I never really got comfortable with solo dining before 2021. I always felt so self-conscious of being at a table by myself because I was bothered by imagining what people must think about me: “wow she’s so alone”, “she must be so lonely”, “she must not have friends to go out with”. But something happened in the middle of 2021 that forced me to confront that fear. I went to L.A. on a trip mostly by myself. I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and snacks) by myself. And I felt no shame. I realized that yes, people may stare, but everyone is so focused on themselves and how they look, they don’t care that much about me. I really enjoyed my own company. I ordered only for myself, I ate in peace and really savored every bite (or chowed it down depending on how insanely delicious it was).
If you’re new to this, I completely understand your hesitation. To make it easier, go to restaurants that offer bar seating; you can make conversation with the bartender and get into talks about their favorite wine or cocktails on the menu. If you’re more of an introvert, bring a book with you. That can make for a great conversation starter too, or not.
The number one reason I love to travel & dine solo is that you are on your own schedule. No needing to rely on others or their restrictions (I’m not saying I dislike traveling with other people, that is great too in the right place). Go to that place that you’ve been dying to go to, but no one else might not feel as passionate about or you just can’t quite find the time with friends to go together. There’s so many restaurants out there; you deserve to enjoy some of them in your own company. Some of my solo dining experiences back in Los Angeles are ones that I’ll remember forever. I was fully immersed in the dining experience, nowhere to be besides there, talking with the wait staff about their recommendations, and feeling like a judge on one of those Food Network cooking competitions.
Another reason I love to go solo is the freedom it allows me to play things by ear. When you’re dining solo, you don’t have to make reservations because most of the time, they can accommodate you with bar seating (or even get lucky with a table!). On the off-chance the restaurant is packed and there’s a long wait, I’m not bothered by it and you shouldn’t be either. Just go with the flow: walk around the area and explore what other restaurants catch the eye. It’s much easier to do this when you’re alone, where you don’t need to consult other people on the restaurant. I love my friends, but once in awhile going to a nice restaurant by yourself can feel so nice, rewarding, and relaxing.
Dining solo also gave me a chance to practice intuitive mindful eating. Because I don’t have to keep up a conversation with anyone, it allows me to eat in peace and really savor my food. I try to eat slowly and listen to my body, how it reacts to the foods I eat and learn for next time what to avoid or eat less of. It’s easy to practice this solo, and when you go out enough and tune in to your body’s cues, it’s easy to practice it when going out to eat with other people.
The stigma of eating by oneself needs to get broken. No one cares if you’re eating by yourself because just like you, everyone is so consumed with themselves and how they act/appear that they don’t really pay much attention to others.
Eating by myself has given me so much confidence in being myself, not caring so much about what other people think or their judgments. It’s something I am definitely going to continue and do more of in the new year. And I hope you do too.
So go out there, make a reservation for one or just show up, in a fabulous outfit that screams confidence, ready to be fully immersed in the eating experience. You deserve it (and don’t forget to document on your phone/camera for the memories!).