NEW YORK CITY
Landmarc, Time Warner Center: Landmarc calls itself a “neighborhood bistro” and offers delicious food, especially steaks, mussels, pastas and bistro fare such as terrines, roast chicken and salad Lyonnaise in a modern, upscale setting. For solo diners, the highlight is a great dining bar with friendly, knowledgeable staff and one of the nation’s largest selections of wines by the half-bottle (it’s truly a stunning list). 10 Columbus Circle, (212) 823-6123, www.landmarc-restaurant.com

Raymi Peruvian Kitchen & Pisco Bar: The newest offering (it opened in June) from star chef Richard Sandoval has ­several ­solo-dining appeals: a pisco bar with every Peruvian pisco available in the U.S., a separate ceviche bar with plates prepared in front of guests and a communal table. 43 W. 24th St., (212) 929-1200, www.richardsandoval.­com/raymi/

Honorable Mention: Gramercy Tavern: This longtime classic is a perennial top New York eatery, and Knowlton notes, “I think it is one of the best places to eat at the bar …
it was one of the first great ones.” 42 E. 20th St., (212) 477-0777, www.gramercytavern.com



DALLAS
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse: “There’s no better way to feel connected than to eat like a local, and in my hometown that means prime steaks and a great wine list. Pappas has well-marbled steaks, dry-aged in-house; a 33,000-bottle wine cellar; and two master sommeliers. You don’t need a reservation to sit at the chef’s counter, where you can order a dozen oysters and watch the city’s sports celebrities and business leaders stroll by,” says Hiller. 10477 Lombardy Lane, (214) 366-2000, www.pappasbros.com

Bolsa: This previous Restaurant of the Year winner from Dallas’ D Magazine offers lots of small plates, including creative and locally sourced bruschetta tastings, cheese flights and flatbreads (we love the Mercado’s House Made Sausage with shishito peppers). A festive atmosphere and creative cocktails at both the indoor and outdoor bars add to the allure. 614 W. Davis St., (214) 367-9367, www.bolsadallas.com

Honorable Mention: Tei-An: This Japanese soba bar at One Arts Plaza is the pick of Knowlton, who goes solo there because “they have a great noodle bar around a big rock sculpture and also sushi — [which] is always a good choice when you are by yourself.” 1722 Routh St., (214) 220-2828, www.tei-an.com



CHICAGO
Blackbird: A well-established Chicago ­favorite by local star restaurateur Paul Kahan, Blackbird serves an eclectic upscale menu with a focus on meat, fish and game. “The bar is very shallow, with just about six chairs, but very comfortable — so you are in cozy conversation with the bartender, award-winning mixologist Lynn House, who is lovely,” says Lauren Viera, a Chicago journalist who covers spirits and dining for the Chicago Tribune and Time Out Chicago. “Dinner at the bar feels special and is impeccable in terms of presentation: proper place mat, silverware, amuse-bouche, etc.” 619 W. Randolph St., (312) 715-0708, www.blackbirdrestaurant.com

Au Cheval: Gastropub meets upscale diner at this fancified comfort-food spot with a long kitchen bar, dishes that are cooked in front of you and more than 30 specialty beers on tap. It’s an especially good choice for ­late-night dining. 800 W. Randolph St., (312) 929-4580, www.aucheval.tumblr.com

Honorable Mention: Avec: “This is my top choice any time I go to Chicago,” Knowlton says. “It’s got a long eating bar overlooking the kitchen.” The Mediterranean­-influenced menu is split into small and large plates and salumi and cheese platters,­ which is perfect for solo diners. 615 W. Randolph St., (312) 377-2002, www.avecrestaurant.com



LOS ANGELES
Katana: In the middle of the Sunset Strip and near several hotels (Mondrian, Andaz, Standard), Katana is as sexy as restaurants get, with exotic woods, stone and exposed steel, plus a popular outdoor courtyard. But for solo diners, the main attraction is a ­robata-yaki bar where chefs grill over Japanese bincho-tan charcoal at intense heats of up to 1,200 degrees. There’s also a great sushi bar, and at both you can try a sake sampler that features several varieties. 8439 Sunset Blvd. W., (323) 650-8585, www.katanarobata.com

Culina: In the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Culina features a unique live-action crudo bar, which is basically an Italian take on sushi where chefs artfully craft dishes right in front of your eyes. Almost everything on the wine list is available by the glass or carafe. 300 S. Doheny Dr., (310) 860-4000, www.culinarestaurant.com

Honorable Mention: Lucques: This West Hollywood hot spot is one of the city’s most sought-after fine-dining experiences, thanks to James Beard Award–winning chef Suzanne Goin, who uses the finest regional ingredients, from heirloom tomatoes to wild king salmon to soft-shell crab. “I go there every trip to L.A. and sit at the bar,” Knowlton says. 8474 Melrose Ave., (323) 655-6277, www.lucques.com



MIAMI
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar: A semi­finalist for Best New Restaurant 2012 and Best Chef, South from the James Beard Foundation, Yardbird has taken the city by storm with upscale Southern cuisine like shrimp and grits, fried free-range chicken and tea-smoked ribs made from scratch using the finest small-farm-sourced ingredients. They have a lively bar you can eat at with knowledgeable bartenders, plus, Knowlton notes, “They have a big communal table.” 1600 Lenox Ave., (305) 538-5220, www.runchickenrun.com

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink: An ultra­fresh and local focus on its ingredients means the menu changes daily, but Michael’s always has a heavy Italian/Mediterranean slant. Its dinner dishes are served from categories titled small, medium, large and extra-large, and the lively bar upholds its promise to deliver on fun. 130 N.E. 40th St., (305) 573-5550, www.michaelsgenuine.com

Honorable Mention: Red, The Steakhouse: Steak menus make for simple solo dining, and Red is Miami’s best steak house. The bar is integral — it’s lively, there are always people eating at it and the bartenders know their business. 119 Washington Ave., (305) 534-3688, www.redthesteakhouse.com


LARRY OLMSTED is an award-winning travel, food and sports writer. He writes the weekly “Great American Bites” column for USAToday.com and is the contributing travel editor for Cigar Aficionado magazine.