Solo Dining Options Around Lake Minnetonka

Adventures in solo dining.
318's cheese plate is the perfect pairing when you want to curl up with a good book.

Hesitant about eating out alone? Get over it—I have. Of course, my job necessitates frequent solo dining, but I’ve come to love it. What’s more, I often prefer it. Obviously, dining out by yourself is very different from dining as a couple or in a group. But think about it this way: You get to decide. Feeling introspective? Adventurous? Fancy? When you’re free of whiners and naysayers, it’s all up to you. Check out our guide on where to go and what to eat when you’re flying solo, whatever your mood.


If you’re in the mood to:


Farmhouse Salad

Jake O’Connors

Scooch into a cozy “snug” (booth) where you’re sheltered by shadows, music and your neighbors’ sounds of good cheer. O’Connors’ Irish farmhouse salad is the perfect thing to excavate at your leisure as you hunker in the darkness and review your lot in life. It’s a welcome variation on the classic chef’s salad: plenty of chicken and ham, hardboiled egg, tomato, cucumber and much to our delight, beets. We order our ranch dressing on the side and take our time dipping our vegetables in it. After all, no one’s looking. $8.75. 200 Water St., Excelsior; 952.908.9650;


Cheese Plate

318 Café

It’s easy to surrender to a good read at this warm café, especially while nibbling on a local cheese plate. Select your own combination of three; our own cheese plate isn’t complete without a wedge of brie. You can play with a selection of chutneys, nuts, dried and fresh fruits as attractively arranged as an artist’s palette, and slices of crusty baguette complete the picture. Red wine is a natural companion for cheese, but 318 stocks our favorite tea: Tea Source’s Evening in Missoula, which tastes like root beer in the best possible way. You can lounge here for hours without bother, but if you’re feeling lively, stick around. There’s bound to be some live music that will charm your socks off. Selection of three cheeses, $10.75; tea, $2.50. 318 Water St., Excelsior; 952.401.7902;


Slider Trio

Blvd Kitchen & Bar

The scene at Blvd is always bustling, especially if you sit in the bar area where the drinks are flowing and the tables are close together. Relax and let yourself be enveloped in chit-chat: We’ve heard girlfriends comparing notes on their boyfriends, couples cooing sweet somethings and work friends guffawing about their lame boss. We’ve spied on birthdays, first dates and post-work happy hours—it’s endless entertainment. While the bar menu is full of tempting choices, the slider trio is filling yet manageable, and you can choose straight-up burger, fried chicken or pulled pork, in addition to turkey and salmon burgers. We go for the pulled pork, which is slightly sweet and braised to utter tenderness. $12. 11544 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka;763.398.3200;


Farmhouse Flatbread

McCormicks Pub and Restaurant

This is a serious foodie eatery in the guise of an Irish pub, making it an appealing combination of casual and delicious. We’re always excited to see what’s new on the seasonal menu; the daily specials are particularly innovative. On our last visit, we enjoyed the farmhouse flatbread, a rectangle of crispy thin crust embellished with tender grilled chicken, fresh goat cheese, artichokes, red beets and a coarsely ground, made-on-the spot pesto. The best seat is at the bar. Ask the bartender to recommend a wine and you’re sure to receive a carefully considered pairing. Soon you’ll be engaged in an enthusiastic exchange about food and drink. Trust us when we say you’ll want a pen and notepad to take notes.  $11. 331 Broadway Ave. S., Wayzata; 952.767.2417;


Farfalle di Mare


Shrimp, scallops, crab, arugula, pine nuts, roasted red peppers and lobster cream sauce—oh my! Any kind of pasta with cream sauce is bound to be an over-the-top luxury, but once you throw in shellfish, you’re on the fast track to a hedonist’s nirvana. Farfalle (bowtie) pasta is the perfect shape for gathering maximum amounts of the silky sauce, and the seafood allotment is generous, fresh and expertly cooked. The staff at Spasso is attentive but not so much as to make you feel self-conscious. You must partake in a glass of wine, as the prices here are astoundingly low. Slurp, sip, savor. $17. 17523 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.224.9555;


Lunch Buffet

Bukhara Indian Grill
There are many unfamiliar foods to taste at an Indian restaurant and a buffet allows you to sample a little bit of a lot of things. There are usually 8 to 10 dishes at Bukhara’s lunchtime spread, and the selection rotates. If you’re lucky, you’ll find tender and aromatic tandoori chicken and biryani, which is rice with saffron, raisins and cashews. Taste a ladleful of the rich, spice-kissed tomato soup and have fun with the various relishes and dips, especially the cooling yogurt raita and sweet mango chutney. Ask your server for explanations; they’re eager to educate. $8.99 weekdays, $9.99 Saturday and Sunday. 15718 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata; 952.476.7997;


Petite Filet Mignon

Gianni’s Steakhouse

Gianni’s is a special-occasion restaurant. Admit it: Whenever you go there, you peek at nearby tables and wonder if there’s been an engagement, retirement or promotion. Why not take your own bad self there for no good reason and rake in some curious glances? You need not celebrate anything more than your fabulous good taste. The steak at Gianni’s is divine. A petite filet mignon is the right portion for a single diner, and you can add sides a la carte. We opt to complement our hunk of meat with a classic shrimp cocktail (your choice of chilled or grilled), and a custom-made spun salad. Petite filet mignon, $35; shrimp cocktail, $18; spun salad, $6. 635 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.404.1100;


The Blues Traveler Burger

The Narrows Saloon

You’ll be hard-pressed to choose among the blackened blue burger, the Cheeseburger in Paradise or the Blues Traveler burger at this rockin’ joint—but you can’t go wrong with any of them, and we certainly did not regret our half-pound Blues Traveler. It exploded with sautéed mushrooms and melted swiss cheese, and was juicy enough to tear through three napkins. Luckily the sourdough onion bun is as sturdy as it is tasty. There’s live music every night except Mondays, and people often show up stag. The server likens the Narrows to “Cheers”—a friendly watering hole where everyone is welcome, whether dressed in a suit or in yoga pants. Delve into the chance to people-watch, strike up a conversation and take a spin on the dance floor. $10.50. 3380 Shoreline Dr., Navarre; 952.471.3352;