknight with Important People While Eating a Great Meal:
The menu changes often but its always guaranteed to be refined and delicious. Don’t underestimate their wines by the glass and the fresh ingredients for cocktails is refreshing, considering DC was built on swampland. You never know who you will mingle with – lobbyists, economists, diplomats and the consultants… No matter what you will fit in and leave happy you were alone.
The menu changes but I highly recommend the crab cakes and the duck fat fries.
The Bar Where One Can Work on a Laptop with a Cocktail in Hand:
Never fear you winsome writers and traveling salesmen, the Ace is a petri dish of socioeconomics – from the bearded skinny-jean wearing hipsters, energetic PR girls, laptop-toting writers, tech stars and bankers. Their lobby bars are iconic, enveloping you into a great bear hug of chic hospitality, that could make even tourist with a money belt feel cool.
The Bar Where Everyone Knows Your Name Even If They Actually Don’t:
Any Irish Pub….
I don’t say this because I have family from County Cork. It is my belief that any Irish pub that has homemade Shepard’s Pie on the menu will make you feel like its Sunday lunch. There is a comfort in the consistency and notion that anywhere in the world, you can walk into a pub and be greeted with that lovely Irish lilt, dark wood bar and a perfectly poured pint.
Most Improved Bar:
Dock’s Oyster House, Atlantic City
While the brand new-renovation to the oldest restaurant in Atlantic City feels a bit cold in the main dining area, the bar is gorgeous. Gorgeous Mahogany that runs the length of the restaurant and is now 3x its original size. They are definitely catering to the single diner, who hankers for some old-school style seafood recipes from the 1800s and a modern cocktail.
The Rooftop Wanna-be:
The Graham Hotel, Georgetown DC.
In the race for the “hip” factor, this rooftop misses the mark. The last time I was there, most of the seating is reserved and the space is only slightly larger than my UES apt. Unlike most rooftop bars, its not much fun if you are solo or if you aren’t from D.C. Enough said.
Best Dining in Altitude:
J & G’s Grill, St. Regis Hotel, Park City, UT
Evening ride in Funicular nicer than your average car? Check. Epic views of Deer Valley slopes? Check. Yummy food served by west-coast friendly bartenders? Check. If you haven’t been, this is one place that welcomes the single diner. The wine list is to die for so splurge with one of their burgers. Otherwise, let the bartenders get creative. You never get tired of that view, no matter what time of year but nothing beats snow caps.
Best Two Martini Lunch:
RL Grill, Chicago
This has fast become one of my favorite places for lunch in Chicago. I know Chicago is a serious dining destination but this is such a comfortable spot. My first time at the RL Grill, I got to know the bartender Jimmy who tipped me off to the beef tartare, a dish not listed on the menu but that is absolutely out of this world. I highly suggest you ask for a side of jalepenos too. The bar are is really small but what it makes up for in size it compensates with engaging bartenders, serious cocktails and the beef tartare. Oh and lets not forget Ralph’s classic clean and preppy style.
When You Want to Look But Not Touch:
Whiskey Blue, W Hotel NYC
A favorite after work spot where the commuters, out-of-towners and locals alike convene, imbibe and flirt outrageously. Voyeurism is a spectator sport here. Its no wonder the W has security after a certain hour and keyed elevators. Like a trip to a museum with a cocktail in hand, its best to look but not touch.
When Craving A Change of Scenery From The Lobby Bar of Your Hotel:
I give this place alot of credit for creating a rustic atmosphere without prevention. Solid, food, solid drinks and the juxtapositon of androgyny and masculinity that makes you want to go glamping. A breath of fresh mountain air in the heart of Boston.
When You Want to Feel Like Tony Soprano:
Angeloni’s II, Atlantic City
This is about as old-school Italian-American as it gets. A dark bar with decor that hasn’t been updated since it opened in the 80’s, don’t judge a book by its cover. The food here tastes like your Nana used to make. The wine list is something out of oenophiles dream with you find the b’s that matter: Brunello, Barbaresco, Barolo and Burgundy. Real men do it by the bottle not the glass, after all. And hey, its A.C., only the perfect place to channel Tony Bennett.
The funny part is that I don’t believe there is an Angeloni’s I.
Best Place to Eavesdrop on Conversation:
It really doesn’t matter if you are at a table or at the bar, Balthazar is a smorgasbord of people all looking for you to eavesdrop on their conversations, from awkward Tinder dates to girls night out and men being men, you are guaranteed to be entertained. Oh did I mention, the fantastic raw bar?
When You Want to Feel Like a Local in a Foreign City:
Fish La Boissonnerie, Paris
I found this place in Paris by literally googling, ” best places in paris to eat at the bar.” La Boissonnerie, is a tiny restaurant with a 6 seat bar situated on St. Germain. You don’t need a large bar to find genuine hospitality from both the patrons and the owners. Menu is seasonal and oh so delicate and fresh. When I was there, I had the fortune to meet someone at the bar who showed me around Paris. You just never know…
The Place to Splurge on Yourself Even If You Can’t Expense It:
Admittedly, I haven’t been to the Jose Andres culinary experience but Im on the list. Chef’s and diners alike say this is the experience worth paying for at $275/pp tax and gratuity include but not inclusive of beverages. The now ubiquitous tasting menu that feels just too pretentious for any serious diner is an experience to behold, or so I am told and excited to try.