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Apr 17, 2009 10:32 PM

Dining alone (split from Los Angeles board)

I travel alone on business extensively. I travel domestically as well as internationally to major European cities such as London, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, etc. I eat out alone all the time, and will eat at any restaurant that I want to eat at without even thinking about the fact that I will be alone. The restaurants I dine in range from casual spots to Michelin starred fine dining places. I always make a reservation, dress appropriately, and act with utmost appreciation and politeness when arriving at the restaurant. I can say that with very, very rare exceptions, I have been treated extremely well at essentially every restaurant I have visited. I always tip extra well because I am taking a table that would generally be taken by at least two customers. Sometimes I chose to dine at a bar if this seems especially inviting. answer your question, you should dine anywhere in L.A. that appeals to you and not worry about being alone. You will likely be treated very well, and perhaps even better than if you were with friend(s).

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  1. Great post! I agree with everything you said.

    1. Couldn't agree more. If you're at a fine restaurant by yourself, it certainly implies that you're serious about the food. I'm invariably treated very well. Sometimes it's fun to talk with other diners...sometimes I really just prefer to dine alone and be less social.
      In fact, a friend gave me a ticket to the symphony tomorrow I made a reservation at Patina for an early pre-show dinner. I'm really looking forward to it!

      1. I'm the exact same way. Except I don't travel much. And substitute London, Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam with the San Gabriel Valley, Little Tokyo, the Westside and the Valley. And I don't make reservations, dress well or tip extra. But otherwise yeah, exactly the same.

        I also eat pretty much anywhere I want to eat without factoring in the fact I'll be eating alone. I had a nice dinner at the bar at AOC about a month ago. Was treated very well by the bartender and he even gave me tips on how to make the bacon-wrapped dates. I also like U-Zen because I've never had to wait and can always get a whole comfy booth. I seem to get treated better by Keizo-san when I dine at Sushi Zo alone and the bill always seems lower for the same amount of food or more -- pity maybe, who knows. In fact, the only time it doesn't make as much as much sense to eat alone is at small plate places like dim sum, Musha or tapas, where you can't sample as many different things, although that's never stopped me if I'm in the mood (hence AOC solo dinner). And I wouldn't eat out alone on Vday for obvious reasons. But the only place where I was routinely punished for being alone is when I ate at MVP (now Blue Ocean) for dim sum, they always relegated me to one of two crappy small tables located near the busboy stations. Otherwise I feel I get the same service or better.

        3 Replies
        1. re: chowmominLA

          The bit about making a reservation, dressing appropriately, being gracious and tipping especially well applies primarily to higher-end restaurants in major cities both in the U.S. and Europe, although you will not go wrong doing so anywhere. If you do so at these restaurants, you will almost certainly be treated well.

          1. re: josephnl

            Oh...I forgot one thing. Many years ago in Paris, I called weeks ahead to make a reservation for one at a famous starred restaurant. I was told that they were fully booked for that evening, and when I then asked for the next evening, I got the same response. I was pretty certain from their manner that they just didn't want to seat a party of one. A day or two later, I called back and requested a reservation for a party of two. There was no problem whatsoever...I had my choice of times. I was indeed alone, so I when I showed up at the restaurant by myself, I apologized that my dining partner was suddenly unavailable, and they ushered me in without a blink. I had terrific service and an excellent meal. I felt no guilt re this deception because rightly or wrongly, I felt it was improper for the restaurant to refuse to take my solo reservation. By the way...the restaurant was nowhere near fully booked the evening I went there. This was a unique experience for me, and has not occurred again.

            1. re: josephnl

              Very interesting observation. To date, I have had no problem with making a solo reservation on any continent. That is not to say that it will not happen, but has not, so far.

              Maybe it helps that we often travel to some of the same cities, and many of these restaurants know me, as the solo-guy. Not sure about that. Still, I've never encountered your experience. Regardless of the stars, I'd have reservations (and not the ones that you make via telephone) about dining with them.

              Hope that it does not happen to me, and sorry that it did to you.


        2. I am in a similar position, as you. My wife is often in meetings that include dinner. I find myself as the solo diner quite often. Other than the waitstaff fawning over her, should she be able to join me, nothing else is a problem. Were I as charming, and as attractive as she is, I think I'd get the exact same service. As it is, I'm 95% there, and no restaurant, regardless of their stars, has ever complained.

          At one restaurant, where I had dined a half-dozen times solo, we were greeted with "we hoped that he'd bring you to dine with use." Just glad that I had not been having an affair, and taking a paramour to that restaurant. Still, when I next dined there solo, the staff asked about my lovely wife. Like I said, were I half as charming, or as attractive, I'd be at 100%!

          Considering the business world, I would look down on any restaurant that descriminated against any solo diner.

          Good luck,


          2 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            I don't think that it is so much discrimination as seeing every individual as a dollar sign. Conceptually...every "space" is space for rent...the more you can fill that space (i.e. max capacity) the more you maximize profit. That being said...single business men who are out to eat and eat quickly, are the best tables to have. Woman however, who insist on a booth for four, sit for four hours with their newspaper/magazine/smut book and order a soup and salad then tip 15% to the tee if that...that is another story

            1. re: yuyu

              Dang, they must be surprised, when I go with the chef's tasting, schmooze with the sommelier and the chef, and take 2.5 hours to finish, even by myself. OK, maybe they'll make up the time on the next single male dining there.

              However, for great service, I do tip far better, and on the full price of the wine - usually.


          2. jfood is probably good for 40-50 dinners alone on the road. and with making reservation he is probably at 95-100% success in obtaining. OpenTable has the option in most cases to make the reservation for 1 while some he has seen havethe lowest number at 2.