Welcome to Ask Eater, a column from Eater SF where the site’s editors answer specific or baffling restaurant requests from readers and friends. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form.
Dear Eater SF,
Not all my friends are foodies or can afford to eat out all the time, so I’m looking for recs on restaurants where it’s not weird to eat alone — someplace where you can bring a book and eat a real meal and not feel stigmatized for being solo. All price points are welcome, from fancy to fast-casual to dive-y, any time of the day, as long as it’s not weird to be sitting by yourself enjoying a meal. I’m okay at the bar, but I love my own booth, too.
The Lone Diner
What’s up, Lone Diner,
As a lifelong introvert, I sincerely believe hell is other people at breakfast, as Sartre has been widely misquoted. I feel you. I’ve got you. Drinking alone is the best, and dining alone is even better. I’m partial myself to a glass of crémant, an absorbing read, and a bay window seat, in order to better contemplate the denizens of our fair city wandering by on the sidewalk. And there are plenty of places in SF where it’s a competitive advantage to go it alone: snug sushi spots like Akiko’s, old-school oyster bars like Swan Oyster, or breakfast hotspots like Outerlands. But you’re into booths. How cozy. A few thoughts.
The peacock blue velvet booths at August 1 Five are enchanting, if you’re able to snag one. The lattice makes it feel secluded, so you can enjoy modern Indian paneer kebabs, bison keema, and good cocktails in peace.
The Japanese-inspired space at Rintaro has panels dividing the booths, and even if the host hesitates to give one to a solo diner, there’s no shame in sitting alone at the long counter. And there’s plenty to watch, as chef Sylvan Mishima Brackett meticulously hand-rolls noodles, fillets fish, and slices cabbage paper thin.
Pearl has got some luxe leather booths, in addition to a big horseshoe counter, and it’s an easy spot to slide into on weekdays and during daylight hours. That handkerchief pasta with white Bolognese goes down even better with a $12 cocktail.
And finally, for an old-school burger or late-night fries, Orphan Andy’s has these cute little red two-seater booths, which you can totally claim on your own, without any eyebrows raised. Plus, you’re supporting a Castro institution, which has been open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, for the past 40 years.
With you in solo-dining solidarity,