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Where to Dine Solo (and Love It) on Valentine’s Day and Beyond

1400859066000-452155623No matter how secure you are in your relationship status (or lack, there-of), Valentine’s Day can add unnecessary pressure to be part of a happy twosome.  But don’t let a Hallmark holiday get you down — especially since a number of NYC restaurants are totally equipped for solo dining.  So instead of ashamedly holing up at home on the 14th, celebrate your love of yourself at hotspots like Olmsted or Momofuku Ko, (where prime seating includes the chefs counter or bench-lined backyard), or Ichiran, where eating alone is a hard and fast rule.

Olmsted

Olmsted
659 Vanderbilt Ave
Prospect Heights,New York 11238
(718) 552-2610

From the long marble bar to the intimate chef’s counter to a row of tiny tables, the highly sought-after Olmsted scarcely accommodates two tops.  In truth, it’s way better to roll solo; especially in the (fully winterized) back garden, bordered with rows of benches.  Bundle under one of the provided fleece blankets, observe tubs of crawfish and coops of quail at play, sip mulled cider poured from personal thermoses, and make a meal of the snacks served exclusively in the yard; from bouquets of Gobi Pakora Cauliflower, to nuggets of meaty Popcorn Monkfish.

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Ichiran

Ichiran
374 Johnson Ave
Bushwick,New York 11206
(718) 381-0491

Tokyo’s famous Ichiran ramen is literally designed for solo diners — even engaging in conversation is considered a serious breach in protocol.  So shut away all unnecessary distractions at the new Brooklyn branch, cosseted a red-walled “flavor concentration booth,” and give yourself over to the appreciation of customized Tonkotsu after selecting everything from the firmness of the noodles to the richness of the broth.

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Flora Bar

Flora Bar
945 Madison Ave
Upper East Side,New York 10021
(646) 558-5383

Embrace your solo status by making a day of it — prowl hallways filled with modern art at Madison Avenue’s Met Breuer, then descend to the basement for a bite at Ignacio Mattos’ museum restaurant.  This elegant newcomer is anchored by a gracious marble bar flanked by custom stools (with backs!), and dispensing Lobster Crudo, Rutabaga Tarts, and Crab Dumplings in yuzu broth.

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Atoboy

Atoboy
43 E 28th St
Flatiron District,New York 10016
(646) 476-7217

The ordering process at Atoboy is as streamlined as the space; $36 gets you a selection of three small dishes with a bowl of white or seasonal rice.  So while going out for Korean fare is generally a group experience (think tableside bbq and brimming bowls of soups and stews), this Flatiron eatery’s focus on banchan — such as Littleneck Clams with gochugaru, Corn slicked with doenjang, and Pork Jowl marinated in ssamjang — eliminates the need for a plus one.

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Lupulo

Lupulo
835 6th Ave
Chelsea,New York 10011
(212) 290-7600

Spanish and Portuguese restaurants aren’t especially forgiving to singletons; considering a cornerstone of the cuisines are assorted collections of share plates.  Yet the set-up of George Mendes’ Lupulo all but encourages solo dining — a three-sided bar dominates the space; perfect for holding court with a draft beer flight, a tumble of Bacalau Croquettes, and a half order of Chicken Piri-Piri, served over toasted farro, butternut squash and pickled swiss chard.

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Momofuku Ko

Momofuku Ko
8 Extra Pl
Bowery,New York 10003
(212) 203-8095

No need to slurp ramen and run at David Chang’s Noodle Bar, or grab a chicken sandwich to go at Fuku.  Parties of one are gladly accepted at his extravagant Bowery tasting room, whether at the walk-in only bar or eccentric omakase counter — where chef Sean Gray is planning an opulent, $450 Valentine’s Day menu.  See how much you saved by not bringing along a paramour?

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Semilla

Semilla
160 Havemeyer St
Williamsburg,New York 11211
(718) 782-3474

With only eighteen seats total (set around a horseshoe-shaped bar), eschewing companions completely is the easiest way to score a spot at Semilla.  And while you can certainly strike up a conversation with your neighbors, keeping an eye trained on chef Jose Ramirez-Ruiz is the only entertainment you need — watch as he wraps daikon radishes in brioche, shaves celery root into tagliatelle, and grills matsutake mushrooms à la minute.

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Otway

Otway
930 Fulton St
Clinton Hill,New York 11238
(917) 909-1889

Freed from a daytime coffee bar menu at its debut iteration, Tilda All Day, chef Claire Welle is flexing her fine dining muscles at Otway.  Offerings include a rolling bread cart (featuring gratis loaves, all baked in house), Crepes lined with uni, and Pork Neck fanned over basement-fermented sauerkraut — though minimal renovations means it’s still arrayed like a café, with seating to spare along a sprawling marble counter.

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