Mastering The Art Of Eating Alone
In my last blog, I focused on how to embrace solo travelling as a young female. A huge part of travelling alone is, of course, eating alone—but eating alone doesn’t just have to be reserved for when you’re away from home. Perhaps there’s somewhere new in town that you really want to try and none of your friends have the time or money to join you, well don’t miss outgo anyway!
It can feel weird, especially as most restaurants have a traditional seating plan where if you dine alone there’s a seat directly opposite you, emphasising that yes, you are alone and most people around you are not.
As someone who blogs about food, you may find it weird that only in the last 12 months have I felt comfortable sitting at a dinner table alone for a full three courses. Before, eating alone was a grabbed sandwich, maybe some fast food, or the occasional trip to a bakery, but now I’ve learnt to find pleasure in treating myself.
Start off small
Less traditional restaurant settings are a great way to start. A lot of sushi restaurants or tapas restaurants will place you around a bar, so you’re not faced with the ominous chair. It feels less bizarre not being sociable and is a great way to ease yourself into some solo dining.
Take your time
How often do we have time that is completely for ourselves?
So take this time when eating alone to do something you love. Bring a good book with you and sit back and relax. Somehow, with a book, a glass of wine, and a great meal it seems 10x better.
Sometimes though, you might want to take the opportunity to people watch. If you’re on holiday, ask for a table outside so that you can watch the world go by.
Ask to sit at the bar rather than the table and make small talk with the bar staff. Whether we’ve worked in the service industry or not, we all know that the service industry tends to attract sociable people who will happily talk to you. If you’re overseas, even better; they may be able to give you tips regarding where to go or what to do. You might even get to test and practice your language skills!
Enjoy a food event or popup
A lot of restaurants will host one-off supper clubs and events that are a lot more sociable and open to people attending as individuals or in groups. This can be a fantastic way to socialise, enjoy a really nice meal, and not feel self-conscious at all about riding solo.
Try websites such as WeFiFo or look for food events via Facebook or Meetup to find sociable dining experiences which often offer great value for money vs paying for an a la carte.
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Eat everything you fancy
Sometimes the advantage of eating with someone else is that you can try more of the menu, but just because you’re on your own doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. A lot of restaurants will let you take away things you don’t eat so why not think of it like ordering tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. Taking the pressure off what you can and can’t order is a great way to ensure you have a lot more fun.
Not got anywhere to store leftover food? Try somewhere where you can try lots of smaller plates or something like a taster plate or thali.
Embracing alone time is something we all struggle with at times and that’s completely natural. Never put pressure on yourself to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, just embrace how you’re feeling and start to relax into this different experience.
Even now, there are days when eating alone is overwhelming and I find myself walking past where my dinner plans are and grabbing a sandwich, but other times I feel soothed and relaxed with no pressure about what I should eat, who I am eating with, or having to make any small talk. It’s a journey, and at the very least, it will be a tasty one.
By Alice Louise Hargreaves
You can keep up to date with Alice’s food escapades on her Instagram