Dining out is one of my favorite parts of traveling. When traveling solo, I used to rely on room-service and fast food because I hated dining alone. It was so strange, and I felt that everyone was judging me. I know that many of us have had to get over (or want to get over) the initial awkwardness of dining out alone. The type of places you choose to go, and where you choose to sit can make a huge difference in reducing that awkward feeling. Some of my suggestions for a great solo dining experience are:
Sit at the Bar
Sitting at the bar is a great spot for women traveling alone. Most bars inside of restaurants are full-service, so they serve the whole menu at the bar. This is an excellent option, for a few reasons:
- Bartenders are known for being social, so you have a built-in person to chat with.
- Patrons at the bar are typically either by themselves, or there to socialize, so you generally have others to chat with as well.
- You can watch the TV at the bar, so you don’t have to feel strange just sitting there.
- Your back is turned towards everyone else, so you don’t have to avoid giving anyone the unintentional stalker gaze.
- Most times you get your food faster than you would sitting at a table.
Sit by the Window
I enjoy sitting by the window at a restaurant because the lighting is typically great for photos. However, the window seat is also a good option for solo travelers as it allows you to see what’s going on outside. People watching can be quite entertaining, or taking the time to eat and think while gazing out the window doesn’t feel near as weird as gazing aimlessly around the restaurant.
Sit on the Patio
The patio has many of the same perks as the window, but you also get to enjoy the fresh air. Restaurants are beginning to do a really great job of temperature regulation on the patios, so many are cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Grab the Corner Booth/Table
You have two options with the corner booth or table:
- Sitting away from the hustle and bustle with a birds-eye view of everything going on. This is for the person who wants to observe and have a bit of a “social experience,” while still enjoying their meal alone.
- Sitting with your back towards everyone for the person who wants to enjoy a quiet meal to themselves, and doesn’t want to worry about what anyone else is doing.
Restaurants with Family Style Seating
This is a good choice for the person who wants a bit more interaction. You are bound to spark up at least small talk when you share a table with others. You may even meet a new friend.
Cafes are a hot spot because there will be many other people there alone. You’ll find everyone from the college student to the business professional in there at any time of day. In contrast to restaurants, it is not uncommon to find someone there engrossed in a phone call, reading a book or writing. This is the perfect spot to grab a quick bite, do some internet surfing, or plan your next trip!
Eating out alone can be strange at first, but once you do it a few times, you will begin to enjoy the experience of spending time with self, eating at your own pace, and sitting wherever your heart desires.
Don’t be afraid to chat with your waiter/waitress. Most are extremely friendly, fun, and full of local tips that might improve your experience. Always be aware of how busy the restaurant is.
Where do you usually sit when you dine out alone? Comment below.