Grandlife guide


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Dining solo is a beloved pastime in New York. Every night of the week, New Yorkers can be found at bar stools and sidewalk tables across the city, savoring the pleasure of time spent alone. Here are some of the most welcoming places in lower Manhattan for your next solo cocktail or meal.


This petit bistro on Spring Street in NoLIta is a neighborhood favorite for flavors of the Mediterranean. By day, outdoor tables are topped with light fare like baba ganoush, while by night, aromas of slow-roasted lamb tagine fill the space. Solo diners will be equally comfortable at a sidewalk table, the cozy L-shaped bar, or one of the small booths. This restaurant’s intimate size often results in conversations sparked between fellow diners and bartenders.

14 Spring St, New York, NY 10012; T. (646) 666-0114


Located on a quiet block in TriBeCa, Tetsu is the relaxed sibling of Chef Masayoshi Takayama’s renowned sushi restaurant, Masa. Instead of sushi, the focus here is the robata, or grill. Seats at the long bar face chefs at work in the open kitchen preparing grilled skewers (try the pork belly or coco curry shrimp) along with rice and noodle dishes (order the ink pasta with bottarga). Diners seeking an exclusive experience may want to make a reservation at the counter in the omakase-only basement, where Chef Masa is often cooking in the open kitchen.  

78 Leonard St, New York, NY 10013; T. (212) 207-2370

Via Carota

This West Village trattoria is the Italian restaurant every New Yorker wishes was on their doorstep. It’s an ideal blend of rustic and refined, with a menu for every type of craving. For lunch, watch the neighborhood walk by at one of the sidewalk tables over a glass of wine and grilled artichokes. The bar has a welcoming atmosphere and bartenders happily chat about the wine list, cocktails, and snacks (don’t miss the ‘Nduja Arancini). Open daily until midnight, it is one of the neighborhood’s coziest spots for a late solo dinner; try the tortelli with smoked ricotta.

51 Grove St, New York, NY 10014; E.

Smith & Mills

A converted carriage house is the setting for one of TriBeCa’s tiniest and most intimate restaurants, Smith & Mills. A handful of stools at the bar are prime positions for watching bartenders mix cocktails until 2am (3am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). A small but varied menu includes raw oysters, a decadent cheese plate, and steamed mussels with toasted miche. No reservations are accepted, so solo diners can often squeeze in at the bar. A few sidewalk tables add extra space during the warmer months.

71 N Moore St, New York, NY 10013; T. (212) 226-2515


Formerly a New Nordic restaurant, Acme has been reinvented as a New American bistro. That means thoughtful cocktails, quality bar snacks, and a main menu with everything from a kale Caesar salad to brick chicken with shitake mushrooms. This restaurant on Great Jones Street in NoHo is divided into two floors; there’s a bar on the bustling main floor that’s welcoming to solo diners, while those seeking a quieter experience can grab a stool at the intimate cocktail bar downstairs where additional small plates are on offer.

9 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012; T.  (212) 203-2121

Café Select

From an early breakfast to afternoon drinks to late night snacks, this Swiss-inspired café on Lafayette Street offers a casual retreat at any time of day. Swing by first thing in the morning to grab a sidewalk table and read the newspaper over coffee and croissants, or opt for a hearty lunch of croque monsieur with melted gruyere at the bar. A friendly atmosphere and talkative bartenders keep the café steadily buzzing until 2am; dinner is served until midnight (check out the spätzli with wild mushrooms).

212 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; T. (212) 925-9322

Words Jessica Colley Clarke

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