When you embark on a solo day of eating and exploring, you’re destined to discover something new about your city and about yourself. Whether it’s taking in a Malibu sunset, chatting with a friendly bartender, or digging into a bowl of Taiwanese noodles with no need to share, you’ll engage with your surroundings in an entirely different way. “Solo discovery mode” can be intensely rewarding, eye-opening, and delicious, if you allow it to happen.
Some general tips for your solo day in L.A.: find the confidence to get off your phone, know that the only timeline you’re on is your own, and go out and discover the sprawling multicultural treasure trove that is Los Angeles. Not sure where to begin? Consult Resy’s neighborhood guide to single-handed eating, drinking, and adventuring across this fine city.
Where to dine: Cosa Buona
Cozy up to the bar at chef Zach Pollack’s convivial Italian-American standby and order his justly famous mozzarella sticks and a glass of wine while you people-watch along Sunset Boulevard. All of the wood-fired pies and comfort food classics here are solid, but our favorites include the eggplant parm, chopped salad, and Hawaiian pizza with jalapeños and cilantro.
Now that you have a nice buzz going from all of those natural wines that the bartender recommended to you at Cosa Buona, it’s time to nerd out on classic arcade games. At this bar-slash-arcade, you’ll find Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, Skee-Ball, a Star Wars pinball machine, and 12 craft beers on tap. And if you’re for some reason still hungry, try the delightfully unhinged snacks from in-house restaurant Poltergeist.
Where to dine: The Dresden
This legendary lounge opened in 1954, and has been getting regulars tipsy on classic cocktails and live music ever since. If you recognize the dimly lit room, complete with red leather chairs and a grand piano, that’s because the bar — as well as its longtime (and sadly recently departed) resident jazz musicians, Marty and Elayne Roberts — were featured in the 1996 film Swingers. There’s a dining room, but we prefer the less-formal lounge side, where you can order a Blood and Sand, some garlicky escargot, and a no-fuss burger or French dip.
Solo activity: Hiking in Griffith Park
Shout out to Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, who donated over 3,000 acres to the City of Los Angeles in 1896. Today, that land is known as Griffith Park, home to some of the best and most accessible hikes in the city. We like to start at the Fern Dell Nature Trail, a convenient five-minute drive from The Dresden. Take Fern Dell to Firebreak Trail, then hike 1.3 miles to the celestial Griffith Observatory, where you can take in views of the ocean, the Hollywood Hills, and the San Gabriel Mountains.
Where to dine: Lasita
This Chinatown hotspot is the place to be for killer Filipino rotisserie chicken; lechon stuffed with lemongrass, ginger, and garlic; and a robust natural wine selection. The vibe is colorful and fun, there’s a counter for solo diners, and people tend to hang out for as long as they want — so feel free to bring your book.
Solo activity: Make glass art at The Makery
Cathi Milligan has been teaching glass blowing in L.A. for over two decades. At The Makery in nearby Little Tokyo, she takes students through the basics of how to work with glass to create beads, plates, and other glass art. Yes, you will use a blowtorch, and yes, it will be awesome.
Where to dine: Musso & Frank Grill
We know what you’re thinking: Why on earth would I voluntarily go to Hollywood Blvd? Just hear us out. Musso & Frank is one of the most legendary restaurants in Los Angeles and offers incredible people-watching, a sexy bar situation, and a frozen-in-time Old Hollywood vibe. Since opening in 1919, the classic American steakhouse has served the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lauren Bacall, Alfred Hitchcock, and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few. Sit at the bar, order an ice-cold martini, let one of the tuxedo-clad waiters (or patrons) chat you up, and then feast on a Louie Salad overflowing with shrimp and crab — and a steak, if you wish.
Solo activity: Catch a flick and live organ show at the El Capitan Theater
Stroll five minutes down Hollywood Blvd to the El Capitan, which screens new and vintage Disney/Lucasfilm movies. On Saturdays and Sundays, there’s a live organist that plays before the film, which is a lovely throwback to early-1900s moviegoing magic.
Where to dine: Mini Kabob
No matter where you’re coming from (Westside included), it’s worth the trip to Glendale for the tender ground beef lule kebabs at this Armenian institution. The seasoned meat is cooked over coal on metal skewers, kissed by flames, and brought to your table glistening, accompanied by lavash, charred tomato and jalapeño, hummus, rice, and thinly sliced onion. A side of pungent garlic sauce is a must, and all the better for dining solo. The space is casual and small — like, 300-square-feet small — but luckily you need only a single seat.
Solo activity: Take a class at the Museum of Neon Art
Founded in 1981, the Museum of Neon Art is both a gallery and “creative cocoon.” Sign up for a class led by neon artist Leticia Maldonado ($300), and you’ll learn how to heat glass over fire, work with a bending pattern, and wire up a finished neon artwork to bring home.
Where to dine: Everson Royce Bar
Silver Lake Wine’s Randy Clement and former Osteria Mozza chef Matt Molina teamed up to open this bar food mecca. Everything here is spectacular, but don’t skip the cheeseburger, hamachi tostada, or the prickly pear margarita. The burger, especially, is one of the best in the city, featuring Huntington Meats’ “Nancy Silverton blend” (80% prime chuck to 20% fat), Dijonnaise, melted Tillamook Cheddar, and a buttered brioche bun. Sit at the dark and vibey bar inside, or enjoy your snacks on the massive outdoor patio.
Solo activity: Gallery hopping
It’s now time to get inspired by non-edible things. The Arts District was once home to an urban artists’ colony in the ’70s, and it’s re-emerged as a hub for galleries, art studios, breweries, restaurants, and coffee shops. Our favorite places to see art in the area include Hauser & Wirth, Night Gallery, Vielmetter, François Ghebaly, and MOCA (The Museum of Contemporary Art). If you have time, venture a tad farther east to Boyle Heights to visit more galleries (Parrasch Heijnen) and eat more tacos (Mariscos Jalisco).
Where to dine: Gjelina
This restaurant made Abbot Kinney cool when it opened in 2018, and it’s still just as effortlessly hip as ever. The people-watching here is incredible, with a stellar pizza- and vegetable-forward menu to match. (Sit at the bar so you can watch the charred, bubbly pies emerge from the wood-fired oven.) Order one of those, a seasonal-as-can-be salad, and the braised pork meatballs to fuel up before or after a long day of catching waves.
Solo activity: Learn to surf (finally)
You’ve lived in L.A. for how long, and you haven’t become a pro surfer yet!? Well, you’re definitely not alone. The stoked instructors at Kapowui Surf Club in Venice Beach can help get you in the water and riding waves. Beginner and intermediate lessons include a surfboard and wetsuit, so you can just show up in your swimsuit and sunscreen and get to it.
Where to dine: Little Fatty
The Taiwanese Sunday Gravy noodles at Little Fatty are so deeply satisfying that, to be honest, you won’t want someone else around to have to share them with. Chef David Kuo slow braises pork belly and shoulder with five-spice powder, mushrooms, fish sauce, and a dozen other umami-rich ingredients, before tossing the sauce with pickled mustard greens and handmade Creste di Gallo pasta. Sure, there are other things on the menu, but a perfect solo order is the Sunday Gravy and a Japanese Whisky Highball to prep you for what’s to come.
Solo activity: Get lost inside The Museum of Jurassic Technology
Have your perception of reality messed with at possibly the strangest museum in the world. It’s dark in there, there’s a lot to discover, and the more we try to tell you about it… well, the less you’ll understand. Just know that museum director David Wilson was awarded the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, aka the “Genius Grant,” for his work on “the fragility of our beliefs” and “the remarkable potential of the human imagination.” Don’t miss the gorgeous rooftop garden, complete with white doves and complimentary tea and cookies.
Where to dine: Broad Street Oyster Co.
When you’re having a beach day, there’s one dish that stands above all else: lobster rolls, on a lightly toasted, buttery brioche bun. Broad Street’s version is impeccable, as is the seafood shack’s Santa Barbara sea urchin, oysters, spiny lobster, and fish and chips. The baddies out there can order the seafood tower for themselves.
Solo activity: Lay out at Malibu Lagoon Beach
After you’ve stuffed yourself with seafood, it’s time to cross PCH and lay out in the sun at Malibu Lagoon Beach. You can spend the rest of your day napping, reading, swimming, and watching the surfers do their thing. Or, if you’re really trying to pack your day with Malibu activities, tour the nearby Adamson House, aka the “Taj Mahal of Tile.” Isn’t L.A. the best?
Erin Mosbaugh is food and travel writer who has worked in kitchens in New York and L.A. and co-created the James Beard Award-winning food site First We Feast. Follow her on Instagram and TikTok; follow Resy, too.