The best restaurants for solo dining in London

After rumours swirled that a certain restaurant charges solo diners double to eat there, we’ve picked out the best spots for solo dining in London that won’t break the bank. Think counter seating, scenic views and bowls of food you won’t want to share

Solo dining can be many things; a meal of liberation, empowerment and relaxation; a time to trim the fat and cut out the noise pollution of your nearest and dearest; a moment to eat exactly what you want, where you want, without drawing imaginary lines across the tiramisu and winding up with the smaller half. Frankly, it can be life-changing – but one thing it doesn’t need to be is expensive.

And in light of the recent conundrum of said restaurant charging solo diners double (yes, that’s £350 for a tasting menu that costs £175 for two people), we’re here to point out all the brilliant spots for solo diners in London that aren’t going to decimate your wallet.

While it’s easy to slap together a list of our favourite restaurants in London and label them the best spots for solo diners (we’re looking at you, every other solo diner guide), some thorough guidelines have been applied to this one.

For one, these spots don’t contain menus geared towards sharing with many; we’ve omitted locations where you find yourself elbow to elbow with a litany of first dates, chosen spots with immersive open kitchens and counter seating and have very importantly included restaurants with mesmerising interiors and scenic views, so you can dine solo with some stimulation. So, without further ado, these are the 15 best restaurants for solo dining in London.

The best 15 best restaurants for solo dining


Various Locations

Some people go for an early night's sleep, others a face mask, but nothing says self-care like a bowl of cacio e pepe and a negroni on your ones at Padella. Over the past decade, this cult pasta spot has acquired a dedicated following with branches in Borough and Shoreditch and a no-reservations policy that plays to solo diners’ advantage in expediting the queue. The menu here is short and fuss-free – four starters, six pastas, a couple of puddings and focaccia. It's a magnet for pasta fanatics, beguiled by the Dorset crab tagliolini, beef shin pappardelle and ricotta stuffed ravioli bathed in butter and sage. Having won the Observer ‘Best Cheap Eat’ and Timeout ‘Best Cheap Eat for Under a Tenner’ awards, it seems not every restaurant charges solo diners double.


16 St Anne's Court, W1F 0BF

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So the adage goes, twos a party, threes a crowd and twelve is the maximum capacity at Aulis. This dinky restaurant with a dozen covers curled around a long table is a truly intimate dining experience perfect for a solo soirée. On offer is a chef’s table experience with a tasting menu devised by chef Simon Rogan, who also owns three-Michelin-Starred L’Enclume in Cartmel. The menu is daily changing, around fifteen courses, and reflects Rogan’s farm-to-fork ethos in serving up the best produce, including that grown on his farm in the Lake District. The seamless succession of dishes, accompanied by wine pairings, includes zany combinations like raw mackerel in coal oil, seaweed custard with beef broth and bone marrow, and Berkswell pudding caramelised in birch sap, to name a few. Attracting serious foodies, curious chefs and those seeking something special, it’s a great place to dine solo surrounded by those who are truly invested in the Aulis experience.


35-37 Greenhill Rents, EC1M 6BN

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For fear of sounding like your fifty-something aunt, they simply don’t make them like Brutto anymore. This rustic trattoria has all the charm of the Florence equivalents it’s trying (and succeeding) to emulate, complete with checked tablecloths, stapled paper menus, dinky wine glasses and rotating ceiling fans. It’s a positively swoonsome place to dine alone as you become enveloped in its old-school Italian nostalgia, which is only sweetened by the fact it's now offering a free spritz for solo diners in light of the aforementioned scandal. It’s the brainchild of ex-Polpo mastermind Russel Norman, and he’s bringing traditional four-course Tuscan fare to the table. Think thick wedges of lasagne al forno striated with ragu, slices of sourdough topped with anchovies and cold butter, and piles of sausages with fennel and lentils. Belissima.

Shawarma Bar

46 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE

Let’s face it, we’ve all enjoyed some kebabs solo, curbside, but how about a more classy affair at Shawarma Bar in Exmouth Market, Islington? It’s a primarily walk-in restaurant by Josh Katz, which serves up Tel Aviv-inspired street food, including killer kebabs, alongside cocktails for lunch and dinner. Shawarma bar specialises in spit roasting and slow-cooking meat, so expect some seriously tender and flavoursome hunks packed into pittas. Although rest assured, there are ample vegetarian options beyond this meaty affair, including mezze such as babaganoush, muhammara and confit okra, as well as cauliflower shawarma. Be sure to pile on lashings of toum (a mouth-numbing garlic sauce common to the Levant) and relish that you’re dining solo and not with a date.

Towpath Cafe

42 De Beauvoir Crescent, N1 5RY

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There’s an indescribable magic to Towpath Cafe, which has Londoners eagerly awaiting its re-opening in the springtime after its annual winter closure. Though initially conceived as an Italian-inspired eatery, nowadays, the ever-changing seasonal menu has evolved into a wonderful hybrid of Ottolenghi-style vibrancy and robust British minimalism. Chow down on plates of leafy radishes dipped in rosy taramasalata, heaps of buttery boiled potatoes, quince jelly toasties and bowls of crispy roast chicken. With its enchanting waterside location on Regents Canal, there’s so much visual stimulation dining here solo you wouldn’t want the noise pollution of a fellow diner. Plus, it’s endorsed by some big names in food, including Simon Hopkinson, Fergus and Margot Henderson and Olia Hercules, so who knows who you’ll sit next to.

The Counter at Sabor

35-37 Heddon Street, W1B 4BR

Best tapas London: Sabor

Sabor is the baby of ex-Barrafina chef Nieves Barragán, who co-founded this much-loved tapas spot with José Etura. Much like Barrafina, Sabor also flaunts a Michelin star, serving up tapas inspired by the cooking of Barragán's mother. Its layout is practically made for solo diners with, as the name may suggest, counter seating that you share with the chefs as they sizzle presa ibérica on the grill and stir vats of arroz negro. The offering here changes daily, inspired by tapas from across Spain, including the Basque country and Catalonia, and the fish is prepared by the in-house fishmonger, so expect killer plates of monkish tempura, cuttlefish pappardelle and octopus with mojo rojo. A queue may be on the cards as The Counter only takes walk-ins, but this system plays to your advantage if you're dining alone.

Koya City

10-12 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR

Forget Fifty Shades of Grey because Koya City has thirty-six shades of udon to choose from. Located in the futuristic food hub of Bloomberg Arcade near Bank station, Koya specialises in these thick and chewy noodles and forms part of a three-strong family of Japanese restaurants with siblings based in Soho and Hackney. With such a central location to the business folk of London, Koya is full of solo diners, all popping in to sit at the counter and slurp on a warm bowl of noodles in solitary harmony. For those who like the mighty and meaty, we recommend the slow-braised beef shin udon, whilst the smoked mackerel udon is excellent for a lighter appetite. There are also various supporting dishes, consisting of mainly fried and pickled bits to compliment a bowl of noodles. We go wild for the crispy prawn heads and miso presa with watercress surinagashi.

Tacos Padre

Borough Market, Winchester Walk, SE1 9AG

While this list was reserved for restaurants, we couldn’t not include Borough Market stall Tacos Padre in the mix. Plus, with outdoor seating in summer, we’d say it fits the bill as a part-time restaurant. It’s Nick Fitzgerald's homage to everything delicious and wonderful from Mexico, informed and inspired by his extensive travels around the country, and easily serves up some of the best Mexican food in the city. Its Borough market location means the stampede of stalls, sellers and shoppers surround you for people-watching, providing plenty of solo stimulation. What’s more, you can choose one of each taco, so you’ll curate the perfect basket of food for one. But be warned, choosing between the pork carnitas, deep-fried cod, pork loin al pastor, beef suadero and lamb barbacoa tacos, all flourished with crisp slaws, tangy salsas and silky guacamole, might cause an internal struggle.

Speedboat Bar

30 Rupert Street, W1D 6DL

If the neon lights at Speedboat Bar aren’t enough to draw you in, then the Lucky Nine certainly will. It’s the perfect set lunch menu for a solo diner, served from Monday to Wednesday, with the choice of minced beef with holy basil and a fried egg, beef tongue and tendon curry, aubergine with chilli and Thai basil and seasonal gourd and potato curry, all served with rice for a mere £9. Aside from this steal of a deal, the party canteen serves up a litany of generously portioned Thai dishes and cocktails for lunch and dinner, including crisp chicken skins with zaep seasoning, tom yam Mama, and clams with chilli jam and Thai basil. To accompany the mouth-numbing food is chaotic but somehow coordinated decor comprised of leary carpets, green tiled walls, metal tables, ceiling strip lights and a pool table, all accompanied by the dulcet tones of Soft Cell emanating from the speaker.


Various locations

Taiwanese gua bao has certainly blown up in the past few years, and there’s no better place to eat them than at (you guessed it), BAO. There are restaurants in Soho, Borough, Kings Cross, and Marylebone, alongside noodle shops in Shoreditch and Battersea power station, all with nifty monopoly-style comparison cards on the website to find a spot that suits your vibe. Whatever restaurant you choose, there’s always plenty of counter seating, often with window views for people watching, and a menu filled with tasty morsels to enjoy solo without having a glut of leftovers. It’s a right of passage to order the legendary gua bao filled with slow braised pork, mustard greens and peanut powder, and the Taiwanese fried chicken and trotter nuggets won’t go amiss either. Frankly, the whole menu is so enticing that you simply won’t want to share it.

Hawksmoor Wood Wharf

1 Water Street, E14 5GX

Hawksmoor really needs little introduction as a restaurant that was instrumental in the new wave of great steakhouses in the country, serving up some of the best beef in the UK. But if we were to summarise the spot at Wood Wharf, it is an architecturally impressive (and unmissable) glass pavilion on water, with smouldering dark wood interiors and a menu full of different cuts of steaks from fillet, rib eye and sirloin to larger cuts like chateaubriand and T-bone – all accompanied by heaps of beef dripping fries and bone marrow gravy. That said, the carnivore-averse need not fear because plenty of other classics are on the menu, including crab on toast, garlic butter lobster, Winslade cheese Wellington, and most importantly, sensational cocktails. A location in the business epicentre of London (also known as Canary Wharf) means that it’s filled with a lively patchwork of solo eaters, business dinners and all sorts, so you’re always enveloped in an energetic atmosphere.

St John Bread and Wine

94-96 Commercial Street, E1 6LZ

Despite being one of the most influential restaurants in the country (and perhaps the world), a solo meal at St John Bread and Wine is anything but intimidating. The familiar and comforting dining room practically feels like home, and you’ll be part of a throng of solo diners taking a pew around the outdoor bar or wooden tables. With no music, flowers or curtains, buckle up for a meditative dinner for one set to the melody of cutlery scraping plates, clinking glasses and diners' voices. On the menu are dishes that reflect the St John nose-to-tail ethos, including the grilled ox tongue with roast shallot, crispy pig’s skin with radicchio and faggots, mash and pickled walnuts.


172 Shepherdess Walk, N1 7JL

Is there anything more fulfilling than slurping on a bowl of garlicky clams tangled between threads of Datterini tagliatelle, accompanied by a crisp glass of white on a boat by oneself? We think not. And your dreams can become a reality with an evening at Caravel. The boat restaurant floating on Regents Canal is owned by Fin and Lorcan Spiteri’s, whose London restaurant pedigree runs deep, with their mum, Melanie Arnold, co-founding Rochelle Canteen and their dad, Jon Spiteri, opening, among others, The French House, St John and Sessions Arts Club. They braid hints of these restaurants into the menu, emphasising treating good ingredients with minimal intervention to make them sing – case inpoint: the marinated tomato salad with black olive crumb, confit potato,borlotti and salsa verde, and poached trout with new potatoes.

Humble Chicken

54 Frith Street, W1D 4SJ

There is simply no better way to wine and dine yourself than pulling up a pew at the counter at Humble Chicken and settling in under the wonderful care of chef Angelo Sato and manager Aidan Monk. The former whips up a lively tasting menu full of Japanese and European flavours – and with servings all portioned for one, meaning you won’t have to eat enough for two – while the latter pairs a selection of esoteric and beguiling drinks to go alongside it. From sake made in Peckham to a shiraz from Australia’s Barossa Valley, by the time you’ve finished grilling Monk on his pairings, you’ll barely have time to enjoy your own company. Either way, slipping into one of the 18 seats set around the open kitchen as a glass of Éclats de Meulière extra brut is slipped in front of you is the perfect way to shake the day off.


Various locations

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Hailed the home of London’s best falafel by some big names in the industry, there is undoubtedly deserved hype around this now four-strong group of restaurants located in Barnet, Farringdon, Camden, and Finchley. Make no mistake, Balady isn’t going to win any interior design awards, but the Jewish-Morrocan food served up here is simple, comforting and ridiculously delicious. With its casual vibe and plenty of people popping in for takeouts, it's a great gateway option for first-time solo diners, where the lively atmosphere doesn’t leave you feeling too introspective with your thoughts. Choose between soft laffa or pitta bread, stuffed with the filling of your choice and loaded with herb-packed salads, pickles, and generous helpings of silky hummus.