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So I had an interesting conversation with a buddy yesterday. I told him that my wife was working late so I walked to my local pub and had a pint, dinner and read the paper. He was shocked that I would go to a restaurant and eat by myself. I was shocked he wouldn’t. He said even on his business travels he only does room service when he is traveling alone. I actually look forward to dinner by myself when I’m traveling for business. I have had some very relaxing meals out a restaurant with just me, steak, wine and a book.

Got me thinking, are others comfortable eating alone?
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I don't enjoy dining alone in a restaurant. It's a rare occasion for me, like when I sometimes go down to our Florida home a couple of days before my wife to open it up and stock it. Then I either bring in dinner or go The Wing Hut or have dinner at a bar in a restaurant. A great deal of the pleasure I derive in dining out comes from the company.
actually, now I think about it, I don't think I've ever drunk wine alone either. Always with the wife or with friends. (even if they only drink a glass and I drink 3/4 of the bottle)

As with dining alone, I only like to do it at the bar. I've dined at a table once in my life and didn't enjoy the experience at all esp since it was too dark to read so you end up just sitting there. And at the bar (or if there are bar tables, I've got a place where I know all the bar staff), I only drink coors light with my meal esp if I'm doing some reading.
i'll take this down a related tangent and say i do a good portion of my fine dining alone... reason being im 29 & single, alot of my friends are in long term relationships, married, or married with young child and (the biggest hurdle), they're not wine lovers...

they either can't go because (1) can't afford to as much now with children (2) don't have time with children (3) doing something with significant other (4) not interested in spending $$$ on a relatively expensive meal + wine.

its not all the time i go by myself, but i'd say about 50/50... sometimes, i just want to go out to a nice place and have a nice meal with some good wine, and if i didn't go by myself, i wouldn't go nearly as much as i do. just the way it is. if we're just talking casual dinners, in general, i dont go out by myself that much at all - id rather cook at home, or if i do go out i get take out.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
I don't enjoy dining alone in a restaurant...A great deal of the pleasure I derive in dining out comes from the company.

I agree with Board-O on this one. There are a lot of new bars and lounges in Seattle that I think would be cool to stop in after work, but going in alone makes me think too much of Steve Martin in The Lonely Guy.
Eating alone? Wow, didn't realize so many people had a hard time with this. No problems here, do it all the time, especially when I'm on the road for work, and especially in a casual or business casual place. I don't like to do fine dining when alone (anything more than about $25 bucks an entree), not because I think it's weird, I'd just rather have that experience with somebody else.
quote:
Originally posted by kumazam:
i'll take this down a related tangent and say i do a good portion of my fine dining alone... reason being im 29 & single, alot of my friends are in long term relationships, married, or married with young child and (the biggest hurdle), they're not wine lovers...

they either can't go because (1) can't afford to as much now with children (2) don't have time with children (3) doing something with significant other (4) not interested in spending $$$ on a relatively expensive meal + wine.

its not all the time i go by myself, but i'd say about 50/50... sometimes, i just want to go out to a nice place and have a nice meal with some good wine, and if i didn't go by myself, i wouldn't go nearly as much as i do. just the way it is. if we're just talking casual dinners, in general, i dont go out by myself that much at all - id rather cook at home, or if i do go out i get take out.


I commend you on this and I am glad you actually do go out and enjoy a nice dinner. lifes too short!

I have a friend that is single and basically stays in all the time unless my wife and I invite him over or out with us, which is alot because I feel bad for him. He doesnt have the "balls" to do what you are doing.
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Originally posted by g-man:
actually, now I think about it, I don't think I've ever drunk wine alone either. Always with the wife or with friends. (even if they only drink a glass and I drink 3/4 of the bottle)
Likewise, for me a large part of the wine drinking experience (good, bad, or somewhere in between)is sharing with someone else, regardless of their level of wine knowledge or how much of it they drink.

As for the eating alone, I will do it out when its out of necessity but I certainly don't enjoy it.
Interesting subject...being a woman that travels extensively for business, I have to say that I treasure the rare nights I get to dine alone in another city as I have client dinners most nights. Early on, I felt a bit uncomfortable but got over that quickly and learned to enjoy the leisurely time to myself with dinner at the bar (have to admit- I don't like sitting at tables by myself- waiters always ask if I'm waiting for someone which gives me a complex). I can choose to talk to the people around me if I'm in the mood, or I can bury my head in thought or my blackberry and be left alone.

On the other hand, I probably wouldn't dine alone in my own town. I think I'd be uncomfortable if I ran into someone I know. Silly, yes, I agree but that's how I feel.
I too have no issues with dining alone, being that I travel for work often I find it a nice part of many evenings ponying up to the bar of a decent restaurant and enjoying a nice meal.

I've made a few great acquantainces this way and made several new friends along the way. Typically I'm not the only one dining alone on business I find quite often.

Brings up an interesting point though as to what other things one does alone. When I travel I often go catch a movie alone, or go to the ballpark and catch a baseball game or hockey game alone. Single tickets are usually cheap and easy to come by.

With all that being said company is always much more fun and if the opportunity is there I would definately prefer an off line or dining with a friend or someone with mutual interests(Thanks to W+A for taking me under the wing in Dallas).
quote:
Originally posted by T Dub:
I find it a nice part of many evenings ponying up to the bar of a decent restaurant and enjoying a nice meal.


But the bar is not the same as a table for one. If I'm alone, it's normally at the bar or take out Chinese in my hotel room in my underwear in front of the TV. Yeah, I know. Not a pretty picture.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
quote:
Originally posted by T Dub:
I find it a nice part of many evenings ponying up to the bar of a decent restaurant and enjoying a nice meal.


But the bar is not the same as a table for one. If I'm alone, it's normally at the bar or take out Chinese in my hotel room in my underwear in front of the TV. Yeah, I know. Not a pretty picture.


Very true; if the implication of this thread is only based on dining at a table alone then no I don't do it. Always at the bar for dinner for me.
Personally I feel uncomfortable eating at the bar as opposed to a table unless it's an appetizer and drink. Something just seems slightly off to me enjoying an entire meal in your little 2x2 piece of real estate at a crowded or even semi-crowded bar area. Being forced to sit next some poor slob devouring his dinner would be even worse. Bars for the most part are for drinks IMO. I should also clarify most of this "table for one" business in my case involves being out of town. If I'm in town I feel the same as khmark7 and would much rather cook a great meal at home.
When you all eat at the bar are we talking a nice place or at your country club? I have no issues eating at my club alone because most of the time someone else you know is doing the same and you end up chatting with them.

But, when I am away at a conference I am in Board-O's camp (not necessarily going commando)and either order out or get room service. I have eaten at the bar in the restaraunt at the hotel but didnt find that too enjoyable.
Yeah, as a frequent biz traveler, I'm in the eat-alone-all-the-time-and-love-it-but-always-at-the-bar camp.

I agree that sitting alone at a table doesn't feel as comfortable.

Interesting story, about 15 years ago when I lived in Aspen, I was in a staff meeting at the hotel (upper end) where I worked. The subject of a complaint from a single diner came up and the GM made a very strong point to ALWAYS take the single diner and treat them very well - because they were alone, the table would likely turn very quickly, and because they were likely to engage the server more deeply, have a good experience and tip well.
march7 - I eat out at nice places when I travel and dine alone. I have my favorites in the cities that I travel to frequently where I know I will be treated well. Enough space at the bar doesn't ever seem to be an issue. I won't pick a place or eat at one where the bar is more of a 'bar scene' where you would get bumped in to.

As a side note, it can be entertaining to watch the activity at and around the bar.

I rarely order room service- always overpriced and usually not good quality. (and no, I don't get to stay at premier properties when I travel)
quote:
Originally posted by marcb7:
When you all eat at the bar are we talking a nice place or at your country club?
I would tend to eat at the bar at a nicer restaurant and most of the time it was when I was out on business. Like Paul said, the service at the bar is usually great. I worked in Palm Desert a lot and I would eat at the bar at Ruth Chris once a week. Wasn’t too crowded, cool bartenders, nice TV, etc. I enjoy the peace and quite mostly. As much as I love to hear about my wife’s day at work, sometimes it’s nice to just sit and enjoy a meal with only your thoughts.
quote:
Originally posted by Stefania Wine:
marcb7 - Everything I know about country clubs, I learned from Caddyshack.

For me, it's nice places. We'll sometimes. I don't eat at chains (no Olive Garden for me), but I've eaten at the bar somewhere as dive-ish as Coops Place in NOLA, and as high end as Michael Mina's in SF.


Stefania,

Great movie but thank god my club isnt like that!!

I agree with everyone that "chains" are not my thing either!

Jamie: Room service sucks at lower end hotels so I see your point. Luckily, I only travel by myself once or twice a year so can splurge.
While I rarely travel for business, I have no problem going into a restaurant and eating alone. It's something I would probably never do at home so it's like a change of pace. And it's not like I will know anybody there so there would be no stigma to it. I even check online for a nearby place with a decent wine list and have no problem ordering a bottle (assuming I'm in walking distance from the hotel).
I do it sometimes.

I prefer the table to the bar on many occasions for the following reasons.

Drunks in the bar.

Sports fans high fiving each other in the bar, I don't share their level of enthusiasm.

A Bartender who is friendly and chatty but likes to toot their own horn too much.

I don't feel like talking.

Out of town and by myself I would go out for a nice meal. Around my hometown I am more likely to stop for pub fare at an odd time. I will do a chain if it is better than the alternatives.

When I used to work downtown I would go for apps sometimes after long hours at nice places.
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
I'm in your friends camp.


Ditto. I only travel alone once every year; trade show, and have never felt like dining alone. If I don't meet up with somebody it's always room service. To sit alone in a restaurant just seems wrong somehow. I couldn't enjoy a good meal or a fine wine without somebody to share it with. I have been married for almost 20 years which may play a role in how I feel.
It seems like those of us who travel a fair bit for business have overcome issues with eating out alone. While I prefer to eat with my family or friends (I often stay with friends when I'm away, and we usually cook and drink very well), when that is not the case I much prefer to eat out alone.

Eating in a hotel room and sitting there for most of the night makes me feel more alone than going out. If there is a bar, I'll generally sit there, but have no problem sitting at a table. If there is no bar/tv, I usually bring some of my single table "armor" (smartphone, book, laptop, etc.), but at the bar I enjoy watching a TV and the "scene". I agree that I have great service and attention at my table/stool and I can discuss wine with the staff which drives my wife nuts, so it works out well.
Probably a lot has to do with our backgrounds. I was basically a single latch key kid, so had a lot of meals when my mom was working. Eating solo was often the norm, and something I usually haven't thought twice about in my adult years.

I'd imagine that folks from big, boisterous families sometimes have a tougher time going it alone?

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