(SPOT.ph) Eating out is typically thought to be a social affair, especially in the Philippines, what with our group-oriented culture. But there’s no shame in dining alone—truthfully, it has its own advantages. You can really focus on your food, or get some much-needed me-time—a must in this day and age, really. Still, some places are more conducive for solitary dining than others, and those places can be hard to find in the sea of group-friendly restaurants the Metro is full of. Which is why we’ve come up with this list of 10 restaurants you can feel comfortable dropping by in, minus the awkwardness, when you’re flying solo.
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10 Places for Dining Solo
Here are 10 great restaurants for dining solo in Manila:
This café from Hong Kong is a hip spot teeming not just with great drinks, but also great eats concocted in collaborated with Hey Handsome’s chef, Nicco Santos. It’s one of those rare places that juggles a liveliness with a relaxed vibe that gladly welcomes the unchaperoned. There’s no shame in being alone here—not when you’ve got the Yuzu Salmon Eggs Benny (P495), Duck Krapow (P475), or Masala Chai Latte (P150) to keep you company.
Elephant Grounds is at LG/F One Bonifacio High Street, 28th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.
Ohayo Maki and Ramen Bar
Ramen’s one of those dishes that’s inherently made for solo dining. It’s only at its best within 10 minutes of being served—which you’ll be able to do, with no other people to distract you. Of the many places you can get it in the Metro is Ohayo Maki and Ramen Bar, a Quezon City gem where everything from the noodles to the broth the the char siu is made from scratch. While they make no claims to authenticity, they nonetheless deliver on Japanese eats that satisfy as far as flavor and execution are concerned.
Ohayo Maki and Ramen Bar is at 30 Granada Avenue, Villa Ortigas II, Barangay Valencia, Quezon City.
Tacos are great as far as portions go, because you can usually order them by the piece and each taco is made to serve a single person. At Taco-Mata, they do away with tradition and put together combinations that are as unusual as they are surprisingly delicious—think chicken with coleslaw, a Peruvian-inspired green sauce, muscovado sugar, and peanuts in the Harlem (P130), or fish with a house-made orange sauce in the Fulton (P120). Feeling lonely? Owners Arthur and Arra Dancel are especially friendly; don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation while you wait for your order.
Taco-Mata MNL is at The Pallet, 5804 Dona Carmen Street corner Jacobo Street, Poblacion, Makati City.
There’s nothing like chilling out at a cafe when you’re flying solo, and if you’re in Legazpi Village, Bad Café is the place to do it. They’ve got a cozy space with whites and grays, evoking the Japanese minimalist aesthetic. You’ll find specialty coffee drinks using single-origin beans from Indonesia, as well as homemade pastries and soul food. Try the Fried Chicken + Mac and Cheese (P450) if you’re after a savory bite, and chase it down with their Genmaicha Brown Sugar Milk Tea (P180) for good measure.
Bad Café is at G/F Windsor Tower, Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City.
Isn’t it great when you can dig into your food, no holds barred, without the fear of turning anyone else away? You’ll get to do that when you dine solo at Tetsuo, which specializes in fried chicken given a Japanese twist. Each crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside piece is sprinkled with your choice of seasoning—from the peppery Sansho, the mildly spicy Ichimi, and the deep and smoky Kaneda. While you’re at it, you can marvel at their eye-catching interiors, which features a cyberpunk-esque theme crossed with skate culture knicknacks.
Tetsuo has branches at 88 Esteban Abada Street, Loyola Heights, Quezon City and 8483 Kalayaan Avenue corner Matilde Street, Poblacion, Makati City.
Hapag Private Dining
Looking to #treatyoself when you’re dining alone? Go for a tasting menu, which lets you get a taste of different courses and are priced individually—and one of the most distinctive in Manila can be found at Hapag. Here, chefs Thirdy Dolatre, John Kevin "Nav" Navoa, and Kevin Paolo Villarica cook up contemporary takes on Filipino classics: think Laing Stones with squid ink laing balls, Litson Binagoongan with slow-cooked pork belly in a coconut-bagoong sauce, and Bistek Tagalog with a grilled striploin steak, onion puree, and bistek jus. Get yourself a seat at the bar area and get to watch the chefs in action while they prepare your food.
Hapag Private Dining is at 201 Katipunan Avenue, Blue Ridge, Quezon City.
12/10 is a modern izakaya-inspired joint with hip takes on Japanese fare, occasionally employing Korean elements as well. The menu consists of small plates, many of which are served in two pieces—and get this: where applicable, you can opt to get half-orders, i.e. get only one piece. Just some of the must-tries here are the Salmon Kushiyaki (P340) with truffle salt, curry, and corn flakes; Uni Toast (P270) with chicken liver, pineapple, and shiso; and the Onigiri (P430) with spicy tuna, foie gras, and balsamic maple.
12/10 is at 7635 Guijo Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City.
With no other party to attend to, you’ll have plenty of time to gaze at your surroundings—and Osteria Daniele delivers plenty on the eye-candy front, what with high ceilings, Art Deco-inspired decors, and seats with intricate floral details. Of course, the food is still where it’s at, and this BGC spot gives you lots of options for Italian eats given the distinctly Bistronomia group flair. Try the Risotto al Limone (P950) with a tangy lemon risotto base and foie gras, or the Polpo alla Griglia (P995) with tender octopus on a bed of orzotto.
Osteria Daniele is at G/F High Street Corporate Plaza, 9th Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City.
LANAI Café by M
Though you might know LANAI as a lifestyle store, the brand also boasts its own café that’s semi-hidden within its Karrivin Plaza spot, sporting shades of teal and sage along with flowers and intricate ornaments for a vogue but serene feel. They now have Chef Margarita Forés (of Cibo, Lusso, Grace Park, and the now-closed Café Bola) at the helm, and she’s come up with a diverse selection of dishes—including Café Bola’s famous Penne Ilonggo Chorizo (P230) as well as the savory-sweet Pear Ravioli (P360).
LANAI Café by M is at The Alley, Karrivin Plaza, Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City.
Though the Spanish are very social in how they eat, there’s nothing stopping you from going ahead and ordering a plate of tapas for one, especially considering that they typically come in small plates. Bar Pintxos, in particular, offers pintxos served (and priced) by the piece. Don’t be fooled; these protein- and other ingredient-topped toast rounds are plenty filling; around two to four pieces make for a just-right solo meal. You’ll find other Spanish eats here too, which—unlike many other restaurants of the same genre—are of just the right portion size that won’t leave you with too many leftovers.
Bar Pintxos has branches at G/F Gesu Building, Don Jesus Boulevard, Cupang, Muntinlupa City and G/F Fairways Tower, 5th Avenue corner McKinley Road, Bonifacio Global City. See a list of Bar Pintxos branches.