Dining out can be an experience that you enjoy with family, friends, and loved ones. You normally go to a restaurant to eat with a group of people or as a romantic date, but there are also days when you want to eat out alone. There’s nothing wrong with that.
In fact, eating out in solitude is something that you should try more often. Eating alone should not be seen as a taboo and should in fact be embraced, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.
If you want to give dining solo a try, you should remember these tips to make sure it will still be an enjoyable experience for you:
Choose the restaurant well.
Some restaurants are more conducive to solo diners than others. A café for instance would have tables that are ideal for solo diners, but a fine dining restaurant is not as ideal. You can pick restaurants with communal seating as well, where there’s a bar. However, if you want to really be left alone then avoid the more social places.
It’d probably also be best to avoid extremely popular restaurants with a high turnover rate, because you’ll be pressured to leave your table earlier. If you want relaxing me-time then opt for the slower cafes where you can stay all afternoon.
You don’t want to completely avoid people, but if you want to revel in your solitude you’d want a place that’s quiet and away from the traffic flow. Ask if you can get a corner table or somewhere with a safe distance from the rest.
Pick a companion.
And no, this doesn’t mean your mobile phone. Eating out should be a joy, even when done in solitude. It’s your chance to spend time on yourself and be alone in your thoughts. The danger with looking like you’re doing nothing is that other diners (and waitstaff) might feel like they need to ask if you’re okay or strike up a conversation, so you need to bring something to occupy yourself with.
Gadgets are the most obvious choice here but if you can, it would be good to stay away from your mobile phone, tablet, or worse – laptop. Unless you’re in a café planning to actually do some productive work, a laptop on a lunch table is a no-no. Being too busy on your mobile phone could also appear as rude, depending on the fanciness of the restaurant.
What you can do is bring some reading or writing material, because you want to look preoccupied but not like a workaholic. A book or a magazine would be a good option here. Another good distraction would be a little notebook to jot down notes. You can even pretend you’re a food critic!
If cooking for one is tricky, so is ordering. For one, you should ask how big the servings are because oftentimes they’re good for two. If you want variety, you can order for samplers. A burger sampler for instance would have a number of tiny burgers instead of one big burger that you’re not sure about. You can also pick a restaurant that serves tapas or small plates of food, so you can try out several.
Or fake it ‘til you make it. But seriously though, eating out alone is something that different people react differently to. Some people will pity you, and some won’t care. Some will think they need to strike up a conversation with you, and some will want to leave you alone. You can’t control how people think, but you can control the aura you project.
As soon as you walk in the restaurant, act confident. Eating out is not a big deal, and if you’re not the first person to believe that, then nobody else will. You shouldn’t act shy or have your head down, but you should just go on with your business and exude confidence.
Think of your time eating out alone as a time to splurge on yourself. It’s some quality me-time that you deserve, so instead of looking at it as a chore or dreading it because of what everybody else will say, own it and make it a pleasure.
This means you can go and be adventurous in your food choices, because you’re not there to please anyone anyway. You’re there to please only yourself, so be bold and daring if you need to be. Be smart about your choices, but don’t be afraid to spend a little more on yourself as well. Especially if you’re eating out because you’re celebrating something.
As a way of treating yourself, you should relish every bite. With no person and conversation to distract you, enjoy every mouthful to the fullest.