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Table For One

4 years ago by

Table For One

Dinner and breakfast – yes, just me!

Do you ever eat by yourself? And by that I do not mean in front of your computer at work, or at home on the couch with takeout watching X-Files (insert whatever show everyone is talking about right now HERE). I mean, walking into your favorite restaurant and saying ” Hi, one for dinner.” Or  “Hello! May I have breakfast at the bar?” 

I do. And, I not-so-secretly love it. Yeah, okay – I may also tend to do this at hours normally reserved to senior citizens… Nonetheless, that’s just when I’m hungry sometimes! I like being able to sit wherever I like, take my time, get to know the guy behind the bar (so he recognizes me, gives me the “you’re a local” look and can say things like “Hey, good to see ya!” and actually mean it), and, on top of all that, be okay with eating alone. And not as though desperation had set in and  the only person available to eat at that time was actually, well, you. 

I know a lot of people who would just NEVER, whether out of fear of feeling like a loner or their inability to be by themselves.  But I’ve always kind of felt like it was the perfect time to talk to someone new, or catch up with yourself. Food for thought really.

Do you have to be a loner to eat alone?

Photo: Tatjana Patitz | Photography by Arthur Elgort | For Vogue Magazine US | March 1994

60 comments

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  • Ariane June, 2 2015, 3:37 / Reply

    J’adore manger seule! Se laisser inspirer par le lieu, regarder par la fenêtre, écouter les conversations des gens autour de soi. J’aime le calme et la sérénité que ça apporte. Comme toi, je ne trouve pas que ça fait désespéré, ça démontre simplement qu’on peut passer du temps avec soi-même et être bien!

  • i don’t plan my life around other people’s ability to accompany me. why should we? :)

    http://littleaesthete.com

  • I love taking myself out! It’s my Kim time :-) I get to order what I want, read a good book, or just have a lovely time people watching and taking things at my own pace. I also happen to enjoy long dinners with friends, but sometimes I just need my own time. And I don’t really much care what other people think about it, it’s just for me. <3

  • Ah oui moi j’adore aller au café toute seule et manger ce que je veux ! Je suis plutôt sociable mais c’est vrai que j’ai des côtés misanthropes… En tout cas je ne me décrirais pas comme une solitaire bien que j’apprécie mes moments de solitudes (ils sont rares) et puis je trouve qu’on découvre vraiment les endroits comme ça et j’adore discuter avec des étrangers, c’est comme regarder un documentaire ou écouter une chouette émission de radio !

  • I actually just went to lunch by myself yesterday and it was amazing — I also love going to movies alone!

    http://hashtagliz.com

  • benio_b June, 3 2015, 6:28

    I love going to the movies solo too! I have absolutely no qualms about venturing out to a restaurant or cafe on my own. I get to eat when & where I want to eat, or see whatever cheesy movie I might want to secretly see lol
    I treat it as an indulgence; no need to compromise or wait around to accomodate the hectic schedules of friends.

  • Totally! I might go to the movies solo even more than I dine alone!

  • This is so true! I never eat alone – and it’s definitely because it makes me squirm to just think of being alone in public. Wonder why that is!

    Warm Regards,
    Alexandra
    http://www.littlewildheart.com

  • Un de mes grand plaisir, entre arrogance, provoc et sérénité… ;)

  • Mariateresa June, 2 2015, 4:21 / Reply

    Oui, je souvent allais au resto toute seule quand je travallais, en une petite ville du Sud de l’Italy; il etait un peu insolite, je venais caliné, je prèfere en tout cas manger en compagnie mais meme seule il est puis pas mal!

  • I enjoy solo meals at my favorite places as much as with company. A table for one with two courses doesn’t phase me at all. No books or phones required. I feel so adult this way. ;)

  • J’adore manger seule ! C’est le meilleure moyen de rencontrer de nouvelles personnes. Mais j’avoue le faire plus souvent en voyage que chez moi. Peut-être que mon état d’esprit s’y prêtre mieux…

  • Oui en voyage surtout !

  • Ghislaine June, 2 2015, 4:43 / Reply

    Je suis comme toi Brie, j’adore manger seule, à des heures creuses, où je suis sûre que je peux m’installer où je veux et sympatiser avec le personnel du resto ou de la brasserie, lire, observer les autres, révâsser. Et cela fait longtemps que je ne me pose plus la question de ce que les autres pensent de moi dans ces moments là. Beaucoup de mes amies sont incapables de faire ça et d’ailleurs elles ne comprennent pas qu’on puisse vouloir être seule à une table à la vue de tous :)

  • yes – and I love it!
    It is an absolute delight!

    Priscilla Joy
    http://www.43concept.com
    Dutch Caribbean

  • Love eating alone for all the reasons you mentioned. It’s restorative for me. Movies are also good alone. I often have interesting conversations with other movie goers. I also enjoy the conviviality of dinner with friends but sometimes solo is the best.

  • Maggie June, 2 2015, 5:48 / Reply

    There’s a bar in Bushwick that I often go to alone, in the afternoon, to eat oysters and write in my journal. I love that time out on the patio, people watching and not sharing my oysters with anyone!

    I think it shows confidence and independence- two of the most attractive things to me!

  • Agreed Maggie! Confidence and independent women rule!

  • oui j’adore ça moi aussi, pour les mêmes raisons ! Des fois j’emmène mon chien aussi, elle ne met sous la table et attends que je n’arrive plus à finir mon plat ><.
    J'aime beaucoup aussi manger en décalé, pour éviter le brouhaha et bénéficier d'une relation plus proche avec les personnes qui font le service.

  • Isabella June, 2 2015, 6:29 / Reply

    I love to take myself out !

  • Bonnie June, 2 2015, 7:06 / Reply

    I love eating out alone! I don’t do it often, but when I do it’s quite special. Time with my own thoughts, to people-watch, to eat at the pace I feel like, and to get to know the restaurant more intimately :)

  • I enjoy eating alone as well as traveling too. I think in bigger cities like NYC or Paris you see this more than the smaller ones. I miss the conversation a bit when I am alone to eat, but it’s nice to pick a place without having to ask others if they are okay with it. I think the more you do things solo, the more you see the freedom in it and can enjoy it.

  • Having tapas at bar was an amazing table-for-one experience for me in London. I met a family from Canada and friends in town. They even offered me to drink with them. Happiness only real when shared.

  • Andréa June, 2 2015, 10:20 / Reply

    J’adore! C’est aussi reposant que d’aller dans un spa.Je mets de l’ordre dans mes idées.

  • love your topics garance!

    typically when i eat alone, it’s at a cafe/coffee shop and i am working on my laptop. when i was travelling solo, there were times i was tempted to just get a take-away and go back to my hotel room.

    but, i decided to treat myself to restaurant food instead. one should never not dine solo just because of a fear in looking like a loner/loser! eat to your heart’s desire :)

    i used to not really think about talking to anyone during those solo meal times, but after reading this post and the comments, maybe i will make more of an effort now! seems more fun that way :)

  • Blaise June, 3 2015, 1:58 / Reply

    Always. I actually like it, especially if choosing between dining alone or with people I don’t necessarily like, I’d do it by myself every time.

  • dottoressa June, 3 2015, 2:07 / Reply

    I adore to eat and have coffee alone,when in some other country, watching people and feeling atmosphere. In Croatia it is only coffee ,I like to make a break and to enjoy alone( or in a Company,but that’s different)

  • Sometimes I do that :)
    There can be nothing better than to sit in a cafe alone, eat and probably read or get some work done.

    http://somebodyfromsomewhere.blogspot.com/

  • J’adore ça également ! Je l’apprécie d’autant plus maintenant que je passe ma vie avec mon copain pour qui ce serait impensable de s’assoir seul à une table, même attendre 5 minutes sur une terrasse seul n’est pas imaginable pour lui ! Il se débrouille toujours pour ne pas arriver en premier, tout en détestant être en retard, bref sa vie semble être un enfer pour moi !
    J’adore ce sentiment de calme intérieur, je me sens paisible et pleinement moi-même quand je sors seule, en grande partie grâce aux horaires que je pratique, comme toi aux heures où le 3ème âge sort, pouvoir choisir son petit coin, sortir un cahier et un stylo, lire le journal, apprécier ce qu’on nous sert qui a été préparé sans stress spécialement pour soi, se sentir privilégiée de pouvoir apprécier ces moments là, ahhh il est grand temps que je m’octroie une pause solitaire !

  • Love that feeling of inner calm too Lucie!

  • Pareil, je mange seule au moins une ou deux fois par semaine et j’adore! j’en profite pour lire le journal, repondre aux textos, passer mes coups fils pour rdv a droite a gauche, tout ce que j’ai pas le temps de faire quand je suis au bureau!
    le cine seul c’est top aussi!

  • Great post. Something about a girl in a great outfit with a smile and killer shades sitting alone never seems to go down without a second glance…Love it though…so much more mystery than the brat pack of 4 loud girls at a table!

  • Yes, I do eat out alone – and I love it! I also go out alone and have a drink at a good bar. And I don’t do this to flirt or find someone. To be able to enjoy being alone, watching around, concentrating on a good meal, drink (or waking up if it is breakfast) is a gift I think!

    But I get weird glances from others when I say this. Sometimes they even pity me…

  • Adéla June, 3 2015, 5:00 / Reply

    I love it but with a toddler-running-around-being-so-loud have no time for it anymore….I miss my single lunches or coffees in the city, when I had time to think, to observe, to be with MYSELF…I once heard it’s the biggest bravery to be with yourself and be happy about it… :) love your articles!

  • I love taking a good coffee by myself, sitting at an outdoor coffee table, looking at the people around and passing through…. But actually, I don’t feel comfortable having lunch or dinner alone…I’d prefer not to have to do….

  • nastassia June, 3 2015, 6:00 / Reply

    Interesting and quite revealing to see how solitude is stigmatized in our social-media society…

    Makes me think about this quote by Blaise Pascal “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”

  • Je trouve que c’est vraiment un moment privilégié. Je ne me sens jamais seul. En revanche lorsque je le fais, je choisis un lieu plus chic, une table d’hôtel, ou le comptoir d’un bon bistrot. Quitte à se faire un plaisir en solo, autant que cela soit bon !
    :)

  • JanaBlog June, 3 2015, 8:01 / Reply

    You all talk about going out alone DURING THE DAY. But the real challenge is HAVING DINNER alone, in a ” reals ending-” restaurant, not a café. You don’t see that happening in Germany. At all. So a reservation for one would be a real challenge.
    Have any of you tried that?

  • Cynthia June, 3 2015, 8:54 / Reply

    I feel the same way. I especially love going to the movies by myself. I don’t have to worry about laughing at a lame joke. I don’t have to worry about being to sentimental and crying ugly. I don’t have to hold my popcorn at an odd angle or reach over to get some popcorn (and then there is the issue of how many times per minute should you reach over and get some popcorn. Should you grab one at a time or a handful?). i especially love leaving the movie with my own opinion and not a mash up of other people’s ideas.

  • Paulina June, 3 2015, 8:58 / Reply

    Simone de Beauvoir passait son temps à le faire :)

  • Thanks for a great Google search! I didn’t know about Simone :)

  • i am the opposite of a loner, really, i just adore being with people and it gives me energy like nothing else.
    but i also love going to restaurants by myself, chatting with the staff, being obnoxious sometimes by asking so many alternations to my dish, sitting there forever without having to talk about stuff to avoid awkward silences, being able to just enjoy my food without worrying that someone might say something requiring an immediate response while i’m mid-bite. not to say sharing meals with friends arent fun – it’s just that sometimes one trumps over the other!
    also, as a part-time waitress, i really enjoy serving ‘tables for one’. those guests tend to me calmer, and you can actually create a bond that serves as a foundation for them becoming a regular. for large tables, it’s also possible, but it’s very different!

  • I love that I’m comfortable enough with myself to dine alone (go to the movies, see live music, etc). I don’t at all feel awkward. I enjoy this time. Life’s too short to limit your activities to those in which you have someone to accompany you.

  • Agreed! I love the pleasure of my own company. I love exploring the world on my own. Enjoy it all.

  • I used to suffer from pretty bad depression and social anxiety which got significantly worse when I moved out of my small town into a big city where I had no friends. I knew no one there and it was crippling because I spoke to people so little my mouth dried up.
    I then read somewhere that one of the things which helped ease the anxiety was learning to have fun by yourself. During that year I came to love going to the cinema solo, dining solo, walking solo and even going out solo (yes, to clubs, with guys, and strangers!!).
    To this day I believe those things contributed hugely to me getting better, and I still love to do them (even though I have a partner)!

  • Mattea June, 8 2015, 4:21

    Aw Maria! This comment made me so happy for you. I too have crippling anxiety and after a few years of going out solo, now I am so comfortable going out alone that I will never bring +1 unless they will significantly love the outing as much as I would. Oddly, now, I have developed a small bit of opposite social anxiety: I cannot go out in public without seeing someone I know, and often I just do not want to engage with those people at all. Time to move, it seems!

  • You don’t have to be a loner to eat alone but it definitely makes it an easier task. I think what bothers people the most about eating out alone are the looks of alarm or judgement from the waitstaff or other diners. However, with the right disposition, it presents the opportunity to meet lots of interesting individuals you might not have met if, you were not dining solo.

  • I adore dining out alone! I am a very social person and have many good friends who love to dine out and with whom I love to dine out but I often go out alone without even thinking of inviting someone else to join me. I also love the independence that comes with going to events and shows alone. It feels great, I can talk to anyone and I can leave whenever I want, kind of perfect actually.

  • Je fais ça tout le temps.
    La majorité du temps je menge seule.
    Et quand je sors, pour manger dans un restaurant.
    En voyage, etc…
    Chez moi, je ne mange q’ assise à table, je n’arrive pas à faire autrement, cest même un comportèment accqueri dans mon enfance, selon les habitudes familiales

  • Je fais ça tout le temps.
    La majorité du temps je mange seule.
    Et quand je sors, pour manger dans un restaurant.
    En voyage, etc…
    Chez moi, je ne mange q’ assise à table, je n’arrive pas à faire autrement, cest même un comportèment accquis dans mon enfance, selon les habitudes familiales

  • this is my sole (soul) intention in Venice August 2015, look for the woman making choices because she doesn’t have to share!

  • Ditto, j’aime manger seule que ce soit le soir ou le midi ou à n’importe quel moment de la journée :) j’aime bien le concept de prendre ce petit temps pour soi et je ne suis pas une grande solitaire non plus :)) mais quel pied de pouvoir profiter de son repas et de regarder un peu le monde tourner!

  • OUI ! déjeuner seule, dîner seule (plus rarement), boire une pression au bar (souvent très mal vu ..), je suis totalement d’accord. Il s’agit d’une vraie source d’apaisement, propice en plus au contact avec les autres.

  • ingrid June, 4 2015, 6:07 / Reply

    It’s funny, I often drink a coffee or a cocktail alone.. and love it, but for food, I prefer to be with someone, nothing to do with judgement of others.. I guess I associate food strongly with sharing!

  • I love eating alone. It makes me feel sophisticated, hahaha!! No, seriously, it makes me feel like I’m a grown up and I really enjoy it, like going to the movies on my own. There was a time where I had to travel a lot for work and I got used to eating alone. Of course, I love eating out with my wife and friends, but there is something really nice and calming about enjoying a meal on your own in a nice place.
    xx,
    E.
    http://www.theslowpace.com

  • I looove that! And surely I’m not a loner. I just like to eat alone. I sometimes (secretly!) pretend I have something to do in the city and instead of shopping or running errands I sit somewhere where I can eat something deliciuos and enjoy the silence and the food. It’s MY time.

    http://lifestylebyola.blogspot.com/

  • I love eating alone in a large cafe, with a glass of wine to start, and a full, leisurely meal. I have met the most interesting people this way, and some have developed into strong friendships. I am “noticeable” in that I am tall with an unusual face and many times strangers are intrigued by me, sitting there looking around and being very comfortable in my solitude. I like being alone, maybe too much…

  • Hello! Avant je ne l’aurais jamais fait mais depuis six mois on va dire je n’hésite pas à aller au resto manger seule. J’adore faire un break le midi surtout, prendre le temps de me resourcer avant de me remettre au travail; ça m’aide à être beaucoup plus efficace par la suite. Seulement, je n’avais pas toujours quelqu’un avec qui passer le déjeuner et je m’empêchais d’y aller seule. Je prenais alors mon lunch devant mon écran d’ordi et n’avais pas la sensation d’avoir réellement faire une coupure. Puis j’ai décidé de me lancer et de tenter le resto toute seule et j’adore ça! Ca ne me pose plus aucun problème. Je profite d’un peu de calme pour me resourcer, donner de la place à mes idées ou même lire un livre ou un magazine en attendant mon plat (ou encore écouter les conversations des autres à côté de moi, c’est toujours marrant :p. Je n’ai d’ailleurs plus aucun complexe d’être seule; c’est tout bénéf ;-)

    x
    France
    http://www.madebyf.com

  • I love having me time, and taking myself out for breakfast or a lunch definitely fits into that. I’ll go try a new cafe, take a book, and just chill by myself and casually observe those around me. People watching at its best!

    I’m a bit more hesitant to go out for dinner on my own (I’ve only ever done it twice), as I love going out to dinner with my partner, sharing a bottle of wine, and just chatting away. The two times I’ve been to dinner on my own was when I was in a different city and wanted to check out some restaurants, and didn’t know anyone to come with me! Dinner tend to be more mood lighting, so I find it nicer for friends and partners. X

  • Ai-Ch'ng June, 10 2015, 12:49 / Reply

    Yes! In the years before marriage and a teenage son, my favourite thing would be to dine on my own (breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner – and always decided at the very last minute where and what time) and watch movies on my own. Even while dating, that dine-with-my-own-company time was precious. I also adored shopping on my own, and loved reading in parks and on the beach (as long as they’re not deserted – being careful with muggings and all).

    In the past few years, I’ve started taking all that up again (didn’t eat out for years until my son hit high school and I had time in the day due to a new, super, and super-flexible job) and I love it. Dining on your own (movies on my own are no more – I would rather watch a DVD unless it’s a massive spectacle that requires 3-D… and requiring 3-D, it will be a boys’ movie that I also enjoy, with my husband and son) is just as wonderful and special on your own, as it is with someone else whom you adore.

    I recently did dinner out on my own when my husband was away visiting his parents and my son was on his two week annual survival camp. Being much older (and maybe wiser – plus feeling like my knees wouldn’t be able to take me as fast in an emergency), I decided to head out for an earlier meal than usual, and get back to my place while it was still evening, rather than night time. Little things to take better care of myself while dining out at night, so I could take time out safely.

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