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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]

15 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.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. 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.

2. Pizzeria Pellone

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42 Lavender Hill
London SW11 5RL, UK

Earth (or SW11, anyway) has nothing to show more fair than Antonio Pellone’s pizzas. His margherita is great, his cornicione blistered and his dough both light and digestible, but it’s the second menu of sauceless white “gourmet” pizzas where he shows his mastery. Inventive and playful, they’re one degree away from trad but flawlessly executed. A small terrace, too, for outdoor dining.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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. 

7. 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.

8. 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.”

9. El Rancho De Lalo

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1 Buckner Rd, Brixton Hill
London SW2 5BY, UK

El Rancho del Lalo was one of the few Colombian restaurants in the arcade predating its regeneration, before a rise in rent forced it to move behind Brixton Town Hall. But its excellence is undimmed: this is a place where empanadas are dense as bricks, stuffed to bursting with strands of spiced pork and fried to order so the casing satisfyingly cracks and spills out its contents. An excellent rendition of the Colombian national dish bandeja paisa comes as an enormous platter of meat and protein, including standout crispy chicharron and kidney bean stew. The gentrification continues apace, but El Rancho still outflanks units in its former home selling food at twice the price.

10. 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.

11. Kaieteur Kitchen Original

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Castle Square, Elephant Rd
London SE17 1EU, UK

There are so few chefs in London who oversee every plate of food in their kitchen, but Faye Gomes is one of them; every dish, no matter how simple, is blessed by little touches of care which signal that she, and only she, has made it. Previously in the ill-fated Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre’s moat, she is now in the temporary Castle Square development where she serves Guyanese stews, exceptional vegetable rices, noodles and roti, and fried fish. Her most exceptional dish is her weekend pepper pot, vinyl black with two day cooked beef, oxtail, tripe and lamb, and the bittersweetness of cassareep.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

1. 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

2. Pizzeria Pellone

42 Lavender Hill, London SW11 5RL, UK

Earth (or SW11, anyway) has nothing to show more fair than Antonio Pellone’s pizzas. His margherita is great, his cornicione blistered and his dough both light and digestible, but it’s the second menu of sauceless white “gourmet” pizzas where he shows his mastery. Inventive and playful, they’re one degree away from trad but flawlessly executed. A small terrace, too, for outdoor dining.

42 Lavender Hill
London SW11 5RL, UK

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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

9. El Rancho De Lalo

1 Buckner Rd, Brixton Hill, London SW2 5BY, UK

El Rancho del Lalo was one of the few Colombian restaurants in the arcade predating its regeneration, before a rise in rent forced it to move behind Brixton Town Hall. But its excellence is undimmed: this is a place where empanadas are dense as bricks, stuffed to bursting with strands of spiced pork and fried to order so the casing satisfyingly cracks and spills out its contents. An excellent rendition of the Colombian national dish bandeja paisa comes as an enormous platter of meat and protein, including standout crispy chicharron and kidney bean stew. The gentrification continues apace, but El Rancho still outflanks units in its former home selling food at twice the price.

1 Buckner Rd, Brixton Hill
London SW2 5BY, UK

10. 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

11. Kaieteur Kitchen Original

Castle Square, Elephant Rd, London SE17 1EU, UK

There are so few chefs in London who oversee every plate of food in their kitchen, but Faye Gomes is one of them; every dish, no matter how simple, is blessed by little touches of care which signal that she, and only she, has made it. Previously in the ill-fated Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre’s moat, she is now in the temporary Castle Square development where she serves Guyanese stews, exceptional vegetable rices, noodles and roti, and fried fish. Her most exceptional dish is her weekend pepper pot, vinyl black with two day cooked beef, oxtail, tripe and lamb, and the bittersweetness of cassareep.

Castle Square, Elephant Rd
London SE17 1EU, UK

12. 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

13. 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

14. 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

15. 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

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