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Eating out alone

Being single, middle aged, and for some unknown reason unattractive to the opposite sex :-), I eat out by myself on a regular basis. Sometimes, I'll take a book and read, but I like to watch people and see what others are eating. It's never bothered me.

One drawback is that if I'm trying a new place, I can only sample one or two things. But, if I'm impressed by the first visit, I'll go back to try new dishes. I prefer eating in the restaurant to ordering take-out.

Often, the restaurant manager or owner will come by to chat, even comping me a glass of wine.

But, I have a friend that absolutely, positively, never in a million years eat at a restaurant by herself! And my sister told me she "feels sorry for those lonely people that have to eat by themselves." She's even invited them to join her family at their table. While that's a kind thought, I would never join a table of strangers. I'm much happy dining alone.

What's your position on the subject?

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  1. I'm single and live alone, so I often go out to eat on my own. sometimes I just don't feel like cooking so I go out spontaneously, sometimes there's a place I want to try but most of my friends aren't as into food as me so they're less willing than I am to splurge on a great meal and I end up going by myself. I usually bring a book or magazine for while I'm waiting for my food. It was a little awkward at first, but now I enjoy it. I can order what I want without worrying what my dining partner might think (carbs with a side of carbs? no problem!) or feeling awkward because I want to splurge on a few courses and some wine and they don't (my friends and I are all broke-ish 20-somethings). No need to make conversation; I can just concentrate on the delicious food or my good book or whatever. I can try out that new [insert unusual cuisine here] place without worrying whether someone else will like it. I definitely do enjoy going out to eat with friends too, but dining alone has its own pleasures, nothing lonely about it.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Emmmily

      Agreed to most all of what Emmmily said. Might add that the friend's behavior suggests a view of food as a secondary pursuit, hence needs to be complemented. While to someone who views food as a pursuit all its own, a book etc is a tool to while away the moments after ordering and before enjoying the food. Many a cuisine command attention, why'd we be here if we didn't believe so!

      Also depends to a level on the ambiance, I feel quite natural dining alone in many a dining rooms, while many others seem better suited to groups. I think knowing in advance a bit about atmosphere would help decide one better.

      Since the only thing better than sampling one great meal is...sampling more than one great meal! And that..if no other..is a reason we can all agree on for (if occasional) company.

      1. re: Emmmily

        One thing I meant to put in the original post.....
        It still floors me that I'll walk into a restaurant and am either ignored by the hostess, or have them look over my shoulder as they ask me "how many"? And, how many times they seem surprised when I look them in the eye with a big smile and say "One!"

        1. re: janetms383

          ha! That's my favorite - when you're dining alone and the hostess asks "just one?" in a whisper, like you don't want anyone else to know! Sheesh. Some people hate going out alone, but sometimes it's a treat. Like other posters, I enjoy the luxury of only thinking about myself sometimes (no compromising on ordering, no thinking about anyone else's budget or table preference, or dietary restrictions). Also love traveling alone sometimes - don't feel like going to the museum? No problem. Don't feel like getting up early to see the "must see" attractions? No problem! Back in grad school my reward after finals week was always a nice meal and a movie, by myself. I wouldn't even tell anyone where I was going or when I'd be back. Ahhh...luxury!

          1. re: akq

            I agree. I love dining and traveling alone for the freedom to please myself. If I choose to have a half dozen oysters instead of dessert, there's no one to disapprove.
            Luxury indeed!

            1. re: akq

              Agreed wholeheartedly. I once traveled on my own to Brussels, and stopped for a sample in every chocolate shop I saw. Can't do that when you're traveling with a friend. And I've never tasted such good chocolate in my life. At least there the didn't look as me askance for coming in by myself.

              1. re: akq

                when they ask me me "just one?", as they invariably do. i often reply "no not JUST one... One!"

          2. I enjoy eating alone! When I was single it allowed me to enjoy some restaurants I would otherwise be unable to afford. Brought my book and took my time- go ahead, seat me in that awkward far corner table- or that single table in the bar area at Balthazar that's right next to the pillar. Just don't forget me, waiter!

            1. I was single after my divorce for almost 20 years, and eating alone never bothered me. In fact, when I began reviewing restaurants, I made a point of going to each one by myself at least once. And it was occasionally quite remarkable. You would have thought I had forgotten to wear deodorant. Once I was put in a room alone. I figured they'd fill the room up, as I was relatively early at the popular brunch. Only one other table came to be occupied: By a couple with a toddler. And yes, I wrote about it. And there were others....

              But it didn't stop me. I'm always surprised when I hear men being uncomfortable in the situation - it's something I tend to assume we women are more apt to have problems.

              1. I love dining out alone. While rearing three high-energy boys, I loved the peacefulness , the ability to read a book, think quietly, people watch. Without my kids, I could go to upscale restaurants that don't always mix with children.

                Now that my children are grown, when I see a woman sitting by herself, I think that lucky woman has someone at home giving her the night off.

                1. I recently was in London for four days, and on one day took myself to lunch with a stash of exchanged Euros to a restaurant that I had been wanting to try. I had a great time eating alone, and found that I was really able to focus on the food - the flavours, thinking about what was in each dish, how it was prepared, etc. This was of particular interest to me at this restaurant, as I've become interested in British cooking, and this was a "British" restaurant. I asked about an ingredient in a particular dish, and, as a result, ended up having an interesting conversation with the chef (the kitchen is small and right in the dining area) that I would have been unlikely to have had I been with other. He gave me suggestions about other places to eat, we talked about British cookbooks - all around a truly wonderful meal and experience. I ordered a starter, then two starters to have as a main course, of which I ate half each, and then dessert, of which I only had a couple of bites. Two glasses of a rose champagne, a glass of red wine, and, well, I was ready to go back to the hotel and get ready for dinner!