Once upon a time, we would associate dining alone with social defeat and start planning all 12 of our future cats’ names. But in 2017 we’re saying goodbye to that mindset because solo dining is totally the new going out. And why not? It has so many benefits.
It's so much easier to score a seat, even at the most exclusive, booked-out-for-months-on-end kind of restaurants. It’s also waaaaay cheaper; and you can avoid the awkward bill-splitting charade. Plus, with smart phones perched safely in arms reach, you can stay connected to your mates, the hottest celeb goss or world news updates while still enjoying the quiet serenity of your own company.
And even if all of these advantages still have you feeling awkward, or a tad lonely, we've found restaurants so great you’ll only have time to think about all the deliciousness that’s on your plate. These are the best spots to dine alone in Sydney.
When you’re reaching the end of a tough week at work, sometimes all you want to do is keep to yourself, open up a tub of ice cream and a bottle of red. That’s where ‘treat yo’self’ comes in, and Ester Restaurant and Bar is the perfect place to do it. Wine and dine yourself by sitting comfortably at the bar with a juicy rump of steak, glass of rosé, and the elderflower and passion fruit burnt pav to finish.
Handpicked Cellar Door
If your wine partner in crime is sick with the flu, it doesn’t mean you should be left hanging out to dry. Drop in to the Handpicked Cellar Door for a relaxing night of wine tasting and cheese platter grazing. If you’re still not comfortable with the idea of solo dining, the friendly staff are there to chat with you about all the delicious wines, cheese varieties, or wherever the convo takes you after that fifth glass of vino.
Sappho Books And Wine Café
A second hand bookshop, courtyard café and wine bar all rolled into one brilliant combo, is just the spot for the reclusive solo diner. Lose yourself in one of hundreds of books, a delicious glass of Chardonnay, as well as weekly live musical and poetic delights from local artists. The menu is filled with yummy options like the Lebanese lamb kofta bowl, as well as vegetarian and vegan options such as brown rice and veggie fritters to satisfy all your cravings.
Happy D’s is keeping things simple with a modest menu of dumplings and beer as the main attraction. With ample bar space and a cool musical mix of soul and disco, this groovy dumpling bar is the go-to if you’re after a brief but yummy dinner for one. Weekly specials keep us hungry for more, but our favourite regular items have to be the barbeque pork buns and prawn dumplings.
One of the best parts of dining alone is that you can order the biggest, greasiest meal on the menu and not worry about companions judging your unstoppable, ravenous appetite. Yes, this means that you can eat the entire doughy goodness that Maybe Frank fires up without having to sacrifice a single slice. Here, the melt-in-your-mouth crust and oozing layers of cheese are a plenty, so you’ll probably have to order more than just the one pizza. Why not set yourself a challenge: ‘how much pizza can I really eat?’ We believe in you.
Hotel Centennial is our idea of a perfect retreat, with tall leather booths and the lush Centennial Parklands for a picturesque view. If you’re in need of a yummy farm-to-table experience but still have lots of work to knock back, Hotel Centennial has you covered with free Wi-Fi to enjoy, and a plethora of fresh food options. Set yourself in one of their comfy booths for a long lunch that turns into dinner, you’re with the best company after all and this is one of the best spots to dine alone.
Fried chicken and champagne say a bit fat hello to our bellies. Butter is a hipster bar, eatery and sneaker joint (yep, this is a thing now) where chicken is the name of the game and hero of the menu. This Surry Hills hangout is ideal for those seeking a well-deserved cheat meal (which, for us, is most days) by the window, perfect for people watching. For drinks, sip on a variety of premium champagnes or opt for the diner classics like slushie specials topped with ice cream. With hits like the cheezus sandwich, miso corny and laced up fries, Butter is the go-to for the cool solo diner needing a fix in all things juicy, fried and spicy AF.
Calling all wine connoisseurs, Nomad is your soul mate. This Surry Hills dining scene brings the best of Australian wine, produce and design in a laid back yet charming atmosphere. Pop yourself down at the bar and fill up on a few small plates like the kingfish ceviche with avo and lime, and the duck and pork rillettes on brioche, or tackle something larger like the BBQ spatchcock. Nomad is the perfect reward for a solo diner’s hard-earned promotion, tough session at the gym, or for just making it to Friday in one piece (sometimes it’s the little things).
Dumplings and Beer
Friday nights call for Dumplings and Beer, so get down to Potts Point STAT to score some steamed and pan-fried goodness. Our top picks include the steamed scallops and prawn dumplings, roast duck sliders, eggplant tofu wraps, and the shallot pancakes, as well as a variety of gluten free gow gee. With a cool glass of beer to wash it all down, you’ll feel chock-full and content as you sit back, relax and unwind with your number one.
This quaint corner of Kensington is ideal for an easy solo dining experience, a perfect night of winding-down under the glow of floating lanterns. With options such as KYO-TO, Hong Kong Diner and Viet, pop in for a quick bite after work, or a more lengthy dinner, complete with a good read and BYO available every night. They say you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy food and wine, and after all—that’s kind of the same thing.
This spot hits the dining alone nail on its head with this narrow and trendy hangout located in the heart of Darlinghurst. Pull up a chair at the bar and enjoy many of the delicious options on offer such as the potato gnocchi with chilli and butter, the late night sandwich, nashi pear and sesame salad, or the crispy lamb ribs in date syrup, cumin and curry. The atmosphere of this bar is cool and relaxed but offers a seriously premium menu, perfect for solo late night dwellers with a superior appetite.
Here are the best spots to learn new things in Sydney. Go on, get those creative juices flowing.
Butter | Image credit: Daryl Kong