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Go ahead, get the pancakes at Beatrix. No one's judging.

We love the perks of dining alone. You can order the steak frites without any scrutinizing looks, take your sweet time and there’s no end of the conversation to keep up.

All you need is an engaging book--and if the people-watching’s good, you don’t even need that--and a place that feels right for a party of one.

Here are our two latest favorites:

Doc B.’s Fresh Kitchen When shopping solo on the Mag Mile, we avoid the see-and-be-seen standards and head to this spot, where you can order at the counter, pick your own table and use the free Wi-Fi to respond to emails while you wait for your grilled swordfish ($23) or tangy quinoa salad ($11) to arrive. If you’re indulging, there’s also a menu of burgers made with beef from Publican Quality Meats--get the juicy “Homage” ($11) with cheddar and Thousand Island dressing. 100 E. Walton St.; 312-626-1300 or

Beatrix This is River North’s new jack-of-all-trades: It’s a coffee bar that serves breakfast, it’s a restaurant with a bar that’s open until midnight, and its seating runs the gamut from four-top tables to deep club chairs to high counters that face the huge windows. Best time to go: mid-morning, before the lunch crowd descends. Bring your laptop, grab a counter seat, order the zingy lemon pancakes ($11) and make this your office for an hour or two. 519 N. Clark St.; 312-284-1377 or

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