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January 27, 2009

Top 10 Places to Dine Alone

MariLunaLatinBar.jpgEnough people have asked for a Top 10 on best restaurants to eat by yourself in that I felt I finally had to do it.

I needed a lot of help on this one because a) I rarely eat alone and b) when I do, it never occurs to me that I won't be treated just as well as when I'm with my husband. 

I always am. And, no, I don't think the staff recognizes me.

I started this list with a couple of places where I had fun and good food even though I was alone; these were fairly recent visits. I also asked other Sun reviewers Richard Gorelick and Rob Kasper for recommendations.

Then I took into account what commenters had to say. (Of course, I had to have had a good meal in the restaurants they recommended before I put them on this list.)

Anyway, here are our suggestions in no particular order. If you have other recommendations, tell us a little about your experiences in dining alone there. ...

* Faithful readers will remember that I had a delightful time by myself at Ruth's Chris in Pikesville.

* After I reviewed it, I went back to the relatively new Mari Luna Latin Grille by myself on a rainy Sunday night, when it wasn't very busy, and I had an enjoyable meal at the bar. (Yes, I was given the option of a table.)

* Other Reviewer Richard suggested the Spice Company, which has a pretty lounge, with small tables at banquettes. Because it's a hotel dining room, he pointed out, they are used to single diners. Good point.

* He also likes Henninger's Tavern, with little tables in the bar area where he sees people reading all the time. When I reviewed it, I enjoyed the New American fare.

* One commenter suggested  the Stone Mill Bakery, where you can now get real dinners. For sure you wouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable there, and the food is very good. No liquor license, though.

* A couple of commenters liked Linwoods for both its dining bar for solo eaters and a few small tables that are out of the mainstream of traffic. Expensive but usually worth it.

* Rob Kasper suggested On the Hill Cafe because it's small, cozy and its evening menu has good, casual food -- from burgers to rice, beans and sweet plantains.

* A commenter liked eating alone at one of the high-tops in Juniors' bar. I liked the imaginative food there when I reviewed it, so that sounds good to me.

* One commenter ate at the Prime Rib alone for both her birthday and New Year's Eve, and she said the wait staff could not have been more gracious. If a restaurant is nice to solo diners on New Year's Eve, one of its busiest nights, that's good enough for me.

* Sushi bars are used to people who are eating alone. I enjoy Minato, but probably any local sushi bar you like would be a good bet.


(Monica Lopossay/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:14 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


I had a FABULOUS meal solo at Grano, the pasta bar in Hampden. I sat right belly up to the counter and had wonderful conversations with the waitstaff and chefs. It was extremely pleasant and felt like eating in a friend's home kitchen :)

Grano is a great suggestion, Rebs.

(Ethel & Ramone's in Mt. Washington is another restaurant with kitchen-counter seats.)

City Cafe in Mount Vernon comes to mind, lots of folks with laptops perched in the front room.

Anyplace that also has a bar is fine by me . All the taverns in Fells and Cantion, just about any Irish Pub, places like Ocean Pride, Padonia Station, Alonzo's, Clyde's, Mt. Washington Tavern, the upscale steakhouses...they all are great places to eat flying solo. .

Had a great time at Grano as well! It's small, but somehow they manage to find room for everyone.

Elizabeth, do you (or any of the blog readers) have any suggestions for restaurants that do well for large parties? We are looking for suggestions for a rehearsal dinner for probably 30-40 people, preferably in the city since thats where the rehearsal itself is.

Cafe Troia in Towson hosts rehearsal dinners on a fairly regular basis. They'll create a menu for you and give you a private room. I've done arrangements for several of them and everyone seems to enjoy the food and the ambiance.

Chiapparelli's on High Street have great private rooms. My family held a surprise birthday party for me there.

amie -- rehearsal dinner options were discussed in this post of several months ago, although in the context of 75 dinner guests. To narrow things down, it might help if you specify the month and general location of the rehearsal venue (and, if applicable, where out-of-town guests will be staying).

The Tremont is both the venue and where guests will be staying, and the wedding is in May (similar to the previous conversation- thanks for the link!). It would be nice if something was close by, but not a deal breaker. Does anyone know if Sotto Sopra has private rooms?

I don't know about Sotto Sopra, but Cazbar closes their basement for private parties sometimes. I have eaten there, but not had a group there. They might be a tad exotic for a rehearsal dinner, or the belly dancers might be just the thing, depending.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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