The Top 4 Tips for Dining Alone — and Enjoying It
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Published by TOP4 Team
For many people, dining out means booking a table for your group of friends, your family, or you and your significant other. Eating is considered a social activity for so many reasons: preparing and cooking food can involve more than one set of hands, dinners at home are always meant to be shared and passed around, and going out to grab a bite is almost always meant to be a celebration among people — a birthday, anniversary, promotion, or the first time a girl agreed to go out with a guy.
As such, many have never dined alone in public — and never dream to — because of a number of fears and anxieties about the act. Some say they will feel self-conscious and judged for not having someone to share the meal with, while others simply do not see the joy or lesson to be had (if any) from such an experience.
Still, there are some individuals who have ventured into "table for one" territory and lived to tell the tale — and even learned to enjoy and look forward to dining alone again in the future. If you have yet to muster the courage to step into a restaurant sans your squad, here are four helpful tips that can get you started:
1. Maximise the opportunity to frequent establishments that you really like, or try new cuisines that you are interested in.
Eating out, after all, is primarily a gustatory experience. You won't look forward to going out, either by yourself or with friends, if you feel or know that you won't like the fare. So make the solo dining trip something to look forward to by choosing a place that you love or that you are sure you want to try. You may very well discover that after a few spoonfuls of soup, a forkful of a perfectly cooked steak, or a taste of the most sinful dessert ever, you don't even mind being alone — there's more delicious food for you!
2. Leave all "I'm dining alone, stay away" props behind.
To avoid meeting the seemingly judging or disapproving eyes, many solo diners choose to bring something to cushion the scrutiny from other people — a book, a smartphone, a tablet PC, and the like. These things would make them appear busy while enjoying the food. You won't however, be fully immersed in the dining experience this way.
If you must, take these props with you during the first few times, but gradually begin setting them aside or leaving them behind completely so you can be fully present for the meal. Explore the menu or wine list thoroughly, observe the place and the service, pay attention to the other diners — you may just learn so much from your visual observations, making the meal so much more interesting.
3. Try different kinds of seating and find the one you're most comfortable with.
You might dread asking for a table for one and then being led to the loneliest looking table in the most awkward position in the restaurant, but give it a few tries. Some establishments may be unsure about how to accommodate solo diners as well, or may be unable to find more comfortable options for you because of the number of guests, and end up seating you at a large, empty table or one sandwiched between large groups. But be open to the experience and evaluate how it affected your meal.
Don't limit yourself to this, however. Try different establishments and see if you prefer sidling up to a stool at a bar or at a sushi place. Will a booth in a casual restaurant feel more comfortable? See how these options can make or break your dining excursion.
4. Make it a social experience even when you come into the restaurant alone.
Finally, don't sentence yourself to a full night or day of isolation when you eat out alone. There are, after all, fellow solo diners or groups of people who are happy to strike up a conversation about the meal, drinks, service, or any other subject under the sun with the people surrounding them. Give socialising a chance, and you might just walk away with a new acquaintance, friend, or a new favourite restaurant — and a newfound appreciation for solo dining.
Dine alone or eat out with your squad. Check out this well-curated restaurants in Sydney list.