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16 Restaurants Perfect for Eating Alone in San Francisco

Excellent breakfast, lunch, and dinner options for the solo diner

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Those who know, know: dining alone can be pure bliss. There’s no shame in taking yourself out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner — nor should there be when there are so many options for excellent restaurants that are happy to seat a solo diner or offer a single spot at the bar. San Francisco can confuse with its sudden fog and unexpected sunshine, making or breaking plans as it goes. But if the calendar opens up out of the blue, these 16 restaurants make the perfect option for a solo dinner date.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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The Buena Vista

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Yes, it’s a tourist destination often clogged with camera-wielding out-of-towners on weekends. But this San Francisco institution is also a neighborhood haunt for those in the area and the bartenders often greet regulars with a friendly nod as they scoot up to a table or belly up to the bar. Join in, no matter where you live, for weekday lunch or midweek happy hour and you’ll find yourself transported back to an era of San Francisco past. An Irish coffee is an absolute must and pairs well with the very unfussy menu of breakfast, sandwiches, and entrees like corned beef and fish and chips. 

Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe Lauren Saria

The Stinking Rose

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The Columbus Avenue restaurant was Calzone’s until January, but no matter the name the service is as warm as one would hope for in San Francisco’s Italian American enclave. A light lunch of the wild arugula salad in the outdoor seating area, while the rare sun breaks through the fog, is the perfect mid-week escape from the WFH routine.

Calzone's, North Beach.
Calzone’s, North Beach.
Photo: Flickr/friedmanlynn

China Live

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Chinatown is a veritable treasure trove of excellent dining options but for a solo diner looking to get a little taste of everything, George Chen’s sprawling restaurant and marketplace might be ideal. Often compared to Italian food emporium Eataly, the 30,000-square-foot space houses a tea counter, a full service restaurant with a daily changing dim sum selection, a bar, and a retail space. Fill up on a basket of soup dumplings, crispy bottomed shen jian bao, and jiggly egg tarts before perusing the aisles on your way out.

Sorella

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You’ll be tempted by the menu of excellent fresh pasta at this newish Italian dinner destination from the team behind Michelin-starred Acquerello, but solo diners who nab a seat at the bar would do well to explore the menu of cicchetti, or Venetian snacks, that’s only available to bar patrons. Compile a feast of small plates like potato chips dusted in cacio e pepe seasoning, thick sausage-stuffed chicken wings, and tender veal meatballs. 

Udon Mugizo

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For those seeking a place to be alone in the crowd, the bustling hallways of Japantown’s two malls make the perfect escape. After you peruse every aisle at Daiso, duck into the warm wood-wrapped dining room at Udon Mugizo for a bowl of heart-warming udon. The bouncy noodles are made on-site and are perfectly slurpable whether swimming in a rich tonkotsu broth or drenched in Parmesan cheese sauce. 

Mentai creamy sauce udon topped with green onions, slivers of seaweed, and pieces of tempura batter from Udon Mugizo in Japantown Lauren Saria/Eater SF

Black Cat

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Jason Moser, formerly of Villon and the Proper Hotel, shakes the cocktails. Olu Gartin, longtime manager of the Blue Note jazz club in New York, holds down the service. Fritz Quattlebaum brings in jazz wunderkind like Kenneth Whalum and Tal Cohen. Drinking and eating here alone — try a cocktail like the $18 scotch-based Vaxed with an appetizer like the $6 crispy hominy corn nuts — might be the best way to enjoy this San Francisco rarity. 

The Anchovy Bar

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The latest offering from the acclaimed State Bird Provisions team, Anchovy Bar indulges chef Stuart Brioza’s obsession with those glittering little fish. It’s an itty bitty restaurant tucked around the corner from State Bird, but getting a seat on the parklet or in the dining room is just a smidge easier if you’re riding solo. And good news: because the menu is built around small plates of cured in-house fish and fresh oysters, even a single diner can get a taste of several items. Live it up with a glass of orange wine or a frothy spritz for the full experience.

Anchovies from Anchovy Bar Patricia Chang

Violet's

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This cousin to Fiorella offers a fantastic bar program and upscale menu while keeping things affordable. For the solo diner, a Lovely Day, the restaurant’s $13 cinnamon-infused vodka cocktail served hot, is a welcome reprieve from the hot-and-cold winter weather.

Automat

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Chef Matt Kirk built a reputation on his inventive breads and general baking skill before bringing Automat, a new-ish all day cafe, to NoPa in late 2021. By day, it’s a true neighborhood spot offering hot coffee, sugar dusted brioche doughnuts, and a full menu of sandwiches all served on bread baked in-house. By night, Kirk’s Lazy Bear pedigree is on full display with a menu that pulls inspiration from Thailand to the American South with plates including spicy beet larb and crispy fried chicken thighs. 

The exterior of Automat’s corner space, including a mint green sign outside of wraparound front windows. Lauren Saria

The bartenders at A Mano are hip, knowledgeable, and will talk about their favorite David Bowie songs while pouring glasses of Hibiki whiskey and red wine. The focaccia with tapenade is a lovely companion for this solo affair. 

Horsefeather

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The service staff at this upscale neighborhood restaurant and bar are worth the visit in their own right. Day or night one would never find themselves really dining alone at the Divisadero Street haunt. Talking to the bartenders over house cocktails like the Ol’ Smokey, whiskey and ceylon tea with bergamot, is endlessly entertaining. If you’re hungry, the menu offer a solid burger and a plate of fried chicken that comes with a side of braised collard greens.

Spark Social SF

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Mission Bay’s Spark Social is a chance for fresh air, mini golf, and an ensemble of food and drink options. While it’s definitely an experience worth sharing with friends, the outdoor food park deserves one’s alone time, too. Hitting Nucha Empanadas, about $3.50 for an empanada, while enjoying one of San Francisco’s newest neighborhoods’ biggest attractions is well worthwhile.

Outdoor seating at Spark Social SF Frazier Phillips

To dine alone at the Potrero Hill breakfast shop of great acclaim is an exercise in anonymity. Bustling crowds of people are both outside and inside the restaurant, so taking in an order of the $17 gluten-free pancakes amongst the throng is a bit of a trip. At this point in the pandemic, though, it’s an affirming experience.

 Plow in Potrero Hill.
Plow in Potrero Hill.
Photo: Eater SF Flickr Pool/Dave Nguyen

LUNA American Brasserie

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Jumping right into the Valencia Street scene in summer 2021, this brasserie wants to make guests feel like this is their new favorite spot. The bar and service staff do just that, and taking a seat and ordering the Oaxacan Around Downtown, a $14 mezcal and campari cocktail, is like coming home to drink with family after being away for too long. On the menu, familiar (if meaty) brassiere fare including a burger and stuffed chicken cordon bleu.

Sunset Cantina

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Throughout the pandemic, this block on Judah Avenue has provided a plethora of safe outdoor dining options. Three tacos for $10 doesn’t hurt, nor do the $12 yucca fries topped with al pastor and chipotle crema, for a night of comfort food in the avenues.

Pupusería Ilobasco

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This Portola diner serves pupusas for as cheap as $3 a pop. For breakfast, grab a stool and order the hueveos estrellados con platanos, an efficient and delicious way to get proteins and fruits in the same dish. Eating on one’s own here is perfect – the restaurant staff love to play soccer on the TV in the corner.

Exterior of Pupuseria Ilobasco Yelp

The Buena Vista

Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe Lauren Saria

Yes, it’s a tourist destination often clogged with camera-wielding out-of-towners on weekends. But this San Francisco institution is also a neighborhood haunt for those in the area and the bartenders often greet regulars with a friendly nod as they scoot up to a table or belly up to the bar. Join in, no matter where you live, for weekday lunch or midweek happy hour and you’ll find yourself transported back to an era of San Francisco past. An Irish coffee is an absolute must and pairs well with the very unfussy menu of breakfast, sandwiches, and entrees like corned beef and fish and chips. 

Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe Lauren Saria

The Stinking Rose

Calzone's, North Beach.
Calzone’s, North Beach.
Photo: Flickr/friedmanlynn

The Columbus Avenue restaurant was Calzone’s until January, but no matter the name the service is as warm as one would hope for in San Francisco’s Italian American enclave. A light lunch of the wild arugula salad in the outdoor seating area, while the rare sun breaks through the fog, is the perfect mid-week escape from the WFH routine.

Calzone's, North Beach.
Calzone’s, North Beach.
Photo: Flickr/friedmanlynn

China Live

Chinatown is a veritable treasure trove of excellent dining options but for a solo diner looking to get a little taste of everything, George Chen’s sprawling restaurant and marketplace might be ideal. Often compared to Italian food emporium Eataly, the 30,000-square-foot space houses a tea counter, a full service restaurant with a daily changing dim sum selection, a bar, and a retail space. Fill up on a basket of soup dumplings, crispy bottomed shen jian bao, and jiggly egg tarts before perusing the aisles on your way out.

Sorella

You’ll be tempted by the menu of excellent fresh pasta at this newish Italian dinner destination from the team behind Michelin-starred Acquerello, but solo diners who nab a seat at the bar would do well to explore the menu of cicchetti, or Venetian snacks, that’s only available to bar patrons. Compile a feast of small plates like potato chips dusted in cacio e pepe seasoning, thick sausage-stuffed chicken wings, and tender veal meatballs. 

Udon Mugizo

Mentai creamy sauce udon topped with green onions, slivers of seaweed, and pieces of tempura batter from Udon Mugizo in Japantown Lauren Saria/Eater SF

For those seeking a place to be alone in the crowd, the bustling hallways of Japantown’s two malls make the perfect escape. After you peruse every aisle at Daiso, duck into the warm wood-wrapped dining room at Udon Mugizo for a bowl of heart-warming udon. The bouncy noodles are made on-site and are perfectly slurpable whether swimming in a rich tonkotsu broth or drenched in Parmesan cheese sauce. 

Mentai creamy sauce udon topped with green onions, slivers of seaweed, and pieces of tempura batter from Udon Mugizo in Japantown Lauren Saria/Eater SF

Black Cat

Jason Moser, formerly of Villon and the Proper Hotel, shakes the cocktails. Olu Gartin, longtime manager of the Blue Note jazz club in New York, holds down the service. Fritz Quattlebaum brings in jazz wunderkind like Kenneth Whalum and Tal Cohen. Drinking and eating here alone — try a cocktail like the $18 scotch-based Vaxed with an appetizer like the $6 crispy hominy corn nuts — might be the best way to enjoy this San Francisco rarity. 

The Anchovy Bar

Anchovies from Anchovy Bar Patricia Chang

The latest offering from the acclaimed State Bird Provisions team, Anchovy Bar indulges chef Stuart Brioza’s obsession with those glittering little fish. It’s an itty bitty restaurant tucked around the corner from State Bird, but getting a seat on the parklet or in the dining room is just a smidge easier if you’re riding solo. And good news: because the menu is built around small plates of cured in-house fish and fresh oysters, even a single diner can get a taste of several items. Live it up with a glass of orange wine or a frothy spritz for the full experience.

Anchovies from Anchovy Bar Patricia Chang

Violet's

This cousin to Fiorella offers a fantastic bar program and upscale menu while keeping things affordable. For the solo diner, a Lovely Day, the restaurant’s $13 cinnamon-infused vodka cocktail served hot, is a welcome reprieve from the hot-and-cold winter weather.

Automat

The exterior of Automat’s corner space, including a mint green sign outside of wraparound front windows. Lauren Saria

Chef Matt Kirk built a reputation on his inventive breads and general baking skill before bringing Automat, a new-ish all day cafe, to NoPa in late 2021. By day, it’s a true neighborhood spot offering hot coffee, sugar dusted brioche doughnuts, and a full menu of sandwiches all served on bread baked in-house. By night, Kirk’s Lazy Bear pedigree is on full display with a menu that pulls inspiration from Thailand to the American South with plates including spicy beet larb and crispy fried chicken thighs. 

The exterior of Automat’s corner space, including a mint green sign outside of wraparound front windows. Lauren Saria

a Mano

The bartenders at A Mano are hip, knowledgeable, and will talk about their favorite David Bowie songs while pouring glasses of Hibiki whiskey and red wine. The focaccia with tapenade is a lovely companion for this solo affair. 

Horsefeather

The service staff at this upscale neighborhood restaurant and bar are worth the visit in their own right. Day or night one would never find themselves really dining alone at the Divisadero Street haunt. Talking to the bartenders over house cocktails like the Ol’ Smokey, whiskey and ceylon tea with bergamot, is endlessly entertaining. If you’re hungry, the menu offer a solid burger and a plate of fried chicken that comes with a side of braised collard greens.

Spark Social SF

Outdoor seating at Spark Social SF Frazier Phillips

Mission Bay’s Spark Social is a chance for fresh air, mini golf, and an ensemble of food and drink options. While it’s definitely an experience worth sharing with friends, the outdoor food park deserves one’s alone time, too. Hitting Nucha Empanadas, about $3.50 for an empanada, while enjoying one of San Francisco’s newest neighborhoods’ biggest attractions is well worthwhile.

Outdoor seating at Spark Social SF Frazier Phillips

Plow

 Plow in Potrero Hill.
Plow in Potrero Hill.
Photo: Eater SF Flickr Pool/Dave Nguyen

To dine alone at the Potrero Hill breakfast shop of great acclaim is an exercise in anonymity. Bustling crowds of people are both outside and inside the restaurant, so taking in an order of the $17 gluten-free pancakes amongst the throng is a bit of a trip. At this point in the pandemic, though, it’s an affirming experience.

 Plow in Potrero Hill.
Plow in Potrero Hill.
Photo: Eater SF Flickr Pool/Dave Nguyen

LUNA American Brasserie

Jumping right into the Valencia Street scene in summer 2021, this brasserie wants to make guests feel like this is their new favorite spot. The bar and service staff do just that, and taking a seat and ordering the Oaxacan Around Downtown, a $14 mezcal and campari cocktail, is like coming home to drink with family after being away for too long. On the menu, familiar (if meaty) brassiere fare including a burger and stuffed chicken cordon bleu.

Sunset Cantina

Throughout the pandemic, this block on Judah Avenue has provided a plethora of safe outdoor dining options. Three tacos for $10 doesn’t hurt, nor do the $12 yucca fries topped with al pastor and chipotle crema, for a night of comfort food in the avenues.

Related Maps

Pupusería Ilobasco

Exterior of Pupuseria Ilobasco Yelp

This Portola diner serves pupusas for as cheap as $3 a pop. For breakfast, grab a stool and order the hueveos estrellados con platanos, an efficient and delicious way to get proteins and fruits in the same dish. Eating on one’s own here is perfect – the restaurant staff love to play soccer on the TV in the corner.

Exterior of Pupuseria Ilobasco Yelp

Related Maps