Eating on your own – and enjoying it – is an art, and it’s not something that many people try to do until forced (a business trip, for example). I’ll admit, the second half of the title is misleading. You may look crazy, but maybe that’s what you’re going for! Either way, this post is about how to eat out on your own and enjoy it!
Sit at the bar
Arguably, the bar is often the best place in the restaurant, so if anything, you’re getting even more access by sitting here. It gives you more insight into the workings of the restaurant, and if you’re lucky, they might be cooking at least some of the meal right there. Dinner and a show! Also, it sticks out less that you’re on your own. I’ve never noticed anyone giving me odd looks for being at a restaurant by myself, although I’ve heard of plenty of experiences.
You can strike up a conversation with the bartender or whoever is sitting next to you, and you won’t feel as secluded as you might sitting at a table on your own. A trick: everyone likes to talk about themselves. Ask the bartender about the restaurant, based on your observations. How long has it been open? If it’s a tiny place, how many seatings do they do each night? How long has he / she worked there? Etc. Keep it casual and small chit chat, but I can tell you that having been a server in my past life (i.e. college), they’re softball questions that are easy answer and they also break the ice a bit. Maybe you’ll find out something interesting about the restaurant’s history, the best dishes to order, and if you’re really lucky, perhaps they’ll give you a little taste of something extra.
Caveat here: don’t be annoying. This is true anytime really, but the last thing you want to do is come off as the needy person at the bar. You’re happy to be there and you’re just enjoying the fantastic experience!
Personally, when eating alone, I will try to choose restaurants that offer bar seating as opposed to those that don’t. You can absolutely sit at a table by yourself, but I find it more enjoyable to be at a more casual bar setting, plus then you’re not taking up a table that could have been used by a larger party (even just two people).
Choose a good place
Just because you’re on your own doesn’t mean that you don’t want to eat at a nice place, or try something new. Do your research and choose a restaurant because you want to eat there, not just because you think you’ll blend in. You absolutely do not have to stick to “tourist” restaurants, so do some digging and find a spot that you think you’ll love! Feeling fancy? Book a fancy dinner! Who says you can’t go out and treat yourself?
The hunt for a great place is part of the fun, and if you’re enjoying the ambiance / food, etc. you’ll have a better time and hopefully have an amazing dining experience and a good story to tell afterwards!
Bring a book
This is the hard part, and it’s more apparent / more likely to arise in some locations compared to others. If you’re in a restaurant or bar where there is a lot going on, perhaps you can feel occupied people-watching, or chatting with others. If it’s quieter, there comes a moment where you might be thinking “now what?” I’ve ordered my food, I have my drink, and now I’m just sitting here waiting.
For those quiet moments, it helps to bring something with you, like a book, that you won’t mind reading as you wait. Without it, you can get a bit bored, start feeling anxious, or default to looking at your phone the whole time (defeats the purpose, right?).
Above all else, go for it! Just because on your traveling on your own, don’t let that hold you back. It can actually be incredibly freeing and rewarding, not to mention, you’re likely to get into a dinner spot where a larger party (even just two people) would never be able to get a reservation. Embrace it and have a great time!
And since this is a constant learning process, if you have any other tips and tricks for eating out on your own, comment below! Would love to hear them!