A Table for One: Hitting Restaurants Solo

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.

The best bowl of clam chowder I’ve ever had. I ate it alone…not that I would’ve shared it anyway.

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.

image courtesy of TripAdvisor.com

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!

5 thoughts

  1. Hi Trevor,

    Eating out alone is something that I’ve never done, nor have I ever thought to do. When it comes to being awkward in social settings I give myself an A+, so if I’m being honest the thought of it is very scary. I’m glad you took this opportunity to experience it and reflect that it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be. Maybe one day, I’ll take your advice and try it out myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! I had never eaten alone before until I went to Paris for my exchange program. I struggle with anxiety, which prevents me from doing certain things so I made it a goal for myself to eat out alone. I did it and realized it’s no big deal. Within no time I was going to restaurants, cafés, museums, etc alone and I loved it. I realized some of the best memories are made alone! At home, I don’t usually eat out alone, but this is something I want to try here in London. As a server, I love when people come in alone and I always make sure to start a conversation with them.


  3. I love this post so much! I honestly have only ever eaten alone at a restaurant if I’m traveling or on campus. I don’t do much restaurant dining at sit down places independently and I can honestly say I find it very intimidating. I think the stigma of being alone taking up a whole booth is enough to keep my solo dining to a minimum. After reading your post I agree, I don’t think the stares from strangers should keep you from enjoying yourself.


  4. Along with going to the movies alone, shopping alone is also my favourite. I love that I can relax and slowly stroll through the store without feeling rushed. Feeling guilty for taking a long time is the worst! Only having to worry about yourself and your own time is the best part!


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