I eat as a solo diner a lot; mostly because few people want to go out to eat as often as I do. Usually, I’m perfectly happy eating alone, but now and again, you get staff who treat you differently or as though you’re a nuisance.
Eating as a solo diner can be great. You can take your time, really focus on what you’re eating, or get some undisturbed time with a book. Whether you fancy a solo lunch or need to eat on your own a lot because you’re travelling for work, there are ways to feel more comfortable.
Top Tips For Solo Diners
- Do your restaurant research before you go. Choosing your restaurant first is going to give you a better chance of enjoying yourself and not feeling awkward or uncomfortable. Wandering around, looking for somewhere to eat is rarely fun. Good options for eating alone are more casual places, somewhere where you can sit at the bar, or places used to solo business travellers. If you’re in Birmingham, Bite Your Brum has a great list of picks for dining alone.
- Start small. Don’t start by heading out for a tasting menu at Adam’s. Go for coffee or lunch alone first. For some reason, having dinner alone is still seen as strange, so you’re far less likely to get side-eye from other diners if you’re going coffee or lunch by yourself. When you feel comfortable with that, you can try dinner.
- Choose the right time. Most restaurants are perfectly happy to have solo diners, but sometimes, you will get the odd waiter who’s thinking he’d rather be seating two covers than one. Personally, I don’t care what the staff think as I’m a paying customer like anyone else, but if you feel a little awkward, you can try going a little before or after peak time, so you don’t feel like you’re filling up a table when the restaurant is busy.
- Stand your ground. It is uncommon, but sometimes a waiter will try and stick you at a crappy table, so they can save the nicer tables for couples. Don’t stand for it. Yes, you might spend less than a table of two, but you’re also likely to be done faster, so they can flip your table and get more guests in. Don’t stand for poor treatment. If you’re greeted rudely, leave, and go somewhere that does want your money.
- Take props. There’s always time during dinner when you haven’t got your menu or your food to focus on. These are the times when you’re most likely to feel awkward. Take a book to read, an e-reader, or your phone, so you have something to do. I like taking a book out, so I can get some reading done.
Do you like eating out alone or do you find it awkward?
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