In today’s social media obsessed world, being around others is as easy as signing onto Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever else the cool kids are into these days. As such, a little alone time is probably a much-welcomed respite. And while hanging with yourself is cool and all, you still have to eat. Instead of hitting a drive-thru or heating up last nights leftovers, why not treat yourself to something that actually tastes good? There are plenty of places to enjoy a nice meal at a table for one, so we rounded up the best of them.
Whether the restaurant has bar seating and a killer TV setup, is perfect for people-watching, or is simply the kind of place where you really don’t want to share your food, here’s where to dine in Houston when you’re all by your lonesome:
Brasserie du Parc, 1440 Lamar, 832-879-2802
Set across from Discovery Green in the luxury high-rise, One Park Place, this sparkling new eatery from Étoile Cuisine et Bar’s chef Philippe Verpiand and his wife Monica Bui is sure to draw a crowd of solo-dining business travelers. Grab a seat in the bar area or out on the indoor/outdoor patio and nosh on classic French brasserie fare, from steak frites and sole Meunière to gratin de coquilette, a baked pasta dish with ham, mushrooms, Gruyere and truffle oil. On your way out, hit Crêperie du Parc, where you’ll find an all-day crepe menu available from a walk-up window.
Conservatory, 1010 Prairie, 832-919-8382
There are so many awesome things about this bustling food hall; It's entertaining no matter the time of day (or night); there are 60 taps of craft suds and wine from which to choose; and the community seating means you have the chance to chat with friendly diners. Take some time to walk around before choosing between Myth Kafe’s gyros, Melange Creperie’s inspired crepes, tacos and barbecue from El Burro & the Bull, and tonkatsu ramen at Samurai Noodle.
Harold’s in the Heights, 350 West 19th, 713-360-6204
Your dining adventure can range from quiet to lively depending on the time of day, but either way, sitting out on Harold’s terrace is just plain pleasant. It’s all about Southern charm here— from the welcoming atmosphere to the comfort grub with a Creole touch. Get sherry-topped Gulf crab soup, a chicken-fried Chappapeela pork chop or the wood-grilled burger with all the fixin’s (including but not limited to bacon jam). For something a bit more casual, Harold’s Tap Room offers cocktails and bar bites— think handcrafted pizzas, kale salads and Carolina pulled pork sandwiches— that will definitely hit the spot. Before or after you dine, spend some more alone time perusing the boutique and antique shops along 19th.
The Hay Merchant, 1100 Westheimer, 713-528-9805
You can’t really beat pairing a local craft brew with Hay Merchant’s twice-the-meat, twice-the-cheese “Cease & Desist” burger. That is, unless you pair your suds with a Monday night TV Dinner special or Tuesday night 44 Farms steak dinner instead. With what is widely dubbed the best selection of taps in the city (there are 75 drafts and five cast selections, plus an extensive bottle list), the casual hangout is usually packed; but you're in luck, because finding a seat for one is way easier than finding a table for one-plus.
MKT Bar, 1001 Austin, 832-360-2222
Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s located inside a grocery store (Phoenicia Specialty Foods); MKT Bar is a great place to hang out. Dine at the right time and you’ll have live music to keep you company (check the calendar for listings) while you enjoy braised lamb tacos, fish and chips and half-chicken roasted with olives and lemon. And on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 10 p.m., Steak Night means you’re getting a chimichurri-drizzled steak with an MKT salad and choice of twice-baked potato or za’atar-spiced fries for $12.99.
Ninja Ramen, 4219 Washington, 281-888-5873
Ramen is the perfect meal for one (just think on the last time you saw two people splitting a bowl); and with super late-night hours, a dark, playful atmosphere and a no-frills vibe, Ninja Ramen is the spot to slurp loudly and freely. Choose between regular, spicy, miso or spicy-miso ramen done in Asahikawa style (known for its seafood and pork base and oily stock) and enjoy the kaedama — extra noodle service — on the house. Ninja's selection of Japanese whiskey goes unrivaled, so you may want to slurp those noodles at the bar and chat up the knowledgeable bartenders.
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Paulie’s, 1834 Westheimer, 713-807-7271
This local haunt offers fast-casual Italian dishes that taste just like your nonna made (or even better, depending). The rigatoni bolognese and canestri alla funghi — both made with toothsome, housemade pastas — are house favorites and a good place to start, though the entire selection of sandwiches, salads, Italian comfort food entrées and weekday specials (like Thursday’s ossobuco) is worth working through. Several of the dishes come in smaller portions perfect for one, and with fast-casual service, the prices are on point.
The Springbok, 711 Main, 832-767-5574
The flavors of South Africa mingle with pub grub at this downtown hangout, where flat-screen TVs blasting the latest rugby games and soccer matches rile up the crowd. As do the excellent cocktails — like the passion fruit-kissed Pimm’s Cup or the Springbok Shandy finished with a flaming orange peel — and the stellar lineup of Texas brews. Grub on fiery housemade jerky, wild boar sloppy joes, pan-roasted peri peri chicken and sea-salt-studded vinegar fries.
Tiny Boxwoods, 3614 West Alabama, 713-622-4224
A favorite of the trendsetting crowd and ladies who lunch, the people-watching at this quaint eatery is always entertaining, and on nice days, there’s no better place to enjoy a pleasant meal than on Tiny’s charming patio. Sip a sparking French 75 or refreshing house lemonade while you dig into curried mussels, short rib mole or a luscious lamb burger oozing with smoked goat cheese. Just save room for “the cookie” — a hot-from-the-oven chocolate chip number that is among the best cookies in town.
Uchi, 904 Westheimer, 713-522-4808
Getting a table at a hot ticket restaurant like Uchi can be quite a feat. Grabbing a seat for one at the sushi bar, however, is as simple as walking in; no reservations required. Dining at the bar also gives you the opportunity to be dazzled as the sushi chefs create a fantastic, perfectly paced meal right in front of your eyes. For an extra-fun (and reasonably priced) time, hit the sake social hour offered daily from 5 to 6:30 p.m., when sake drinks start at $3 and tasting plates of machi cure, Thai Berkshire pork ribs and spicy bigeye tuna are priced between $3 to $14.