Picture yourself here with a good book. Photo courtesy of Bar Americano

GuidesNew York

The Resy Guide to Dining Solo (With a Good Book)


There are few pleasures in life equal to a great book: that sense of discovery, of individual achievement, of personal gain in that uniquely personal way. One of those equal pleasures, we might argue, comes from dining at a restaurant by yourself, book in hand. It’s a unique experience — perhaps an acquired taste to some — but something we should all give a try at least once. So, whether you’re a voracious reader who’s new to the solo dining game or a seasoned vet, we’ve got the perfect guide for you. Allow us to share our favorite bookstores in the city, paired alongside the very best places to eat and read by yourself within walking distance. See you there.

The Bookstore: Yu and Me Books


Yu and Me Books is a special bookstore in a lot of ways. Owned by Lucy Yu, this Chinatown space is sweet and homey, and located next to some of the best food you can find in Manhattan. If you get there and decide you never want to leave (understandable), they also boast a small cafe, with coffee, wine, and beer. We’ll be moving in next month.


A seat at the bar at Dimes is always a good idea. Photo courtesy of Dimes

Where to Dine with Your Book:

Like we said, Chinatown has options aplenty. We can’t recommend Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles enough, and if you’ve lived in New York for more than three minutes, you probably understand why. Grab your noodles and walk on over to Columbus Park if the weather is nice. If it’s not, walk over to Dimes on Canal Street for shrimp toast and purple grits. They’re open every day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., but only take reservations (including for one) for dinner. It’s bright and airy — perfect to settle in and read between sips of your wheatgrass margarita.

The Bookstore: Books Are Magic

Cobble Hill

Books are magic, and so is this bookstore. Owned by author Emma Straub (“All Adults Here,” “This Time Tomorrow,” etc., etc., etc.), it’s located on a lovely corner spot with big front windows and an excellent selection of the newest and hottest reads. No matter how your tastes run, the booksellers are friendly and happy to recommend something that will fit you perfectly. Pro tip? All of the merch pretty much qualifies as Brooklyn’s hottest accessory. You’ll probably see several people carrying Books Are Magic bags on your (short) walk down to the restaurant.



Where to Dine with Your Book:

A few short blocks down from Books Are Magic lies one of our absolute favorite restaurants in the city, Bar Bête. It’s classic inside, with airy windows and a perfect bar that takes reservations for one. Of course, the food speaks for itself, but trust us when we say … trust us. If you’re feeling something more casual, their sister spot, Ruthie’s, is right down the block for burgers and popcorn. Another favorite of ours is Bee’s Knees Provisions, also right down the block. They’ve got a truly ridiculous happy hour from 5 to 9 p.m., with dollar oysters on Tuesdays, and they also take reservations for parties of any size. Go here for the charcuterie boards, which are ideal to snack on without spilling on your new read.

The Bookstore: Greenlight Bookstore

Fort Greene

We can (and have) spend hours inside Greenlight. The selection is what you might call sprawling, with shelves stacked nearly ceiling high and truly inspiring tables of staff picks to choose from when you’re lacking inspiration.

Don’t sleep on the clams al pastor if you wind up at Colonia Verde. Photo courtesy of Colonia Verde

Where to Dine with Your Book:

Walter’s is a platonic ideal of a Fort Greene restaurant, with its curving metal bar and corner windows. Go for the artichoke dip and a side of fries, a frozen mango margarita or a crisp lemonade, and take advantage of the reservations available for one. If you’re feeling more adventurous, or you have some time to wait in the park for your spot, walk over to Colonia Verde and see if you can grab a seat at the bar or in the back patio if the weather is warm enough. If you score, order whatever the bartender says is good, as well as those clams al pastor.

The Bookstore: Bluestockings Cooperative

Lower East Side

Bluestockings is the favored pick of New School professors (and students), downtown revolutionaries, and anyone who’s looking for a book that will stay with them long after they’ve finished it. They boast being New York’s only queer-, trans-, and sex-worker owned bookstore, and have been a cooperative since 2021. Trust the staff here: Ask them what they think is good and important right now, and they won’t lead you astray.


Where to Dine with Your Book:

We know, we know, phở isn’t exactly the most “book friendly” food, but Ginger and Lemongrass is just too good to pass up. Grab some napkins and order the beef or spicy coconut and prepare to let your mind be blown double. Or consider walking down to Pig and Khao for the cocktail tasting (why not?), some khao soi (extra napkins?), and the fried brussels (add pork belly). And yes, they take reservations for one.

The Bookstore: Archestratus Books and Food


Since you’re reading this list, we have to assume that you’re a fan of food and books. Allow us to present heaven, also known as Archestratus Books and Food in Greenpoint. They’ve got a general store and a huge selection of groceries and dry goods. If you’ve been looking for a new cookbook for a while, you’ll find it here, along with three others that you have to have. Grab one of their many food-writing or food-adjacent-writing picks on the side and walk away knowing dinner is about to be great at your house for the next month. Bonus? Walk over to Big Night afterwards for the cutest accessories for the dinner party you’re already planning in your head.

All that’s missing here is a great book. Photo courtesy of Bar Americano

Where to Dine with Your Book:

Flip through your new cookbook down the road at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster Co. at Threes Brewing; a convivial, happy spot with plenty of room to spread out (and reserve for one). Order the tuna melt and a Logical Conclusion and settle in. Craving a cocktail? Try Bar Americano instead, for a list that would impress anyone. Pair it with the Manzanilla olives and the Marcona almonds, please.

The Bookstore: McNally Jackson at Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

You know you’ve just been looking for an excuse to go check out Rockefeller Center in all of its revamped, buzzy restaurant glory. Start with McNally Jackson, a publisher (union!) bookstore that has such a large collection you could get lost there for hours. Go during weird times to avoid tourists (and be more likely to score a good table nearby).


Where to Dine with Your Book:

A seat at the bar at Jupiter, from the wonderful team behind King in Soho, is ideal. Luckily, they still take reservations for one, and the space is perfect for enjoying your book. It’s cozy, classy, and beautiful, and the staff is professional and warm. Order whatever they say. Can’t get a table there? Wander over to the City Winery location nearby for a glass to ease your heartache.

The Bookstore: Three Lives and Company

West Village

If you’re looking for a nice way to spend a classic New York City day, we always recommend the West Village. There’s just something about the hidden streets and bustling cafes that make us feel like we’re in a movie about the city instead of texting our landlord that the hot water still isn’t working. Three Lives and Company feeds into our delusions, with its vaguely Shakespearean facade, snug stacks of books, and big selection of nonfiction.

Plenty of bar seating is ideal for a solo diner armed with a riveting read. Photo courtesy of Canto West Village

Where to Dine with Your Book:

Continue the romantic comedy you’re starring in about your fabulous life in New York by heading over the Waverly Diner with your bounty. There, you’ll stir coffee absentmindedly among college kids and neighborhood old-timers, ordering fries once you realize the book is too good to get up for a while. Ready to meet the love of your life? We make no promises, but Canto is where we’d go next. Make your reservation for one and order one of the seasonal cocktail specials and the sautéed artichokes; they will come, and even if they don’t, the artichokes will make you forget all about them.

The Bookstore: Revolution Books


Revolution remains one of the only bookstores centrally located in Harlem. They host regular author events, rallies, and the politics lean communist with the reading selection to match. It’s a community bookstore in a way that is rare these days, with used, new, and highly selective picks inside. You’ll definitely find a flier for a rally or new cause to get behind on the table inside. It’s totally volunteer run, and nonprofit to boot.


Where to Dine with Your Book:

Take your bounty and your new manifesto over to Sylvia’s for the famed Sylvia’s Down Home Southern Fried Chicken and the baked macaroni and cheese. Or take breaks between turning the pages and order the sleeper hit: the barbecued short ribs. Or try Chez Jacob for Senegalese fare that’s become a neighborhood staple in a casual, friendly setting.

The Bookstore: Book Culture

Long Island City

New, used, and everything in between can be found at Book Culture. We’re partial to the Long Island City location for its proximity to great food, the long glass staircase, and the stationery selection.

Some paneer makes a perfect pairing with a good read. Photo courtesy of Rang NYC

Where to Dine with Your Book:

Michelin-starred Mexican cuisine? Don’t mind if we do. Casa Enrique is famous for a reason, and that reason includes the chile relleno and the flan from chef Cosme Aguilar. It’s a sleek, sweet spot that fits the bill whether you’re looking to go all out on dinner for yourself or just grab a quick snack and a drink. For those whose design tastes run more eclectic, try Rang NYC, the Indian small plates and cocktail bar right nearby. Grab the Kerala fried chicken and a Bindi and Bangles with gin and grapefruit. Both spots, luckily, take reservations for one.

The Bookstore: Powerhouse Books


Powerhouse is there for all your art and art book needs. It’s a publisher bookstore right under the bridge in Dumbo, with plenty of room to spread out and browse, which we can guarantee you’ll want to do. They also have a very nice selection of New York photo books that we could look through all day.


Where to Dine with Your Book:

Go ahead, you know you want to buy the photo book. Take it over to The Binc on Henry Street, order an Aperol spritz and the burger, and make sure to keep your hands clean while you flip. Or try Gran Eléctrica, the favorite of neighborhood industry workers for Tequila drinks and truly superior guacamole. Sit at the bar at either one without feeling like they’re trying to push you out.

Ellie Plass is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Follow Resy, too.