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A plate of radishes and taramasalata at the Garden Museum Cafe
A plate of radishes and taramasalata at the Garden Museum Cafe
Garden Cafe [Official Photo]

13 Superb Places to Dine Alone in London

Going solo doesn’t have to be daunting

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A plate of radishes and taramasalata at the Garden Museum Cafe
| Garden Cafe [Official Photo]

London is a busy place, and it can be so uncommon a feeling to be without company that it can be a pretty daunting prospect, especially when dining. But just as making plans is difficult, so is getting into many of the city’s best restaurants with large groups. It’s time to shake off the shackles of being sociable and embrace some quality solo meals. Show some self-love slurping up a ramen, find the perfect table for one, or meet the salt beef sandwich dreams are made of all by yourself.

London’s restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars reopen for indoor service from 17 May, with the rule of six in place. Customers can check with individual venues to determine their availability and Covid-secure measures before deciding to visit.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kiln

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58 Brewer St, Soho
London W1F 9TL, UK

A seat at Ben Chapman’s bar top delivers all the theatre and flavour a lone diner could ever long for. Mesmerisingly prepped and flame-cooked over a primordial charcoal range, the likes of stir fried squid, turbot jungle curry or pork laap make perfect not-sharing plates. The (keenly priced) menu may be in constant motion, but thankfully the glass noodles with Tamworth belly and brown crab aren’t going anywhere.

2. Jugemu

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3 Winnett St, Soho
London W1D 6JY, UK
020 7734 0518

For those looking for a more explorative solo dining journey, Jugemu offers a step beyond the ordinary. The tiny, transportive hideaway — spattered with scraps of paper, on which the day’s specials are scrawled in Japanese — is run by Yuya Kikuchi, who rustles up an array of sashimi, onigiri, tempura and more for eager diners. The best approach here is to wander in for lunch, let Yuya take control and learn something new.

3. Roti King

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40 Doric Way
London NW1 1LH, UK

The Euston-based basement diner’s roti canai must be among the best meals that £5 can buy. The art of roti making has been truly mastered here, making the bread far more than just a vehicle for its accompanying dal. Great food at an almost unbelievable price results in a constant queue but individuals will make their way down the steps much faster. Go alone, and have the vegetarian dal. 

4. Stockwell Continental

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169 S Lambeth Rd
London SW8 1XW, UK
020 3019 0757

From the gastropub giants behind Anchor and Hope, Canton Arms, and others, comes Stockwell Continental, bringing more than just a slice of Italy to South Lambeth Road. Antipasti include moreish chickpea fritters and a rotating roster of arancini that are ideal sharers, but more importantly a joy to scoff alone. Pizzas are fired from the yellow submarine-like oven with a soft thin base blistered to charred, brittle crusts balancing considered toppings. Tough day? The Sangiovese on tap will see to that.

5. Koya City

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10-12 Bloomberg Arcade
London EC4N 8AR, UK

The beloved Soho branch of this Japanese noodle den is yet another feather in the area’s solo dining cap, but more recently it’s the opening of Koya City in the Bloomberg Arcade that’s been causing a stir. A beacon of calm amid the mayhem of the City, there is a clean, modest tranquillity that transcends the stripped back wooden bar top and soothing soups. Mindfulness is dunking cold udon noodles into a pork and miso broth. Crunching crispy fried prawn heads may be less zen, but it’s no less rewarding.

6. 40 Maltby Street

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40 Maltby St
London SE1 3PA, UK

Whether outside on the green-tabled terrace or in one of its Bermondsey arch’s many nooks, this is one of the very best places in the city to eat (alone). An intrepid solo diner will slowly learn the grammar of 40 Maltby Street — what constitutes a salad; to always order the fritters; to always always order something with pastry.

7. Quality Wines

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88 Farringdon Rd
London EC1R 3EA, UK

Nick Bramham and team’s Mediterranean nook on Farringdon Road can offer a pleasingly rickety outside table on a bright evening or a coveted counter seat, ready to receive perhaps a flawlessly made pasta; a tumble of Sicilian caponata; always a cannolo, or better two.

8. Normah's

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Normah's 23-25 inside Queensway, Market
London W2 4QJ, UK

A restaurant whose easy hospitality and comforting menu makes either a large group or a solo visit its ideal form, Normah’s — recently reopened in Queensway Market — is a place to come for both celebration and respite. Order roti and a bowl of the the puckering assam pedas.

9. Towpath

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42 De Beauvoir Cres
London N1 5SB, UK

Rise early, and meander along to this Haggerston canalside institution for a solo breakfast or lunch — majoring in eggs with mojo verde at the former and confit garlic with goat’s curd come the latter. With an unapologetic coffee and time to spare in good weather, there’s little to beat it.

10. Wong Kei

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41-43 Wardour St
London W1D 6PY, UK
020 7437 8408

A bowl of wonton soup lifted to heights beyond its calling by the house chilli oil, either in the canteen or, for now, outside — a rightful place in London’s lunchtime folklore.

11. Xi'an Biang Biang Noodles

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62 Wentworth St
London E1 7AL, UK

With its canteen-style feel Xi’an Biang Biang has the right vibe for solo dining — get the liang pi, slippery and chewy and slick, and the Chongqing-style noodle soup.

12. The Garden Cafe

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5 Lambeth Palace Rd
London SE1 7LB, UK

Calling “hidden gem” overused is by now as dead as “hidden gem” itself, so stay with the idea that the Garden Museum cafe is ... A hidden gem! Concise and considered, unlike so many museum/cultural institution cafes that seek to deaden themselves to all comers, expect the likes of confit mackerel with tomato and caper; john dory, served whole with black olives and fennel; and mammole artichokes served Roman-style, all in another dead cliché that is here breathed back to life: the “urban oasis.”

13. Kiraku

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8 Station Parade, Uxbridge Rd
London W5 3LD, UK

 It’s telling that the superlative sushi at Kiraku — particularly a tokujo chirashi strewn with a chef’s choice that might include toro, hamachi, and crimson jewels of roe — comes from Atari-Ya, the revered supplier which once held a restaurant just a few doors down. The fish is passed over a small counter where solo diners perch like magpies, or out into the traffic of the main dining room where exceptional noodles and broths share table real estate. Zaru soba and atsu-atsu udon are stand-out orders, noodles writhing and springy in the latter and languidly draped in the former, both winningly accessorised with greaseless, generous tempura of prawn that would easily stand up to Koya’s rightly lauded version. 

1. Kiln

58 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9TL, UK

A seat at Ben Chapman’s bar top delivers all the theatre and flavour a lone diner could ever long for. Mesmerisingly prepped and flame-cooked over a primordial charcoal range, the likes of stir fried squid, turbot jungle curry or pork laap make perfect not-sharing plates. The (keenly priced) menu may be in constant motion, but thankfully the glass noodles with Tamworth belly and brown crab aren’t going anywhere.

58 Brewer St, Soho
London W1F 9TL, UK

2. Jugemu

3 Winnett St, Soho, London W1D 6JY, UK

For those looking for a more explorative solo dining journey, Jugemu offers a step beyond the ordinary. The tiny, transportive hideaway — spattered with scraps of paper, on which the day’s specials are scrawled in Japanese — is run by Yuya Kikuchi, who rustles up an array of sashimi, onigiri, tempura and more for eager diners. The best approach here is to wander in for lunch, let Yuya take control and learn something new.

3 Winnett St, Soho
London W1D 6JY, UK

3. Roti King

40 Doric Way, London NW1 1LH, UK

The Euston-based basement diner’s roti canai must be among the best meals that £5 can buy. The art of roti making has been truly mastered here, making the bread far more than just a vehicle for its accompanying dal. Great food at an almost unbelievable price results in a constant queue but individuals will make their way down the steps much faster. Go alone, and have the vegetarian dal. 

40 Doric Way
London NW1 1LH, UK

4. Stockwell Continental

169 S Lambeth Rd, London SW8 1XW, UK

From the gastropub giants behind Anchor and Hope, Canton Arms, and others, comes Stockwell Continental, bringing more than just a slice of Italy to South Lambeth Road. Antipasti include moreish chickpea fritters and a rotating roster of arancini that are ideal sharers, but more importantly a joy to scoff alone. Pizzas are fired from the yellow submarine-like oven with a soft thin base blistered to charred, brittle crusts balancing considered toppings. Tough day? The Sangiovese on tap will see to that.

169 S Lambeth Rd
London SW8 1XW, UK

5. Koya City

10-12 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR, UK

The beloved Soho branch of this Japanese noodle den is yet another feather in the area’s solo dining cap, but more recently it’s the opening of Koya City in the Bloomberg Arcade that’s been causing a stir. A beacon of calm amid the mayhem of the City, there is a clean, modest tranquillity that transcends the stripped back wooden bar top and soothing soups. Mindfulness is dunking cold udon noodles into a pork and miso broth. Crunching crispy fried prawn heads may be less zen, but it’s no less rewarding.

10-12 Bloomberg Arcade
London EC4N 8AR, UK

6. 40 Maltby Street

40 Maltby St, London SE1 3PA, UK

Whether outside on the green-tabled terrace or in one of its Bermondsey arch’s many nooks, this is one of the very best places in the city to eat (alone). An intrepid solo diner will slowly learn the grammar of 40 Maltby Street — what constitutes a salad; to always order the fritters; to always always order something with pastry.

40 Maltby St
London SE1 3PA, UK

7. Quality Wines

88 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3EA, UK

Nick Bramham and team’s Mediterranean nook on Farringdon Road can offer a pleasingly rickety outside table on a bright evening or a coveted counter seat, ready to receive perhaps a flawlessly made pasta; a tumble of Sicilian caponata; always a cannolo, or better two.

88 Farringdon Rd
London EC1R 3EA, UK

8. Normah's

Normah's 23-25 inside Queensway, Market, London W2 4QJ, UK

A restaurant whose easy hospitality and comforting menu makes either a large group or a solo visit its ideal form, Normah’s — recently reopened in Queensway Market — is a place to come for both celebration and respite. Order roti and a bowl of the the puckering assam pedas.

Normah's 23-25 inside Queensway, Market
London W2 4QJ, UK

9. Towpath

42 De Beauvoir Cres, London N1 5SB, UK

Rise early, and meander along to this Haggerston canalside institution for a solo breakfast or lunch — majoring in eggs with mojo verde at the former and confit garlic with goat’s curd come the latter. With an unapologetic coffee and time to spare in good weather, there’s little to beat it.

42 De Beauvoir Cres
London N1 5SB, UK

10. Wong Kei

41-43 Wardour St, London W1D 6PY, UK

A bowl of wonton soup lifted to heights beyond its calling by the house chilli oil, either in the canteen or, for now, outside — a rightful place in London’s lunchtime folklore.

41-43 Wardour St
London W1D 6PY, UK

11. Xi'an Biang Biang Noodles

62 Wentworth St, London E1 7AL, UK

With its canteen-style feel Xi’an Biang Biang has the right vibe for solo dining — get the liang pi, slippery and chewy and slick, and the Chongqing-style noodle soup.

62 Wentworth St
London E1 7AL, UK

12. The Garden Cafe

5 Lambeth Palace Rd, London SE1 7LB, UK

Calling “hidden gem” overused is by now as dead as “hidden gem” itself, so stay with the idea that the Garden Museum cafe is ... A hidden gem! Concise and considered, unlike so many museum/cultural institution cafes that seek to deaden themselves to all comers, expect the likes of confit mackerel with tomato and caper; john dory, served whole with black olives and fennel; and mammole artichokes served Roman-style, all in another dead cliché that is here breathed back to life: the “urban oasis.”

5 Lambeth Palace Rd
London SE1 7LB, UK

13. Kiraku

8 Station Parade, Uxbridge Rd, London W5 3LD, UK

 It’s telling that the superlative sushi at Kiraku — particularly a tokujo chirashi strewn with a chef’s choice that might include toro, hamachi, and crimson jewels of roe — comes from Atari-Ya, the revered supplier which once held a restaurant just a few doors down. The fish is passed over a small counter where solo diners perch like magpies, or out into the traffic of the main dining room where exceptional noodles and broths share table real estate. Zaru soba and atsu-atsu udon are stand-out orders, noodles writhing and springy in the latter and languidly draped in the former, both winningly accessorised with greaseless, generous tempura of prawn that would easily stand up to Koya’s rightly lauded version. 

8 Station Parade, Uxbridge Rd
London W5 3LD, UK

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