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Curious as to how many of you can dine alone in a nice restaurant without bringing a book?And to go on with that theme, how many of you enjoy dining alone?

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  1. Lunch is fine..dinner I cannot enjoy alone. For one thing when I see a diner alone I feel bad and it really distracts me so I feel that way about if I am dining alone.

    5 Replies
    1. re: phelana

      I'm the same way. I do not mind eating lunch alone because it's so common, but at dinnertime it is more lonely. The only time I'll typically eat alone for dinner is when I am traveling solo, and that is my least favorite aspect of solo traveling. I like to try new things and share food when I traveling.

      1. re: queencru

        I don't travel much for work, but DH does it frequently. He hates eating by himself when away, which is why he's so happy when I'm able to join him (which is pretty rare). He'll just generally eat at the bar when he's out by himself.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          I don't tend to eat at the bar because I'm a non-drinker and don't really feel comfortable with it for various reasons.

        2. re: queencru

          Totally agree with queencru and phelana. I am OK with lunch alone, but dinner is a whole different story. I feel very conspicuous and awkward and never enjoy eating dinner alone.

        3. re: phelana

          Having no chowish family or friends (THAT is what you might pity me for) I find myself on my own for lunch and dinner often.

          When I was young and stupid, I often took a book. Now, I enjoy my own company, and I enjoy a little enforced time to do nothing but think my own thoughts (so many temptations to avoid that, when the TV and such are so close, at home).

        4. Don't dine alone often, now. But years ago, I worked for a company where I did lots of traveling to Asia , Europe and Canada. Dined alone lots then- never brought a book, though.In some parts of Asia ( at that time), it was a bit odd for a woman to dine alone, but if I did not have to go an "entertainment" evening with clients oro co workers, I always wanted to escape by myself. In Japan, I would bring a business card with the name of the hotel- so I did n ot get lost!

          1. i don't mind dining alone, but i usually would have a book w/ me when i do. I will never understand why someone eating alone is something to feel sorry for, bad about, or uncomfortable with.

            1 Reply
            1. re: thew

              I agree- and i never realized that people thought that until I read about on these boards!

            2. I'm not a big fan of dining alone, but don't mind it terribly at lunch, particularly if I have the NYT food section <grin, wink>. For dinner, I would sit at the bar and have my dinner there just so I felt more connected to others. I suppose I just haven't done it enough to be comfortable w/ it.

              1. Frequent topic, similar threads:

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                1. My mom liked to dine alone although she did bring a book most of the time. So for a long time I didn't realize that it was somewhat unusual. I used to eat out at fairly nice places by myself once in awhile and didn't think twice about it. I used to bring a book but most of the time never even open it. It was like a prop or security blanket. The best times I have had dining alone were when I was in an exceptionally good mood to begin with. It helps if you have been to the restaurant before and are already comfortable with it. I encourage those have haven't to try it. There is something deliciously self-indulgent about it if you go to the right place. Like taking a long hot bath. Or like cooking a nice meal just for yourself. It can just make you feel so self-confident and good!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: givemecarbs

                    You are so right, givemecarbs. I go into the city to get my hair done. It is the neatest area of town. Very funky and eccletic with tattooed people walking the streets alongside bankers... a real melting pot. Well, this is often the only time I get to this area of town and they have some lovely cafes. I went and had a hair cut and then picked up the nyt (it was a wednesday) and made my way to the little french cafe for lunch by myself. I ordered a glass of wine and their amazing take on the burger and I was in pure heaven. I swear I was walking on air when I left.

                    You hit the nail on the head. I need to stop being such a wimp and try and do that more often. Thanks for the reminder.

                  2. If a chain is the only reasonable spot to eat dinner and i'm alone, I'll bring a crossword puzzle. Other wise, I'll try to find a smaller place, with outdoor seating if weather is nice, and people watch and chat with the waitstaff and get a better feel for the neighbothood. For more upscale spots, I'll eat at the bar and chat with the bartender. Dining alone in an upscale, top spot in the city you're in is the pits, regardless of the quality of the food.

                    1. I don't mind dining alone, and enjoy it often. Sometimes I'm entertained enough by looking at all the dishes go by or on the nearby tables. But the major drawback is that I can't finish a whole bottle of wine by myself (taking the remainder home may mean that it won't be drunk in a timely fashion, as I may be chowing somewhere else the next day). The other major drawback is that I don't get to taste as much stuff, although sometimes I just over order and after tasting, have the stuff that suffers less from rewarming as a doggy bag.

                      1. jfood just spent another two nights on the road with 2 solo dining experiences. Does he like it? not really, but after years of doing it, he is sorta used to it.

                        The plusses are that he goes exactly where he wants when he wants. The downside is that it is a bit lonely and he misses the discussion time with friends and most importantly mrs jfood.

                        He normally takes a book, both both nights this week he forgot so he looked around, used the blackberry to take notes on the meal.

                        Try it an after a few times, it will be fine.

                        1. Read the book "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant - Confessions of cooking for one and dining alone".

                          I agree with a lot of the comments here...
                          Dining alone out on the town was something I had to get used too, and glad that I have. I used to go out with a friends all the time to explore and try all kinds of things but we would not always have the same interests which would take away from the experience at times. So learned to try things on my own. I enjoy being able to try anything and everything I like, and really doing things for just me! But I always ordering way too much, because I want to try everything, and that is amongst a few drawbacks. No reading materials needed most of the time...I just sit and and take in the atmosphere..chew slowly, and savor my food and drink! And when ordering I can be as particular as I want.

                          Amongst my circle of friends, doing anything solo is unheard of. I'm glad that I can do things with or without the company of others. One thing I enjoy about this solo thing is that they always have room for 1. Whereas that might not be the case with 2 or 3! Busy dinner reservations nights, can usually always accomodate one. One can always squeeze in at the bar! On another note getting tickets to a show for 1 usually gets a pretty good spot.

                          1. I love traveling solo, so that includes dining alone, usually if traveling, I will do my postcards, map out my next day or read a Time Out city guide. If I feel self conscience that day for some reason, I will sit at the bar. Bartenders and waiters are usually really pleasant to single people, you just always have to get past the host stating, "JUST ONE?"

                            1. I actually enjoy dining out solo. I have traveled a lot for my work, so sometimes there hasn't been a choice -- plus, I tend to enjoy my own company. However, I will always bring reading material. (Does the original post imply that this is undesirable? If so, I beg to differ.)

                              Sometimes it seems preferable to eat at the bar, but other times definitely not. I have rarely, if ever, encountered a negative response from the server, and in fact, have usually found the servers to be very friendly and even good company.

                              The only downside to dining alone, is that I generally like to eat family style and share dishes, and as a solo diner, deciding how to order 'well' can be quite a little puzzle!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: BTaylor

                                Well I would not imply that it is undesirable, but I do think of a book as a "security blanket" of sorts for some people...I love hearing from the people that actually enjoy eating solo, and still feel perplexed by the post that mentioned feeling badly about seeing someone eating solo..That post sort of reminded me of why some people, I think especially women, feel uncomfortable dining alone or going somewhere by themselves, because there is a feeling that others are thinking to themselves..." Poor thing...all alone...", when in actually many times, especially these days, it is a definite choice!

                                1. re: jinet12

                                  I don't mind dining alone. A book CAN be a prop so it isn't obvious that you are listening to the conversations around you - some people loudly discuss the darndest things lol!!! Anyway, I broke my wrist and found it very hard to hold a book w/both hands. I found www.flipklip.com and use it all the time, especially when eating as it holds the book flat.

                              2. Some points:

                                1. I never go anywhere without a book 'just in case'. If there's a free moment to do some reading, I'll grab it.

                                2. I enjoy dining alone, but I do like a book with me, because I like to read whenever I get the chance.

                                3. Book as 'prop' or 'security blanket'-- wow. I just like to read. It is a bad habit to read at the table, i suppose. But if I'm going to break that rule, I'm not going to do it just for show.

                                4. Books aside, I'm really shocked by the negative value judgements of people doing things alone. How did enjoying one's own company or demonstrating self-sufficiency become something shameful? I find this outlook terribly sad, frankly. Just as sad as seeing books as something to carry and show, but not read.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Lizard

                                  Lizard, I agree 100%. I am flabbergasted at the number of people who find solo diners to be sad. Obviously, they are projecting their own insecurities onto the solo diner, who is likely enjoying himself/herself. I enjoy dining with others, but I also enjoy dining solo. And the pleasures of a good meal AND a good book AND a guilt-free time to enjoy reading said book--priceless! Many of us have careers that keep us quite busy and we relish the time to enjoy reading.

                                  1. re: Lizard

                                    Like Lizard, I never leave home without a book. I have a shoulder bag that holds my book, phone, etc that is always with me, at least in my car.

                                    And I love dining alone. I never go to restaurants alone when at home, except for lunch sometimes, but much of my travel is based around my wife's work, and she has evening commitments. So I use that time to treat myself to food she can't eat (seafood allergy) - going for the best sushi or seafood places in whatever city we are in. I quite often go very high-end, multi-course tasting menus with wine pairing, etc.

                                    The only problem I find is that sometimes I feel that the service is rushed - my courses come faster than they would if I wasn't alone, as though the restaurant either a) wants me out or b) thinks I don't want to linger.

                                    I usually tip very well when alone - 25% or 30% to accommodate for the fact that the server has a table where the bill will be smaller than many others. It is not uncommon for me to spend $150 - $200 on a solo meal (often while wife is at some awful rubber chicken banquet :) )

                                    I also like to dine alone at home occassionally, which gives me the opportunity to attempt new ideas that I think wife would balk at if I were to plan it with her around. Sometimes they work and get refined for when she is around, but many (most) never get attempted again!

                                    1. re: Lizard

                                      I usually have a book/magazine/crossword to keep the little grey cells active, but when I was visiting the UK, and staying in smaller towns, I found it quite unnecessary when visiting a local pub for dinner. It rarely took more than a few minutes before I was approached by a local, and before long, I'd made a number of new friends.

                                      1. re: Lizard

                                        I agree with you 100%. My book isn't a prop or security blanket. I am perfectly able to sit and eat by myself in a restaurant without a book. But I am a voracious reader and read whenever I can. I even read while walking home.

                                        I love eating out by myself, as much as I love eating out with my spouse and/or friends and family. I love going to the movies by myself also. Get to sit wherever I want and if it's not busy, I don't have to fight for the armrest.

                                      2. Posts like this dispel the myth that eating alone isn't a pleasurable choice.
                                        My job puts me in restaurants often enough that I can see a number of diners eating alone. Many enjoying the atmosphere & food sans book! I'm usually sketching at the table waiting for my meal, which tends to draw people close to me out of curiosity, and a few times has led to an unexpected dining companion.

                                        Dining with my husband, or with my kids in tow is enjoyable but I'm with those posters who have found a "table for one" a selfless pleasure.

                                        1. Sorry, I fell off CH for awhile and never got back to your Vienna dining solo question. For myself, I need something--whether it be a book, a diary, a clipping I have been meaning to read. I may not sit the whole time reading but I can go back and forth from reading, watching, talking to the staff or neighbors. I recently ate in New Orleans solo and found enough to watch that I never read. Lunch is more comfortable but I do dinner and lunch solo if I don't want to miss out.

                                          1. I dine alone a lot, no problem with it at all. I prefer eating with friends, but wont let that stop me from enjoying a good meal out. I never bring a book. Seems too much like lingering. Its a restaurant, not a library. I often ask for the check as soon as the food is served. There is no conversation and I'm in and out quickly. some places that I frequent know this and will get me in on a busy night w/o a reservation because they know they'll turn over the table, get a good tip in a short time.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: rednyellow

                                              Why is it lingering? I read a book because it's a good use of my time when I am waiting for my meal. I don't take any longer because I'm looking at a book, and I am sure that couples or groups typically take longer than singles do.

                                              1. re: queencru

                                                couples do take longer, and spend twice as much in typically the same space. you may not linger with a book, most do.

                                            2. I do it a lot on business. Always have a book. I like the idea of a common table and wonder why more restaurants/hotels don't do this. I have been to a few and enjoy meeting the others there. Several of them have become friends as i travel

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                I usually read the book as well but, occasionally, an interesting conversation or people watching distracts me - hence "the prop". I am lucky enough to be retired and read a book at least every 2 days, sometimes 1 a day and yes, I do alot of other things.

                                              2. Funny-when I was single I felt like a bigfatloser if I ate alone. Now I can march in bookless, have a great meal (take pictures even) and appreciate a little chunk of me-time. But my husband is the perfect person to share everything with, so it ends up that I miss him despite myself. Solo dining for me is rare, and I don't seek out those occasions. Movies either... but more so food- I don't think I'm having as much fun as I could be without my adoring fan to giggle with, not to mention that my sarcastic asides and silly jokes are SO much better when told to my loveysnoopyface instead of just rolling around in my own head.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                                  My feeling that if one is a 'bigfatloser' when dining alone, one is that same 'bigfatloser' when dining in company of his or her shmoopy or 'adoring fan'. It is a shame that such ugly language is used to describe solo diners. It is also a shame that people talk in cinemas-- but that is not a topic for dining.

                                                  The only persistent downside of solo-dining is that there are fewer opportunities to taste other plates.

                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                    Ditto, and love the comment concerning the cinema, as I feel quite passionate about that myself....

                                                    1. re: Lizard

                                                      bigfatloser is how I felt-not how I describe solo diners.

                                                      1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                                        There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?" -David Foster Wallace

                                                  2. I travel a bit for my business and I've been known to take a mini vacation by myself for a day or two after to a nearby city. I have no problem dining alone (no book needed) and I would never say that I don't enjoy it, not to say that it wouldn't be nice to have my wife with me.

                                                    1. I try to just enjoy the moment fully. If I'm dining with my SO or other good company, it is great. If I am dining alone (any meal) I fully enjoy that too. I love those I consider friends, but I also really enjoy my own company. MY SO was out of town for much of this past weekend, so I took that as an opportunity to fully indulge in some "me" time. Ate what, where and when I wanted - took several meals out, cooked several special meals. SO is a big eater, so this gives me a chance to splurge without having to buy something pricey for 4 servings (1 for me, 3 for SO)...

                                                      When dining out alone I used to always bring a book (I love to read), but have stopped doing that much of the time. Often the light is too dim, or the people watching is too amusing,or I just want to think or daydream. I tend to end up jotting down notes/thoughts a bit in this situation.

                                                      I did once overhear a woman at a table near me refer to me with shocked pity for dining alone. I just about choked on my drink trying not to laugh out loud! These types of attitudes say volumes more about them than about you! I think it is sad that this woman won't feel comfortable enough with being alone to pursue her interests in a solitary manner if she ever finds herself without handy spouse/family/friends....

                                                      Being alone does not automatically equal being lonely. Be alone doesn't mean you are not good company. It simply means that this is a moment when you are on your own, so revel in it!

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                        meatn3 echos my thoughts. Almost all my lunch restaurant meals are solo, although I usually tend to go to a couple of places and talk with the staff and other frequent diners - especially at sushi bars.

                                                        I rarely bring a book, but sometimes do, especially if I'm into something. Sometimes I'll grab a free paper, but not as a prop -- simply when I'm interested in something or simply don't feel like talking.

                                                        1. re: meatn3

                                                          Meatn3, I love this post! I think "me" time can be very important.

                                                          I also find that when I eat with others, I spend a lot of time worrying that everyone has a good time, and try to facilitate. I love this, I love worrying about friends and family (in a good way!), I like being everyone's mother. But every once in a while, it is nice to be alone and just focus on my food!

                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                            My snide comment back would have been, it's too bad you don't like yourself so much that you can't stand your own company. Of course that probably would have gone over her head.

                                                            1. re: Jase

                                                              I think the enjoyment of solitude is very alien for some people. For example, a friends 80-something year old father recently spent several nights in the hospital.Her mother was understandably upset, but what really had her almost hysterical was that she had never spent a night alone in her entire life - she was scared to death to sleep alone in her home! She illustrates the extreme, but being alone seems to bring out strong reactions in some!

                                                              The day that woman commented on my dining alone, it caught me tremendously off guard. I had just spent 3 weeks on the road working with a friend. While we get along famously, still - the only alone time was if the hotel bath door was shut...The work was very heavily people oriented, sometimes 12 hours "on" with the public. So this was my first day home. I didn't want to talk to a soul, just wanted to enjoy my own thoughts and get my errands done so I could hole up and cook, read and nest for a few days. Suddenly, I was starving and craving fried oysters. Since they are best eaten immediately I decided to eat in...I was in such a blissful state of "me" time that I was astounded that someone could look at me and assume the complete opposite!

                                                          2. I used to travel a lot and got used to it really quickly but had to have something to read. Still doesn't bother me. I also got used to going to the movies alone while living in NYC. Now I almost prefer it. The only thing I could never do is go into a bar and have a drink by myself.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: southernitalian

                                                              I'm just the opposite, SI. I have no problem having a drink at a bar alone but the solo movie experience is uncomfortable for me. I once went to the Stonecrest theaters alone and it was overrun w/ teenagers. I asked one kid if he was the end of the ticket line and his response was "Yea, DUH" and then burst into laughter w/ his friends. I responded with a "You little a#$-hole..." and proceeded to give him the verbal tongue lashing he so deserved. That shut him up but the experience has forever tainted my solo movie outings.

                                                            2. I dine alone a lot. Mostly lunches, but the occasional dinner as well. And I usually have a book with me. Someone above said they only did this when they were young and foolish? Not sure I understand.

                                                              Turning off the cell phone and having a bite to eat with a glass of wine while reading a book is one of my ultimate pleasures. I find the book also helps to deflect unwanted conversations from other single patrons. I am just not the kind of person who enjoys small talk, and there is always that one guy at a bar who seems to think a solo woman is just begging to be entertained by him.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: NovoCuisine

                                                                Novo, you made me think about lunches w/wine! DH and I are going to a bridge tournament in Naples in a couple of weeks. I don't play so when he goes to play around 12:30 I head out to a salad and wine w/book lunch. Of course sometimes it isn't a salad but I love those lunches!!

                                                              2. I sometimes hate dining alone (generally when I have to), and sometimes love it (generally when I choose to).
                                                                I don't take a book to read - I take a notebook to write in. I jot down notes about where I am, the people I can see, the food I'm eating, sometimes a sketch or two, sometimes just a shopping list or ideas for my next art project. It has occurred to me I may look like a restaurant reviewer - and that may explain why I think I've never had bad service nor been rushed.

                                                                1. I don't mind dining alone but when travelling on business. But I do like to order room service just because I like kicking off my shoes and relaxing. Also I absolutely adore room service for breakfast.

                                                                  Also when travelling alone, I am often pretty careful about venturing out at night alone. If I can walk only a few blocks or cab it, I will go out. Also after getting hit out when dining alone in the bar, I do not do that anymore.

                                                                  And even though I know Miss Manners strongly disapproves, I do use my Crackberry at the table when dining alone.

                                                                  1. Before I got married, I dined alone 90% of the time. I just picked the right restaurants, though it's tricky. At a place like Tajima, you can even pick out your comic book (in Japanese) to read. Or I'd do my stocks or personal financial analysis. But usually, I chose places that were efficient - Tajima, Korean, Chinese cafe (like 168), take-out.

                                                                    A lot of places do take-out. I'll even get Piatti's tiramisu to go sometimes.

                                                                    In Vegas, me and my wife would even order take out from an upscale restaurant for our room, just so we can enjoy it at our own pace in our nice room.

                                                                    1. I enjoy dining alone. Maybe, it's because I'm an only child. I wonder if others who are only children tend to enjoy dining alone more then those with siblings? I don't need to bring a book. I watch people, read the menu over a bit too much. I prefer to sit at a bar and eat rather then a table.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: michele cindy

                                                                        I'm one of four. I think the chaos of that many caused me to crave solitude! But the other three love noise and exuberance...Being the eldest, I always assumed that I received the memo about being an only child, but somehow my parents never saw it!

                                                                        ;-D

                                                                        1. re: meatn3

                                                                          On the other hand, I hate room service, and I don't like eating alone at home. It's kind of boring just eating in a room alone. It's not relaxing at all to me. I like being around people, even if I don't know them. That might be part of the only child thing too. I do love a good business trip and having a nice hotel room to myself, it's just the dining part.

                                                                        2. re: michele cindy

                                                                          I'm an only child too and like to do a lot of things by myself, go to dinner, museums, some travel etc. As an only child you learn pretty quickly how to occupy yourself and for some people the adaptation tends to carry over to adult life. I am recently divorced but had many solo meals even when I was married, so my transition to single life in that dept has been easy. With that said, I've noticed it is harder to find quiet restaurants so if the music or crowd chatter is deafening at a restaurant I want to eat at I order to go.

                                                                          I like eating solo because you can eat when you want. I have discovered being an early dinner eater can be advantageous if you don't have reservation at places that don't get busy until later.

                                                                          1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                            I like it when places are busy when dining alone, it often can give you an opportunity to meet new people, join in on a fun conversation (that's a benefit of dining at the bar). One of the things I do, which is really bad, but if I'm bored and the place is pretty quite, while dining alone, I tend to eavesdrop on what others are saying.

                                                                        3. jfood was in MSP this week and because he has no probloem eating alone, he had the pleasure of two outstanding meals. a westin burger in the room or take-away would not have come close.

                                                                          And he read 50 pages ion his book one night and met some neat people the other night.

                                                                          1. I'm a teacher. I am "on" all day and I'm interacting meaningfully all day. I don't have a second to myself; I have to watch every word and every movement. Eating alone is a lifesaver. I would probably go crazy (right before I starved) if I only ate in the company of others.

                                                                            1. Most of the posts are about enjoying the peace and quiet and not the food. Sometimes I just want to enjoy the food without the social interaction.

                                                                              "Another tale runs that one of his servants, upon hearing that he would have no guests for dinner, served only one course. Lucullus reprimanded his servant saying, 'What, did not you know, then, that today Lucullus dines with Lucullus?' "

                                                                              The man knows what he's talking about. No chit chat, sexual undercurrents, etc.etc. The food had better be good, because that's all I'm concentrating on. Nothing wrong with eating alone and enjoying the food and my own (cough) great company.

                                                                              When we entertain, I cook for 4-50 people. Sometimes I just want to sit down and not worry about anyone and let the meal proceed at it's own pace. Whether I cook it myself or go out, eating alone means there's nothing bad food can hide behind.

                                                                              And yeah, sometimes it's not about the food and I just heave a sigh of relief that I'm peacefully alone.

                                                                              1. A few times when have I traveled on business I took myself out to dine. Once even to a legendary steak house, where the meal was quite lengthy. I prefer in those situations to sit at the bar, where you can converse with the bartender and other patrons if you so choose. I have also on a few rare occasions eaten alone at a table for dinner. I did not take a book. I don't mind doing it - save a few awkward times I have made eye contact with couples at other tables (who of course I immediately interpreted as feeling sorry for me.) I love fine dining and consider a good meal enough of an event that I will dine alone if there are no companions to join, but the bottom line for me is meals are much more enjoyed when you can savor and share with others - especially foodies.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                  ditto

                                                                                  1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                    It's like a wine lover drinking their favorite wine by themselves. If they're enjoying it, you don't need anyone else.

                                                                                    I'm serious enough about certain foods like sushi not to notice anyone else - only a few people I take would enjoy it as much as myself anyways. One reason I married someone who loved the same foods as me. =)

                                                                                  2. This thread reminds me of an old SATC episode where, well never mind.....i forgot this wasn't the SATC fan board.

                                                                                    I personally have no problem dining alone and once I started actually liking myself, it got a lot easier :)

                                                                                    I generally sit at the bar as I don't like to tie up a table for 1 patron. For me this goes back to the fact that I always hated waiting on the solo diner as a server - not sure why. In fact in retrospect, I'd rather have the single diner over the ladies luncheon crowd any day.

                                                                                    Another reason that I prefer the bar is that I personally enjoy the possibility of meeting new people and find service at the bar to be a better/faster/more attentive.

                                                                                    I must admit I do love the "just one" conversation if there is no bar to sit at or if the bar doesn't offer full food service:

                                                                                    Host: How many in your party
                                                                                    me: One
                                                                                    Host: OH?!? Just one.........
                                                                                    me: yes, just one but I promise to eat and drink for two

                                                                                    I do admit that I ALWAYS have a book or newspaper - partly as a protective shield if necessary and partly because I can only read the menu so many times.

                                                                                    1. My pre-Mr OCAnn days, I'd eat solo a lot. Here, there, everywhere, sans book (which can seems like a security blanket, but I know this is not always the case).

                                                                                      Fun thing about eating alone were free glasses of wine, free apps, great & friendly service, the occasional phone number and offers of city tours (when I dined away on holiday)....

                                                                                      1. I don't think I could ever dine alone, anywhere, anytime.. The best I could do is grab a coffee and something to eat from a coffee shop/cafe and sit there (if it's cold outside or waiting for something/somebody/taking a break) but I can't get myself to order or buy food for myself alone.
                                                                                        It's odd because my BF is so like this with everything else while I don't have problems doing things alone, shopping, walking, I rather enjoy it and it allows me to focus but eating is something entirely different.
                                                                                        I grew up in a family where eating is a "family" thing, even though my dad wasn't around but my mother made us gather, and that's why I often get extremely depressed if I travel or am alone for a while, I'd rather not eat at all. *thank God for family members who constantly remind me*

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: BamiaWruz

                                                                                          Try using your travels as an opportunity; that's how it started w/me. Start slow: b'fast w/a newspaper or lunch out with work files...and in time you can move up to dinner solo.

                                                                                        2. I eat alone sometimes and don't really like it. I am a fast eater to begin with and conversation usually slows me down a bit. If I am alone, I feel like I wolf down my food and then what is the point of going out to eat to enjoy the meal?

                                                                                          I feel bad when I see older/elderly solo diners and I ALWAYS want to invite them to eat with me. Usually timing is off or something, however...

                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Mag454

                                                                                            It's taken a while, but I've gotten comfortable dining alone. There's also a big difference between having something quick to eat, say at a bar or casual place if you're traveling or on business alone. However, I disagree with taking a book (which I've done in the past). It may be a distraction for you and your level of discomfort, but waitstaff often recognize this. On the other hand, I like going to nice places to dine, not just eat, without a book and show the same level of interest in the food and wine as if there were two (or more) of us there. The staff sees you are interested in food and dining, not just having a quick uncomfortable bite, and it seems they pay you more interest and attention as a serious diner and that in turn puts me at ease and increases the comfort level. In showing them that you are interested in their food and wine, I've often had the chef come out and check on the solitary diner who really is enjoying their meal (by themselves) to make sure everything is okay. Besides, when you are multitasking-reading, doing a crossword puzzle, etc.- your attention is diverted from the visual, gustatory experience of dining. Fine if you're just having a hot dog, but good food-not so. Just takes a little practice to dine alone comfortably, but once you get the hang of it, you can enjoy it, not just endure it.

                                                                                            1. re: markabauman

                                                                                              One time when I was dining alone, I got up to use the lady's room and when I returned they had CLEARED THE TABLE!!!

                                                                                              1. re: jinet12

                                                                                                I just had that happen to me. I had just ordered, went to the restroom, took maybe a couple of minutes, and I come back to see the busboy walking off with my drink, tableware and chips and salsa (Mexican restaurant off of I-75 in Ohio). All he did was grin widely, but never bothered to apologize or even set the stuff back even though he saw me come back to the table as he was walking off with it.
                                                                                                I'm used to it by now, I felt a little conspicuous at first, but outside of a kid asking why I was by myself when eating in a diner while travelling, I've never had a problem. In Ohio where I live people will stare at you regardless of whether you're alone or in a group.

                                                                                              2. re: markabauman

                                                                                                by that logic you shouldn't have conversation when you are dining with other's because your attention is diverted from the dining experience as well.

                                                                                                I like going to nice place to eat, i'm very aware of my food, and, if i'm alone, i like to read, or sometimes write, at the same time. I am not embaresed by eating alone, i am not uncomfortable doing it, and my book is not a distraction, a prop, or a shield, in fact it is not standing in for anything or doing any other job than its primary one, being a book for me to read.

                                                                                                I expect the staff to treat me exactly the same, book or sans book, eating with someone or dining alone. Anything less and they are failing at their job.

                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                  "by that logic you shouldn't have conversation when you are dining with other's because your attention is diverted from the dining experience as well."

                                                                                                  Not so. Conversation doesn't take a lot of effort; reading and mulling over puzzles, require more concentration. Even the uneducated can speak; however, they cannot always read or complete puzzles. When I'm sick, I can still maintain a light conversation, but picking up a book or completing a puzzle is the last thing on my mind. Many of us can carry a conversation while driving, while reading while driving is prohibited or illegal in many places.

                                                                                                  Conversation & reading/doing puzzles...very different things.

                                                                                                  1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                    There's also conversation which revolves around the food you're eating which can enhance the meal. I like dining alone, but I also enjoy seeing my friends really happy with their meals, especially if they asked for my advice in making their decisions.

                                                                                                    1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                      "Conversation doesn't take a lot of effort; reading and mulling over puzzles, require more concentration"

                                                                                                      I disagree with you here- I think a lot of us read so much that reading is easier than conversation. I read when I'm sick but won't talk on the phone.

                                                                                                      1. re: nummanumma

                                                                                                        You're probably a bibliophile and/or an introvert. Conversation is only difficult for those with little or no speaking or social abilities.

                                                                                                        I'll agree with you to a certain degree--that in some instances, I prefer books to conversation depending on the company. But that's a personal PREFERENCE.

                                                                                                        However, that doesn't change the fact that reading requires more attention; otherwise, it would be legal to drive and read.

                                                                                                        1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                          Sorry, your driving analogy doesn't hold up for me. Reading requires looking away from the road, hence it is illegal. If it were purely a concentration thing, listening to talking books would be illegal.

                                                                                                          And I don't agree that one can't focus on the food and a book or puzzle at the same time.

                                                                                                          1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                                                            "Reading requires looking away from the road, hence it is illegal."

                                                                                                            Touche! Yes, reading requires looking, which means it diverts your eyeballs (and therefore view/focus/concentration) to something else; talking does not.

                                                                                                            Some can content that reading is easier for THEM, but it doesn't take away from the fact that, in general, reading requires education and attention. Not many two year olds can read, but most can talk.

                                                                                                            1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                              I guess it depends on the conversation. A good, interesting conversation with an intelligent person requires my attention. That's what makes it a good conversation IMO....And I have had some great conversations with two year olds!

                                                                                                              Perhaps we each have differing levels of focus abilities...conversation, reading, background sounds - no problem for some, major distraction for others.

                                                                                              3. I've dined alone in a nice restaurant once, when I was coming back from a trip and I arrived about 90 minutes early for work. I had dinner at an Italian place across the street from work. Normally if I dine alone, I do it at places where there is fast service...for example, a little authentic Mexican place. I guess I do feel a bit weird about doing it in bigger, nicer restaurants. But I enjoy eating out and usually don't have time to coordinate with friends and coworkers, so maybe I should just try all the places I want to try whether I have a dinner companion or not!

                                                                                                1. I know that I have friends and family and people that love me. Sometimes, however, they take me for granted. So my choosing to dine alone is not a sad and lonely experience but an act of defiance. If they don't want to go somewhere with me and I really want to go, I will go by myself, dependent on no one to decide when or where. I like to sit at the bar, and usually don't bring anything to read, but I would bring an interesting book, magazine or catalogue if the mood strikes. I am a schmoozer, and seem to chat easily with bartenders and nearby patrons. While I might miss the opportunity to share with my companion a dish or an opinion about the food, or a chance to talk about it all on the way home, I can enjoy a good meal and some social conversation with those around me.

                                                                                                  This thread reminds me of the day when I, pretty much the social organizer among my friends, wanted to go to one of the popular places in the area for cocktail hour. Well, my friends couldn't make up their minds, so I just got in my car and went. The minute I walked in to that place, my life changed forever. I ran into old friends and made new friends that day, and those encounters led to many parties, dinner dates, sailing invitations and, most important, some new lasting friendships. Since that day, I have seldom or never hesitated to go out by myself.

                                                                                                  1. yep, all the time. Never bring a book. Always like to check out a place solo before treating others, and can pay more attention to the food. I enjoy dining out with company as well but the company is more the point then.

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: pepper_mil

                                                                                                      So many people on here are going to think I'm pathetic!...but I don't like eating alone. I should clarify I guess - I'm ok eating alone at home, though I won't cook for myself but I will get take-out or make a sandwich or something. I'm not too bad eating lunch on my own, but I would never think to go out to dinner on my own. Even before SO it would have been inconcievable! I will bring in the most awesome take-out (sushi, italian, etc.) that I love but I would never even consider eating it at the actual restaurant. Seem so sad and lonely to me but that is in part too because I live in a really affluent family-type town where NO-ONE is eating out alone (not like in NYC near me where I think it's obviously not a big deal to eat out alone). I think those of you who can eat out alone and be happy are very cool indeed :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: lovessushi

                                                                                                        No, that doesn’t seem pathetic at all. In making our choices about where and how to dine, we must consider the context. If I lived where you live, my choices would probably be more limited. However, these days there are plenty of affluent and/or family-oriented towns that offer a “neighborhood bistro” where singles and groups can come and go as they please.

                                                                                                        We’ve come a long way since the days that a woman out on her own would run the risk of being called some kind of preppy-looking hooker or a man on his own considered some kind of prowler. With all the changes in the population, the social context is bound to improve. As affluent baby-boomers, who are not used to staying home, get older and become statistically more likely to lose their partners, smart restaurant owners will be offering more options such as communal tables or social events to attract the business. To me, life is short, and anyone who hides out at home for lack of dining companions can look in the mirror for someone to blame.

                                                                                                        1. re: Betty Boop

                                                                                                          When were those days that people would think a women is a "preppy looking hooker"? I never thought of it that way at all. I've been eating out alone (and enjoying it) for the last 25 years, I hope I didn't overlap that time period. I'm serious in my questioning, is this a 50's-70''s era description?

                                                                                                          1. re: michele cindy

                                                                                                            Sorry, maybe my comment should have been clearer. I don’t know exactly when, but there was a time when many hotel lounges, hotel dining rooms and certain restaurants did not allow unescorted women or did not allow women at all. I think it may go back to the sixties. One example of a place that is in fact still in business is the Locke-Ober Café in Boston, which prohibited women from the main dining room for over a century until some time in the seventies. When I asked why women were not allowed in certain places without an escort, one reason some people gave (not speaking for the dining rooms in question) was that unescorted women were often suspected of being hookers. But if they’re not dressed like hookers? Well, maybe they were just preppy-looking hookers. Of course the comments about preppy dress were made in jest, but the practice of excluding women at the time was certainly no joke.

                                                                                                            Locke-Ober‘s current chef /owner is award-winning Lidia Shire, one of the best and most respected female chefs in the business. Yes, we’ve come a long way.

                                                                                                            1. re: michele cindy

                                                                                                              I feel it extended into the mid '70's for sure...
                                                                                                              There are still hotels that will keep an eye on younger, solo females sitting in the lobby or entering the hotel and going directly to the bar - especially if this isn't the behavior of their usual guest profile. Most won't approach directly, but they will watch to make sure.

                                                                                                          2. re: lovessushi

                                                                                                            Don't think that - every one has differing levels of dis/comfort in any given situation. I suspect most of us who are comfortable with solo dining were not initially.

                                                                                                            My first attempts were when I had a job in a mall at age 16. No food courts then, it was all restaurants/diner type coffee shops. At first I felt incredibly conspicuous. It got easier each time. I also have a very active fantasy life, so at that time I made up little stories as to why I was dining alone - Royalty who escaped from the watchful eye of my bodyguard, ace reporter meeting a source - and the stories let me sit there more comfortably & confidently, until those qualities became my own.

                                                                                                            There also seems to come to many of us a point in life where some of these worries loose their relevance. That point is quite liberating and coincided with my beginning to truly enjoy and sometimes seek to dine alone, even at very nice places. This has carried over to enjoying solo vacations too.

                                                                                                            Being by yourself allows for some wonderful spontaneous exchanges that often don't happen when you are with others. Some of these chance conversations have led to fabulous new friends, restaurant and travel tips, or just a nice warm friendly feeling to take home with my doggy bag!

                                                                                                        2. I've got a question. For those of you who read while at a restaurant, do you just read between courses, or do you actually read while you are eating?

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                            If it's a book, I read while I'm eating. Heck, even if it's a newspaper, although that's a bit more complicated to manage. I put the book down while I use a knife to cut something, but otherwise, I use my fork. It makes me eat a bit slower, and I'm usually not in a rush anyway.

                                                                                                            FWIW, I traveled the world for 6 months, alone, which forces one to be comfortable eating alone, amongst other things. Sure, I met fellow travelers on the way and enjoyed some great communal meals, but you have to be ok with yourself, have some semblance of confidence and self-assuredness, to be alone with yourself all the time, including eating meals.

                                                                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                              read between courses. during the course jfood is concentrating on the food.

                                                                                                              one exception is the newpaper and breakfast. continue reading the paper while slicing and eating the eggs.

                                                                                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                Love to read. Love to eat. Both together - ecstacy! That being said, depends on what you're eating. Anything requiring two hands to eat is not conducive to literature-impaired eating. Or would that be chow-impaired reading?

                                                                                                              2. I do so very seldom, I have to make myself do so unless I'm traveling alone, which is not too often. I actually make myself do so once in a while,

                                                                                                                Today just because, I decided to have lunch alone at an Olive Garden, as it was near where I was.

                                                                                                                i had an okay lunch, had my book with me, had some "looks". but all in all fine until I decided to leave.

                                                                                                                My bill came, and sat for a bit, but my server didn't come back. I was paying cash, so thought I would take my book/bill to the front.

                                                                                                                As i approached the front I heard "MAME",turned around and said yes? You can't take that home! I said, sorry, I'm paying cash and don't wan't to leave it just sitting there. What was your server's name. "Sorry I don't remember" Then it was grabbed out ouf my hand. This was not from my server, but another person.

                                                                                                                I was mortified! As the remaining patrons and servers witnessed.

                                                                                                                My bill was $15.75, I left $21.00. I thought decent. Not that it had anything to do with it.

                                                                                                                As soon as I got home I called to talk with the manager.He was fine and said he would talk with the person.

                                                                                                                Did I do a terrible thing by trying to bring the payment to the fronnt?

                                                                                                                I will never go back! Even though asked by the manager.

                                                                                                                I/we (husband) have and never will go there..

                                                                                                                When dining alone (which isn't often) I do tend for some reason to go to chains.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: hummingbird

                                                                                                                  Not sure why couldn't have just left the your payment on the table inside the little folder they give you, especially since you didn't need change . . .

                                                                                                                  1. re: hummingbird

                                                                                                                    I also don't like leaving the cash there w/the folder thing either because really, people do steal from it. Many times I have brought it to the front desk or at least bing it to the attention of someone that works there, like "Just to let you know, I left the cash on the table." I think the person who stopped you and then snatched it from you was RUDE! Like who's gonna steal your folder?! How do we know that person didn't pocket the money or the tip?

                                                                                                                    I'm glad you spoke to the manager. I would not return either. When I dine alone, I just wander to wherever I am. Next time, try a non-chain place. I bet they would appreciate your business.

                                                                                                                    1. re: boltnut55

                                                                                                                      Doing that tomorrow at one of my favorite places, since my husband won't be home til 8:00pm.

                                                                                                                      This place knows me, and I know there won't be any problems. However, it wil be the first time dining here alone, but I know I'll be far more comfortable as I know the owners, where one is the chef. Although she won't call herself that. I only know them from bith of us dining there for a while.

                                                                                                                  2. Honestly I often prefer to eat alone. There are few things in life better than a good novel, a tasty meal, a comfortable seat, and no one interrupting you. My first taste of the meal is done without reading, so I can focus on the flavors, but every subsequent bite is done while reading.

                                                                                                                    1. I enjoy dining alone because it's difficult for me to concentrate on my food if I am in conversation - I swear the older I get, the more I feel like I can walk and talk or walk and chew gum at the same time - it's so sad! Therefore, I purposely go out every so often to have dinner alone, just so I can taste and enjoy my food and enjoy the decor of the place. I sit for 90 minutes without having to talk or discipline my daughter... although that is rare now that she's 11! :-)

                                                                                                                      I do bring a book though for the waiting time because I'm an impatient person. It's hard for me to just sit there because I feel like I should be doing something. However, I'm fine w/eating without the book, although I do read and eat when I'm at my favorite dinner (where they know me), but not at a nice restaurant.

                                                                                                                      I totally don't feel bad eating alone, and I don't really think that others even notice me.

                                                                                                                      1. Dining alone is one of many of life's greatest pleasures. Yes, however, i do typically bring a magazine. To me it is like going to the spa....it's all about self-indulgence, and being serviced. Here's the thing...you go to your restaurant of choice...sit down, someone brings you a drink, you are then given a choice of many things to eat....they are cooked for you, brought to you, and then things are cleared away from you. You can partake in as much or as little as you like...no plates to clean, nothing to prep....and with a good read...it is perfect...the bill comes, you pay and leave. No fuss, no mess and you are happy. If you were at home, what would you be doing....yes, you could make the meal for yourself..which i like to do too....but to get out and just relax and be a bit self-indulgent....why not....i love it....i also travel alot on business so i am used to it....dont get me wrong...i love dining with friends as well as my spouse...but some really nice alone time is always welcome

                                                                                                                        1. I dine alone often and can only remember two good experiences. One was in Vail, CO and the waitress was so good, she made me feel like I was her only customer. She was so attentive that I was never aware I was alone. The other was a family style restaurant I went to every Friday night. I started by bringing a book, but when they realized I was going to be a regular, they saved me a regular table in the corner of the room where I got to watch everyone else during my meal. They even started moving me ahead of the line when it was crowded and called out my name when seating me. Both show you that the waitstaff make all the difference in the world. I have posted to other sites how waiters give poor service because even a good tip from a single diner is less than a bad tip from a table of 6. I have left as much as 100% tip for exemplary service.

                                                                                                                          1. I was just thinking about this, and I'll fully admit, I am terrified of eating alone, and yes, it is obviously due to my insecurities. Whenever I'm in a dining setting, I feel people are watching me, judging me...I guess it's just who I am. But at the same time, my fear of eating alone strongly conflicts with my voracious appetite and my desire to try new foods, sometimes to the point where my appetite wins and I will force myself into a restaurant I've always been eying and struggle to ignore the fact that I'm alone and savor the delicious food. To me, dining out has always been more of a social event than a servicing agent. It's sort of the same concept of watching a movie in the theaters alone. You can always watch a movie at home by yourself, but you spend the extra money to watch it in the theaters with friends for a different experience

                                                                                                                            I really wish I could overcome this irrational fear though, there are so many restaurants I want to try

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: takadi

                                                                                                                              sounds like a good project for 2009 , for you. a year in which you shed an old baseless fear, and rely more on your own sense of self than how others might see you, is a damned good year in my book.

                                                                                                                              1. re: takadi

                                                                                                                                "You can always watch a movie at home by yourself, but you spend the extra money to watch it in the theaters with friends for a different experience."

                                                                                                                                No, YOU spend the extra money to go to cinema with friends. I enjoy going to the cinema with friends. but just as readily go alone, because I also go for the FILM. Discussing film with friends can come later.

                                                                                                                                Dining out is a bit different: I go for the food (but sometimes wish I could have some order the other meal I wanted to try) but I will say I enjoy the time to myself. As someone above noted: a book and a meal? Bliss. If I had qualms about eating alone, I would have missed some brilliant meals...

                                                                                                                                1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                  Yet another factor: I frequently travel on business, and co-workers, left to their own devices, will often tend to stick to the same few places, usually close to the worksite and/or hotel. Venturing out solo gives me the chance to try different places, and come back with recommendations. Plus, I enjoy (and sometimes prefer) the solo dining experience. As Lizard said: A book and a meal? Bliss!

                                                                                                                                  PS: Count me in with Lizard on the movie issue, as well. Company at a movie is nice, but the movie is the main event. (And, yes, I'm a shusher.)

                                                                                                                              2. I've really gotten over this, so I don't bring a book. I select my restaurant carefully, and can usually feel comfortable sipping my drink and watching the rest of the restaurant. That does not work in some places, obviously, but if there is music, or a buffet, or you are near an open kitchen -- it at least makes it interesting.

                                                                                                                                Truth be known, if I am traveling, I much prefer room service, but that is because I am usually tired and really prefer to relax in casual cloths with the television on while I am eating. However, I have had some memorable meals alone while traveling in Europe and in some special restos in this country.