Zuni Cafe, Table for One

September 1, 2011

“Are you dining alone?”…

“Yes, it’s just me” (and my book).

Some may find this a little sad, but honestly, I relished the opportunity to dine alone during my four days travelling solo in San Francisco last month. It allowed me to slow right down, to appreciate every morsel and to really take everything in – the setting, the wine, the food, my fellow diners, everything. Plus, I had some Help keeping entertained.

And so I held my head high with not a scrape of hesitation as I answered their query, “Yes, it’s just me”. It was…and it was fabulous. I had many memorable meals during those gorgeous four days…just me…and San Francisco.


Zuni Cafe was at the top of my list when researching where to eat during my visit to this city that is known for it’s eats. In fact this restaurant, established in 1979, really personifies all that comes to mind when you think of food and San Francisco. It wholly represents the city’s famous and commendable food philosophy, emphasising local, seasonal produce cooked simply and well. Amen.

At my cozy table for one upstairs, I ordered a glass of sauvignon blanc. Super crisp, just how I like my white wine, and terribly restorative after a long day walking around the city.

Bread and butter. Basic and beautiful.

To start I had an argula salad with cucumbers, mint, scallions and sheeps milk feta. I was craving salad after delighting in cinnamon sugar beignets for lunch. The feta was sure, soft and incredibly welcoming.

For my main dish I ordered either the duck or the albacore (a type of tuna) from Oregon. True story: I couldn’t decide between these two dishes (much to my dismay, the famous roasted chicken and bread salad was only for two to share. Ok, here was a true moment when I missed a dining companion, and lamented my book for not having a mouth nor digestive system). Because I couldn’t decide, I left it up to my waiter to bring me his recommendation. As it turns out, he was in an albacore mood that evening. And I am so pleased he was.

Delightfully light yet full of flavour, this dish was summer on a plate. The crunch of beans was texturally wonderfully, the tomatoes were heavenly sweet, the basil divine and the fish, well, it was grilled rare to perfection. Zuni Cafe certainly wins the award for the restaurant that most lived up to my expectations. I imagined it to be fresh, clean, simple and delicious…and it was.

As I ate and sipped and read, I couldn’t help but smile. Only to myself, but that doesn’t make a smile any less true or significant, does it?

Heidi xo

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  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) September 1, 2011 at 7:51 am

    what a lovely meal for one!

  • Michelle Chin September 1, 2011 at 7:52 am

    when i was in the states, i dined alone 90 percent of the time.

  • Blithely Unaware September 1, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Oh that does look fresh and crunchy!!!

    There is nothing wrong with dining alone, like you mentioned it gives you a chance to really take in the meal and you surroundings.


  • Hannah September 1, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Oh lovely, I love going to cafes, ordering something yummy and taking a good book! 🙂
    Hannah x

  • Julia @ Boredom Abounds September 1, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Yum. That salad does sound good, particularly the fetta!

  • Lisa September 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I love that you gave the waiter the choice! I'm such a Libran, I'm constantly tossing up between two choices, maybe next time I will do exactly what you did.

  • Heidi September 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Lisa – yes it was 🙂

    Michelle – high five!!

    Blithely Unaware – indeed 🙂

    Hannah – isn't it great?!

    Julia – it was really delicious, very refreshing.

    Lisa – well I'm on the cusp of virgo & libra, so maybe that's where I get it from. I find making other people decide is a great way to handle this indecisiveness 😛

    Heidi xo

  • Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi September 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Glad I'm not the only one who leaves it up to the waiters sometimes to make the decision! Glad you had a good dining experience – a few times I've found when dining alone I get terrible service and they try to rush me out.

  • Yasmeen September 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Not sad at all! I love dining alone – especially in a cafe by a window with a book or magazine. Love the light lunch you've shared here. Looks delish.

  • Leah September 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I love eating alone. One of my favourite things to do is people watch while eating.

  • Sherilyn @ Wholepromise September 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    With two crazy boys under my feet ever day I would love an opportunity to dine alone and actually savour a meal rather than scoff. I enjoyed reading and thinking about what dining alone would be like – sigh!!! not to mention doing it with a good book. Pure Delight I am sure. Enjoy!

  • msihua September 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Ahhh.. so that's where your pictures came from! They looked so pretty 🙂

  • The InTolerant Chef September 1, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    What a nice story, I'm glad you let him decide. Sometimes I do that too! Dining alone can be quite liberating not lonely at all.

  • Hannah September 1, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Having spent months on end travelling by myself, would've been in dire straits had I not loved eating alone! Often I'd take a book, but then find myself happily people watching instead. I must admit, though, that younger-Hannah never quite got to a place of Zuni's calibre on her own! xo

  • Heidi September 2, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Keely – oh what a shame! I must say, I was tucked into the tiniest little table possible 🙂

    Yasmeen – you're right, a window makes a lot of difference! Prime for people spotting 😉

    Leah – me too 🙂

    Sherilyn – thanks, lovely! I suppose I should try and lap it up before I start having kids 🙂

    Msihua – thanks!

    InTolerant Chef – yes, I completely agree. & thanks you 🙂

    Hannah – maybe next trip you will! Hope it's soon, lovely!

    Heidi xo

  • Ashley September 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I love dining on my own when I travel as usually one's schedule is so hectic, that down time is so pleasant! Looks like you've had an absolutely delightful little lunch, I always like a glass of wine on my own now and agian too… 🙂

  • l i s a z h a n g September 2, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    so obsessed with food blogs lately!
    and your blog is amazing!
    extra plus that your in australia, which means that these drool worthy items are actually attainable!!



  • Heidi September 3, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Ashley – yes having a glass of wine alone is so enjoyable, isn't it?!!

    Lisa – thanks 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • Iron Chef Shellie September 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Oh how I'd love to go somewhere new and dine alone… lol sounds like a sad dream but you make it sounds so good 😛