skip to main content
Suitcase and Heels Suitcase and Heels

How to Kick Ass at Dining Solo

Mimoza |

When I first started travelling solo, one of the most awkward things to negotiate was meal times. I bed it’s one of the things you worry about too when considering whether to travel solo for the first time or not. I’m going to show you how to see it as an opportunity rather than a punishment.

I used to stick to fast food because it’s not unusual to see people grabbing a quick meal on their own or I could always get take out and bring it to my hotel room. But, when you’re away from home for more than a couple days, fast food gets old really fast. So I had to suck it up and brave the eat-in dining room. I’m so glad that I did.

How to Eat Alone

The Fear of Eating Alone

As first-time solo diners I think a lot of us fear that people will judge us. Twosomes and families will walk in, see us sitting alone, and judge us as having no friends. Worse, they may pity us. Servers will give us a snide smile when we whisper “Table for one” and waiters will make a big show of clearing away the second place setting at our table.

Honestly though…this isn’t the junior high cafeteria. People are generally far more interested in their own stuff and probably don’t even notice you there. When you go out with your friends, how often do you notice the other people in the restaurant? As solo diners I assure you, we don’t have a big target sign over our heads.

And if some backwards arse does silently judge you, it doesn’t matter. You’re still your fabulous self.

The biggest part of successful solo dining is attitude. If you’re insecure and sit there nervously glancing around to see if anyone is paying attention to you, you will actually draw attention your way. If, however, you’re content with your own company and carry yourself as if it’s no big deal, no one will notice your singleness. Like so many things in life, confidence is key.

Korean food - Bibimbap

I got to savour this bowl of bibimbap all by myself without any pesky conversation distracting me.

How to Entertain Yourself

How I occupy the time between placing my order and my food arriving all depends on where I am. If the restaurant is on a busy street, I’ll try to sit near the window since I like to people watch. People are fascinating little creatures. I especially love to see what people are wearing.

When you think about the time you spend alone in your house, how often are you doing nothing at all? Ever? So why should you have to sit quietly, like a toddler in time out, at a restaurant? If a window seat’s not possible I’ll read a book or newspaper, write in a notebook or edit photos on my phone. I try to leave the phone as a last resort since I find it puts up a bigger wall to social interaction than a book or journal does. I’m usually open to conversations with friendly strangers so why put up extra roadblocks?

What About Service?

This is something that I’ve only had issues with once or twice and it’s only manifested itself in being seated at a less than desirable table in the back. Some places just don’t know how to handle a person on their own. Do they worry that a woman on her own will bring down the place? I really don’t know. I’ve never had an issue with food quality or promptness of service on account of my being a table of one. Some restaurants have actually given me better service when I was on my own. Maybe I bring out the nurturing instinct in some servers? They check in to make sure I’m doing alright, make small talk, etc. All in all, quality of service is not something I’ve worried about when dining solo.

Breakfast at the Tsukiji Fish Market |

This was my solo breakfast in Tokyo. No need to worry if anyone else wanted sushi for breakfast.

The Perks

“Perks?” you say. Yes, there can be perks to eating alone. One being that, during a busy period, you may not have to wait as long to be seated if the restaurant has communal seating or if there’s a bar you can sit at.

Since you have little else to distract you, you can also savour your meal more. If you’re a foodie, this is a treat. One on one time with your meal.

On the flip side, you may want to spend less time on your meals. Sometimes in the evening I like to linger but for midday meals while travelling I like to get back out sightseeing, beachcombing or shopping.

What is the biggest perk of dining solo though? I get to choose the restaurant with only myself to consider. Love sushi but your friends hate it? Go have that sushi solo. Want to try the new Korean restaurant but your partner can’t handle the spice? More kimchi for you!

Set Yourself Up for Success

When it comes right down to it, you’ve just got to get out there. Don’t let a fear of eating solo stop you from travelling. If you want to ease into it, start with busy, family style restaurants where you can sit at the bar. Then move up to quieter restaurants with booths (they just feel more private). After you’ve taken yourself out to dinner a few times in a few different places you’ll see that it’s not a big deal. Before you know it, you’ll be treating yourself to dinner in the best restaurants and not blinking an eye.

It’s all about attitude, baby.

You got this.

What are your thoughts on dining solo? Are you a lover or a hater?


  1. Glamourous Traveller says:

    August 18th, 2014 at 12:14 pm (#)

    Awesome tips! I deff don’t mind eating solo. Sometimes it even gives you time to have clear introspection. Like digesting that amazing museum you just saw. You might even find yourself smiling at some funny thing that happened. See! You can always entertain yourself!

  2. Melissa Hogan says:

    August 19th, 2014 at 9:38 pm (#)

    These days I’m cool with eating alone but just a few years ago I felt really awkward about it. I still find it best when I have a notebook or book with me, but I don’t let it stop me.

  3. Sue Reddel says:

    August 19th, 2014 at 11:04 pm (#)

    You are spot on Melissa! When I started my consultancy company I had to travel and eat alone. It took some getting used to but I agree with you that now I relish that time as my own when I really can enjoy the food and the place.

  4. Steph | A Nerd at Large says:

    August 19th, 2014 at 11:38 pm (#)

    I don’t know what it is about me that I’ve never minded dining alone. Your advice is spot on. Attitude is everything. I love getting dolled up for solo dinner at the fancy restaurant of my choice.

    One option for those who worry about being conspicuous dining alone is to dine at restaurants that have communal tables. Even if you don’t strike up conversation with others, you won’t stand out as much.

  5. Melissa Hogan says:

    August 19th, 2014 at 11:42 pm (#)

    I agree about the communal dining spots. They’re also likely to not have cutlery, etc already in place so no need to sweep anything away, drawing attention.

  6. Heidi (@WagonersAbroad) says:

    August 20th, 2014 at 5:40 am (#)

    I actually went through a “like myself phase” in my 20’s, where I dated myself for a few months. I only did social things on my own (movies, dining, park, etc). It was a bit strange at first, but then I actually loved it. Now I just love time alone to just “be” and think. Not all of the time of course, but sometimes. It doesn’t bother me at all to dine alone. Great tips.

  7. Melissa Hogan says:

    August 20th, 2014 at 10:18 am (#)

    Movies were probably one of the first things I got comfortable doing alone. Probably because of the dark room and the fact that everyone’s attention was on the screen. Since I’ve learned to love my “me” time as well.

  8. Bente Vold Klausen says:

    August 20th, 2014 at 10:06 am (#)

    You wrote a very useful post for us ladies! I used to hate it when I was younger and had to eat alone. I found it very hard to enjoy my meal and I am a food lover. But to day I am older and are more secure and I can eat and enjoy a meal when traveling alone. Thanks for all the tips.

  9. Cory Lee says:

    August 20th, 2014 at 10:20 am (#)

    I’ve never really dined alone, but I bet it would be very peaceful. Maybe I need to give it a try. Great post!

  10. Melissa Hogan says:

    August 20th, 2014 at 10:35 am (#)

    I like it best when I can get a table by a window so I can people watch. Good place to start.

  11. Best holiday destinations says:

    August 21st, 2014 at 3:59 am (#)

    nice images. making delicious food. thanks for posting nice views.

  12. Adrian of Adrian's Travel Tales says:

    September 24th, 2014 at 6:10 pm (#)

    So true! I love dining solo, which is good because I’m a solo nomad. I love the reactions of the hosts though. The best so far, the woman spoke no English and I, no Italian. I motioned for 1 and she said BRAVA and gave me a hug! haha! Took care of me the entire time, I couldn’t order because it was Italian so she just brought me the house special and I loved every moment of it. Best food EVER and she gave me a kiss and called me ‘bella’ when I left. So much fun!

  13. Adrian Ann says:

    September 24th, 2014 at 6:11 pm (#)

    So true! I love dining solo, which is good because I’m a solo nomad. I love the reactions of the hosts though. The best so far, the woman spoke no English and I, no Italian. I motioned for 1 and she said BRAVA and gave me a hug! haha! Took care of me the entire time, I couldn’t order because it was Italian so she just brought me the house special and I loved every moment of it. Best food EVER and she gave me a kiss and called me ‘bella’ when I left. So much fun!

  14. Dale says:

    February 15th, 2016 at 2:42 pm (#)

    Great article! I actually really enjoy eating alone. Since I almost always have my Kindle with me, it’s a good opportunity to relax and read a bit as I watch the world go by. It’s surprising how many conversations get started when people ask what I’m reading. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Melissa Hogan says:

    February 16th, 2016 at 3:26 pm (#)

    Now that I’ve done it a lot, I’m totally cool with eating alone in a restaurant but it was nerve wracking at first. I think a Kindle/book is a good idea because no one ever stops to ask what you’re reading on your phone. ;)

Leave a Comment