10 places to dine solo in Sydney
A solo meal can be many things: restorative, essential, peaceful. From menu items only available for individual diners to among-the-action seats, here’s a non-exhaustive list of 10 Sydney venues making solo dining a dream.
Kobo – for an omakase experience
An omakase (Japanese for “I’ll leave it to you”, meaning the chef chooses and prepares your meal, often right in front of you) dining experience is almost always a great solo option. Restaurants serving omakase are often intimately fitted out, seat a handful of people and serve dishes portioned specifically for individuals. At Kobo in Circular Quay the omakase is given a Korean twist, reflecting the regions and seasons its head chef Jacob Lee experienced when he was a kid. Each diner at Kobo can see their dishes plated right in front of them, while the chefs share stories and describe the food. Interaction with your elbow-on-elbow neighbour is encouraged.
VN Street Foods – for streetside Northern Vietnamese
Marrickville is one of Sydney's best suburbs to have an excellent Vietnamese meal (Bankstown and Cabramatta are also hubs), and this well-loved locals’ spot is a great place to dine alone. The Illawarra Road eatery serves a Northern Vietnamese family meal, which would usually have many shared dishes, in the form of a $16 one-person bento box. Choose your rice, protein, vegetables, salad, pickles and soup, then pull up a stool at one of the low-lying outside tables and dig into your customised meal. Enjoy the great people watching as you eat.
Le Foote – for a solo date night
Date night for one is an act of self-care, and Le Foote in The Rocks is a guaranteed night of luxury and style in the city. This part Parisian wine bar, part Mediterranean grill presents solo diners with a range of places to perch in its rabbit warren-like venue, though setting up at the bar is a great option. The bar menu is slightly different from that of the restaurant, with smaller portioned dishes and exclusive items such as potato crisps, pastas such as cavatelli with zucchini and a fish sandwich. The two-sip negronis and martinis (they’re available across the venue) are also well suited to solo diners. These petite mouthfuls mean relaxing into a cocktail or two is possible without being excessive.
Oncore by Clare Smyth – for serious luxury
Sat atop the Crown Towers Sydney in Barangaroo, Oncore by Clare Smith (one of the world’s most lauded chefs) offers arguably one of Sydney’s most luxurious dining experiences. Dining here will cost a pretty penny, though here solo diners can order from the same menu as those eating in a group. The ‘Classics’ set menu is $340 per person and features seven dishes plus four ‘Beginning’ snacks. While dishes are elaborate and award-winning, the opportunity to soak in views overlooking Sydney Harbour as you dine 26 floors up is truly magical.
Midden by Mark Olive – for an unbeatable view
Native Australian ingredients are at the heart of Midden, TV personality and celebrity chef Mark Olive’s restaurant on the western boardwalk of the Sydney Opera House. A sunny seat outside will have you looking directly at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a unique vantage point perfect for watching ferries glide past. Feel the breeze off the water as you enjoy a high tea of warrigal green finger sandwiches and mini kangaroo pies before a show. Alternatively, book in for a solo dinner and enjoy an Indigenous Australian grazing plate as the cityscape lights up around you.
Longshore – for local seafood
Those with a penchant for seafood will enjoy a night of solitude with a snack flight menu at Longshore, a modern Australian restaurant located within The Old Clare Hotel in the inner-city suburb of Chippendale. Here, solo diners are often seated at the bar– a great vantage point to observe the bustle of the kitchen and to enjoy the company of the staff. The snack flight features 10 individually portioned miniature snacks and heroes local seafood. Solo diners can also order the standard tasting menu (it’s a little more intensive) or any of the a la carte dishes.
Cho Cho San – for an izakaya-style dining experience
Trying a series of dishes, instead of limiting yourself to only a couple, is not an issue for solo diners at Potts Point favourite Cho Cho San – here menu items can be reduced in size. This minimally decorated Tokyo-style izakaya (a Japanese-style pub or bar offering typically inexpensive dishes, snacks and drinks) serves its signature dishes such as the black sesame mochi and fried soy rice with shiitake and egg in smaller portions for those dining on their own. The izakaya set menu is also available to solo diners, and sitting up at the bar and interacting with staff is a great perk of dining there alone. Its sister venue just up the street, The Apollo, offers a similar solo dining experience for those seeking modern Greek food.
Amuro – for cosiness and saké
This tiny Japanese restaurant in Darlinghurst opened with solo diners specifically in mind – offering individual diners a special, more intimate dining experience. Tucked away in the suburb’s back streets, this tidy spot seats 14 guests at the counter, which looks onto the ‘theatre’ of the kitchen, and two additional tables for two that offer a little more privacy. Food-wise, find a rotating a la carte menu of Japanese snacks and boutique saké. Insider’s tip: Amuro is walk-in only for new guests and it’s not until there's an established, regular relationship with the venue that guests can make reservations.
Ester – for a famous potato bread
A firm favourite among Sydneysiders, Chippendale’s Ester makes dining alone a dinner to remember – its dining room is beautifully designed and cosy, and dishes are some of Sydney’s most famous. Upon arrival, solo diners will be sat at the bar or countertop and anything on the menu, either the set or a la carte, is available to them. Smaller portions are also possible depending on the dish and availability. Remember: no night at Ester is complete without ordering the fermented potato bread with kefir cream and salmon roe.
Kosuke – for a bowl of ramen
Ramen, and noodle soups generally, are excellent solo dining meals, and Kosuke in Lane Cove is serving some of the city’s best bowls. The sibling venue of a very popular ramen and tsukemen restaurant in North Strathfield, Kosuke serves Tokyo-style ramen with house-made noodles and broth. Sidle up for a bowl of tonkotsu (pork-based) or tori (chicken-based) ramen topped with chashu (marinated and sliced grilled or fried pork), bamboo shoots and soy egg; crack open an ice-cold can of Calpis and enjoy a meal of solitude among the hustle and bustle of a busy noodle joint in suburban Sydney. Tip: lines can be long at the North Strathfield outpost of this Sydney favourite. At Lane Cove you may also have to wait for a table, but it will be well worth it.