11 Things You Only Know If You Like Eating Out Alone
Don’t pity the solo person tucking into dinner on their tod – they’re probably having the best time.
10 February 2021
All Credits: PA
In New York particular, it’s fairly standard to eat solo in public.
In other places though, solitary diners are often considered a little odd and lonely – and sometimes even a nuisance at fussy restaurants with strict seating plans.
Sure, there are downsides to eating alone – servers asking, ‘Are you waiting for anyone?’, fellow diners assuming you’ve been stood up – but there are also a lot of positives to grabbing a table for one (for instance, not having to begrudgingly split a dessert).
In fact, more people than ever are dining out with just themselves. The Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2017-18 found that eight in 10 people believe eating alone is now more socially acceptable than it was five years ago, with almost a third of Brits having dined solo in the last month.
Here are a few more factors – good and bad – you’ll identify with if dinner out for one is on your agenda…
1. The queue isn’t for you
On busy nights, it’s often easier to find a seat or table for one, than a table for three or more. Solo diners can scooch into vacant seats, fill up spots at the bar or counter, and there’s none of that losing your table because your so-called mate didn’t get out of work on time.
3. You can order whatever you like
Eating alone is the best way to sidestep an argument because you both want the lamb but don’t want to look unadventurous in front of the server. There’s no compromising because there’s a veggie or vegan on your table, and no worries about ordering the most expensive thing – you can splash out knowing there’s not going to be an awkward conversation about bill-splitting.
4. It’s ideal quiet time
Sure, you may elicit the odd glance of pity from tables around you, but generally, people will be rather envious that you get to spend an entire meal peacefully, in quiet, only interrupted by food appearing in front of you. Bliss.
6. The people-watching is excellent
Just because people aren’t watching you, doesn’t mean you can’t watch other people. Sitting at the bar or at a counter seat in the window, and there’s no need to rely on your phone for entertainment – just watch everyone else coming and going.
7. There will be some food envy
If you’re only eating for one, it’s definitely tougher to work your way through an entire menu – although, feel free to give it a go, the restaurant staff are bound to be impressed, even if your stomach isn’t. If the few dishes you do try are good though, there’s nothing to stop a repeat visit.
9. You can get stuff done
Spread out, answer emails, read a book or a newspaper, scroll through Instagram uninterrupted, write that novel – or just see it as a small chunk of time to be mindful and treat yourself. Because why not?
10. Dinner is way quicker
It probably will only be a short amount of time, because ordering for one means not having to wait for a whole table’s worth of starters, mains, desserts and coffees – you’ll be in and out in a flash.
11. You’ll learn a lot more about the restaurant
Order alone and you’re likely to have more time to talk to your server or sommelier. Ask questions, find out what’s worth trying on the menu and engage with the staff, you’ll probably have a better experience overall as a result.