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When Deliveroo just won’t cut it and you can’t (or don’t want to) rally a dining buddy, these are the London’s best restaurants for tucking into cult sandwiches, zero-waste fare and slurp-worthy noodles. Sharing not required.
What’s worse than a wandering eye? A wandering fork. Selfish though it may seem, there’s nothing worse than the person you’re dining with stealing your last mouthful, or worse, asking for an extra spoon come dessert.
In a time where self-love is celebrated, we see no qualms in dining alone. In fact, it can be quite empowering. Most of London’s stalwarts have counter seating, perfect for if you want to chat to your dining neighbours or devour the restaurant’s atmosphere in peace – and there’s definitely no sharing required. When Deliveroo alone on the sofa just won’t do, these are the best restaurants for dining solo.
Where to eat alone in London
Mama knows best when it comes to feeding the sole (get it?) at lunchtime. Packed with punchy East-meets-West flavours – think celeriac slaw, spicy fried chicken, house-made kimchi and miso-ginger dressing – these one-bowl wonders are best enjoyed in a window seat, watching the world go by. This Spitalfields spot is also big on no waste; you’ll find yesterday’s fruit whipped up into cakes and unused vegetables turned into soup.
Mozzasando South Kensington
Each year, one foodie creation or another creates a social-media meltdown. Remember the freakshake, anyone? This year it’s all about the katsu sando – a Japanese sandwich made from Japanese milk bread, smothered with tonkatsu sauce and stuffed with a cutlet of meat (typically pork, but more commonly wagyu) that’s been breaded and fried. Jumping on the bandwagon and dedicating a whole brick-and-mortar joint to this finessed sandwich is South Kensington’s Mozzasando. Here, sandos have been given an Italian upgrade with the thick chunk of meat being replaced by a classic Milanese, served with fries dripping in ‘nduja sauce. We predict that people will be so busy Instagramming their sandos, they won’t even realise you’re eating alone.
- +44 20 3146 2261
- Go to Website
Silo Hackney Wick
Why miss out on East London’s hottest dining ticket just because your friend has flaked? Not only is Silo single-handedly saving London from throwing away its scraps, it’s also catering to lone diners with its countertop (made from super-sustainable mycelium, FYI) overlooking London’s most innovative kitchen – one that’s home to a flour mill, butter churner and savvy high-tech composter that also serves the rest of the neighbourhood. Savour every second of the six-course tasting menu – the cooked-over-coals artichokes smothered in blue cheese is a dish sent from the eco gods – while sitting smugly knowing you’re also helping to save the world, one bite at a time.
- +44 20 7993 8155
- Go to Website
The Palomar Soho
Credited with kickstarting London’s obsession with counter dining, Palomar’s 16-seat bar is part concert hall and part Tel Aviv nightclub – thanks to the soundtrack of heavy beats and impromptu drum-cum-pot playing performances to which you’ll be privy. Marble countertops, neon-pink signs and bubblegum-blue seating give it an Instagrammable edge and, aesthetically pleasing interiors aside, the food lives up to the hype. Loaves of kubaneh (a Yemini-style bread that’s as sweet as brioche) comes with an addictive tomato dip, rock oysters are dressed with punchy harissa oil and braised pork belly tagine is served on a bed of apricots and pearl couscous. Shots of anise-spiked arak are freely passed around between staff and bar-seat patrons, so you’re always included in the party.
- +44 20 7439 8777
- Go to Website
Koya The City
Most of our favourite restaurants don’t take reservations and therefore come with a side of wait-your-turn-in-line. Koya is no exception. Dine solo to smugly skip the queue and plant yourself in prime kitchen-watching territory by the blonde-wood counter. In case you haven’t visited this noodle stalwart, we’ll bring you up to speed: it’s all about the traditionally made thick udon noodle here. Forty-two types of slurp-worthy noodles are kneaded on-site each morning before being bundled into bowls with hot or cold broth. We like to add an egg on top when we’re feeling adventurous.
Sabor earned cult status for a tapas menu that reads like a songbook of Spain’s greatest hits and, of its two floors, the street-level Counter has become the most coveted seat in the whole of W1. Here, three is definitely a crowd and if two’s company, it means you’re not getting in until way past dinnertime, if at all. Save the disappointment, go on your own, watch Nieves Barragán Mohacho’s mastery as she whips up salt-cod tortilla packed with thick chunks of cod (exactly how it’s served in the Basque Country), gambas slick with finger-licking garlicky oil and piquillo croquetas piped with molten manchego cheese. The trio of chocolate doughnuts will make your eyes roll into the back of your head. Thank us later that you didn’t have to share.
- +44 20 3319 8130
- Go to Website
Sitting on the old site of Spuntino – you know, where you scoffed truffled mac ‘n’ cheese for all of five minutes before moving on to the next big thing – covered in brushed concrete and a mural of handmade terracotta tiles, Paradise is Soho’s love letter to Colombo cuisine. Contemporary Sri Lankan dishes are taken from family recipes and come in the form of “short eats”, which are essentially street-food bites but served as a bigger portion on plates. You’ll want to order one of the roti tacos stuffed with arrack-infused cauliflower (arrack is a Sri Lankan spirit), mutton rolls dipped in fermented ketchup and the blushing Jaffna-spice lamb chops. It might be best to hog a whole table so you can spread out.
Coal Rooms Peckham Rye
Train stations are solitary spaces. Just think about how many times have you rolled your eyes on your morning commute when that overly friendly couple fails to understand personal space? In keeping with tradition, Coal Rooms – occupying Peckham Rye’s old ticket office – understands this. A hulking great robata grill is at its centre, framed by a line of bar stools, which are all close enough to the action that your clothes will adopt a charred meaty whiff (after demolishing mammoth chunks of Mangalitsa cowboy steak dipped in jerk caramel, it’s likely that you won’t mind). Sample the “Fat Boy” roasties, you’ll be booking your next dinner slot. For your second visit, eschew the show out front and head to the refined Scandi-Japanese dining room at the back.
- +44 20 7635 6699
- Go to Website
Arcade Food Theatre Oxford Circus
Unlike the school canteen where tables were hierarchical, the Arcade Food Theatre is more of a creative culinary hub that throws together some of the capital’s favourite haunts, puts them under one roof and applies a free-for-all seating policy. Food theatre in the West End has never been so cool: Flat Iron Workshop is searing steaks, Lina Stores makes pasta like the best Italian nonnas and Tōu by Tata Eatery is putting the most Instagrammed dish of 2020 (the katsu sando) into your hands.
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