You Never Have to Eat Alone in the Valley: 7 Cool Communal Dining Options

Written by Nancy A. Shenker Category: Lists Issue: July 2018
Group Free

 You’re dining solo. Divorced, widowed, alone on a business trip, or otherwise single for the night. If you sit at a bar, your options are:

 

But now you DO have another option -- several in fact! I discovered the communal table concept when my boyfriend was stranded in Chicago on my birthday. New to town, I didn’t want to dine alone. After ditching an angry stranger at the bar, I moved over to the only open seat at Houston’s communal table. Not only did my table gang toast me over martinis, they sang happy birthday. One fellow diner even picked up the tab for everyone!

Here are just a handful of the communal tables in and around Phoenix. I can’t guarantee you’ll get a free meal, but you may make some great new social and business connections.

See my communal dining etiquette tips at the end of the list, too!

Houston’sHouston27s Spinach Dip

Upscale; part of a “family” of national restaurants.

Table Size/Location: Seats 6/at the end of the bar

Food/Beverage Specialties: Artichokes (when in season), Salads, French Dip, The Hawaiian (rib-eye steak; worth the splurge)

Note: Sometimes used for groups/couples, so check out the diners before sitting down.

6113 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85250, houstons.com

Arcadia Margarita from CRUjiente Tacos

 

CRUjiente Tacos

An unassuming little spot in a strip mall, but an award-winning chef-owned foodie find.

Table Size/Location: Two 10-person tables/right in front of the kitchen (so if your fellow diners bore you, you can watch the food being prepared.)

Food/Beverage Specialties: Margaritas (of course), Street Tacos, Pork Belly, Taco/Beverage Pairings, Gluten-free options

Note: You may want to bring a friend along; chef says he doesn’t see many solo diners, unless the bar is full.

3961 East Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018, crutacos.com

 

Beckett27s Table

Beckett’s Table

Community is what this restaurant is all about! As the website says, “Chef Justin Beckett brings together what matters to him most: family, friends and honest, incredible food.”

Table Size/Location: Seats 16

Food/Beverage Specialties: A great series of food “experiences” called the Grown-Ups Table Dinner Series throughout the summer, featuring a three-course meal and drinks. Table menus have included pork ragu lasagna, lemon charred chicken and verde duck confit enchiladas. Truly grown-up fare!

Note: Reservations for the events ($48 per person) are required. Chef Beckett also runs the CoLab Dinner series at the Southern Rail, collaborating with local food artisans on unique meals.

3717 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018, beckettstable.com

Talavera Paella

 

Talavera Restaurant at Four Seasons Resort

The restaurant added communal tables as part of its recent renovation. Mostly targeted to large groups, traveling solo diners are welcome to sit, meet, and mingle (and enjoy the awesome view.)

Table Size/Location: 2 10-person tables in the middle of the dining room

Food/Beverage Specialties: Steak, Tapas, Paella

10600 E Crescent Moon Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85262, talaverarestaurant.com

Other Local Restaurants With Communal Tables:

PNPK: 23335 North Scottsdale Road, Suite D-105, Scottsdale, AZ 85255, pnpkaz.com

The Phoenix Ale Brewery Central Kitchen: 5813 North Street, Phoenix, AZ 85014, centralkitchenaz.com

Tommy Bahama: 15205 N Kierland Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254, tommybahama.com

 

Communal Versus Couples Versus Group: Etiquette Tips

One of the challenges with the concept of “communal” dining is that many restaurants will make their big tables available to large groups and couples who don’t want to wait for seats at the bar or in the dining room. If you happen to be part of a couple or group and you find a solo diner eating at the communal table, please remember:

  1. Not alone? Be inclusive. The solo diner probably doesn’t want to be alone and stare into space or at liquor bottles...otherwise he/she would have sat at the bar. Be kind and say “hello.” Pretend you’re back in the middle school cafeteria and the new kid in town just sat down.
  2. Are YOU the solo diner? Keep an open mind. You never know who you might meet. Sometimes the most unassuming singles are the most interesting.
  3. Part of a couple? Engaging in a PDA while sitting with a solo diner is not cool. The solo diner doesn’t want to be a third wheel any more than you want to have your cozy date disturbed. Be empathetic and save the making-out and baby talk for after dinner.
  4. Own a restaurant? Promote your communal dining events and opportunities. 56% of the Phoenix population is single and, combined with the huge tourism industry here (business diners eating solo), the communal table may be your next untapped goldmine!