Party of One

Categories: On the Road

diningalone.jpg
travis(ty)
In a few weeks, I'm going to Spain by my lonesome. I've traveled solo before in Northern Ireland and India, but it's been a few years since I've spent a substantial amount of time touring, reading, and eating alone.

In light of my upcoming trip, I've started thinking about dining alone and all the little things that make such an experience completely relaxing....or depressing.

I love lingering over a menu, taking my sweet time to decide on courses, and spending even more time eating them without worrying about annoying and/or delaying a dining partner. I love shamelessly people-watching in a crowded restaurant, which always seems more socially acceptable when you have no one sitting across from you. I love chatting up the server and getting tips about local attractions. I also love just not talking. I could talk or not talk for hours when eating a wonderful meal.

I hate feeling like other restaurant patrons are shooting me sympathetic stares because they cannot conceive of why a young woman would choose to eat alone in a nice restaurant. I also could do without excessively officious servers who ask more than once if anyone will be joining me even after I've made it clear it's party of one, thank you, and please just bring me some bread.

With the exception of consuming sandwiches in random cafes while studying or sipping a drink at the bar while waiting for less punctual friends (practices I don't really count as meals), I have never dined alone in Houston. I'm curious, however, if there are certain sit-down restaurants that are especially popular with solo diners. Perhaps I should practice a bit before embarking on my Spanish eating tour.

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15 comments
Marleywine
Marleywine

Hey Joanna.....if you want to dine alone and want some Spanish food, check out the daily deal today: Rioja Spanish Tapas.

Great place, I can attest to that, even without the discount.

Paula
Paula

Prego in Rice Village is a great place for dining solo at the bar. People wait to be seated there to be served by and chat with bartender Kathy Brophy. The place has a true neighborhood feel, the food is delicious and they have a great wine and cocktail list. Give it a try!

eatTX
eatTX

I love eating alone and even going to a movie alone. The time to spend in reflection or with a good book is a way I recharge my batteries. My work schedule allows me to be off every other Friday and while I could join my partner for lunch before he leaves for the office I choose to have lunch alone and then maybe a movie. I don't limit myself to which restaurants are best for solo lunching. Any place that strikes my fancy is fair game.

Chef504
Chef504

Dinner for one, Party of one. It should not carry such depressing connotations, but people think thats exactly what it does. My travels international and domestic have taught me to adore every moment I can spend alone. Party of one you ask. Fuck yes because in my mind I am having a party. As for dining in Houston there are plenty of places to eat without dragging people along. I will go out on a limb and say that every place is great to dine alone. So eat alone and be damn proud.

Maggie
Maggie

I ate alone all the time when I was doing research in England. I read a lot. The waiters were always really sympathetic and went out of their way to chat with me instead of just taking my order. It was not so bad. That's when I read White Teeth for the first time, and it made me enjoy both the meals and the book much more.

Lucinda41
Lucinda41

Joanna asks: "I'm curious, however, if there are certain sit-down restaurants that are especially popular with solo diners."

Well, yes, these places abound. Is it OK to name some here?

There are places embellished with bars where you can happily dine alone. There are places with almost no other diners, so no matter how fancy, you might feel comfortable dining there alone and enjoy the ambience 100% to yourself. And finally there are places open at odd hours, for example, 2pm-5pm, when other places are closed, and convenient to visit for the food without the potential pity of multiple other diners.

I can name a few if you really want to know...or was that just a rhetorical?

Francesco Orodinapoli
Francesco Orodinapoli

I like to explore Houston and dine in smaller ethnic restaurants. It's my hobby. And in these places it's never an issue when one dines alone. I do keep some magazines and/or books handy in the car and I have my XM radio with earplugs. I hear a lot of comments from friends that they hate it when a seating host/hostess asks them "Just ONE?" I guess they could reply "Yeah but I eat enough for three" or "I always eat solo the first time in case the food is crap. Then I don't have to embarrass myself to my friends by bringing them to a lousy restaurant."

Kyle
Kyle

If there's space at the bar, I consider it polite to sit there rather than take a 2-top or worse. The service is usually better anyway, because the bartender's always just a handsignal away. The drinks also seem to turn out better when the bartender is personally invested in the tip.

If there isn't a bar or it's full, I'm not going to hesitate to be seated at a table. "Just one?", asks the hostess. No, it's one, flat out. This one is nothing to be trifled with. As to other diners pitying me, I don't think that goes on all that much, and even so I wouldn't care. I'll probably never see these people again in my life. Eleanor Roosevelt said that nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Letitia31
Letitia31

You could adopt a strategy of patronizing places that almost always feature a dearth of diners to eye ogle you.

Ocean's, for example, is a charming place to dine alone.

KP
KP

I'm with you--I love eating alone, but I've only done it at counter-service places. I think people have grown so accustomed to never being alone, ever (or at least not enjoying it when they are), that they automatically sympathize, or wonder what could be wrong, with a lone diner.

J. Britt Alexander
J. Britt Alexander

... never mind eating alone. However, I usually sit at the bar. - especially if a place I have never been --. Great way to people watch, usually a great conversation with my bartender, and they usually give great tips on what to order.

Knitting Reader
Knitting Reader

I love eating alone. My husband is a picky eater, so I often search out more exotic food at lunch. It's also the best way to judge a restaurant--I won't come back with a friend, if I'm treated poorly when I eat alone.

Gilgameshstockings
Gilgameshstockings

Rioja, Dolce Vita, Poscol, Vieng Thai, Sushi King, Kanomwan, Tan Tan, Doneraki, Jamaica House, One's a Meal, Zake, Aladdin, Niko's, Cova, Jeannine's Bistro, Kaneyama, Hobbit

Most of these have bars, and a lot have flexi-hours, as in they're open all afternoon.I've never understood the apprehension of eating alone. I'd rather dine with myself, or with a good human companion in the form of a novel or magazine, than with 80% of people.

Rgwalt
Rgwalt

I've grown so accustom to having something to do while I'm eating, whether it be talking with someone, or watching TV, that I have a really difficult time sitting down at a restaurant and eating by myself. I can do it at a fast food place (or even somewhere with decent food like Sushi Pop), but even then I don't really take as much time to really enjoy the food or the experience. I think I've ruined myself with the need for some low level of constant stimulation.

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