Whether you’re passing through Denver on a trip or you’re a local looking for a quiet night out, sometimes it’s nice to eat alone. For me, it’s not always easy meeting up with friends after a day of work. The problem is often differing schedules and I’m left finding a place to sit and eat alone. It can be hard being a solo diner, so we’ve put together a list of places you’ll feel welcome even if you’re not with a group:
Where: 2215 W. 32nd AvePros: Uncle, a ramen bar with style has an incredible chef’s counter to sit and watch the magic happen. Score a chair here and watch the team behind the ramen madness. Cons: Uncle is beyond popular and very small so the wait time can be extensive, especially on a weekend night.
As a transplant to Colorado, when the weather dips below the California norm of 70 degrees, I start to crave comfort food. But comfort food, in my opinion, is often boring and typical; I’m thinking mashed potatoes, stews, and some of momma’s fried chicken. When I sit down at Uncle, though, I don’t feel awkward for dining solo but rather I feel revived with a fresh take on comfort food. The Spicy Chicken Ramen, which is quickly becoming a weekly staple of mine, warms me up the instant I take a sip. The creamy sesame broth has just enough kick and the noodles add a nice texture and brings a welcomed break from the heat of the dish. For solo diners, eating at the chef’s counter is worth the wait. Watching the chefs work together and handle a huge rush while still remaining calm will keep you entertained through your entire meal. The staff at Uncle are as nice as they come and will make anyone feel welcomed, whether you’re a regular like me, or a first timer.
Where: 865 Lincoln Street and 3838 Tennyson Street Pros: Breakfast and brunch is serious business at DJ’s 9th Ave. Cafe. The no frills menu is delicious without being overwhelming. Cons: Parking at the downtown location of DJ’s isn’t the most fun, bring your quarters for a meter.
For a few years now DJ’s has been my go to spot for a perfect breakfast. I like to think of myself as a pancake connoisseur and have eaten my way through several menus to try and find the best order of flap jacks. The blueberry pancakes at DJ’s are the best pancakes I have found so far. They have all but spoiled me from enjoying pancakes anywhere else. Their pancakes are slightly crispy on the outer edges and perfectly cooked through. They also come three to an order and are the size of your face. If you’re serious about your love for pancakes as I am, then make your way to DJ’s. Not only is the food delicious but the staff has become more than just servers to me– They are friends. The staff makes it a point to get to know their regulars. They make them feel at home the second they step through the door. I never feel alone or uncomfortable when I sit down for breakfast at DJ’s. I feel like I’m surrounded by a group of people who truly care about me and that’s saying something for a breakfast joint.
Pinche TacosWhere: 1514 York Street and 3300 West 32nd Ave. Pros: The pick and choose ordering system is fun and even better if you aren’t trying to share with a large group. Cons: The chips, salsa and guacamole are all an extra charge. Coming from someone who is used to getting free chips and salsa at the local beach side Mexican cafe, having to pay for it is frustrating but necessary.
Pinche Tacos is a great spot to stop for lunch when you’re dining alone. Typically the lunch crowd is smaller and the atmosphere is less noisy. Sitting on the outdoor patio or at the chef’s counter is highly recommended for solo diners. People watching as you munch on their queso (warm, gooey, and unbelievably good) is the best way to spend an afternoon. If you’re adventurous, try a few of their different taco selections like the Lengua or Pork Belly tacos. The flavors are rich with just the right amount of spice; you really won’t even think twice about biting into a beef tongue, at least I didn’t.
Where: 2011 E. 17th Ave.
Pros: Fresh ingredients from Colorado farms as well as specialty products imported straight from Italy. You’ll get the good stuff here.
Cons: The menu changes daily to ensure freshness. Don’t get attached to any one thing you see on the sample menu online, it may not be there.
The energy at Il Posto is energetic and full of life. The open air kitchen and bustling patio create an atmosphere that is distinctly Italian. One thing I marveled at when I visited Italy is that even as a customer, I felt like family and at Il Posto everything is warm and inviting. The menu that chef Andrea Frizzi creates is fresh and perfect for that particular day. He calls it “cooking in the present” — the idea that food should change with the mood of the day. It’s brilliant because often our food cravings change based on our mood or the weather surrounding us. The main dining room and the outdoor patio merge together with open garage doors and the chef’s counter allows you the opportunity to see the masters at work. Everything at Il Posto is open and inviting. It’s the perfect place to sit and relax and people watch. Be European for a night, and sit with an espresso and watch the world move around you all the while enjoying Frizzi’s fresh Italian cuisine.