I spend a lot of time eating by myself.
Whether I'm traveling for work, grabbing a quick lunch or simply wanting to dine out, I don't ever feel a need to have someone with me to try a new restaurant or an old favorite. All I need is a good book, a glass of wine and a place that is friendly toward solo diners.
Dining solo can be a rewarding experience: It's often easier for restaurants to squeeze in one person than to find a table for two, so you often can get into places others can't. Plus, sitting at a restaurant bar makes for great people-watching.
Here's my list of the top 9 places to dine solo.
Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse, The Precinct and Carlo & Johnny's: Steakhouses are notoriously good places to dine solo, and Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment does your average steakhouse one better. Eating at the bar at any of his restaurants is a pleasure, but if you would like to sit at a table by yourself, you will receive the same impeccable service as the couple sitting across the room. (But you won't have to split that mac and cheese with anyone.) Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse: 700 Walnut St., Downtown; 311 Delta Ave., Columbia Tusculum; 9769 Montgomery Road, Montgomery
The Bar at Palm Court: Hotel bars get their fair share of solo diners, but few have a bar menu as good as the Bar at Palm Court's. Its bar staff has been there for years and always balance the right amount of conversation with warm service. With items like Asian-style roasted Brussels sprouts, some of the best french fries in the city and reasonably priced wines for happy hour, the bar is a steal; if you would like to indulge more, the full menu is available as well. Or you can sit at a table a few feet away at Orchids for one and get the complete experience, from Maine lobster salad to one of Megan Ketover's delightful desserts. 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown
Salazar: Salazar's lunch, like the Reuben or the Cuban, are filling and creative, and the bar staff makes everyone feel welcome, especially solo diners. In the evening, feast on a meal of small bites, such as a little fried-oyster sandwich (or three), duck leg rillette or Blue Oven bread with marrow butter. Go all in with "everything" crusted salmon or Salazar's burger and savor a glass of wine off its of-the-moment wine list or a seasonal cocktail. 1401 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine
Classic and comforting
The Echo: The Echo in Hyde Park is a fantastic place for a solo breakfast or lunch. Its expansive counter welcomes solo diners, newspapers tucked under their arms in the morning, many of whom have been going for years. In the morning, try the Belgian Bird (fried chicken between two waffles) or a Cincinnati-style Oktoberfest omelet with goetta, home fries, onions and Swiss cheese. For lunch, try the Echo Grill (a baked ham and cheese sandwich with tartar sauce) or a classic Reuben or burger. 3510 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
Tucker's on Vine: Belly up to the counter at this Vine Street institution, where Joe and Carla Tucker are cooking amazing breakfast on their original 1940s stove, in recently remodeled surroundings. Joe's hash and shrimp and grits are incredible, and he makes his own pickles. You're as likely to sit next to a politician as you are a Franciscan friar, and everyone is equally welcome. Closer to lunch, order a Big Joe (like a Big Boy but homemade) or a slice of meatloaf. 1637 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Sugar 'n' Spice: One of the benefits of being a solo diner is that you can get into places that larger groups can't. On a weekend, when it can be near-impossible for two or more people to get into Sugar 'n' Spice, singletons can get in rather quickly to eat their share of whisper-thin pancakes, huge omelets or a breakfast burrito. 4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills
Fun and food-focused
Nation Kitchen & Bar: Nation's bar area spans two rooms, which leaves plenty of space for you to enjoy fresh, delicious food. Highlights include the Nation burger with brisket-blend patties, smoked cheddar, onions, horseradish aioli and whiskey barbecue sauce; a black-bean burger with sriracha, avocado and cilantro mayo; Tater Tots with a variety of toppings; and Nation’s ever-changing burger of the month, whose proceeds go toward a local charity. The crowd and staff are friendly, and the prices are reasonable. 1200 Broadway St., Pendleton
Bouquet: Whether you are omnivorous, vegetarian, vegan or even gluten-free, you will find something good at Bouquet. This warm, homey restaurant is great for a solo diner. I can make a meal out of Bouquet’s fries, Brussels sprouts with Kenny's Farmhouse Bleu cheese or its meat and cheese plates (with pickled things, of course). More substantial appetites will enjoy the Tomahawk pork chop, with sides that vary daily, or the Black Hawk burger with pimento cheese and sauerkraut. 519 Main St., Covington
CWC The Restaurant: The cheerful ladies behind Cooking with Caitlin now have a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and a solo diner couldn't be happier there. Open Friday and Saturday for dinner and Sunday for brunch, the menu is small but full of flavor. Try the practically famous Oklahoma Wedge with boursin cheese and bacon jam, baby biscuits made in house, Korean short ribs or seared salmon and kale polenta. Indulge your inner kid by finishing off your meal with homemade ice cream sandwiches and a glass of milk. If you are dining solo but want to mingle, sign up for CWC’s Third Thursdays, which are dinner by the bite (and how chef Caitlin Steininger got her start in 2007). You'll need a reservation, but you'll get to see her cooking -- and get the recipes for her dishes! 1517 Springfield Pike, Wyoming
What are your favorite places to dine solo? Tweet me at @winemedineme!