I’ll admit it – this one can be quite the challenge.
I have no issue doing things by myself. If you’ve followed this blog in any capacity, that should be fairly obvious. I often go to the movies alone, I cook alone, and I’ve even traveled across the continent alone. But going to real, dine-in restaurants by myself isn’t something I do all too often.
Granted, during that trip I did eat every meal out by myself, but it felt different. In a foreign environment, especially one as busy as San Fransisco, enjoying the culture solo is very normal. I was able to research restaurants specifically catered to solo diners, and it was honestly quite the treat. But at home? You feel established, and like the world will notice you for being a loner.
Unlike watching movies (assuming you’re a polite movie-goer), eating is inherently a social activity, and the idea of going out to do it alone can seem a little scary. Breaking this internal stigma is the true challenge to going out alone, and one I’m still mastering today even as the awkward little introvert I am.
Recently, I took on this stigma and decided to treat myself to a dinner out on the town, all by myself. I chose Ben Tanh, a Vietnamese/Thai chain with some of my favourite pad thai in the city.
Restaurants like Ben Tanh with booths and large tables really don’t lend themselves to feeling inviting for solo diners. I think it is often assumed that if you’re going out to eat, you’re bringing friends or colleagues or a date or just some sort of small group.
However, don’t let this dissuade you. If anything, it means you get a nice big space to enjoy your meal, regardless of how many strange looks you may receive.
I got my regular, tofu pad thai, and as always it was absolutely splendid. My waiter was fantastic, and even made a point of having conversation with me as he served. He didn’t seem phased at all by my lack of company, which was actually quite reassuring. He was friendly, and agreed that sometimes you just want a nice meal, regardless of whether or not you have people to share it with.
Again, I know this one may be more tricky than others, especially if you’re self-conscious in public spaces. And, while I don’t think dining alone is a necessary hurdle to one improving their self confidence like going to the movies is, I would definitely recommend you try it if you’ve ever even remotely considered it.
Let me know if you’ve gone out alone before, and if not, what kind of restaurant you’d be interested in trying!