The prospect of being Billy No Mates in a crowded restaurant isn’t a particularly enticing one, but everyone needs to eat. Even on a short but hunger-inducing business trip.
Breakfast and lunch aren’t really a problem; it’s dinner that presents a challenge for the solo diner. But fear not, it really is possible to enjoy a high quality dinner without resorting to scoffing something in your hotel room.
The trick is finding somewhere which is casual and buzzy, ideally with a bar where you can eat without feeling self-conscious. These five tried and tested eateries near Qbic serve up some top notch fare while allowing you to leave any awkwardness at the door.
D/F Mexico, Spitalfields
Conveniently located between Spitalfields and Brick Lane, D/F Mexico serves up some high quality fast food. Grab a table number, head up to the counter to order, opt for the MSC fish tacos or slow cooked chilli and wait for some amazing Mexican to head your way. The food arrives pretty swiftly as well.
There’s a refillable drinks counter to wash down the delicious tacos, with some original (if a little sugary) flavours – Lime and Chia, along with Horchata and Hibiscus. If you feel like something stronger try the passion fruit frozen margarita.
Old Truman Brewery, Hanbury Street, E1 6QR
Dirty Burger, Whitechapel and Shoreditch
Housed in ultra stripped back spaces, both the Dirty Burger restaurants in Whitechapel and Shoreditch are perfect places to chow down a burger. The menu is simple with just three options – the cheese burger, the dirty bacon and the dirty cop-out for vegetarians.
The Whitechapel spot has big shared benches as well as some smaller tables. It also offers a ‘full dirty breakfast’ and shares the menu with sister restaurant, Chicken Shop. The second east London Dirty Burger is by the Tea Building, opposite Shoreditch station, where the only seating is a bar so tightly packed that no one will even notice you’re alone.
Whitechapel – 27 Mile End Rd, E1 4TP
Shoreditch – 13 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA
Anh Dao, Hoxton
There is no shortage of Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland road, all presenting attractive options for the solo eater demanding a tasty dinner in a homely atmosphere. Most even have a bring-your-own-booze policy if you fancy knocking back a bottle with your Pho.
Our favourite is the seafood based Anh Dao. Opened relatively recently in 2010 by a husband and wife duo, it’s slightly more polished than some, while still retaining a slightly chaotic, unrefined feel. There are some lip-smackingly fresh and spicy Vietnamese dishes to choose from. The only downside from going solo is not being able to pinch a bite from your dining partner’s plate – otherwise, this is perfect for a quick dinner.
168 Kingsland Rd, E2 8DP
Busaba Eathai, Old Street
With a number of locations dotted around the city, all with big communal tables and window seats, every Busaba offers a convenient solo dining option, wherever you happen to find yourself. The closest to Qbic is the Shoreditch one, sitting plum on Old Street, near Hoxton square and facing the shops around Rivington Street and Curtain Road.
The chain of ten restaurants serves up good quality Thai food that arrives fast and always hits the spot. A number of the dishes are under £10, including the Pad Thai and green chicken curry. The Chinese broccoli and deep fried squid are also stand-out dishes.
319 Old Street, EC1V 9LE
The Jones Family Project, Old Street
In the expansive space between Shoreditch and Old Street is The Jones Family Project. The lure for the solo diner is that it offers two large bars available to order food at, as well as a large number of quieter booths tucked away if you prefer some privacy.
Some outstanding meat dishes are to be found on an otherwise unassuming and simple evening menu.
It’s likely you will be tempted back for a weekend brunch, available between the forgiving hours of 10am and 5pm. Try the baked eggs with chorizo, red peppers and potatoes.
78 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3RS