Notices

Dining alone

Reply

Jul 21st, 2008, 12:42 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 87,068
Dining alone

Let's get the list going again with some tips for people traveling solo for the first time or getting used to eating alone in restaurants while on a trip.

Please join in below with your ideas to help make solo dining feel more comfortable!
suze is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2008, 12:44 PM
  #2
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 87,068
Eat at an earlier time within the dinner hour.

Make a reservation for one for the more high-end restaurants, rather than arrive unannounced.

Carry a paperback or magazine if you enjoy reading at meals.

Eat at the bar, lounge, or sidewalk tables for more casual setting.
suze is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2008, 02:44 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 10,190
My tricks:

The fancier the restaurant, the earlier the meal - I'll eat dinner at a casual place, but I'll do lunch at the fancier places. Fewer couples so less conspicuous "being alone" and usually less expensive.

Sit at a corner table where you can look out into the room and people watch, but you don't feel like people are pointing at you behind your back.

Bring a book, journal, word puzzle book, magazine, newspaper, etc. to enjoy while you eat. Check out your travel book for sightseeing ideas later.
toedtoes is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2008, 02:54 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,025
Enter the restaurant with confidence! None of that sheepish, apologetic "just one" when asked how many are in your party
Nutella is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2008, 03:20 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,135
Yes, if you have to, reinvent yourself, make yourself exotic in your own eyes at least and sweep into the restaurant. If patrons look at you, give them something to look at. Don't let the staff put you off, if you enter like you are certainly entitled to dine alone, they will follow, most likely.

Years ago I watched an "older", ha, now probably about my age, woman come into a restaurant in this way and she has been my role model since then.

If you have to, then scope out the restaurant the day before when you make reservations so you will know where you want to sit and what time you will want to eat.

Be cordial, yet firm, don't let them seat you by the kitchen if you don't want to sit there. It is mostly attitude but some places still may be haughty to a lone diner, just be aware of that beforehand and get your confidence outside the door and relax once you get your table.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2008, 03:55 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 10,190
I don't believe that the patrons are "looking at you".

When I started doing things alone, that was the hardest "belief" to get out of my head - the belief that others are talking about you.

When you are sitting in a restaurant with friends, do you notice the other people entering or leaving and say to each other "Oh, look at that poor sad thing. Having to eat alone, how dreadful! I'd just die rather than eat alone. I wonder what's WRONG with her/him."

Of course you aren't, you're busy enjoying your meal and your friends.

So is everyone else. Even if they happen to make eye contact, it's not because they recognize you as some "poor old maid" or "lonely old man", they just happened to catch your eye while looking around.

Once you realize that everyone else is too caught up in their lives to spend their meal thinking about that "poor sap", then you'll find it's not that hard to dine alone (or go to the movies, or shop, etc.).

As for the wait staff, if they say "just one" in a mocking or derogatory manner (although I've never experienced that), simply reply with "oh yes, I'm afraid I couldn't convince any of my friends to come here." It will give them something to think about...
toedtoes is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2008, 04:24 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,135
That is a good line, Toed, I like it.

I also think it is a good idea to practice eating alone in your own hometown before you even leave for the trip.

At times the other patrons look up and around and I do catch them looking at me but it doesn't bother me, but the point of the thread is if it does bother a person. I know a woman in her 50's who will not eat in the office dining room alone! Now that is sad.

SeaUrchin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2008, 04:42 PM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 87,068
Another poster helped me come up with this suggestion recently... If you plan to go to an extra nice restaurant, pack a special outfit for the occasion so you will feel that you belong.

In a casual place I like to write out post cards or read a local paper or entertainment guide.
suze is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2008, 06:49 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 22,504
I used to take a book, maybe a guidebook, and sometimes my journal, but I bought an iPod for my last trip and started taking that. I found that even better than a physical book (I loaded books and podcasts) as I could look around the restaurant, and at the view, if any, while I was listening.

If you want to eat somewhere without a reservation, going a little early as a single can sometimes get you a table when a larger party would be turned away.
thursdaysd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2008, 09:46 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 290
Go to that nice restaurant for lunch rather than dinner. It's cheaper, and whatever stigma or discomfort might be attached to eating alone is absent or significantly reduced. Then have a picnic dinner from the local supermarket. Save money, calories, and discomfort!

An alternative is to arrive at that nice restaurant the moment it opens for dinner (say 5:00 in the United States, later elsewhere). The staff might genuinely welcome a solo diner at at what would otherwise be an empty table, even when they'd normally discourage a solo diner from wasting a perfectly good two-top.
JBHapgood is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2008, 09:57 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 22,504
Well, that may work for you, JBH, but a long, leisurely dinner with wine is my evening fun when I travel. Plus, depending on the country, a slow lunch can eat into sight-seeing time - wouldn't be a problem in a siesta country, but takes too much time in England, where sights are often only open 10:00-5:00. And I'm certainly not going to eat at 5:00 pm!
thursdaysd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 22nd, 2008, 06:34 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,126
Interesting thread. How, where, and when to eat out at night is the aspect of travelling alone that I find the hardest.

You are in a strange place and you want to savour it, and enjoy dinner. Especially if the nightime meal is your big meal (I don't do lunch at home). You also want to sit over it, and, in my case, you don't want to spend too much money.

I keep an eye open while I'm out during the day for places that look welcoming. Local eateries. I'm not interested in a gourmet experience.

Then I go back and swan in, and, as they are a place with no pretensions, I have no problems with feeling I shouldn't be there.

As someone else has already said, the other diners couldn't care less.

And it's stating the obvious that you need to have something to occupy you. A book is good. And that book may just initiatate a conversation.

Not always, but sometimes, and that really is the difference between travelling alone and seeing what happens, and travelling with a tour group.

Ups and downs; pros and cons; etc.
afterall is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 22nd, 2008, 07:44 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 22,504
Now I think about it, if you're traveling in some parts of Europe with an American tour group you'll likely get many more stares than if you're on your own. They generally get so loud!
thursdaysd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 22nd, 2008, 07:56 AM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 87,068
One thing I do that helps assure the waiter I'm not going to be a dud, is order wine immediately. Of course I'm looking forward to the glass or carafe of wine, it helps me relax and get comfortable, but also signals that I'm not going to be a "tap water and side salad" type of female solo customer.

Thanks to everyone so far for contributing their views, tips, and expertise on the topic!
suze is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 22nd, 2008, 08:48 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 240
I lOVE dining alone.

Fine wine and fine food -or fine wine and causal food I'm easy - to relax with and savour with no chitter chatter distraction. A good book is a great companion.

If other people in the restauant have a problem - that's really THEIR problem.

Give them and nod and a smile, or a haughty stare if they're that bad then dismiss them and go back to your book. On the other hand, I've often struck up very interesting conversations with other diners.

The thing about travelling, no-one knows you anyway.
capekidnappers is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 22nd, 2008, 08:56 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,669
that sad looking couple at the table next to you probably envies you your solitude!
Momliz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 22nd, 2008, 11:47 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,135
Righto, you never know what the other diners are thinking. I have dined with people where I wish I were a lone diner. Too bad we can't nod like Barbara Eden and poof boring people away and then dine solo.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 23rd, 2008, 03:13 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,382
have fun!
take a notebook and scribble away madly after each bite!
lanejohann is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 23rd, 2008, 03:57 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,126
Does anyone wish to contribute a story about a time when reading a book while eating alone lead to a meeting that you will always remember?

afterall is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 23rd, 2008, 06:54 AM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 87,068
You mean that time in south america when a handsome stranger stopped at my table to ask "What are you reading?"?
suze is online now  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:21 PM.