Image: The Modern Bar Room at the MOMA, New York, N.Y.
Courtesy MOMA
The Modern Bar Room at the MOMA features a view of the museum gardens that's perfect for people-watching and serves small plates of Alsatian cuisine, including fresh grilled shrimp with green cabbage and gruyère salad and modern liverwurst with four pickled vegetables. Local reviews says the service is stellar, the staff friendly.
By
updated 8/24/2007 11:47:24 AM ET 2007-08-24T15:47:24

Imagine a typical four-course dinner at a linen-napkin restaurant. The lighting? Soft. The music? Refined. The date?

Missing.

This is the scenario that plays out each weekend for some of the country's 90 million singles and others without a dining partner.

For some of them, eating alone is a lonely experience. Many welcome it.

"I find it really nice," says Charly Laura Rok, 41, senior vice president of media at New York City-based communications firm Lippe Taylor. "I can read, I can work, I can daydream, and very often I strike up conversations with other solo diners."

Bite into the Big Apple
One spot catering to diners like Rok is New York's Gotham Grill. The Alfred Portale-owned restaurant in Greenwich Village plays host to dozens of deal makers and couples splurging on dishes such as Maine lobster risotto and frozen Banana Charlotte. But take a seat at the bar, and you'll be treated as if your check is the staff's biggest transaction of the day.

"They make everyone feel comfortable," says Rok, who eats there regularly. "The service is great no matter if you're dining alone or with a group of people."

Top tips
Similar spots exist throughout the world. The trick is identifying them.

Restaurants with sizable bars or communal tables provide a comfortable setting for those eating alone, says Liz Johannesen, restaurant marketing manager at OpenTable.com, an online reservation network for restaurants throughout the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Those saddled up to the bar may talk to the bartender and neighboring diners. Communal tables allow parties of one to blend into the crowd.

Scenery also plays a role, Johannesen says. While dining, nothing beats a stellar view when faced with an empty seat across the table.

That's what visitors to Chicago's Park Grill find. It borders Millennium Park along Michigan Avenue; those lucky enough to snag outdoor seating in the summer can take in frequent performances by live bands. In the winter, window seats overlook an ice-skating rink.

  1. Don't miss these Travel stories
    1. Lords of the gourd compete for Punkin Chunkin honors

      With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.

    2. Airports, airlines work hard to return your lost items
    3. Expert: Tourist hordes threaten Sistine Chapel's art
    4. MGM Grand wants Las Vegas guests to Stay Well
    5. Report: Airlines collecting $36.1B in fees this year

Reputation is also important. If your spot has received high ratings for service in local reviews or in the Zagat or Michelin guides, then it's safe to assume it will put a premium on pleasing solo diners.

But what if you're fortunate enough to snag a reservation for one, yet unfortunate enough to be placed at a table that's anything but pleasing—either right next to the kitchen or, even worse for some, in a corner far away from other diners?

Speak up. "As a guest, you're entitled to what you want," says Johannesen, who adds that hosts at spots offering fine dining make a point of seating guests at tables where they will be most comfortable.

She adds, though, that the bar might well be your best bet.

"Personally, I love banquettes," she says, "but if there aren't any available, I find that the bar tends to be the most lively and entertaining spot in the room."

© 2012 Forbes.com

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments