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Aug 27, 2010 08:22 PM

Dining Alone – Why Don't You Like It?


I like dining out on my own and have had meals at both the high end (Eleven Madison Park, and The Modern in NYC; and North 44, among others, in Toronto) and the low (all the time in several places). Yet, I often hear of CHers who don't even like grabbing a bowl of pho alone in a restaurant and, of course, there is always the memory of Elaine and the flounder from Seinfeld.

So, I ask you to explain it to me. Why not dine alone? Do you just not like to, or do you really feel there is a social stigma? Or . . . ?

  1. I was 40 when I married and had many meals alone. I also traveled in my work and had many meals alone. Like you, I've never understood the CHs who had problems or felt uncomfortable. Never have been able to figure out if it was the diner or the restaurant. I've never felt less than welcome anywhere.

    1 Reply
    1. re: c oliver

      I'm with you. I have on occasion been treated less well than a single man, but mostly in the 80's and 90's. Not so much anymore, of course I no longer travel on business and don't go out to eat much so maybe it's just lack of exposure that's making me think that situation might have improved.

    2. I've never felt uncomfortable (or been made to feel uncomfortable) when I've been on my own. My only regret on those occasions is that there's no-one to chat to about the food.

      7 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          Excellent point about the chatting. Like travel, I can do it alone but it's more fun to share. 'Course not every meal is worthy of chatting about :)

          1. re: Harters

            Ah, I see. I am lucky enough to have friends who will actually want to chat with me about it later.

            1. re: Harters

              No one to compare tastes with, no one from whom to nibble bites off their plates, no one to split the dessert - those are the downsides.

              But, give me a good book, the paper, or a challenging crossword, and I'm perfectly happy to dine alone.

              1. re: FrankD

                And I'd much rather dine alone than to be with someone who has no appreciation of the food.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Great point.

                  I am fortunate, or maybe unfortunate, in that my wife could probably be a chef, if she did not do other things oh, so well. What that means is that as a dining companion, I cannot think of many, with whom I'd rather discuss the meal. OTOH, if she's not there, then it's rather "fill my tummy," and move on.

                  Now, I have had to share meals with people, who could care less. I usually keep the subject onto something else, 'cause they will never "get it." Not that they are bad folk, but food (or wine) is not what motivates them.

                  Some people eat to live, while other live to eat. Different folk.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    I'm lucky like you are. And, yes, the Chow-ier I get the more I want dining companions who are like-minded.

            2. Could it be that people who don't like to dine alone are bored with their own company?

              1 Reply
              1. re: beevod

                Hmm, good thought :) But there are those who aren't comfortable doing it.

              2. I don't mine eating alone (with a book or newspaper in hand), but dining requires a companion.

                Dining is an experience involving conversation, interaction with others besides the server.

                4 Replies
                  1. re: bagelman01

                    bagelman, I agree. I have no problem eating alone for reasons of work obligation, but for me, dining is a social event, with a companion or a group.

                    I do like travelling alone, but much of this travel involves visiting places where I know people, so my restaurant suppers are with colleagues or friends. When I'm alone, I'm more likely to do takeaway and have a picnic meal - outdoors if the weather is fine, indoors when its raining or cold.

                    I'm like rockandroller1, I guess. Not a phobia, and I don't find women working or travelling alone usually get poor service as was the case decades past, but it simply isn't something I enjoy. I'd just as soon pick up some good takeaway and eat it in my own space then, with my shoes off.

                    1. re: lagatta

                      I am really surprised by the comments about getting treated poorly.

                      Dining alone is one of my favorite indulgences. I either read or write, and I wholeheartedly enjoy the experience.

                      As a solo female, I am usually treated far more regally, than if I had a companion...
                      The servers seem to want me to feel comfortable and well taken care of..Usually it is the complete opposite of being ignored!

                      Only once in all of my experiences did I feel the waiter treated me with disregard compared to his other guests. My bill wasnt going to be as much as the other diners, I supposed.
                      But then again he was an idiot of a person anyway!

                      From reading this post, most CH'ers agree with me, and do not mind enjoying a meal solo, but almost of of my friends, who arent CH'ers think I am mad to eat alone!

                      1. re: NellyNel

                        The places where I no longer dine alone are that did the exact thing you mentioned. Waiters who seemed disappointed by a solo person, because it meant a smaller bill and therefore a smaller tip. Of course, it's s self-fulfilling prophecy, because the less attentive service compared to other tables meant a smaller tip than I might give otherwise.

                  2. I don't mind eating alone, but on my own I can't really eat more than a main course unless I'm able to take something home. I like to eat with other people because it means I can share an appetizer or at least try more than one thing.