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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!

                  1. I love eating out alone. For me it is a rare indulgent treat.
                    Your poor friend is missing out on a great pleasure.. a leisurely lunch alone at an outdoor table w/ nice wine and good people watching.
                    If anyone ever sees me alone and feels sorry for me they are more than welcome to send a dessert or glass of wine over to console me.

                    1 Reply
                    1. While I am not single I do eat out on my own at times and enjoy it. The best experience was at a pho restaurant where they would not seat me alone but sat myself and another lady together. It was a bit odd at first but we enjoyed a nice conversation over a delicious dinner.

                      1. I'm married and usually travel/dine with the DH. That said, I also find myself traveling and dining by myself. I usually tell the waiter that I'm really into food and would like to try what their restaurant does best. This has worked very well, but nowhere so well as Glatoire's in NOLA. These folks are so welcoming and gracious that I get a case of the warm fuzzies whenever I eat there.

                        1. I worked for a large corporation for 10 years. We would have conferences about 3 times a year, usually in Vegas, Denver or Seattle. The company would supply us with great food. After a few times of having to eat at a large table (of basically strangers) who would order "well done" prime rib and dump a full cup of ranch dressing on their salads, I'd just wouldn't go anymore. I would find a nice place and eat alone. My boss didn't like it but too bad.

                          1. I'm totally with all of you. Dining alone does not bother me at all, whether it is $6 tacos or a $200 tasting menu. Sure, if I'm on vacation, sometimes I do wish I had someone to discuss the experience with, or share tastes, but my general feeling is that I'd rather go ahead and do the things I want to do and do them alone than wait possibly forever for a partner to do them with. I'm not going to sit home alone worried that people will feel sorry for me, meanwhile missing out on fine dining, travel, adventure, et cetera. That would just be silly.

                            1. When I travel with DH to bridge tournaments I'm always vague with other people about my plans. He goes to play bridge at 1 p.m. and I go to have a wonderful lunch somewhere by myself!!! Usually a lovely salad and wine. As we go back to alot of the same places and I'm a pretty good tipper I'm usually seated in the midst of the fray and enjoy reading my Kindle, drinking my wine and looking at the people around me. I'll be in Curacao for a couple of days by myself in May and, since I've never been there, I'll enjoy my meals by myself.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Linda VH

                                I concur with all the happy solitary dining posters!
                                Can't stand it when the host replies "JUST one?"
                                I've found service to be either really great or awful, far more at the extremes than when I'm with others.
                                Many times I've been given the worst table in the place, even when I have a res and the place is nearly empty. They should be more careful. More than once I've been scouting a venue for my future party or 12.
                                I'm offended by the (perhaps well-meaning) pity of the OP's sister. It's presumptuous for her to label us as "lonely" and that we "have" to eat by ourselves. How does she know all that?

                                1. re: Leonardo

                                  LOL you've have to know my sister to understand why she makes those kind of comments to me, but that's a topic for a whole 'nother forum!

                              2. Many years ago, after a few days of doing business in Geneva, I took a few vacation days in Paris. Being alone, I thought my best chance of connecting with people was near the university. I was able to make a few friends, but being students, on a budget, they insisted on having dinner at inexpensive places, e.g. cheap Chinese restaurants. After a couple of days of this, I decided, on my last night in Paris, that I was going to have a fine French dinner and if it had to be by myself, so be it. I picked out a restaurant with a solid, if unspectacular reputation & asked for a table for one. I was asked if I had a reservation and when I answered "non", I was told they had nothing available. Feeling desperate, i concocted a story that this was my only night in Paris and I really wanted to experience the delights of a fine French dinner. The host told me that if I would be a little patient, he would try to fit me in. I readily agreed and soon he sat me at a tiny little table, close to his station. Whenever he was not busy, he would approach my table and we would have a nice discussion about French food and Paris. As I was nearing thee end of my meal, he came over and said that he would be off duty in about half an hour & if I wasn't in a hurry, he would take me for a quick car tour around Paris. Having heard much about snooty Parisians, in general, and snooty French waiters, in particular, I became suspicious that, perhaps he was gay and that he was only being nice so that he would have an opportunity to hit on me. He had been so accommodating and genuine that I decided to take him up on his offer & I got to see some of Paris with a native. It has forever changed my attitude about the stereotype of French attitude.

                                (and no, he did not hit on me, much to my relief.)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Rmis32

                                  They sterotype the "ugly American" and the "rude New Yorkers", but I've always found if I'm just my pleasant self, people respond in kind. Thanks for sharing your experience.

                                2. I began eating alone when I was single and I still love it now that I'm not (though I don't do it as often). What better time to do some reading, catch up on your newspaper, or simply unwind? I think sushi bars in particular are great for the solo diner. You can talk all you want with the chef, or just keep your nose in your book, and the whole thing doesn't empty your wallet.

                                  Also, it's nice to devour a big, sloppy cheeseburger and not feel self-conscious as you get it all over your face.

                                  1. I'm not single, but I do live alone, and occasionally I will treat myself to a lovely dinner out, alone. I enjoy the me time. Why wouldn't I ? I'm great company!

                                    I do usually bring a book, not as a prop, but because I love to read and don't have nearly enough time to do it. I only read when waiting for my meal. I put the book down when I'm eating and I savor each bite and appreciate it. It's a kind of mindfulness meditation.

                                    I call it a date with myself!

                                    1. I was married for many years, but it's over now (my fault, not her's). I was used to to eating breakfast and lunch alone, due to differing hours, time constraints, etc. But dinner - I miss having dinner as a family, with all the talking and laughter around the table. I do dine out occasionally but I always make sure I have something to read. Dining alone without that safeguard - having to watch others (couples, families, friends) - is seriously painful.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: KevinB

                                        Awww, could you adopt wonder's philosophy and consider it a date with yourself?

                                        1. re: KevinB

                                          You know, I'm in the midst of family and sometimes wish I could eat out by myself as I very infrequently do, but I know I'll miss the kids when they're finally out of the house. When I get to that point, I will be sure to have a book or magazine with me when dining at a restaurant alone, but to tell the truth, I would not eat dinner alone at home without a magazine or book either.

                                        2. I love eating alone...for me it's a different type of pleasure and experience than eating with others. My daughter is horrified (and she's 24, not 14 <g>) that both her Dad and I think nothing of going to a sit down place on our enjoy and taking our time with a meal. Since I have my iPhone, I can play on that until the meal arrives (checking email, Chowhound, etc.) if I feel the need.

                                          1. For many years I traveled a lot on business, and frequently found myself alone in restaurants for dinner. Like many of you I always brought something to read, but I also found that dining alone amplified my mood - if I was having a good day, the room would be filled with a warm glow of camaraderie, but if things weren't going so well, all I could see were tables filled with friends and lovers while I sat alone with my Economist.

                                            1. Since 18, I've done a lot of single dining, in my own city and while traveling (also solo). My mother is completely appalled by the idea, and would rather starve than eat alone in a restaurant, which I find completely absurd. I love being able to enjoy a leisurely meal at my own pace (and I have the same philosophy for traveling, which is why I often do it solo). I have had some uncomfortable encounters with men who just can't seem to let a woman eat alone, and I also really hate when the host/ess seats me with other singles (happens frequently at sushi bars), but otherwise, I've always found the experience really enjoyable! Glad to know there are others out there, because my mom insists I must be crazy!!

                                              1. About 15 years ago I was traveling and exploring the country on a road trip by myself. No obligations, no reservations, I went as far west as I could in the time given, then headed home. I was in Wichita, KS when I dined alone for the first time. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. I didn’t feel rushed, hurried, or obligated to speak, and I didn’t have to discuss what I was getting until the waitress came to the table! ;-)

                                                I don’t do it often, but when I do, I find I’m much more adventurous with food than when I’m dining tete-a-tete. Granted, I’d rather dine with friends, but I agree that when dining alone, the food takes center stage.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: cuccubear

                                                  I'm a 22 year old guy and i eat out alone frequently. I guess i am a rare site,lol. I'm single and i dont have a bunch of friends, and the friends i do have could care less about food....they are the "i just eat when hungry" type. They would never travel more than a few minutes and spend more than 10 bucks on a meal. My relatives are all busy with their significant others.

                                                  I like good food and enjoy going out to eat. I also dislike sitting home...so all those circumstances equals to me eating out alone

                                                  I sometimes feel akward, but i dont let it bother me. I also dont bring anything to read nor do i sit on my phone texting, etc.. I like to people watch and stare/gaze around my environment.

                                                  1. re: ORyan

                                                    I've discovered that if one has to eat alone, but doesn't necessarily want to be alone, sitting at the bar often affords the opportunity for some conversation. Usually the bartender, sometimes other patrons will strike up a conversation. I'm in a similar boat as ORyan - the majority of my friends are not "eat out" kind of people. Heck, I even invite them over for lunch or dinner on the weekends and it's rare for anyone to take up the offer. I think most of my friends close to my age care more about booze than food, unfortunately :( - and cheap booze too. Bud Light? Blech.

                                                    1. re: ORyan

                                                      I'm in a similar place, few of my friends can afford to go anywhere I'd like to go. Sometimes I'll bring a book or read on my blackberry. But other times, eating alone allows me to talk to the waiter, the manager, the sommelier (especially if it's a slow night for them) and really learn about the restaurant and the dishes, etc. If I were with friends, they'd get irritated if I spent the night focusing on everyone but them.

                                                  2. I hated eating alone when I was single. Hated it. I always felt kind of pathetic and sad. Now, I know this makes no sense, but I didn't have any problem going to a bar by myself, if it was a neighborhood type bar, as you can always talk to the bartender and there are often other people by themselves sitting at the bar and sometimes you end up talking to each other. I don't know why the experiences were so different for me.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                      most of the restaurants in the town I live have bars. Most of them also allow one to order the full menu in the bar. This is my strategy when alone, and usually when Im with just one other. it cuts down waiting for a table since there is almost always a seat or two at the bar, and you get a server that is never more then a few feet away. Also, there are plenty of people to talk to if you want........

                                                      1. re: rockandroller1

                                                        No disrespect, but why did you feel pathetic and sad? Sometimes when I've had a great day I want to celebrate by taking myself out. I get a delicious meal that I didn't have to prepare, someone serves me, and there is no mess to clean up.

                                                        Nothing sad about that!

                                                        1. re: janetms383

                                                          I didn't feel it was a celebration to take myself out if I had nobody to go with. I just felt lonely and like I wished I had someone to eat with. (And to nkeane, I pretty much always ate at the bar when I was alone. I don't know why just going out for a few drinks alone seemed to be better than eating and drinking alone, except that culturally where I lived, it was quite common for people to be coming off their job and go to the bar and have a few for happy hour before heading home). I will tell you also that in all my years of going out by myself, I cannot recall a time when I ever saw a female alone eating at the bar. Perhaps it's our particular geography or culture, but that may have definitely added to the feeling. So maybe it's different where janetms lives, but where I live, it's extremely rare to see a female sitting at a bar eating alone. When I first started waiting tables there was one woman who came in alone all the time and she ate and read a book. I always felt kind of sad for her because it was like she didn't have anyone to talk to. After a short time I learned that everyone knew who this woman was, she was the parent of a child who had been kidnapped and killed and it was a really, really big news story for several years where we lived. Her husband died before they ever found the child's body so she was all by herself, and everyone at the restaurant felt sorry for her. She's the only one I can think of that regularly came in and ate by herself (she did sit at a table). She certainly didn't look like she was "treating" herself, she looked like she had nothing else to do and no one to talk to.

                                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                                            Erm, this woman's story is tragic. and horrible.

                                                            Nevertheless, I find it troubling-- to say the least-- that you would assume all people sitting and eating alone are 'pathetic and sad' simply because you felt 'pathetic and sad'.

                                                            Then again. I don't much like when people use 'female' as a noun to describe human women so I suppose, so I suppose we all have our issues.

                                                            1. re: Lizard

                                                              I never said all people are pathetic and sad who eat alone! Jeez, read the post! "I hated eating alone when I was single. Hated it. I always felt kind of pathetic and sad. "

                                                      2. I'm never alone when I eat; I always have me, myself and I for company. We also go to the movies together.

                                                        8 Replies
                                                        1. re: lergnom

                                                          To quote Sartre (with the hope this doesn't offend anyone): If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company.

                                                          1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                            Doesn't offend me. I only felt lonely when I was single when I would go out to eat by myself, so I didn't do it. I never felt lnnely any other time in all the many years I lived alone. Shopping, staying home, whatever. I am just uncomfortable eating alone in a restaurant, I don't know why that makes me some kind of pariah.

                                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                                              Whether eating alone is a pleasure or a painful exercise has everything to do with whether one is lonely or not.

                                                              1. re: rememberme

                                                                Well, that may be the way you see it, but I see dining out as a social activity and didn't enjoy going out and eating alone, I found it weird and uncomfortable. As I've stated previously, I believe this is mostly social as where I come from, women don't go out to eat by themselves. I don't live in some big metropolis where it's the norm to see women dining alone.

                                                                I ate at HOME alone night for years when I was single, and never once felt lonely, I can assure you. I have never felt lonely eating at my desk at my daytime office job or eating in the break room at my PT job. I never felt lonely shopping by myself or going to the library or to a museum or traveling 3 states away by myself to do volunteer work, or 800 other things I can list. JUST DINING OUT. So your argument doesn't really work for me. Maybe it works for you, but it's just not accurate for me.

                                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                  If you check my posts further down on 3/11 following, you will see that we are very much on the same page. Maybe it is loneliness, but only in this activity, otherwise, home, movies, work wherever no loneliness, do not know.

                                                            2. re: lergnom

                                                              lergnom, I'm with you! I think I'm great company and I really crack myself up :-)
                                                              I know that others viewing a solitary diner sometimes considers them *sad* but I'm surprised by the posters that feel that way about themselves.

                                                              1. re: janetms383

                                                                I often say that I'm my own best audience!

                                                            3. i often eat alone although usually lunch and i'm a student (17 got in early to uni) so i have a book that helps. and i agree with you i wouldn't like to eat with strangers (nothing against strangers especially the strangers who are kind enough to offer) but i would be much happier alone.
                                                              on the few ocassions i do go out for dinner alone i enjoy it, i can order whatever i like (usually something healthy because i actually like it but other people always think oh you must be on a diet or whatever) and i never (ok maybe sometimes when a person looks sad) think oh that poor lonely person, i think good for you screw social standards! they can look at us all they want but they'll never take away our freedom! (in a scottish accent, i really should study and not watch Mel Gipson run around in a skirt!)

                                                              1. I used to have a fear of eating alone when I was in highschool. "What if people think I have no friends?!" Luckily, I've grown out of it and enjoy eating out alone a lot more.

                                                                One of the best de-stressers of my work day is going out for lunch, bringing a book, and just people watch or read my book. It's nice not having to carry on a conversation with someone else when you just want to be alone for a bit.

                                                                1. It is great that so many people responding enjoy dining solo! Often this topic has mostly those who don't care for it.

                                                                  I enjoy having some time for deep solitude on occasion. Since eating is an activity that I love, it falls under the solo umbrella often. When I dine alone I can revel in the aspects that best occur solo, when I am dining with others I enjoy that experience. In both types of dining, hopefully the food will be great. Why miss a wonderful opportunity just because you don't have company at the moment?

                                                                  1. I love travelling and eating alone. As someone else said, I find myself to be great company!

                                                                    I've never had bad service because of it, and wait-staff tend to remember you if you return a couple of times.

                                                                    I know people who wouldn't eat out by themselves for anything. I think they're probably insecure about being seen without friends (not generalizing, just those people I know).

                                                                    I used to think it odd for my little sister to go to a bar by herself (yeah, I know, restaurant OK, bar not). But as I've travelled all over the NW this last year with my musician SO, I've learned that while he's doing sound check, or if I can't go with him...I'm perfectly OK visiting a nearby bar. If travelling, you can get all sorts of tips on what to see locally. If local, heck, I've met some very interesting new people since I was by myself and they were a bit more eager to chat than if I was with someone.

                                                                    Hmmmm, might plan a visit to a fave bar for tomorrow when he's out of town. Got a dinner meeting, so dining alone is out!

                                                                    1. I'm an introvert in a very extraverted profession, so I enjoy the opportunity to be alone. This is particularly true if I'm out of town at some kind of meeting where I've been with people all day. And if I'm in a big city, I want to try some of the dining opportunities that are available there that aren't in the tiny little town where I live. So I go out alone, to the place that strikes my fancy, and either take something to read or not, depending on my mood.

                                                                      1. I eat out alone all the time and the opposite sex really digs me. (I don't dig them so much, but thats another post.) I prefer eating with friends, but if I want a good meal and no one is available or its a work night and I just don't want to cook, I go out. I don't go to very fancy places on fri or sat, unless I can sit at a bar, because I generally don't make a res. on spur of the moment solo meal . Lots of people talk to me at a bar, not so much at a table. I would never join strangers at their table, unless they were really hot. I have no desire to ever eat at a communal table. I would never take a book into a restaurant, its not a library, wastes the restaurants time. I once read a book in a bar and found it was a sure way to get people to talk to me, which really made it hard to read.

                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                        1. re: rednyellow

                                                                          How does reading waste the restaurant's time? I don't eat any slower when I read, and even if I did, how is that "wasting the restaurant's time" any more than two or more people lingering and chatting over their meal?

                                                                          I don't get the library comment at all. I read on buses, trains, and planes, in restaurants, on park benches, anywhere I feel like if I happen to find myself alone and have something to read with me. Haven't actually set foot in a library in years.

                                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                                            people eat a lot slower with a book. I've seen it many times, a bite of food, finish a paragraph etc. Two people lingering and chatting have spent twice as much money as I would in the same space.lk

                                                                            1. re: rednyellow

                                                                              I don't read while I'm eating, but I will take a book to read while I wait for service or for my food.

                                                                              1. re: rednyellow

                                                                                Maybe some do, but so what? People eat at different rates - my wife, for example, is a very slow eater, takes tiny bites and chews thoroughly. Most people can finish an entire meal in the time it takes her to finish her appetizer. Should she not be allowed in restaurants? I think it averages out and most places really don't care much if a solo diner pulls out a book. As for the people-per-square-foot issue, how often do you see two people seated at a four-top? Happens all the time. Doesn't mean they should finish their meal twice as fast out of some "obligation" to the restaurant. I'm keeping my books.

                                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                                  BobB, I'm with you on the books. I suspect your difference from Rednyellow vis books is a regional thing; anti-book sentiments and a need for people to look and be 'hot' is very much a feature of RnY's hometown ;)

                                                                                  Also, Bob, thanks for your sensible response to rednyellow's intimation that single diners are somehow obligated to eat quickly because they spend less money than a two-top.

                                                                                2. re: rednyellow

                                                                                  Jfood agrees with BobB. Jfood always takes a book when he eats alone on the road. It never even occured to him that he may spend an extra 15 minutes eating due to that book. And if it did, so what?

                                                                                  Jfood spends a good deal of his life waiting for others, at the airport, on the check out line, behind them in the left lane going the speed limit, etc. Why should a restaurant be exempt from "slow". And jfood decided years ago he will not get upset at life's little delays. You will see him shrug when the announcement of the 15 minute delay is announced.

                                                                                  Likewise he views eating as his relaxation time. That means others can wait a little for him to finish and enjoy his meal, his book and his cell phone.

                                                                              2. re: rednyellow

                                                                                When I bring a book into a restaurant I "waste" no one's time. I'm ready to order when they come. I read while waiting for my food to arrive. Would I be "wasting" less of their time were I to just stare into space instead? Because I'm reading I don't occupy my table any longer than were I to not bring one.

                                                                                1. re: rednyellow

                                                                                  I don't understand why eating with "hot" strangers is preferable to eating with ordinary people.

                                                                                  1. re: janetms383

                                                                                    it was a bit tongue in cheek. I dont want to eat with strangers at all, but would make an exception if they were hot.

                                                                                2. This post is useless without pics ;-)

                                                                                  But honestly, I used to be very self conscious. I wouldn't even eat fast food alone. Now, for the most part, I don't care but I will frequently bring a book because, frankly, I'm boring.

                                                                                  1. Discussed this post with the woman l am living with. We are both older, ok old. She has no problem eating alone but will not go to movies alone. l cannot eat dinner alone except for a sushi bar, and that is a stretch, but movies have been going alone to forever. My last wife and l used to sit with a seat between us so there was no armrest questions. We had a great relationship and then would go out hand in hand and discuss the film till we dropped. Thus l wonder if this may be a gender difference, saw some posts from men, but it seemed primarily women. Maybe guessing gender of the handle wrong but just thought l would throw it out there to see whether or not.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                      Even though I don't mind eating alone, as long as I have something to read, I love going to movies alone!

                                                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                        It's interesting, I really hate going to the movies alone, but for one reason only. When I leave a movie, I want to discuss it with someone. I hate walking out with all these ideas and questions and having no one to bounce them off of.

                                                                                        1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                          I just talk to myself as I'm sitting alone in a restaurant :-)

                                                                                          1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                            l view a meal the same way, this was hot,this overseasoned, bread great, whatever.

                                                                                            1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                              That's why I love going alone! Because I usually want it to sink in a bit before I talk about it. But sometimes I ask my husband or a friend to go see the movie so I CAN talk about it, just later.

                                                                                          2. Great post. I'm single and love it. Fortunately, I'm blessed with a lot of friends with whom I prefer to "dine" (i.e. an upscale experience) but certainly don't mind "eating out " alone. Maybe its my profession (I'm a shrink), but after a day of listening to problems and trying to correct people's faulty thought processes, I really look forward to going up to the local Belgian pub with my copy of The Economist and having some great seafood with my beer. Lonely I'm not. My own best friend I am.

                                                                                            1. Traveling on business cured me of any odd feeling I had about dining alone. Once I'd spent enough time on the road, I reasoned there was nothing to stop me from eating dinner (or lunch, or breakfast) solo if I so chose.

                                                                                              Rather than being lonely, there's a freedom to being on your own that those constantly coupled will never understand. Not that you can't be lonely from time to time, but it's balanced by the ability to come and go as you please, change your mind without fear of reproach or argument from another, and that makes up for a lot.

                                                                                              It's a bit presumptuous to assume that everyone dining alone is lonely, and I'd feel quite odd at a table of family no matter how friendly. If the restaurant had an established "singles table" where solo diners were gathered, that might be another thing entirely.

                                                                                              If I'm at a table alone, it's because I chose to take myself out for a nice meal, perhaps because I needed to be out and about, or maybe I'm treating myself to something special I can't or won't make a home, or it's just gotten too late to think about shopping and cooking for myself that particular evening, and a decently cooked meal out is preferable to dishing up a bowl of cereal or bolting down fast food.

                                                                                              I may read, I may people-watch, I may just concentrate on the food and get out as soon as I'm done. Whatever, it's my time. :)

                                                                                              1. I dine by myself quite often, though I am happily married (38 years in Feb). My wife often has board events, or similar, when we travel, so I am on my own, much of the time.

                                                                                                If's it's early, I do a lot of reading. Usually the books that I flew with. People watching is also great fun.

                                                                                                If it's an evening meal, I usually seek out a restaurant with a chef's tasting menu, and a good B-T-G wine list. I have several in most cities, that we find ourselves in.

                                                                                                I've never had a problem, though being male may have something to do with it. Yes, I probably spend more time talking to the sommelier, or the server or the chef, than I would with my wife, but they do not seem any worse for the ware.

                                                                                                Considering the number of business travelers, of both sexes, who are not with a companion, I cannot imagine any restaurant making a big deal of a solo diner.

                                                                                                In a few instances, I have found great restaurants, and usually manage to get my wife there, at some point. One in DC took four visits, before she could join me. When we arrived as a couple, the staff greeted her like a long lost relative. I guess that they had grown tired of me solo?

                                                                                                If there is communal dining, I have no problem. We do similar at B&B's, and have been known to invite single diners to join us, at the right restaurants, especially if we are having some great wines, and the establishment does not offer half-bottles, or B-T-G selections. We also do similar for other couples, by sharing our wines with them.

                                                                                                I understand being lonely. Though married, I'd always rather share a great meal with my wife, than have it by myself. Still, one cannot always control such things. I hope that I never *seem* lonely, while dining solo.

                                                                                                Good luck,


                                                                                                1. I'm an only child. I think this has prepared me well for doing things solo. I'm also married with a family, but I truly LOVE to sit at a bar eat dinner alone, or eat and chat with other diners. If no one is around to chat with, I observe, and I do admit to eavesdropping on occasion... It's very relaxing for me. Last week by chance while alone I struck up a conversation at a restaurant bar and it just so happened to be a fellow poster to the CH boards who was with a friend which was pretty funny coincidence.. Dining alone is a great way to meet new people, learn about something new. I'd hate it for someone to "feel sorry" for me. I am very happy being alone. As far as joining a table of strangers - I'm game for that too.