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A pastrami sandwich.
Solo diners can have Manny’s epic sandwiches all to themselves.
Manny’s

20 Great Restaurants for Solo Dining in Chicago

A party of one has its benefits

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Solo diners can have Manny’s epic sandwiches all to themselves.
| Manny’s

Dining with good company is always fun but every now and then, a little "me time" is necessary. However, that doesn't mean having to settle for delivery or the contents of the fridge. Chicago restaurants are embracing the solo dining experience more and more and trying to make it enjoyable. Best of all, there's no arguing over what to order nor is sharing required. So the next time that date ditches you at the last minute, don't sweat it and check out one of these following spots for a delicious and accommodating meal.

As of January 3, the city has mandated that those ages 5 and up be fully vaccinated and masked at public places indoors when not actively eating or drinking. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may still pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Hopleaf

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The only companion one needs at Hopleaf is a cold pint. The extensive beer selection can be overwhelming, but even the most seasoned drinkers will discover new favorites. Post up at a table in the bar area, order a brew and Belgian mussels and a cone of frites, and get ready to have a good time.

Sushi + Rotary Sushi Bar

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It’s often easy to over-order when it comes to sushi. At Sushi + Rotary Sushi Bar, diners are given complete control over the amount of food and can grab as much sashimi, nigiri, and maki as they want off a rotating conveyer belt. The portions are relatively small and inexpensive, which helps those flying solo sample a large variety of items. Additional outposts are located in Chinatown, Wicker Park, and Aurora. Online ordering is available here.

Longman & Eagle

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Logan Square gastropub Longman & Eagle has been one of Chicago’s most popular restaurants since opening in 2010, so landing a table can be difficult. Solo diners are better off squeezing into an open spot at the bar, where they’ll also find an exhaustive selection of whisky. The kitchen complements the booze with adventurous farm-to-table dishes like wild boar sloppy joe and foie-gras-stuffed falafel. Online ordering is available here.

A variety of dishes spread out on a table.
Whiskies and farm-to-table fare draw Chicagoans to Longman & Eagle.
Longman & Eagle [Official Photo]

Big Kids

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Mason Hereford, the chef-owner of the celebrated New Orleans sandwich shop Turkey and the Wolf, collaborated with former Blackbird vet Ryan Pfeiffer to open this quirky Logan Square spot. Drawing on the power of nostalgia, the pair have created a playful lineup of items, such as a Chicago-style Philly cheesesteak, a vegan taco tot melt, and a Tang-a-rita cocktail. The smashed “Shiddy” burger is also a must-try, while the long bar and the outdoor patio are perfect for those eating alone. Online orders can be placed here.

Three House

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A casual counter-service restaurant located in the former Bar Biscay space, Three House is West Town’s new go-to for a quick daytime meal. Chef Tyler Nickson delivers satisfying breakfast and lunch bites, including empanadas, a bacon-egg-cheese sandwich, and adobo fries. But the undeniable star of the menu is the smash burger made with Slagel Family Farm beef, Hook’s aged cheddar, caramelized onions, and garlic-onion aioli. It’s an outstanding version that ranks among the city’s finest. Order online here.

All Together Now

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Who needs company when there are copious amounts of wine and cheese to enjoy? West Town cafe and bottle shop All Together Now is a warm and inviting place to hang out alone over a glass of wine and seasonal Midwestern-style plates and sandwiches. The ingredients are sourced from local farms, and the menu offers ever-changing delights like ricotta tortellini, shrimp dip, fried goat cheese curds, and crispy chicken confit. For folks looking to bring some goods home, the selection of artisan cured meats and cheeses can’t be beat. Online ordering is available here.

The massive bi-level marketplace and food hall is a one stop shop for all things Italian. Guests are welcome to sip on wine while perusing the goods and then refuel with pizza or pasta at one of the sit-down restaurants. There’s so much action going on that it’s almost like live dinner theater; solo diners won’t miss a conversational partner.

Four pizzas on a table.
Load up on carbs and wine at Eataly.
Eataly [Official Photo]

Tempesta Market

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Father-son duo Agostino and Tony Fiasche opened an unassuming deli in 2017 and turned it into one of Chicago’s essential sandwich shops. The offerings constantly rotate, but the meaty “Dante” is a menu mainstay. This riff on the classic Italian sub is layered with hot soppressata, mortadella, finnochinoa, hot coppa, porchetta, ’nduja aioli, provolone, giardiniera, lettuce, and tomato. Although seating is limited, solo diners shouldn’t have a problem getting a spot at the communal tables. Online ordering is available here.

Shaw's Crab House

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More than three decades after opening, Shaw’s Crab House remains a standard-bearer for pristine seafood. The main dining room is best for a formal outing, but the adjacent oyster bar has a livelier vibe that solo diners will appreciate. It’s the ideal setting for cracking open king crab legs and lobster tails and slurping down fresh oysters while listening to jazz and blues. A second location is in Schaumburg. Online ordering is available here.

High Five Ramen

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The Japanese-inspired lair hidden beneath Green Street Smoked Meats is notorious for both spicy ramen and long lines. Solo diners, though, stand a better chance at snagging one of the 16 coveted stools without having to wait hours. The restaurant’s signature tonkotsu ramen features rich and creamy pork broth served alongside pork belly, noodles, seasoned egg, black garlic oil, bean sprouts, and scallions. Heat seekers can also add “face-numbing, tear-jerking, unbearable” kanabo spice to their bowls.

A bowl of ramen.
High Five Ramen brings the heat with its bowls.
High Five Ramen [Official Photo]

Revival Food Hall

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Solo diners should feel right at home at this popular downtown food court. There are numerous workers scarfing down quick meals and options from some of Chicago’s hottest restaurants. The vendors, who are all local, include Smoque, Boonie Foods, Art of Dosa, and Lito’s Empanadas so folks can try something new and exciting each time. Online ordering is available here.

A variety of sandwiches spread out on a table.
Visitors will find a variety of options at Revival Food Hall.
Revival Food Hall [Official Photo]

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

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Venerable Jewish deli Manny’s is approaching its 80th birthday and it’s easy to see how it has stood the test of time. The quality of the food has remained consistent throughout the years and regulars drop by each day to get their fill of hearty corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, potato pancakes, matzo ball soup, knishes, and more. The cafeteria-style service is also accommodating for solo diners who want to get in and out quickly. Online ordering is available here.

A pastrami sandwich.
The pastrami and corned beef are favorites at Manny’s.
Manny’s [Official Photo]

White Palace Grill

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Chicagoans from all walks of life convene for reliable comfort food at this old school diner that’s been around since 1939. Whether it’s 9 a.m. or the middle of the night, expect to see a diverse crowd bonding over their shared love of White Palace Grill’s omelets, pancakes, skillets, chicken and waffles, French toast, Tex-Mex plates, burgers, and beef sandwiches. The people-watching experience is also top notch — an added bonus for solo diners. Online ordering is available here.

88 Marketplace

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Head west of Chinatown proper to discover this gigantic Chinese grocery store. The food court houses several different stalls and visitors have a host of choices, including sushi, dumplings, barbecue, pastries, pho, and milk tea. The marketplace’s crown jewel is a full-service hot pot restaurant — Qiao Lin Hotpot — that offers Chongqing-style broths and premium raw ingredients.

Pleasant House Pub

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Savory meat pies are the specialty of this British-American pub in Pilsen. The flaky, buttery pastries are well-portioned for solo diners and come filled with beef stew, chicken stew, mushrooms and kale, or zucchini and yellow squash. The rest of the menu leans heavily on staples from across the pond, such as Scotch eggs, bangers and mash, Welsh rarebit, and fish and chips. Order online here.

La Chaparrita

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The South Side is home to many of the city’s best taquerias, and La Chaparrita sits near the top. Attached to a Mexican corner store, the restaurant specializes in tacos de fritangas, which feature offal fried in a circular metal pan. Just about everything is terrific but make sure to try the tripas tacos loaded with crispy pieces of cow intestine.

Da Mao Jia

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The bold flavors of Sichuan have been setting taste buds on fire in Bridgeport as spicy food lovers crave Da Mao Jia’s unique selection of offal-y bites and southwest regional specialties. Fortunately for soloists, nobody will see them sweat when they dig into Chengdu street fare like Zhong dumplings, fried pork strips, sweet and spicy noodles, spare ribs, diced rabbit, and wontons in volcano broth. A second location is in Lincoln Park. Online ordering is done here.

The Duck Inn

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Chef Kevin Hickey whips up an array of Midwestern comfort fare at Bridgeport gastro-tavern the Duck Inn but guests aren’t obligated to sit in the main dining room to try them. Instead, the bar is a great place for parties of one to chow on fried cheese curds, a Chicago-style duck fat dog, and duck wings. Online ordering is available here.

A plate of duck wings.
Indulge in comforting bar fare at the Duck Inn.
The Duck Inn [Official Photo]

Enjoy a cold beer and a sizzling sausage at this Korean-Polish mashup located next to the Bridgeport bar Maria’s Packaged Goods. It’s counter service, so place an order before making friends at the bar and devouring some delicious drinking food. Smoked wings, poutine, and pierogis are just a few of the pleasures that await. In the summertime, there’s a spacious patio as well.

Birrieria Zaragoza

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Whether it’s a loyal customer or a first-timer, this beloved mom-and-pop joint provides a homey atmosphere that makes everyone feel like family. The Zaragoza’s hospitality is only matched by their mouth-watering birria — a roasted goat stew served with flavorful tomato consommé. Wrap it in corn tortillas and douse some fire-roasted salsa on top to build exceptional tacos. Place online orders here.

Hopleaf

The only companion one needs at Hopleaf is a cold pint. The extensive beer selection can be overwhelming, but even the most seasoned drinkers will discover new favorites. Post up at a table in the bar area, order a brew and Belgian mussels and a cone of frites, and get ready to have a good time.

Sushi + Rotary Sushi Bar

It’s often easy to over-order when it comes to sushi. At Sushi + Rotary Sushi Bar, diners are given complete control over the amount of food and can grab as much sashimi, nigiri, and maki as they want off a rotating conveyer belt. The portions are relatively small and inexpensive, which helps those flying solo sample a large variety of items. Additional outposts are located in Chinatown, Wicker Park, and Aurora. Online ordering is available here.

Longman & Eagle

A variety of dishes spread out on a table.
Whiskies and farm-to-table fare draw Chicagoans to Longman & Eagle.
Longman & Eagle [Official Photo]

Logan Square gastropub Longman & Eagle has been one of Chicago’s most popular restaurants since opening in 2010, so landing a table can be difficult. Solo diners are better off squeezing into an open spot at the bar, where they’ll also find an exhaustive selection of whisky. The kitchen complements the booze with adventurous farm-to-table dishes like wild boar sloppy joe and foie-gras-stuffed falafel. Online ordering is available here.

A variety of dishes spread out on a table.
Whiskies and farm-to-table fare draw Chicagoans to Longman & Eagle.
Longman & Eagle [Official Photo]

Big Kids

Mason Hereford, the chef-owner of the celebrated New Orleans sandwich shop Turkey and the Wolf, collaborated with former Blackbird vet Ryan Pfeiffer to open this quirky Logan Square spot. Drawing on the power of nostalgia, the pair have created a playful lineup of items, such as a Chicago-style Philly cheesesteak, a vegan taco tot melt, and a Tang-a-rita cocktail. The smashed “Shiddy” burger is also a must-try, while the long bar and the outdoor patio are perfect for those eating alone. Online orders can be placed here.

Three House

A casual counter-service restaurant located in the former Bar Biscay space, Three House is West Town’s new go-to for a quick daytime meal. Chef Tyler Nickson delivers satisfying breakfast and lunch bites, including empanadas, a bacon-egg-cheese sandwich, and adobo fries. But the undeniable star of the menu is the smash burger made with Slagel Family Farm beef, Hook’s aged cheddar, caramelized onions, and garlic-onion aioli. It’s an outstanding version that ranks among the city’s finest. Order online here.

All Together Now

Who needs company when there are copious amounts of wine and cheese to enjoy? West Town cafe and bottle shop All Together Now is a warm and inviting place to hang out alone over a glass of wine and seasonal Midwestern-style plates and sandwiches. The ingredients are sourced from local farms, and the menu offers ever-changing delights like ricotta tortellini, shrimp dip, fried goat cheese curds, and crispy chicken confit. For folks looking to bring some goods home, the selection of artisan cured meats and cheeses can’t be beat. Online ordering is available here.

Eataly

Four pizzas on a table.
Load up on carbs and wine at Eataly.
Eataly [Official Photo]

The massive bi-level marketplace and food hall is a one stop shop for all things Italian. Guests are welcome to sip on wine while perusing the goods and then refuel with pizza or pasta at one of the sit-down restaurants. There’s so much action going on that it’s almost like live dinner theater; solo diners won’t miss a conversational partner.

Four pizzas on a table.
Load up on carbs and wine at Eataly.
Eataly [Official Photo]

Tempesta Market

Father-son duo Agostino and Tony Fiasche opened an unassuming deli in 2017 and turned it into one of Chicago’s essential sandwich shops. The offerings constantly rotate, but the meaty “Dante” is a menu mainstay. This riff on the classic Italian sub is layered with hot soppressata, mortadella, finnochinoa, hot coppa, porchetta, ’nduja aioli, provolone, giardiniera, lettuce, and tomato. Although seating is limited, solo diners shouldn’t have a problem getting a spot at the communal tables. Online ordering is available here.

Shaw's Crab House

More than three decades after opening, Shaw’s Crab House remains a standard-bearer for pristine seafood. The main dining room is best for a formal outing, but the adjacent oyster bar has a livelier vibe that solo diners will appreciate. It’s the ideal setting for cracking open king crab legs and lobster tails and slurping down fresh oysters while listening to jazz and blues. A second location is in Schaumburg. Online ordering is available here.

High Five Ramen

A bowl of ramen.
High Five Ramen brings the heat with its bowls.
High Five Ramen [Official Photo]

The Japanese-inspired lair hidden beneath Green Street Smoked Meats is notorious for both spicy ramen and long lines. Solo diners, though, stand a better chance at snagging one of the 16 coveted stools without having to wait hours. The restaurant’s signature tonkotsu ramen features rich and creamy pork broth served alongside pork belly, noodles, seasoned egg, black garlic oil, bean sprouts, and scallions. Heat seekers can also add “face-numbing, tear-jerking, unbearable” kanabo spice to their bowls.

A bowl of ramen.
High Five Ramen brings the heat with its bowls.
High Five Ramen [Official Photo]

Revival Food Hall

A variety of sandwiches spread out on a table.
Visitors will find a variety of options at Revival Food Hall.
Revival Food Hall [Official Photo]

Solo diners should feel right at home at this popular downtown food court. There are numerous workers scarfing down quick meals and options from some of Chicago’s hottest restaurants. The vendors, who are all local, include Smoque, Boonie Foods, Art of Dosa, and Lito’s Empanadas so folks can try something new and exciting each time. Online ordering is available here.

A variety of sandwiches spread out on a table.
Visitors will find a variety of options at Revival Food Hall.
Revival Food Hall [Official Photo]

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

A pastrami sandwich.
The pastrami and corned beef are favorites at Manny’s.
Manny’s [Official Photo]

Venerable Jewish deli Manny’s is approaching its 80th birthday and it’s easy to see how it has stood the test of time. The quality of the food has remained consistent throughout the years and regulars drop by each day to get their fill of hearty corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, potato pancakes, matzo ball soup, knishes, and more. The cafeteria-style service is also accommodating for solo diners who want to get in and out quickly. Online ordering is available here.

A pastrami sandwich.
The pastrami and corned beef are favorites at Manny’s.
Manny’s [Official Photo]

White Palace Grill

Chicagoans from all walks of life convene for reliable comfort food at this old school diner that’s been around since 1939. Whether it’s 9 a.m. or the middle of the night, expect to see a diverse crowd bonding over their shared love of White Palace Grill’s omelets, pancakes, skillets, chicken and waffles, French toast, Tex-Mex plates, burgers, and beef sandwiches. The people-watching experience is also top notch — an added bonus for solo diners. Online ordering is available here.

88 Marketplace

Head west of Chinatown proper to discover this gigantic Chinese grocery store. The food court houses several different stalls and visitors have a host of choices, including sushi, dumplings, barbecue, pastries, pho, and milk tea. The marketplace’s crown jewel is a full-service hot pot restaurant — Qiao Lin Hotpot — that offers Chongqing-style broths and premium raw ingredients.

Pleasant House Pub

Savory meat pies are the specialty of this British-American pub in Pilsen. The flaky, buttery pastries are well-portioned for solo diners and come filled with beef stew, chicken stew, mushrooms and kale, or zucchini and yellow squash. The rest of the menu leans heavily on staples from across the pond, such as Scotch eggs, bangers and mash, Welsh rarebit, and fish and chips. Order online here.

Related Maps

La Chaparrita

The South Side is home to many of the city’s best taquerias, and La Chaparrita sits near the top. Attached to a Mexican corner store, the restaurant specializes in tacos de fritangas, which feature offal fried in a circular metal pan. Just about everything is terrific but make sure to try the tripas tacos loaded with crispy pieces of cow intestine.

Da Mao Jia

The bold flavors of Sichuan have been setting taste buds on fire in Bridgeport as spicy food lovers crave Da Mao Jia’s unique selection of offal-y bites and southwest regional specialties. Fortunately for soloists, nobody will see them sweat when they dig into Chengdu street fare like Zhong dumplings, fried pork strips, sweet and spicy noodles, spare ribs, diced rabbit, and wontons in volcano broth. A second location is in Lincoln Park. Online ordering is done here.

The Duck Inn

A plate of duck wings.
Indulge in comforting bar fare at the Duck Inn.
The Duck Inn [Official Photo]

Chef Kevin Hickey whips up an array of Midwestern comfort fare at Bridgeport gastro-tavern the Duck Inn but guests aren’t obligated to sit in the main dining room to try them. Instead, the bar is a great place for parties of one to chow on fried cheese curds, a Chicago-style duck fat dog, and duck wings. Online ordering is available here.

A plate of duck wings.
Indulge in comforting bar fare at the Duck Inn.
The Duck Inn [Official Photo]

Kimski

Enjoy a cold beer and a sizzling sausage at this Korean-Polish mashup located next to the Bridgeport bar Maria’s Packaged Goods. It’s counter service, so place an order before making friends at the bar and devouring some delicious drinking food. Smoked wings, poutine, and pierogis are just a few of the pleasures that await. In the summertime, there’s a spacious patio as well.

Birrieria Zaragoza

Whether it’s a loyal customer or a first-timer, this beloved mom-and-pop joint provides a homey atmosphere that makes everyone feel like family. The Zaragoza’s hospitality is only matched by their mouth-watering birria — a roasted goat stew served with flavorful tomato consommé. Wrap it in corn tortillas and douse some fire-roasted salsa on top to build exceptional tacos. Place online orders here.

Related Maps