711 W. Jackson Blvd., West Loop
This giant East Asian supermarket’s outstanding food court seems like it was designed for single diners: Cutting through it is a long table just wide enough to sit with strangers but not feel cramped. You can also choose a spot at counters overlooking the sidewalk or, if you really want to avoid eye contact, a brick wall. All the better to focus on your bubbling bowl of soondubu, a Korean tofu stew, as good as any you’ll get in the city.
Same Day Cafe
2651 N. Kedzie Ave., Logan Square
When the only companion you need is a book, head to this cozy sandwich shop. Its servers are so accommodating that they’ll even let you bring in your own vinyl to play on Wednesday evenings. Claim a table near the window and linger — first over a grilled cheese on pillowy housemade bread (douse it with vinegary hot sauce), then over a refreshing raspberry-rose soda and scoop of ice cream.
1745 W. North Ave., Wicker Park
If you’re in a chatty mood, there are few better perches than the bar at this Wicker Park storefront, where the hip-hop soundtrack is expertly curated, the crowd is impeccably dressed, and the talk is constantly flowing. The throngs of guests at all hours keep you in close quarters with your neighbors, making spirited, red-hot-tamale-fueled conversations all but inevitable.
1020 W. Madison St., West Loop
It may be the best mealtime spectacle in town: Diners seated at the restaurant’s pasta bar can consume their cacio e pepe while watching dough get rolled, cut, and shaped to order. An antique mirror angled above enhances the viewing. “Shortly after opening, our guests began calling it Pasta TV,” says chef Sarah Grueneberg.
2656 W. Lawrence Ave., Ravenswood
A tasting menu doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you’d want to face as a companionless diner. But most tasting menu spots are not like Goosefoot: Owners Chris and Nina Nugent are a constant, endearing presence in the intimate 24-seat dining room, happy to hold court as you sip on mushroom soup. Plus, it’s BYOB — you can drink something wonderful with dinner and take the rest of the bottle home to polish off in the bathtub tomorrow night.