Getting a group of friends together to grab a meal and actually finding a place everyone agrees on can be a chore. Heck, even finding a place just you and one other person want to go to can be a task. If you'd prefer to skip the "I don't know. Where do you want to go?" debate, you can opt to eat solo at a number of great spots in metro Phoenix. You don't have to feel lonely or silly eating alone at these 10 places (and one bonus spot!), because they are perfect for people looking for a table for one.
Essence Bakery Cafe Both locations of Essence Bakery -- the original Tempe restaurant and its newer Central Phoenix counterpart -- are among our favorite places for a relaxing breakfast or a leisurely lunch. The menu of light, fresh food can almost transport you to a Paris cafe and we're more than happy here to linger over our food with nothing but a good book for company. Plus, with no dining companion, you never have to share your macaron.
Delux When you're craving a burger at 1 a.m., it's understandable if other people don't want to tag along. Fortunately for those with late-night cravings, Delux keeps its doors open till 2 a.m. every day of the week. On top of that, the majority of seating at this Central Phoenix restaurant is communal, so solo diners can feel some what accompanied. Whether it's lunch or late night, you're likely to find a few lone rangers making conversation at Delux's table.
Windsor Although the plush booths and ample outdoor seating options are great for groups when you get a brunch gang together, sometimes you're craving Windsor's fattoosh salad and you don't want a big to-do about it. That's when it's time to cozy up to the bar. Friendly regulars and chatty bartenders mean you won't really be alone, unless you decide you'd rather keep quiet. However, with the generous happy hour offerings, such as $5 craft cocktails and $5 pitchers of beer (available every afternoon until 5 p.m.), chances are there'll be more than enough liquid courage to work up some nerve to converse with the cutie next to you.
Lux We will admit that some days, there's no finer dining companion than our laptop -- and, in a pinch, our smartphone will do. And there's no better place in Phoenix to dine in front of your electronics than Lux. For as packed as the multi-room coffeehouse-restaurant-bar gets, we can always seem to find a spot at a table and -- usually -- an outlet for the computer. Fuel yourself with coffee and eggs in the morning, hibiscus iced tea and mac 'n cheese at lunch, and steak and a cocktail at dinner. Yes, we've been known to hang around for all three meals at Lux -- and then get dessert from the wonderful, ever-changing selection that includes paleo and gluten-free options. No one will ask you why you've been there for so long, though other loners might ask you to watch their stuff while they go to the bathroom.
Phoenix Public Market Cafe Aaron Chamberlin's makeover of the Downtown Phoenix Public Market indoor space is quickly becoming a staple of the city, and we find ourselves wondering what we did (or rather where we ate) before it came along. You can sit at the bar or a table, and because much of the table space is family-style, you won't feel so awkward nestling into a corner of a big picnic table and settling into the Devil's Mess (eggs and chorizo at breakfast) or rotisserie chicken at lunch. Chances are, you'll run into someone you know, because PPM is one of those places.
Umami During college, ramen was practically its own food group, and we still have flashbacks to long nights studying alone fueled by a bowl of noodles and Red Bull. That's probably why we don't mind eating alone at Umami in Tempe, where ASU students and downtown Tempe residents often head for their Japanese noodle fix. The restaurant's bar is a comfortable place to sit alone (or with some work) and the restaurant's friendly staff is always accommodating. We particularly love cashing in on the happy hour deals, which include $2 off a basic ramen bowl.
La Grande Orange The snazzy LGO is nestled between the Camelback corridor and the heart of Arcadia, and it's a terrific spot to dine solo for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Yes, there's a rush at breakfast and lunch that crowds the attached parking lot, but with complimentary valet service and an overflow self-parking lot nearby, you can keep calm and dine on no matter what time you stop in. We like that LGO has vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options in its bakery, kitchen, and pizzeria. The menu showcases local and organic ingredients and titillates an eclectic palate: housemade English muffins, Birchermuesli, California rolls, salads -- even a 'Zuni' breakfast burrito. You can pair your eggy Commuter Sandwich with an espresso, or wash down the Spicy Chickpea Lettuce Wraps with tangy kombucha on tap. Both wine and beer are on tap, too. Browse the grocery's newsstand and gifts after you order, or just enjoy the free wi-fi and get a little remote office time in. Take away some gelato to perfect your day. What's not to love here?
Matt's Big Breakfast CenPho's Matt's Big Breakfast is as famous for long lines as it is for great food, but here are two things that regulars sussed early on: Dining solo gets you one of the best seats in the house, and there's never a long wait for the bar or the window. Seating perks aside, the food here earns the hype. It's a minimalist menu, but the details make all the difference: homemade preserves for the toast, house pesto marinade for the chops, local bread and butter pickles for the egg salad sandwich, and maple syrup for the addicting pancakes, waffles, and -- if you're lucky enough to catch the special -- French toast. So whether you just want to people watch until your morning coffee kicks in or read the paper over your Cobb salad or edit that report that's due today while munching on every last one of your rosemary home fries, belly up to Matt's for breakfast anytime or lunch after 11 a.m.
Luci's Healthy Marketplace At Luci's, eating alone isn't just socially acceptable, it's downright healthy. This uptown Phoenix establishment is accustomed to lunch-break loners and diners who do their work remotely from a laptop. With plenty of seating and order-at-the-counter service, Luci's lifts the pressure of dinning out solo.
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Casey Moore's Oyster House Most restaurants near Tempe's Mill Avenue turn into a ghost town during lunchtime, so it isn't uncommon that you may find yourself eating solo. Tempe hipster hang Casey Moore's is a great place to grab a bite if you're flying solo, though you may never really be alone, since the 1910 house is said to be haunted. The outside patio and bar is great in the winter, but during the dog days of summer, the inside bar is where you will find most patrons. The friendly bartenders know all the regulars' names and what they drink. It also isn't uncomfortable or uncommon to strike up a conversation with the stranger next to you. There is even a chance you'll hear everything from '90s hip-hop to Iggy and the Stooges. Culture is king in this historical eatery where egos, razors, and attitudes are checked at the door.
And one last suggestion:
Food Truck Friday The best part about eating alone at Food Truck Friday is that you rarely ever actually end up eating alone. The weekly gathering of street food vendors is a hot spot for just about everyone in the downtown scene, so you're likely to bump into someone you know -- and even if you don't, the community tables ensure you're going to have to get to know your neighbor. Aside from that benefit, the food options are a major draw. Unlike at a traditional restaurant, you're not stuck with one type of food. We've been known to get our drink, entrée, and dessert from three separate trucks.