After a few years hopping from one city to another for a new job opportunity, it’s safe to say that I’ve mastered the solo dining experience. It takes time and practice, but once you’ve come to the conclusion that you refuse to buy a sandwich at a nearby grocery store, and are unwilling to spend your evening ordering room service while watching TV, then you’ll have to take the leap of strutting out on your own to your venue of choice.
While the fear of what you look like to the general public is still ever so present, the moment I realized that eating a proper meal that didn’t involve a sandwich from Subway is more essential to me than what other diners thought about me, the anxiety slowly faded away. In fact, I started seeing it as carving away some much needed me time, where the focus wasn’t on others, or on the restaurant staff, but about enjoying myself during my solo dining experience.
However, I understand that this often viewed as *stigma* doesn’t come so easily to others. But if you’re interested in venturing out on your own for your next meal, we’ve rounded up a few tips and things to keep in mind while you’re out. On top of the below mentioned, don’t hesitate to book a table in advance if it’s a restaurant you know will be busy that night, and know that asking for a “table for one” isn’t embarrassing. One is enough, and you know what they say – it’s better to have no company than bad company! Though, if you don’t have time to make a reservation beforehand, our trick is to avoid peak times. Not only might the waiter give you a badly positioned table, they might refuse you all together because they’ll try to fill up the tables with at least two people.
But don’t shy away just yet, solo dining is just a matter of getting used to. Be well prepared and you won’t even realize why you were so uncomfortable in the first place, after a few cocktails!
If there’s no table available, take a seat at the bar
If eating out by yourself makes you cringe and uncomfortable, but you have no choice, then start by sitting at the bar. The majority of bartenders will give you undivided attention and you might meet someone doing exactly the same thing.
Do your research for the most friendly places
New to a city or looking for a close spot for a quick dinner after a meeting? A simple Google search will point you in the right direction of the most single-friendly places for a meal on your own.
You don’t need to look busy
Sure, bringing a phone, laptop or book might help to look less alone, but how about switching off completely for that one hour or so you have for yourself? This will also allow for more time focusing on the actual food you ordered and browsing through a wine list to choose the right glass of red!
Stand your ground
Giving away a table for 2, just for yourself is not a restaurant’s ideal scenario, so don’t let them show you to the worst spot of the restaurant. Sure you might not eat for two (although, bravo to you if you do!), but you’re more likely to finish your meal faster than two people, hence the restaurant will be able to give away the table quicker than they thought.
Lastly, you’re the only one that notices you’re eating alone
That’s right, the more casual you look, the more relaxed you’ll be. Chances are, no one even realized you’re dining on your own. So just play it cool!
Where to go
Some of our go-to places include: Ishiran, De Maria, Bar Sardine and La Esquina (Midtown location) in New York, Margaux, Busaba, and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Barrafina in London.
Do you enjoy solo-dining? Share your favorite places below
Images: Terry Richardson
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