Dining out alone has definitely lost any stigma it once had.
According to this article from the Today show more than half of eating occasions are now solo ones.
Frankly, I’ve never had a problem dining solo and I’ve never felt any stigma or sad looks when I’ve been alone at restaurants. It just makes sense, certainly in a restaurant centric city like Houston, to enjoy eating out with or without companions. I can’t remember ever having a host ask me if I’m just one. The usual query is how many in your party to which I reply “One.” And they always seat me at a table.
Dining out alone can be like a mini-vacation. It’s Me Time with great food and good service. Plus, you get to call all the shots.
A lot of articles and blogs giving tips about dining alone say the best place to eat is at the bar. Maybe if you’re feeling like an outcast or just want to chat up the bartender. I much prefer a table where I have room for dishes, drinks and electronic devices.
If you’re looking for conversation, many restaurants today offer community tables, but if you’re dining at off hours you may wind up sitting at a table for 10 by yourself.
Here are some other tips for dining solo.
Choose a restaurant you really like and where the food is fabulous. Don’t be self-conscious. If you feel out of place than it may be that dining solo isn’t for you and you might be better served just getting take-out.
If, on the other hand you have no qualms, than enjoy!
Dining Solo Survival Guide
Some tips on eating solo say things like eat quickly and ask for the check right away, or that you should tell the waiter when you get up to go to the restroom or else the waiter might clear your plates. Please. Any time you get up from table before you are done eating, just place your napkin on your seat, any waiter worth their salt knows that means you are coming right back.
Also, particularly if you a regular and a good tipper, most restaurants and staff won’t care how long you are there as long as you are still eating and drinking. Although do be considerate if there are others waiting on line. On occasion if there is a line and I’ve finished eating but am still drinking, I will get up and move to the bar so someone else can have the table.
Don’t be self-conscious. If you feel out of place than it may be that dining solo isn’t for you.
If you’re a regular you can probably expect to strike up conversation with the staff, but I don’t monopolize their time if they are busy. I can entertain myself people watching or just enjoying a quiet meal.
I do, however, always bring a book with me. Either a real book or an eBook. I prefer that to a magazine or newspaper because if I am in the mood to read while dining I don’t want to run out of reading material. Kindles are great because you can load them up with multiple choices so you never run out of reading material. Just remember to put the thing down when the waiter arrives. Politeness counts even when you’re dining alone.
While I usually dine solo at places where I’m known, I once had Thanksgiving lunch at a new restaurant. Even then I had no problems or pity looks. But I did get a special appetizer for free. Sweet.
To sum up, dining out alone can be like a mini-vacation. It’s Me Time with great food and good service. Plus, you get to call all the shots. You don’t have to share! And any leftovers go home with you for extra meals.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat out with friends and family, but sometimes a meal at your favorite restaurant just by yourself can be a real treat. Try it, if you haven’t, and just relax and enjoy.