How To Dine Solo Like A Pro
By Annick Weber
Illustrations by Cait Cuthbert
Table for one? From meeting new people to eating more mindfully, there are a number of benefits that come with dining solo. Whether you’re a business traveller or solo adventurer, these tips will help you savour the experience to the fullest.
Book a table
To avoid the stress of wandering around the streets in search of a last-minute meal, there are apps and online reviews to help you do your research in advance and pick a small place that tempts you. Call the restaurant beforehand or book a table online—this way you don’t have to ask or wait for a table for once when you get there.
Where you sit matters
If you feel more comfortable away from the crowd, ask to be seated in a quieter corner of the restaurant or book an early dining slot. If you don’t mind being in the middle of it all, pull up at the bar. Bar seating is an excellent way to mingle with other solo diners or get into a conversation with the staff.
Books, Kindles, phones, tablets or newspapers are all great props to bring along to the restaurant, as they will help you keep (and look) occupied. Plus, solo dining is also the ultimate people-watching opportunity. There’s no better immersion into local culture than simply sitting and observing the life happening around you.
Forget about the others
You might feel like all eyes are on you as soon as you walk into a restaurant on your own. It’s normal to feel self-conscious, but remember that other diners are probably too absorbed in their meal or conversation to even notice you.
Go for lunch
Truth is, solo lunching is much less intimidating than solo dining. If your schedule allows it, try to have your main meal of the day at lunchtime. Being surrounded by office workers, students or other individuals at a café will make you feel less awkward than having dinner on your own.
Focus on the food
Having no dining companion means that there are fewer distractions from the food. You automatically pay more attention to what you’re eating, so try to eat slowly as you savour familiar and new flavours. The best part? You get the last bite all to yourself.
No, dining solo doesn’t mean you have no friends (and rest assured, no one will think that). See it as a treat-yourself meal after a long day at work or use it as a moment of calm to reflect on your travel plans to come. Don’t forget to dress up nicely—after all, you’re taking yourself out for a special date.
Find a dining companion
If you’re still hesitant about dining solo, there are ways to ease yourself into it without actually having to eat alone. More and more restaurants have communal dining tables that allow you to sit with other guests, while platforms such as Airbnb Experiences connect you with other travellers in search of unique dining experiences with a local feel.