Sitting down by yourself in a dining room can be really intimidating, especially if eating alone isn’t something you do often.

I’ll admit dining alone wasn’t something I did well until I began traveling solo, and took lots of practice.

Slowly I learned all the tricks to making dining out as a party of one an enjoyable experience, and now make a point of taking myself out to dinner alone at least once a week.

I love having a few hours where I can force myself to turn off from work, disconnect from my phone, and ideally connect with a good book, people watching, or the occasional short bar conversation.

Eating at restaurants alone doesn’t have to be an anxiety inducing experience, though I totally understand why it can be.

Keep reading to find out my tips and answers to frequently asked questions about solo dining below for everything you need to know about eating alone in a restaurant.

Tips for Eating at Restaurants Alone

Research Restaurants Before You Dine

Eating at Restaurants Alone

Before I head into any restaurant, I always do a quick Google search to see how the reviews look.

There’s nothing worse than getting up the courage to dine solo, only to find out the service or the food sucks.

I always read at least ten recent reviews to get an idea of if the restaurant is going to meet my standards.

You should also always double check that they take credit cards. There’s nothing worse than finding out you’re at a cash only joint when the bill arrives.

Always Check Menus Before Dining


Besides checking the reviews, I always check the menus before committing to dine somewhere.

I make sure that both the prices and dishes and wine are all in my price range and something I’m actually looking forward to trying. 

Not only is this practical, but it makes you more eager to dine solo, since you know you’ll be in for something delicious.

Pick Somewhere That’s Easy to Get To


I don’t know about you, but if I’m feeling anxious about eating solo, I’ll start looking for excuses to cancel.

One of the easiest reasons to find is that the restaurant is too far or annoying to get to.

I can’t tell you the number of times in the past that I’ve told myself that in order to not feel bad about skipping dinners out. 

Don’t give yourself the opportunity to chicken out. Choose a place that’s easy to go so that you have no excuses for skipping out.

Make a Reservation


Since I used to be a maitre’d in New York City, I understand how crazy popular restaurants can get.

There’s nothing more annoying than getting to a place you’re looking forward to dining and finding out there’s a long wait, or worse, they’re totally booked up.

The good news is sometimes single diners have an advantage and can easily snag a solo stool at the bar of a busy restaurant.

I’ve tried this a few times, since I tend to spontaneously pick places while I travel and have great success doing this (don’t worry, I always check reviews before walking in).

Though, if I’m really dying to eat somewhere special, I’ll absolutely do anything I can to snag a reservation. 

If you see nothing available for one online, try calling the restaurant, as some reservation systems leave out the option to choose a party of one, which I find this super annoying, especially if it’s a fine dining spot, since Michelin inspectors always dine solo during one of their multiple visits to a place when determining stars. 

Join a Local Food Tour


One of my favorite ways to go out to eat “solo” is to join a local food tour. 

This way I get to try all the best local dishes, plus learn about the area, and ideally make some new friends within the group.

Devour Tours does really amazing food tours around most major cities, so they’re almost always my go-to choice when I’m in a new city and looking for something fun to do.

The last tour I did with them in Florence was especially memorable, since it ended with a group of us going out for aperol spritz after the tour. 

One other solo traveler and I even became friends and went to dinner the next night to share a giant Florentine steak, which they will only serve to two or more people. 

In fact, she and I are even meeting up again in France in a couple weeks to do dinner in Lille. 

Seriously, I cannot recommend this experience enough, especially if you’re solo traveling for any amount of time, because eating solo for extended amounts of time can get tough. 

I realize if you’re anxious about dining solo and not a traveler, you may also get anxious about being around a bunch of new people and unfamiliar foods, but I promise you it’s a great way to ease into getting comfortable going out solo. 

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Wear an Outfit You Love


One of my favorite ways to make myself feel confident is by dressing up a bit.

You dress up for dates with other people, so give yourself the same respect and dress up a bit for your solo date with yourself.

Obviously, check out the dress code at the restaurant first, because nothing is more awkward than showing up over or under-dressed for dinner solo.

I like to check out the place on Instagram before picking out my outfit. Assuming it’s a well rated, popular spot, there’s sure to be at least a few tagged photos from other diners showing you what the vibe of the restaurant is like. 

Plus, it doesn’t hurt to look presentable when checking in, especially if you don’t have a reservation.

Fair warning though, don’t dress up to the point you’re uncomfortable on your commute. 

I can tell you from too many experiences in New York, that there’s nothing worse than having to take the train and walk to the restaurant in heels, especially if the weather is bad.

Have a Drink While You’re Getting Ready


I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about getting ready for a night out with friends is having a drink while getting ready.

Pour yourself your favorite drink, turn on some fun music, and have fun putting together a cute look.

Obviously, don’t go overboard if you’re drinking something alcoholic. I know it’s easy to think it’s a good idea to have a refill because it’ll make you feel more confident, but you don’t want to be too tipsy as you’re heading to dinner.

Also, the last thing you want is to be stressed over possibly being late for your reservation, so before you start getting ready, set an alarm on your phone as a ten minute warning for when you need to leave your home to make it on time to the restaurant.

Come Up With an Alter Ego


One of my favorite tricks for appearing more confident is to come up with a character or some sort of alter ego to channel.

Maybe it’s because I love acting, but I swear this is a great way to fake it until you make it when you need confidence in a situation. 

And it works! 

I’ve used this trick at new jobs, in auditions, on dates, and when heading to a party or restaurant solo. 

Obviously, if it’s a situation where you’re making long-term connections, avoid straying too much from your actual personality and life, but if it’s in a situation where you’ll never see these people again, feel free to have a little fun with it.

I’ll admit every now and again when dining out solo while traveling, especially if a weird guy hits on me, I’ll just entertain myself by coming up with a totally crazy character or story to spook him off, since men rarely take the hint that you don’t want to chat with them. 

Here’s a pro-tip. In that situation, nothing scares them off faster than a woman who’s lost her husband in some crazy accident who came to (insert the name of whatever city you’re in here) to spread his ashes. 

Basically, just pretend you’re Jennifer Coolidge’s character from The White Lotus and you’ll have the creeps running away from you in no time.

Be Confident Asking For a Table for One


Whoever your alter-ego is, make sure they are confident when asking for a table for one.

Take it from an ex-maitre’d, there’s nothing more sad than a person dining alone who is apologetic about it.

Own the fact that you’re a badass who is cool enough to dine solo in a room of people that likely would be too afraid to do what you’re doing. 

I realize it’s likely going to take tons of practice eating at restaurants alone before you actually feel confident dining alone, but I promise if I grew from someone who hated dining alone to loving it, you will too.

A few years ago I would have done anything to avoid going most places solo, except for the theater, but fast-forward to present day, and can say I’m at my happiest when I’m out traveling the world solo.

The best part is now, every time I walk into a restaurant and sit alone, I now feel powerful. There’s truly something really special that happens when you learn to love your own company the most. 

It all just starts with practice, so stand up tall, smile, and ask for that table for one!

Remind Yourself Dining Solo is Normal


If all else fails, just keep reminding yourself that dining solo is a normal thing and not something to be embarrassed by.

I realize this is easier said than done, but I swear it helps if you can just switch your inner monologue from whatever anxious thing you’re thinking to this reminder that it’s normal.

There are tons of people, like business people and especially solo travelers, who eat alone mostly, sometimes, in places where they don’t speak the language.

If they can get through sometimes weeks of dining alone day after day, then you can absolutely get through one solo meal.

If all else fails, you can always get your food to go, but never let yourself feel weird for treating yourself to a delightful meal out.

In fact, I’ll say it again: it’s normal to dine alone, and it’s normal to treat yourself to something nice. Always remember this.

Ask to Dine at the Bar if You Want to Chat With Others


Since I spend so much time alone, I love asking for bar seating whenever a restaurant offers it, especially if it’s a nicer place.

I do this so I can enjoy my meal while still getting the chance to chat a bit with the bartender or those around me. 

This can be a great way to get local tips while traveling, or if you’re in your hometown, a way to make a new friend.

Plus, it feels less awkward sitting solo at a bar versus at a table, so that’s always a bonus.

The only downside can be that it’s easy for people to keep chatting you up when you may want them to go away.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Certain Table


When a solo diner came into the fine dining restaurant I used to work at, I’d always make sure they had one of our nicer tables any time I could offer it.

We did this not only because there was a chance they were Michelin, but also because we all knew how hard it can be dining solo sometimes.

In fact, our chef and managers always encourage extra kindness and chattiness any time a solo diner comes in. We wanted to make sure they had a memorable and fun experience while eating alone. 

Unfortunately not every restaurant has this mentality. Some places hate solo diners because they prefer to fill up tables in the hopes of turning a greater profit. 

It sucks, but I’ve definitely had a few experiences where I’ve been thrown in a less than desirable location because I’m a single person.

Sometimes, if it seems like the only table left, I won’t say anything. 

However if there’s plenty of seating, I’ll always request to move if I see a spot that looks more comfortable, after all nobody wants to get shoved by the bathrooms or kitchen.

Use your best judgment and speak up if you feel the need to, but do it in a kind way.

As a former maitre’d who’s been yelled at by demanding people more times than I care to count, please understand that sometimes they seat you at a certain table as part of a larger seating plan, since most restaurants flip tables multiple times throughout the evening. 

If it’s a popular place, chances are the maitre’d is likely playing Tetris with the seating plan trying to squeeze everyone in and keep reservations on time. In this case, yelling or acting entitled isn’t going to help anyone’s night.

Where a Wedding Ring


I find it so annoying that wearing a fake wedding ring even needs to be a tip for eating alone.

All the ladies reading this will understand why, since most men tend to have a habit of not realizing when a woman doesn’t want to talk to them.

In fact, it was a sweet waiter in Greece who told me about the wedding ring trick. 

You see, when I was in Mykonos I was still at that point of forcing myself to go out to nice dinners solo, and multiple times that week men were sending me drinks. 

Annoyingly, the drinks never came from some hot casanova, but always from creepy old men. 

Most took the declined drink as a hint to leave me alone, but one night some over-confident and over the hill man decided I must just be playing hard to get. He took it upon himself to stroll up and sit down at my table to start a conversation.

Luckily, I had made friends with the waiter who saw what was happening and he quickly swooped in to tell me my husband called to apologize for missing dinner. That quickly got the old man to move along.

Unfortunately, a lot of women know from experience that men like this will convince themselves, especially if they’ve been drinking, that they will wear you down, if they just keep trying. It’s a total nightmare, and annoyingly the only thing that does get them to move along is if they think you’ve got a partner nearby.

The wedding ring may not deter them from hitting on you, but it will be an easy excuse to quickly get rid of them, especially if they think your partner is nearby and the jealous type.

Don’t Drink Too Much


I know how nice it can feel when you’ve had a drink and are starting to relax and finally enjoy yourself.

It’s a great feeling and it can make it easy to decide to order another drink.

Don’t let yourself drink too much during your solo night out. The last thing you want to do is to embarrass yourself, or not be able to drive home, or possibly get sick or taken advantage of.

Always play it safe with drinking while eating at restaurants alone, and stick to your normal drink limit.

Remind Yourself People Are Self-Centered


Recently, while chatting with one of my friends they gave me some of the best advice I’d ever heard.

I was telling them about how nervous I was to have to shoot YouTube videos where I had to walk around talking to the camera while alone in public, and asking if they had any advice, since they’ve got a big following and have been vlogging for a few years.

They said something along the lines of “forget everyone else, chances are you’ll never see them again in your life, and honestly most people are incredibly self-centered, even if they roll their eyes at you, it’s two seconds then they’re probably back to focusing on themselves.”

This completely changed the way I thought about having to film in public, and absolutely applies to eating out alone.

Most people are so focused on the chaos in their lives, that they won’t have time to spend judging you for eating solo. 

If they are staring at you, just assume they’re insanely jealous because they wish they had the courage to eat at a restaurant alone. 

Bring an Activity


Any time I go out solo, I try to bring an activity to keep me occupied, since the most awkward part of dining solo is that bit between ordering and waiting for your food.

If you’re dining with someone, you can chat, but sitting there alone staring off into space or looking around is just uncomfortable in most cases.

Depending on the type of restaurant I’m at, I’ll either bring a book or journal to write in while I wait instead of sitting and scrolling through social media.

I’m not perfect, and do sometimes cave and pull out my phone to answer texts or make to-do lists while dining alone, but I try really hard to make this time about unplugging.

Don’t Forget to People Watch


Even though it’s not fun to spend tons of time sitting with nothing to do, it can be a great opportunity to do some people watching.

One of my favorite things to do is grab a table outside or near a window so that I can watch all the locals go about their evening.

This is especially fun if you’re in a foreign country.

Remember to Relax and Enjoy the Experience


Whatever you do, don’t forget to sit back and relax a bit while you’re dining.

You faced your fear of eating at a restaurant alone, and should feel proud of yourself for following through and not chickening out.

If you’ve made it this far, you should absolutely do anything you can to make sure you’re relaxing and enjoying your special quality time alone.

Bring Something to Save Your Seat


I always sit down, have a splendid meal, then realize around the time the dessert is coming that I’d like to visit the ladies’ room.

It feels awkward leaving the table totally empty because you don’t want them to think you’ve left without paying, but you also don’t want to leave your purse or phone sitting unsupervised on the table to signal that you’re still in the building.

Most people wouldn’t think about this being an issue until it happens.

The solution?

Always have a book or scarf or coat, basically something inexpensive that you can leave on the table to let the staff know that you’re just in the restroom.

Worst case, if you have nothing like that with you, just play dumb and ask a staff member where the restroom is. That way at least someone knows you haven’t vacated the table.

You faced your fear of eating at a restaurant alone, and should feel proud of yourself for following through and not chickening out.

If you’ve made it this far, you should absolutely do anything you can to make sure you’re relaxing and enjoying your special quality time alone.

Reward Yourself


Dining solo can be scary, so don’t forget to reward yourself with something nice when you face your fear.

I like to let myself order a fancy glass of wine or dish that costs more than I’d normally let myself spend eating out.

Or if I’m being financially responsible, I’ll just splurge for dessert.

Do whatever will make you feel rewarded for making yourself.

Have an Exit Strategy


We’ve all been there. You’ve had an attentive server all night, then when you want the check, they seem to have vanished.

Or worse, they’ve ignored you most of the time you’ve been sitting there.

This is something that drives me nuts at some restaurants, especially in countries where service is really slow.

If you’re beginning to wrap up your meal and sense that the server is slower than you’d prefer, ask for the bill as they clear your plates.

Trust me, it’s way better than getting annoyed because they’ve disappeared or are ignoring your attempts to flag them down.

Practice Dining Solo


Just like most things, dining solo gets easier the more you do it.

So challenge yourself to dine out at least once a week or month to start off.

It may be really uncomfortable for a while. I promise you’ll eventually get used to it and even learn to really love it.

FAQ’s About Eating Solo

Is it weird to go to a restaurant alone?


It is absolutely not weird to go to a restaurant alone. If you feel weird about going to a restaurant alone, chances are you just need to do it more in order to get comfortable with it.

Why do people think eating alone is sad?


Most people who think eating alone is sad are likely just scared to dine alone and are using that as an excuse to avoid doing it themselves.

How do you eat alone while traveling?


The best way to start getting comfortable with eating out alone while traveling is to join a local food tour.

It’s a great way to do something solo while putting yourself in a position to make new friends. I’ve gone on a bunch of these solo and always come out with friends who want to go to dinner while in town.

If there isn’t a food tour, you want to check out, get an Airbnb so you can cook most of your meals at home, then treat yourself to one delightful meal out a day. This way you can ease yourself into getting more comfortable eating alone while traveling.

Is it healthy to go out to eat alone?


Yes, it’s really healthy to go out to eat alone. Everyone needs time to themselves, and eating at restaurants alone is a great way to force yourself to just sit back and relax while enjoying your own company.

If you want proof, just out MIC’s article all about why dining solo is great for your health and social life.

Check, Please!


If you’d have told me a few years ago that I’d really come to really love dining solo, I would have been skeptical. It’s amazing what can change with time and the effort to eat at restaurants alone more.

I hope this article has inspired you to start dining out solo more often.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve got a any other good tips for eating at restaurants alone.


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