20 Tips for Eating Out Alone – From A Seasoned Solo Diner

Eating out alone

Eating out alone can be an incredibly daunting prospect and it took me a very long time (I’m talking years not days weeks or months) to become fully comfortable with the act. Read on for my tips that helped me get comfortable with regularly eating out alone.

Update for 2020: strange times, huh? I have recently moved home and area in the UK. While borders remain closed, I’m not doing much travel which leaves me facing the idea of solo dining in my home country. I’ll be honest, it’s not something I’ve done that much – usually it’s something I do overseas. However, since I’m currently restricted from meeting other people indoors, I have no choice if I want to eat out (and I do because there are so many nice restaurants in my new neighbourhood).

The good news, what better excuse: ‘Table for one, because I live alone and I’m not allowed to dine with other people right now’. If the fear of being deemed a sad, loser, loner is stopping you from eating out alone, 2020, for all its many faults, has just given you the perfect excuse to try it. Go forth and dine. Safely. ‘Sanitiser and fries for one, please’. 

After strolling up to a packed restaurant on a Saturday night in the middle of Dublin last year and practically forcing the reluctant waiter to give up a table for two to this lone diner, I realised I’d finally arrived – I’d learned the art of solo restaurant going.

But it was a slow and painful process that involved four years of full-time travel and many nights walking back and forth past places I wanted to eat before skulking back to my room to dine on packaged goods from the local 7 Eleven.

Whether you’re a solo traveller who wants to explore the local food scene but are too nervous to go it alone, or you’ve just moved to a new part of the world, or you’re simply looking to enjoy the occasional dinner out in your own city when friends and family aren’t around, here are my 20 tips for eating out alone.

1. Do your restaurant research before you go

I would estimate that doing your research and choosing a restaurant in advance more than triples your chances of having a successful night eating out alone.

Why? When it comes to dining alone, choosing a restaurant off the cuff is just another daunting task to add to an already intimidating activity. Wandering around the streets promising yourself that you’ll just eat at whichever place looks nice/ is least busy/ takes your fancy is most likely going to involve you walking the streets for a long time before finally getting frustrated with yourself and heading home.

Choose the restaurant in advance and not only do you remove one decision from the equation, you’ve made the first step in committing to a night out alone.

2. Start small

We’ve all heard the phrase “don’t run before you can walk”. Well, don’t try dinner before you’ve tried lunch…or breakfast or a coffee.

For some reason that escapes me, dinner seems to be the one meal a day where it is more taboo to dine alone. Breakfast, lunch and sitting in a cafe, on the other hand, you’re much more likely to find solo diners – from mum’s with babies to workers catching a moment of alone time to sightseers to writers (yep, I’m that person who sits in the corner of a bar/cafe sipping one coffee for hours as I graft off the free wi-fi and a/c).

If you’re new to eating out alone, find a popular coffee shop or bar and take yourself on a day time eating out experiment. You’d be surprised the confidence boost it will give you.

3. Time your dining well

Despite me turning up solo at one of the most popular restaurants in Dublin at 8pm on a Saturday night last year, on the whole I’d recommend trying to dine a little before or after peak time. Why? While restaurants may still (sadly) prefer to take the money of two diners over one, especially during peak times, I personally couldn’t give a crap about that. I’m advising you dine out of peak time for your own comfort…at least at first.

If you’re already paranoid about eating out alone, you can quadruple that paranoia if you hit a restaurant at peak dining time on a weekend when the place is ram-packed and the tables are sparse. Going a little earlier or later will be far less stressful.

4. Study the menu beforehand

Chances are that the very act of getting across the threshold of the restaurant and taking a seat as a solo diner, will have your head racing, and although you may look like you’re studying the menu thoughtfully, your mind is probably elsewhere…

Is that couple over there watching me?
(Turn menu page)
Oh, God, even that kid thinks he has more friends than I do and he’s only 6.
(Pick up, flick through and put down wine list)
Arggghhh. I want to leave.
(Return to menu as though making a final decision).
Should I leave…

“Are you ready to order?”

If there is any chance you can study the menu before you sit down, do it and make a decision or at least a shortlist of three things that you want to eat. Not only will it make your first 10 minutes in the restaurant less stressful, it avoids the problem of panic ordering. And, the bonus is that if you eat something delicious, you’re much more likely to want to return for another adventure eating out alone.

Tip: A lot of menus are online these days. Otherwise, visit the restaurant at lunchtime just to look at the menu.

Just me…and I’m enough.

5. Visualise your alternative dining options

If you’re a foodie (or simply tired of your current eating routine) then the most motivating thing you can do is to visualise the alternative. When I’m feeling a bit emotionally vulnerable (happens at least once a month!) and I’m not so keen on venturing out, I force myself to really think about what my other option is – that thought usually leads me to a vile pre-packaged sandwich with nasty white stale bread, a bottle of diet coke and some edible but far from fulfilling chips (crisps). And the worst part, I’d still be eating alone except I’d be in the quiet desperation of my room while quietly chastising myself for not being bold enough to go out.

6. Dress comfortably

We all have clothes that makes us feel more comfortable and confident and I’d highly recommend wearing them for your eating out adventure. That new, experimental outfit can surely wait for another time?

And on comfort, you’re going out to eat. There is little point wearing those “I used to be able to get into these when I was 19” jeans and spending the entire night breathing in. Actually, this applies to all eating out experiences – solo or not. But from an eating alone perspective, there is nothing to be gained from increasing your discomfort!

7. Promise yourself a low-stress reward

Eating out alone can, sadly, be a pretty stressful activity, particularly if you’re not accustomed to it. So, in return for your bravery, think up a nice, low-stress reward for yourself. Whether it’s a favourite movie alone in your room after dinner or a few hours reading a book in the park the next day, knowing you’ll have some stress-free de-compression time after your night out alone, you can remind yourself that dinner will not last forever and you already have some stress-free time scheduled in.

8. Map your route

If you’ve made the decision to eat out alone, you’ve researched the menu and picked a restaurant, the last thing you want to do is back out…but it’s easy to seize even the slightest opportunity to cancel your solo dining plans.

And not being able to find your chosen restaurant is one of those very common “get out of eating alone” excuses that can be hard to resist. So, prepare. Don’t let the opportunity arise – either research the exact route you’re going to take or, better yet, get a taxi to take you straight there.

9. Eat within your comfort zone

My Travel Amiga Karen once ventured out to dinner alone in Hong Kong and ended up with a platter of seafood to serve six. It was a bold move and one that embarrassed the hell out of her.

When you’re not confident eating out alone, the very idea of being put under the microscope any further can be terrifying. For that reason, start off by eating in your comfort zone. First time solo dining probably isn’t the time to learn to use chopsticks or get to grips with the dynamics of a Korean Barbecue. Pizza and pug grub are usually pretty safe bets for new solo diners.

10. Make a reservation

You’ve picked a restaurant, you’ve studied the menu, you’ve planned your route, you’ve picked a non-peak time and still you’re turned away at the door. Don’t leave your dinner plans to chance – if you can, book ahead.

Something you’re going to have to get used to: “JUST for one?”

As well as securing a table, making a reservation is a good way of notifying the restaurant that you’re a solo diner. Like it or not (I hate it), you’re probably going to be met with a fair bit of surprise by eating out alone, particularly in the evening (although – good news, times are changing according to this BBC article).

Until solo dining become more mainstream, you’re probably going to repeatedly be asked, “Just one?” or “Only one”. Not something you’ll ever hear as a couple or group.

When I’m asked, I meekly say “yes, just one”. But one day…one day soon I promise I’m going to scream out, “I’m not JUST one. I am one and I am enough.” Still working on that. In the meantime, I gloss over the ignorance as my waiters show me to my table “JUST for one”.

11. Stand your ground on seating

Following on from the above, this “just one” attitude can have a pretty unfortunate impact when it comes to seating. Although it has happened only a handful of times – I repeat, only a handful out of hundreds of dining times – there have been occasions when my rather inconsiderate waiter has tried to plonk me in the most unattractive part of the restaurant.

“Singles corner” I can kind of cope with but I have also been asked more than once to sit with strangers. Absent dining in China Town in London (where you’re commonly dumped in a random seat whether you’re dining alone or not), I simply won’t stand for it and you shouldn’t either.

Sure, I get that restaurants prefer to take two people’s money from a table but on the flip side, as a solo diner you’re much more likely to complete your meal quicker than a couple or group. So, I say stand your ground. If the restaurant won’t give you a decent table that makes you comfortable, then walk away – there are plenty of restaurants that will.

12. Take props

Eating out alone take props

Photo by: Stefan Tarnell.

Even as a seasoned solo diner, there are moments when my single status haunts me in restaurants – and those moments are usually the long waits after I’ve ordered my meal and when I ask for the bill/cheque. With no food to play with and no menu to read, I find myself either drinking a glass of wine (way to fast) or twiddling my fingers awkwardly and desperately wishing I could evaporate (like my wine appears to have done).

Solution: these days I take props. A whole heap of props, in fact, all of which are designed to keep me occupied. My go to distraction devices include my Kindle, a travel guidebook, my iPhone (complete with games, stuff to read, and access to wi-fi – yay, dining friends at a distance!). In addition, I often take my camera and notebook – even if I’m not reviewing the restaurant, taking pictures and notes helps me practice my craft and keeps my mind off my singleness at the same time.

If you’re looking for something good to read, check out my posts on the 50 best travel books as well as my 52 tips for how to read more.

Tip: I’m not suggesting that you dupe a restaurant into thinking you’re a food journalist, but if you feel the need for a “cover story” i.e. you want people to believe you have a reason to be dining alone, consider taking a small note book and take some snaps of your food. I don’t think there’s any real harm in a bit of play acting if nobody is misled and it helps boost your confidence for eating out alone.

13. Go as an alter-ego

One of my favourite motivational books is called Focus by Jurgen Wolff. In that book he shares a powerful concept of using alter egos to get you through tasks that daunt you. And I’m going to suggest taking a similar approach when eating out alone.

How does the alter ego work? I used to hate doing my accounts and that was usually because I’d send my teenage alter ego in to do the job. Before long I would find myself on YouTube watching videos of cats playing Jenga. These days I step into my ex-lawyer alter ego and this much more organised version of me is way more efficient for the job at hand.

We all have times when we are more confident, outgoing and daring – find that alter ego within you and take that version of you out for dinner. Don’t have one? Make one up! Or try stepping into the shoes of your more confident best friend for the night – imagine what he or she would do if they were eating out alone.

14. Have a beer or a glass of wine

Ah, I can hear the naysayers – you shouldn’t need alcohol to boost your confidence. Yeah? Screw that – sometimes it can help. Plus, you’re a grown up, and wine and beer are actually a great accompaniment to food. As long as you’re not downing a fifth of vodka before you go out, just for courage, ordering a glass or wine or beer when you sit down might just take the edge of your nerves.

15. Take something to “save your seat”

Eating out alone reserved sign

Photo by: .reserveD

Unless you’re a camel or capable of eating spinach without getting it in your teeth (I’m neither), there’s probably going to be a point when you want to pop to the bathroom. And you’re probably not going to want to do this mid-meal. Which raises the slight trickery of “saving your seat”. If you’ve literally just ordered, there won’t be any dinner debris (plates, glasses etc.) to indicate that the table is your spot, and even if you have finished eating, an empty seat could leave the waiter wondering if you’ve scarpered.

Leaving your bag or valuables at your table isn’t ideal so I usually ensure I have something non-valuable on me – a scarf or a book – to indicate that I’ve just popped away and to serve as a gentle reminder to my waiter – “don’t you damn well dare dispense of my half glass of wine or hand my table over to the couple at the door keenly coveting my spot.”

16. Practice with a friend

One of the biggest fears about eating out alone is the paranoia that other people think you are some sort of reject of society. And mostly that fear exists only in your head. But what if you knew that you had a friend close by – would that make you more confident?

If so, give it a try. Arrange to go to dinner at a restaurant with a friend, but pledge to dine separately. Turn up alone, sit alone, but know that there is a friendly face in the restaurant who is sharing your discomfort. You might be surprised how much this alters your perspective and confidence to eat alone.

When you do decide to go solo, just pretend that your friend is in the back somewhere.

17. Remind yourself that people are self absorbed

As I’ve already mentioned, one of the biggest barriers that stops many people eating out alone is the worry that they are being judged and stigmatised by…pretty much everybody in the restaurant.

The reality, on the other hand, is that the vast majority of people (myself included) are super self-absorbed. Beyond a cursory glance and perhaps a nano-second of though in your direction, most people will barely register that you’re there – let alone notice that fact that you’re there alone. This raises a whole heap of issues about modern day society and humanity in general, but for the purposes of solo dining, it’s great news.

18. Enjoy some people watching

Having just said that people are self absorbed, dining alone is a great excuse to buck that trend. Do it discretely, but watching people in restaurants is such good fun. I like to play a bit of table bingo to see if I can get a full house of the following diners:

  • the couple on a first date
  • the “I’m with this person but actually wish I was alone” couple
  • the birthday group
  • the affair
  • the “it’s our anniversary and we’re still deeply in love” couple
  • the business colleagues
  • the “it’s our anniversary and I’m so uncomfortable in our marriage, I’ve invited the kids for dinner too.”
  • the girl’s night out
  • the boy’s night out

and you get bonus points for spotting:

  • another solo diner
  • anyone famous
  • the most drunk person in the restaurant

quadruple points if you spot a solo, famous diner who also happens to be the most drunk person in the restaurant.

19. Take cash and have change

Eating out alone can be a bit of an ordeal, especially those first few times, and by the end of dinner you’re probably going to want to retreat to your home or hotel at speed. Waiting for the bill, when you’ve played with all your props and are a bit snoozy from the food can feel like an eternity.

Ask for the bill early – I usually ask when I still have a fifth of my drink left – and try to pay with cash using the right money, if possible. This can avoid the prolonged process of paying by credit card or waiting for change (especially in “more relaxed” places like Latin America).

20. Know your exit strategy

You may feel deliriously high or distractedly keen to get home when you leave the restaurant and if you’re in a strange town, the last thing you want to do is have to recall where you are and where you go.

When you’re planning your night out, also plan your exit strategy so you know the route to get home and public transport options.

And there you have it. My best tips for eating out alone. The first few…dozen…hundred times you go solo dining might make you wince but trust me, develop this skill and you’ll never have to settle for a crappy 7 Eleven sandwich for dinner ever again.

Have you ever eaten out alone? Any other tips to share? I’d especially love to her from anyone who reads this, gives it a go and conquers their fears.

Why not try A Food Tour?

Want a fun dinner with a ready-made group of people? Try taking a food tour. Usually, you get to try several eateries, learn about the local foods and meet new friends in the process. I regularly do this when I’m new to a city but also in my home city when I don’t want to eat out alone.

I usually book online through either Get Your Guide or Viator. Just type in ‘food tour’ and search in your city of interest.

Normalising eating out alone & friendship tables

You know what I’d love to see? A world where eating out alone is normalised. And the good news is, for every one of us who does this, we’re helping to make solo dining more normal.

But what about Friendship tables, too? I stayed at Lake Austin Spa Resort once (read about my visit here) and in the dining room they had a large, round table that was reserved. In the centre, there was a card ‘Friendship table’. It was a reserved space to sit if you were eating out alone but were open to the idea of company. I met a lovely lady called Sue and we’re still in contact now. If you’re a restaurant owner reading this, give it a try. Who know’s you might be the place that sparks endless friendships or romances…and at least gives someone a lovely night out they might not have been brave enough to otherwise have. 

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Main photo by: Jim Pennucci

212 thoughts on “20 Tips for Eating Out Alone – From A Seasoned Solo Diner”

  1. The fancier the restaurant, the more I am intimidated about ‘aloneness’ when that rare occasion arises. But I love the reading idea since I hardly ever get the opportunity to be alone long enough to get through a book more quickly. I had a conversation today with a friend on the phone. She had HER opinion about dining alone. I had mine. The ‘twain’ did not meet, but we remain friends (I think). AND, I might add, I heartily believe that is how it ‘should be’; to each his or her own opinion. We do not always have to agree. And the world will go on with a thousand opinions, and so what? A friend is a friend is a friend!

    • I have friends who have different views on dining alone too. Doesn’t stop me doing it. I know what you mean about fancy restaurants. I especially find books helpful there! Happy dining. I’m sure your friend will remain your friend (or were they really a friend in the first place?!)

  2. Well written article and funny too! I am now an empty nester and was trying to find the courage to do anything alone. I am eventually going to travel alone but my first steps will be a Cafe for coffee or something and baby steps my way up from there.

  3. Reading this as I dine alone. I didn’t have any props, but for this to be my first solo dining experience. I’m glad I did it!

  4. Hi! Jo, thanks for this article it describes me to a T ! I eat alone for a long time now and although in the beginning I had no problem with that, now that I am getting older seems is getting more difficult to sit and enjoy my meal, maybe I am getting a mild case of paranoia that all other dinners are staring at me trying to figure out why I am there alone, crazy, love know I don’t want to give it up I am a foodie at heart but I don’t want to end up with stress related indigestion 🙂

    • Hi Roula, thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I’d say first of all consider the fact that all your other diners are self-absorbed so they’re unlikely to give you more than a second’s thought (sad but true). Have you tried taking a ‘distraction’ prop like a book or magazine? Or even taking your favourite show so you can watch it on a table with headphones while you eat. Might help you get over this short bout of paranoia? My other suggestion is to pick a favourite restaurant and become a regular. After a while all the staff will know you and probably greet you as an old friend. Then any nosey/judgey people will probably think you’re some sort of local royalty getting such great customer treatment! Stick at it. I’m sure the paranoia will pass!

  5. I find it sad that you need to make such a big deal of the simple act of dining alone. If the single customer is pleasant and able to cover the expense plus a generous tip they should feel comfortable and welcome. The lone customer does not need to apologize or come up an explanation.

    • Hi Diana, “should” is a very strong word. It’s not possible for one human to paste their confidence and views onto another person just because they think other people should be able to do something. I agree that lone diners don’t need to apologise but not everyone has that bravery. I’m pleased that you do, but I’d encourage you to find more empathy and understanding for people who don’t. Happy solo dining.

  6. I am reading this article as I am alone at a local restaurant. I’m a senior citizen and often find myself at restaurants with much younger diners.
    So my issue is everyone seems to have someone to go out with, and I am usually alone. My kids are grown, my local friends are married.
    I will try many of these ideas, as I know getting out is healthier than staying home all the time.

    • Hi DMB, it’s so tough but also keep in mind there are lots of younger people who don’t have people to dine out with…but instead of going solo, many will stay home. It wonderful people like you who are helping to normalise dining out alone. I hope the tips help and you have some amazing dinners out!

  7. Nice article and while I am married, I tend to encounter situations where I eat out alone, such as working late, etc. There is a restaurant around the corner from us where I go on occasion and eat at the bar. It appears single dining at a bar is less stigmatized that sitting at a table but that’s just me. I also feel many establishments frown on single diners taking up a table or “real estate” as the jargon goes. However they fail to realize that if you treat a person right the first time, they will return on a consistent basis. I have no issues eating out solo and never felt self-conscious about it. I also remember my military days where traveling from one post to another or on liberty ate alone many times. Fast forward I have also eaten dinner alone in NYC, DC and other large cites without issues, except in a few cases you get a befuddled look , but that was the extent of it.

    As for Medellin, I have been there within the last two years and actually ended up eating alone at a place in Laureles and didn’t get any funny looks, but in this case I understand if I do since Colombians are extremely family oriented and eating is seen as a communal activity. What’s funny is my cousin who ended up leaving the country a few days before me thus my solo dinner above were at a fast food spot in Belen and I ended up striking a conversation with a local who lived in the US at one time and still visits family there. His group of 8 invited us to sit with them but we didn’t want to intrude but looking back, I wish I had. That’s my experience.

    • Hi Gil, sounds like you’ve had some great experiences solo dining and have a wonderful attitude towards it. I’ve also had a few of those invitations I regret not accepting – promise yourself you’ll join next time. Happy eating out alone!

  8. Hi Jo, thank you for a great read and valuable tips. I came across article this whilst anticipating venturing back out, as a single person, post lockdown. Many things rang true and was nice to see another persons viewpoint on solo dining.

    My first ‘real’ experience came back in 2018 on a trip away in the Canaries. It was a decision making trip on the future of my 20yr relationship, with kids, after finding out about my partners infidelity. I wanted to be able spend time reflecting and gathering my thoughts but came face-to-face with these exact dining scenarios. Begrudging restaurant managers wanting to sit you in dark corners. Rushed service. Continual staring and pressure to be moved on. On my first night eating out, I felt pressured to get it over as quickly as possible, guilty of depriving other couples of ‘their’ table, ultra-conscious of eating alone, generally not a good experience.

    Over the following 4 days, and a lot of thought through those days, I came to the following conclusion. My money is a good as anyone else’s. If I’m paying the same prices, I’d like the same opportunity as any other diner/s to chose where I sit. I’m entitled to take as long as I want to consume and enjoy my food. The more you shoot your looks of disapproval, the less you get as a tip. No one likes a bad tripadvisor/review. And most importantly, why should couples/groups/families get all the good food experiences? I entitled to those too.

    What I find works is when initially talking to the waiter/waitress, I drop comments about how I’d heard about the restaurant through friends, how I wanted to experience it, other single friends that had eaten there. Just generally positive comments for them to realise you’re just a single person wanting a good dining experience. Most of the times you’ll get them dropping in randomly asking if everything is ok, do you need anything to drink, etc. And a smile goes a long way. Better to be the one that smiled than the one that didn’t smile back. Be nice.

    Thanks Jo again for a great article.

    • Hi Lee, that’s a hard set of circumstances to find yourself on your first solo dining experience. Well done for doing it but I’m sorry you had such bad service. Grrr. That’s a nice tip about chatting to the waiter. Thanks for such a lovely comment and for sharing your experience.

  9. Hi!
    Love your article! Thank you for writing this. I was invited to a Bichot wine dinner with a four course menu. It has been years since I have dined alone. Reading this gave me more of a confidence boost to go out again. This time due to the dining atmosphere, I’ll be in evening attire and rent an executive car service…just be be extra ’cause I can! 🙂 All or nothing! Wish me luck.

    • Oh, how amazing. I think I need to take a leaf out of your book and book myself in for some fancy solo dining. I got all dressed up and cooked myself a lovely solo restaurant style dinner at home during my lonely lockdown. I would have liked to have gone out and not had to do the washing up! As soon as restrictions lift, this is on my list!

  10. Hi Jo, as a long time solo diner I loved the blog. Your comment on people being self absorbed rang a bell, but a bit different one than you mentioned. A restaurant where I’m a regular had a seasonal celebration recently and I found myself there on a Saturday. I went late as you wisely note, there being no reservations taken Friday and Saturday. But I wasn’t able to secure a seat at the bar for all the couples seated there. I saw that the hostess was seating couples arriving after me where singles might be seated, so they could await a table while having a drink and appetizer.

    I spoke with the owner and he said, “well, we are busy. Why don’t you come back on a weeknight?”

    I suppose I’m fortunate that it doesn’t happen more often, but it’s difficult to accept the indifference.

    • Hi Sid, this kind of thing really bugs me. We are each of us humans and we’re all customers whether we’re one person or not. I have walked out of restaurants that treat me differently because I’m a solo diner. Ive also had the opposite, where I’m, give just a little more attention or service because I’m on my own. They’re the places I go back to. It’s not difficult, why can’t people get that?!

  11. I’ve been a solo diner for many years and comfortably so. I always sit at the bar. Doesn’t bother me in the least no matter the venue or time of day!

  12. When I was in my 20’s, I was so embarrassed to dine alone because I thought people would look down on me, but now in my 40’s what stops me, is fear of my food being tampered with. As a Hispanic American with a brown complexion, the looks I get when I’m traveling through predominantly white states like Vermont or Tennessee is astonishing. It feels like I’m living in the Jim Crow laws of yesteryear.

    • Hi Victor, I’m so sorry you’re having that experience. A practical suggestion: have you tried eating in restaurants where you can see the food being prepared?

  13. I’ve just got to say that this is totally an article for extroverts. As an introvert, I cherish going out alone (and yes, I’m married). This goes back to my days in college when is just need some me time and slip out of the dorm and sit alone at McDonalds and read my book or the campus/local newspaper. When I worked at summer camp, 4 out of 5 times, my days and nights off were solo ventures.

    It would be easy for me to comment that this article is silly, because it read like that to me.
    Then I realized the talent of us introverts to be alone and for that to be quality, rejuvenating time, I can’t imagine alone time being anxiety provoking. It clearly is for some, so these tips are likely great for those who need them.

    • I don’t think people’s worries can quite so easily be put into the binary categories of introverted and extroverted but thanks for sharing your experience.

    • I disagree with this. I would class myself as an introvert, I spend most of my time alone and happily do most things alone. But there is still a stigma to eating alone in restaurants (I’m not counting fast food like macdonalds as a restaurant).
      I’ve travelled alone to several countries and I always find dinner the most stressful part of my day. I find the tips here helpful, but just as much I find the fact that articles like this exist super helpful to show me that 1. lots of people eat alone and 2. lots of people stress over it still!

  14. While I prefer dining with others, I dine alone frequently. It’s usually a good experience, as I love trying new restaurants and can’t always get someone to go with me. However, I do feel lonely and uncomfortable sometimes. Usually, I’ll bring earphones and watch movies on my phone or iPad while I’m eating. Is that weird? It’s kind of awkward when a waiter comes by and I have to take my earphones out. Also, should I tip more if I’m dining alone? I always tip 15-20%, but the dollar amount can be kind of low if I just ordered one entree. Thanks for your post!

    • Hi Brittany, not weird to watch TV and eat at all – that’s pretty much how most people eat at home. I still tip based on service. Admittedly, I do have extra gratitude sometimes for being a good seat when I dine solo so that might factor in but I don’t feel compelled to. Hope that helps and keep on solo dining!

  15. My husband passed in August and I will probably never go to anything but fast food drive thrus. I always was the type of person to love my alone time but now its just to much. I am always by myself. Its depressing and sad.

    • Hi Brenda, I’m sorry to hear about the passing of your husband. You are going through a challenging time and adding extra pressure about things like eating out alone can seem overwhelming. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself but also don’t rule out the idea. Start small – my local cafe is full of ladies chatting across the tables at each other. They all visit separately, read their books, do their knitting and go home alone but they chat in between. Grief is depressing and sad. So is being lonely but know that it’s a common feeling (even with some people who don’t live alone). Try to connect with some local groups and you might find a dining companion. If not, take a book and ignore everyone else. The external noise can be company enough some time. Message me if you ever want to chat.

  16. I used to be horrified by the simple thought of solo dining. Like a lot of others here, I was worried people would be staring at me, judging as I munched alone. Then, about seven and a half years ago, I met my husband, who happened to be a seasoned solo diner, and also lived half a continent away. He helped me gain courage to dine alone, giving me the realization that people are more focused on their own delicious (or not!) meals than they were in me, but also bringing a new perspective: If I had no one to go with, I was missing out on trying something new, which could possibly become a new favorite!

    I especially liked your advice of going out as an alter ego. While I don’t necessarily need that for dining anymore, it could certainly be handy in other aspects of my life!

    Kudos on a wonderful article, and thank you for taking the time to reach out to those who aren’t comfortable in the experience of dining alone.

    • Thanks Kayla and thanks to your husband for encouraging you. The more people who do it, the more normalised it will become. And yes, people are definitely fixated on their own immediate surroundings. I’m back travelling solo at the moment. I may go for dinner as an alter ego myself. Just for fun.


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