Are you date-less this V-Day? You need not stay home. Pull up a barstool and treat yourself to a night on the town at one of these solo- diner-friendly Houston area establishments.
Chris Shepherd’s gastropub is the move when you want a beer you’ve never tried before with dinner. Sit at the long bar or at a nearby cafeteria table and order the sharp, smoky fried-bologna sandwich or the chef’s famously spicy Korean braised goat and dumplings. On Monday evenings Shepherd offers scratch-made TV dinners and screens old shows.
1100 Westheimer Rd. 713-528-9805
Ramen is one of the world’s perfect solo-dining foods, offering therapy in the form of a soothing, steaming, aromatic bowl of goodness. Grab
a seat facing the open kitchen and get lost in the broth, whether you go for the spicy unami miso, a moderately rich pork broth filled with pork soboro, noodles, and chile oil—add more if you dare—or the flying vegan harvest, made with soy meat in a salty miso broth.
The sunny dining room of this fast-casual purveyor of Mexico City street fare has a hip, relaxed vibe. Order some guacamole or, better yet, a crispy chicharrón de queso, then prepare for some delicious tacos. The costra version, with gouda-coated tortillas, is divine, especially when filled with pastor right off the trompo or costilla (beef rib).
506 Yale St. 713-389-5783
This beloved brewpub is the place to relax with a book and a local beer. Grab a seat at one of the outdoor picnic tables or lounge chairs and indulge
in a messy half-pound burger—our favorites are the Cheech, with chèvre, bacon, and poblano-sambal aioli, and the Willie, with smoked ham and chipotle- pimiento cheese. Deviled eggs with roasted jalapeño and bacon-wrapped tomatoes make great snacks.
3004 Canal St. 832-969-1934
While this beloved spot for nourishing bowls of pho and plates of vermicelli fills up most every night, it’s pretty easy for a solo diner to get a table thanks to the quick turnover time. Our go-to orders are the pho chin bo vien with meatballs and lean meat and the pho tai nam gau gan with just about every meat on the menu, including soft tendon and fatty brisket. Cut the fat with the refreshing, fizzy lime drink called da chanh, and bring your favorite puzzle book for company.
2808 Milam St., #D. 713-524-3734
We know what you’re thinking: barbecue ... for one? Yes, at this popular smokehouse, where you can grab a patio bar stool and enjoy a one-or two-meat sandwich—the pulled pork is an under-the-radar stunner—or a plate of wonderful brisket tacos with melty cheddar, sour cream, and salsa roja. If you have room, the side of rich elote is excellent, as is the heavenly sugar-cream pie.
1201 Richmond Ave. 281-888-1929
Linda and Ronnie Nguyen’s casual banh mi chain makes guests feel right at home. The chopped ribeye, which doesn’t skip on the meat, is a champion, while The Special—pork belly, ham, and pâté—is extra satisfying, especially with a runny egg. Other excellent options include smoked salmon and avocado sandwiches.
5551 Richmond Ave. 832-767-3319
The so-called “living room of Montrose” would be the perfect place to grab a bite alone even if the food were just okay. Luckily, chef Anthony Calleo’s cuisine is really good. Get one of his loaded 12-inch pizzas—we love the smoky Pig & Potato—or his divine Parmageddon, meaty chicken parm inside a crunchy garlic sub roll, with a side of tater tots and a dark beer to match.
2010 Waugh Dr. 713-521-0521
This, the latest offering from restaurateur Mike Tran (Ishin Udon, Tiger Den), is one of Houston’s newest izakayas, or Japanese pubs. The place pairs a robust list of Japanese whiskeys, including affordable flights, with tapas-style dishes and yakitori skewers. Get the mouthwatering soy duck breast snack before loading up on delicious grilled meat. Bar-style seating encourages interaction with cooks and mixologists.
9630 Clarewood Dr., #A-15. 346-293-9960
This famous Austin import offers plenty of bar seating, along with a popular “sake social” hour that makes a meal by chef de cuisine Chris Davies affordable. Be sure to get here at 5 p.m. to score a seat and indulge in items such as sumptuous oxtails rolled inside rice panko, wagyu skewers inside butter lettuce with tangy kimchi aioli, and yokai berry, or cool salmon with crispy kale. Save room for a foie gras candy bar, the most extravagant Snickers you’ve ever tasted.
904 Westheimer Rd. 713-522-4808