We have a confession to make: we love to dine alone. Not all the time, mind. But nothing beats rocking up to a busy restaurant and being whisked to the front of the line because there's only one stool left at bar. The thrill, the exhilaration, the joy that comes from watching all the couple's faces fall as they realise that sometimes two really is a crowd...
We don't need the chatter of companions to keep us company. Give us a glass of vino, a good book and a healthy portion of delicious food, and we'll be happy. We seek solidarity in the service and sounds of the restaurant in full swing; eating where we want to eat and taking full delight in our ability to take down more plates on our tod than most do between two.
We know we're not alone in this either – pardon the pun – which is why we set aside our knives and forks to round up some of our favourite spots to dine solo. Coincidentally, these lot are also perfect for a partner (or two) – but why bother when going it alone is just as fun?
Andina Notting Hill
157 Westbourne Grove, W11 2RS
A restaurant that takes its inspiration from picanterías – the traditional family-run restaurants found throughout the Peruvian Andes – is always going to be a shout if you're dining solo. But the thought of going it alone at Andina Notting Hill becomes all the more appealing when you realise that you'll be just as comfortable up on the chef's table tucking into plates of corn tamal and lamb loin as you will be next door in the Andina Café enjoying a Peruvian purple corn and pineapple muffin.
Koya is perfect for solo diners. With three different locations across the city, you could work your way through its vast array of udon noodle dishes and daily specials from morning through to noon and night. We're particular fans of its breakfast offering, but we have also been known to slip into its Bloomberg Arcade outpost for a late night bowl of its torinikomi (chicken, vegetable and egg udon noodle hotpot) and a £5 glass of Gran Cerdo rioja.
For food that's just as enjoyable eaten alone as it is shared between friends look to Lahpet, the Burmese-inspired restaurant and Spitalfields Market street-food kitchen. Its trendy Shoreditch restaurant has plenty of space to sit at the bar or at long communal tables, so draw up a stool and order yourself a round of shan tofu fritters and slow-cooked pork and mustard curry. Or ditch the restaurant and head to the street kitchen where you can chow down on shan noodles and amae hnut (beef curry) from lunch through to dinner.
Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill
11-15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG
Given that Bentley's has been serving seafood for over 100 years, you won't be its first – nor last – solo diner. Sometimes you'd rather enjoy a plate of native British oysters and a fino sherry without a running commentary from pals insistent on telling you how these magnificent molluscs are 'really not for them'. No one cares, Barry. Just eat your steak.
64 Grafton Way, W1T 5DP
Sometimes it's the food and sometimes it's the atmosphere that makes dining alone in a restaurant extra special. In the case of Kyseri, it's both. Even if you were to take a friend along to the restaurant with you, one bite of a mantidumpling and it'll feel like it's just you, those plates of delicious food, and your tastebuds in solitary bliss.