A short guide to going solo at restaurants

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I believe I was in high school the first time I attempted to eat alone at a restaurant. I didn't have any close friends at the time and for whatever reason I was craving a buffalo ranch chicken sandwich without the ranch dressing from Chili's. I got to the restaurant, sat down, and ordered some food. Then my dad called. I told him what I was up to, and he couldn't understand why I was eating out alone so he left work and showed up a few minutes later to eat lunch with me.

Today I more regularly and excitedly go out to eat alone. Matter of fact I went solo to the Cheesecake Factory, and Asian fusion style restaurant last week. I don't believe eating out alone has to be a brave event or a big deal, but I can understand how nerve racking it can be to go to a restaurant and say

“Table for one please”

“ Yes, it’s just me”

*** index finger pointed*** “just me”

Once that weirdness is over with, eating alone can be a really nice experience. These are some tips I’ve picked up to make the meal more enjoyable.

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Start small

If this is your first time eating out alone, a full fledged restaurant may be overwhelming. Instead you can do something on a smaller scale until you feel more comfortable. Get food to go and take yourself on a picnic at the park. Stop in a local coffee shop or bookstore for a quick snack and drink. Eat in at a fancier fast food style restaurant like Panera Bread.

Research the restaurant

Researching the restaurant allows you to get an idea of the menu options, service style, decor, and seating arrangements. If you’re doing a google search you may even see the bar chart that shows the peak business hours. Knowing all this can help you make better decisions about where and when to eat, and will help ease any anxiety you may have about choosing a meal from menus with a ton of options.

Be aware of seating choices

After doing some research, take some time to think about your seating options at the place you are going. If you’re feeling social, sit at a bar and chat it up with a friendly face. For a little more privacy go for booth. If you like to eat at tiny tables, sit at a couples/singles table. For people watching sit by a window, outside, the back, or the middle of the room. If you don’t get a choice and the host directs you to a terrible spot speak up and ask for a different table.

Bring something to do

If you fidget when your hands have nothing to do, bring something with you. I prefer to bring my kindle so I can balance it against my cup while eating. If that’s not your thing you can bring headphones and listen to a podcast, a laptop do work, camera for food pics, notebook and pen, magazine, or a physical book.

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Wear comfortable clothes

There’s nothing worse than itchy or hot clothes while your trying to eat. If you care about matching the restaurant vibe, where something slightly fancier or more casual than what you normally do. If that’s not a concern of yours wear something that makes you feel comfortable and or confident. Eating will be much more enjoyable when you’re not spending the day fidgeting with shirt tags and sleeves that keep falling down.

Bring something to save your seat

I always forget this one, and I ALWAYS regret it. When you are eating alone you don’t have the perk of another person sitting at the table alerting waiters and everyone else that someone is still sitting there. If you’re a lady leaving your purse behind while you visit the restroom is not a good look, and taking everything with you can make it look as if you dined and dashed. Bringing a sweater or a large object will alert restaurant staff that you are still in the building and you will be back. That way when you return from the restroom, you can continue your meal in peace.

Savor the meal

One of the perks of eating alone is that you are not required to have a conversation with anyone, but the waiters taking your order and bringing your food. You have the luxury of savoring all your food bite by bite. You can even spread your belongs and plates across the table if there’s room for it. Take your time eating, and enjoy the fact that you don’t have to share your complimentary bread with anyone. Get another basket of fries, or get that desert you always pretend you don’t want.

Do you take yourself out to eat? Do you have any tips that can be added to the list?