Guide to Dining Out Alone

Picture this scenario: A little old man in the corner of a restaurant eating by himself – all alone with no one to talk to. He doesn’t have a book or newspaper to read, he isn’t on his phone chatting to someone and he isn’t writing or drawing anything either. He is just eating…alone…and it’s so sad.

At least, that is what I used to think.

I love being around my friends. My life would be quite boring without them. But even though they are great, I have to take a break from them at times. Especially when it comes to choosing a restaurant, it can take forever and it drives me insane. There are so many things to consider and I still don’t understand why every single person has to approve of the restaurant we want to go to. They can just stay away if they don’t like the place – majority rules. It’s simple and effective. But I have been told – repeatedly – that everyone has to agree on these four things: venue, cuisine, menu & price. Weeks can go by until a decision has finally been made.

To evade the drama, I have started dining-out at restaurants alone – just like the little old man. It sucked in the beginning – it sucked big time! Sitting alone feels awkward and you don’t know what to do with yourself while you wait for the food to arrive. But dining-out alone is not and should not be as intimidating as one might think. After a while I picked up a few tricks to make it less daunting and I have even started to enjoy it. There is the food, décor, and other diners on which you can focus on, and even the opportunity to strike up conversation with the staff asking about the menu and the restaurant itself (which I never do when I’m with a group of friends).

Dining Out Alone

It took some getting used but going to a restaurant alone isn’t something I am embarrassed about anymore. Maybe these four tips for dining-out alone will help you as well:

  • Read
  • Sports
  • Talk
  • Review

Take along a Book

Always take along reading material. If the restaurant is busy, you might have to wait quite a while for the food to arrive. Even if you don’t want to read, books & magazines can act as a perfect way of warding off potential conversationalists. If you don’t want to be disturbed, you can always whip out your decoy and pretend to be busy reading! If you own a Kindle, be wary of spillage – it’s not going to end well for your eBook reader!

Become a Sports Fanatic!

This might be the perfect time to start supporting a team even if it’s only for the next 30 minutes. Request a seat at the bar or a table that has a view of the television. Concentrate on the game and a well-timed groan of defeat or a fist-pumping YES! will go down very well with the crowd at the bar. Most restaurants will still serve the full menu even if you are seated in the bar area. Another upside is that you won’t be surrounded by lovey-dovey couples holding hands and having a romantic dinner.

Talk to the Staff

First things first: Stride up to the host or hostess and proudly request your table for one. Don’t even think about apologising for dining alone. Once you are seated, talk to your waiter. He’s been trained to know everything about the menu – so test him!

Review the Restaurant

Take along paper and pen and start writing things down or just doodle a bit. They cannot be sure you’re not there to write a review for a magazine or blog! Also, engage the waiter; ask about the origins of that weird looking side-dish that tastes like a combination of blue cheese and mango. You might even get invited into the kitchen. What you do there is entirely up to you, but it could be quite an adventure! (You can use our forum to share your latest restaurant experience.)

There you have it, my guide for dining-out alone and having a bit of fun while you’re at it. Now it’s your turn: Dine alone, I dare you!

Written by Marvin

Founder of FoodBlogSA Media. B.Bus.Sc. - Marketing; M.Bus.Sc- Tourism. A career in destination marketing was calling but then my passion for food took over. Welcome to our restaurant marketing platform.

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