I eat out a lot. And a lot of the time I’m on my own. I’ve no qualms about it, and nor should anyone. Most restaurants will be very welcoming to the solo diner. But in saying that, there are some places I prefer when I’m just one. Anywhere with bar seating is great — there is no awkward removal of the place setting opposite you and usually, its a good vantage point for people watching or some interaction with the front of house. Don’t be afraid to ask for a seat you feel comfortable in — a simple request usually gets you a cosy table. Sometimes I bring a book, sometimes I just enjoy a good eavesdrop or gawk at what’s happening around me. It’s definitely time to put the phone away, order some wine and chill out with my dinner.
Uno Mas, 6 Aungier Street, Dublin 2
I have recommended Uno Mas’ sister venue Etto, more than once and it has always been a favourite solo dining spot of mine. And while I still adore Etto, it’s a joy to have Uno Mas too with an even bigger bar seating area with very comfortable stools and, most importantly, a magnificent menu. There is a Spanish slant to the food here; plenty of small plates and bigger feeds, with lots suited to ordering for one and a fantastic selection of wines by the glass. It’s not always easy to get a booking here, but there’s more than likely space for one at the bar.
Forest & Marcy, 126 Leeson St Upper, Dublin 4
At this buzzy neighbourhood wine room & kitchen, a seat at the bar is the best in the house, allowing you to watch the chefs in action. They serve a four or six-course tasting menu of noteworthy food, which are both a comfortable amount to enjoy on your own. The offering changes seasonally but they always have their famous fermented potato bread with bacon & cabbage. Expect clever, balanced and adventurous cooking. There is a brilliant selection of wines that you wouldn’t find in other tasting menu spots and the team are happy to match for you.
Fish Shop, 76 Benburb Street, Dublin 7
From humble beginnings in a converted shed in Blackrock market, Fish Shop has grown to two Dublin 7 bricks and mortar restaurants, serving some of the finest seafood in the city. Fish Shop Benburb Street is my preference when I’m on my own. Here, they serve their excellent fish and chips along with a casual menu featuring oysters and fish pintxos. They are mainly walk-ins here and have that all-important bar seating area. They also have a fun (mainly biodynamic) natural and organic wine list, with plenty available by the glass.
Klaw Seafood Cafe, 11 Sprangers Yard, Fownes Street, Dublin 2
This compact, upbeat space right in the middle of Temple Bar is made up of cosy banquets and bar seats with ‘Island Nation’ written in bright neon on the wall. They don’t take reservations so it’s always a good one to try with a simple ‘space for one?’ request. They are very accommodating. A vast seafood menu means you can mix and match oysters from around the Irish coast; Galway Bay, Waterford, Dooncastle, Flaggy Shore or feast on fish & chips, seafood pie, lobster rolls and more. A fun drinks menu is bound to keep you entertained.
The Ramen Bar, 51 South William Street, Dublin 2
I recommend this spot a lot, probably because it’s where I eat most when I’m on my own. Don’t let the tiny shop front put you off; there’s a hidden warren of floors of seating here, so there is always plenty of space. My preference is always for the coveted window seat for the ultimate South William Street people watching. The extensive ramen menu has something for everyone, all with luscious broth bases made from scratch and fresh handmade noodles are piled in every bowl. They are a joy to slurp through and there is plenty of options for customisation on the menu and veggies.
Ely Bar and Grill, IFSC, Dublin 1 and Ely Wine Bar, 22 Ely Place, Dublin 2
You’ll notice now there is a theme — along with the bar seating, I’m drawn to anywhere that has a great wine-by-the-glass list when dining alone and Ely does this very well. They also put just as much effort into their brilliant seasonal food menus and offer more detailed á la carte menus or more chilled out bar food in both venues. The CHQ outpost has plenty of seating and a long, welcoming bar. Ely Wine bar, nestled in a Georgian basement, has plenty of nooks and crannies to choose from. Both establishments have suited me well when good wine and nice feed are needed.
L. Mulligan Grocer, 18 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7
A cosy pub with great food is ideal solo dining fodder and L. Mulligan’s does both very well. The menu focuses on celebrating Irish food and is peppered with hero suppliers like Gubbeen cheese and meats, Ballymakenny vegetables and Velvet Cloud. Expect elevated comfort food — scotch eggs, chicken kievs, colcannon. An extensive drinks list is made for matching with the fantastic foods they do, and the team here are all well able to chat and encourage tasting. Nabbing a bar seat and working your way through the menus, you’ll be glad you’ve no one around to take attention away from what is served.
Masa, 2-3 Drury Street, Dublin 2
Smack bang in the city centre, this is an easy casual choice when eating alone. Nab a spot on a high stool and watch the world go by. An inexpensive menu of small plates, tacos and quesadillas makes it an easy menu to curate your dinner from. I love the Elotes - corn on the cob with cheese and chilli. From the concise taco menu, make sure to order the fried chicken. The best thing is, you won’t have to share. The churros and goat milk ice cream is very easy to finish on your own too.
Fallon & Byrne, 11-17 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2
Fallon & Byrne has plenty of dining options but the ground floor food hall and the basement are probably best suited to the solo diner. In the store café/ deli you’ll find a bank of seats, high tables and bars where you can order comforting homemade meals — beef bourguignon with mash, homemade pies, salads and pasta. It’s fast, affordable and easy eating out. In the basement beneath lies a wine and cheese lover's dream and plenty of seating. There’s a lengthy wine list with plenty by the glass, snippets of the upstairs menu to choose from and ‘sharing’ boards I can easily work through on my own.