Eating alone is one of the utmost experiences to be avoided by most people. Why are we so scared to do it? Is it the awkward silence at the table while you wait on the check? Is it the feeling that everyone notices that you are alone and maybe feels sorry for you? Poor kid couldn’t get anyone to go eat with her, so here she is by herself.
I conquered my fear some time ago of dining out alone, but the awkwardness is still present in many situations. I still opt for a take out order most of the time, but sometimes the deals and menu specials are only valid if you dine in. Here are a few tips on how to manage the experience.
1) Choose a cafe instead of a restaurant where you have to be waited on. In a cafe setting, you can order your food at a counter, then leisurely eat alone without fear of making conversation with the waiters. I’ve noticed when I dine alone with a waiter involved, they seem overly attentive, maybe compensating for my apparant loneliness at eating by myself. Please, just bring me my enchiladas with a side of sour cream, and let’s not pay attention to the fact that I’m alone in this booth. Cafes are much easier and cater to solo diners with free wi-fi and small seating areas.
2) Bring a book. If you do decide to go to a restaurant with a wait staff, it’s a good idea to bring a book. Then, you have something to focus on besides the other diners while waiting for your food, (especially if it takes a while.) Also, it prevents the waiters from feeling like they need to make small talk with you if you want to avoid this.
3) Go to a buffet. You may laugh, but solo buffet dining is one of my favorite things to do. I’m probably on my way to being an obese citizen, but nevermind that for now. Buffets are nice, because drinks are usually the only thing you have to rely on a waiter to bring you. Place that drink order and you’re ready to grab that plate, load up, eat, and leave. Easy as pie (which they probably have on the dessert table as well.)
4) RELAX. Think about it. When you’re eating with friends, do you notice the person by themselves, and what do you actually think of them? Chances are, you barely register them on your radar, and if you do, you think nothing negative. Perhaps you even think, “Hey, I wish I could do that.” People are not judging you for eating out alone, and what to do in the time slots where you’d usually chat with a friend is the only awkwardness you need worry about overcoming.