By: Graham Ray
Are you leery of dining alone in restaurants because you’re afraid you’ll feel awkward? If so, you’re not alone (pardon the pun). Many of us carry around a misguided social stigma that eating by ourselves in public implies that we’re not popular enough to have a dining companion. Let’s debunk that silly little myth immediately!
Whether you just want to get out or you’re traveling by yourself, here are 5 ways to help you dine alone without feeling awkward.
Sit at the Bar
If there is a bar or counter in the restaurant, you can blend in there easier than if you sit at a large table or booth by yourself. If you feel so inclined, order a cocktail or a glass of wine. Ask the bartender to make you their favorite concoction – you’re pushing your comfort level and deserve to treat yourself a little. You can shoot a glance at your watch occasionally to give off the impression that you’re just passing time before meeting up with someone. Hey, you might even make friends with some fellow solo patrons around you. Cheers!
Bring Your Tablet or Laptop
If you’re seated at a table for four, you can sprawl out your device(s) along with some papers and make it seem like you’re cracking away at a really big project for work. Yeah, you could just glue your eyes and fingers to your smartphone, but you probably already do that plenty at home! An e-reader can help you become immersed in a fanciful novel or a gripping biography in between courses. Perhaps you want to respond to some emails, do a little online shopping or just play some mindless games as you munch.
Grab a Newspaper or Book
Do you remember what newspapers look like? If you have no qualms about looking like you’re stuck in the last decade (gasp!), then leave out the tech products and grab a local paper. Check the arts and entertainment sections, especially if you’re traveling; you can also learn about some local attractions and events that might interest you while you look informed and intelligent to the rest of the restaurant. If you really want to impress your fellow patrons, bring along an arcane text by some 19th-century European philosopher (what’s up Lord Monboddo).
Make Friends with the Staff
Going out of your way to be engaging and friendly with your server will get you out of yourself and if you’re traveling, you can ask the wait staff about interesting things to do while you’re in town. If you stroll into the restaurant during a lunch or dinner rush, having extended conversations will understandably be a tall order. But engaging in banter with your server can make you feel less like a sore thumb, and you’ll forget about feeling self-conscious as a solo diner, at least for a little while.
Now, this might be a new one for you, especially if it feels like you’re constantly crunched for time when you eat. But if you eat slowly, chewing methodically as you really savor the flavors, your focus will be on the food and not on how awkward you feel. One important benefit from this method of eating – you’ll eat slower, get full faster, and eat less food! Another perk: you can get an overall feeling of being centered and more peaceful by eating consciously on a regular basis.
Whether you dine alone or with friends and family, you can head to DubLi for the best restaurant deals and most Cash Back around. Check out Restaurant.com (1.9%/7.9% Cash Back) and get $25 gift certificates for only $10, and find plenty of half-price deals from Groupon (2.4%/8.4% Cash Back).