Dining Alone in Miami


Sometimes we all need a little me time. We've picked Miami's best places to eat when you're a party of one.

big squeeze image
You and your lunch make such a nice couple.

By Dinkinish O'Connor

Sometimes dining alone can make one feel like there's an invisible "L" (for loser) beaming from one's forehead. But dining solo has some perks - you're free to read, to think and, best of all, you never, ever have to share your fries.

Here are some of Miami's best places to reserve that table for one:

Miami Juice in Northeast Miami-Dade is like a West Indian cabana-shack. Voluptuous women in tight tanks that read "Squeeze Me" sashay from picnic table to counter space while sounds ranging from Buju Banton to Avril Lavigne cascade amid the scent of fresh fruits and veggies.

Diners can enjoy ice-cold pitchers of water spiked with roughly cut orange slices and giant sprigs of mint, and take in a menu of falafels ($3.95), tuna burger wraps ($8.45), and the spicy red snapper special, $8.95, served with organic brown rice and garden salad (tip: dab spicy curry ginger sauce for a more exotic taste experience).

The Lemonade Delight, made with freshly squeezed lemon juice, orange juice and strawberries, is a true heat-wave tonic and is one of a few lemonade options, all $4.25.

The topper: a porch swing in the Big Squeeze Garden, so one looks that much cooler riding solo.

Miami Juice, 18315 West Dixie Hwy., North Miami; 305-935-9544.

Right around the bend of the second floor at the Bal Harbour Shops sits Lea's Tea Room, a little Parisian café that offers much more than tea.

After gallivanting with Prada and Lacoste, have a glass of Lea's Champagne Bellini ($11.50), which offers a candy-sweet bite of peach right at the end bottom of the glass. The wicker chairs are cozy enough to lose oneself in a favorite gossip column while dining on Ille Flottante -- poached caramelized egg whites with crème anglaise and slices of roasted almonds ($7.50) -- or Warm French Brie Salad served with mixed greens and toasted sour dough ($11.95).

The best part: Solo diners can savor Le Wine du Jour (which may be a glass of a Grand Cru Bordeaux for $10.50 a glass). Now who wants to share that?

Lea's Tea Room, Bal Harbour Shops, second level, 9700 Collins Ave.; 305-868-0901.

The Café at Books & Books on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach offers solo diners the ultimate ménage a trois: Curried Chicken Salad, a cool glass of Chardonnay and some Joan Didion or John Steinbeck.

This café is an excellent place to browse a smorgasbord of titles (or pretend to do so). The menu boasts sandwiches and salads including Tuna Nicoise ($14.95), and Pan-Asian Chicken, $10.95.

Black bean hummus, served with bagel chips ($4.95), sounded good for starters, but seemed bland after a few minutes.

Tastier was the Curried Chicken Salad ($9.95), prepared with golden raisins, walnuts and a yellow curry, and served with couscous and mixed greens.

Portions are substantial, so there's enough to take home for 3 a.m. munchies.

The super cool glass of Rock River Chardonnay ($7.50) is a nice pairing with the curry flavor, but there's also a decent selection of reds and whites ranging between $5 and $9.50 by the glass, $18 and $38 by the bottle. Beers are all $4.95.

On Saturdays, the café closes at midnight, so there's plenty of time to nibble on The Grapes of Wrath.

The Café at Books & Books, 933 Lincoln Rd., South Beach; 305-695-8898.

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