The Simple Joy of Eating Alone
If you see me housing two dozen oysters on my own at happy hour, no you didn't.
So…we’re all watching “The Last of Us,” right? And we all sobbed through episode 3? Cool. Just checking.
the 15-60 minute time period spent laying on the floor in the middle of the work day, typically as a relief from the soul-sucking reality of corporate America.
Recently, while I was in Québec City, I witnessed two instances of solo diners. One was at a quintessentially Québécois establishment, and another was at arguably the city’s most trendy and upscale restaurant, Le Clan. At the former, I sat at the bar and there was a young woman a few seats over reading something elegant and sophisticated (e.g. Austen and the like). At the latter, a well-groomed man enjoyed his tasting menu and wine pairing at a table-for-one in the corner of the room. I didn’t once see him scroll on his phone during the courses. My dining mate, Andrew, asked if I would ever come to a place like this by myself. I told him I’ve done it loads of times.
One example was in Nice, where I solo traveled for a week during my 2022 #SabbatiCLO (I wrote about it a bit in an old Floor Time). I booked a Michelin-star meal for myself at Les Agitateurs, where I wore a knockout dress and enjoyed their awesome tasting menu and wine pairing all by myself. I savored the food at my own pace, and it was nice to have a peaceful meal with my thoughts after spending the whole day overstimulated by the incredible sites of the Côte d'Azur (admittedly, during the lulls in my own head, I’d just listen to the surrounding conversation). At that moment, I remember being so stupidly happy. There I was, sitting at this schmancy establishment in the freaking FRENCH RIVIERA, enjoying and affording this meal for myself because I worked hard enough to do it. I still get this little burst of serotonin just thinking about it.
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Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE dining with friends. As a New Yorker, eating out is practically a personality trait. But making the choice to eat in solitude can be a beautiful thing. It’s empowering to order what you want, not feel the pressure of making conversation—because sometimes your social battery won’t allow for it—and focus and savor the food you got (my sister actually does this on the reg because she is a massive foodie, and travels to three-star-Michelin spots on her own. Iconic! Flex!). And when you think more deeply about solo dining, ironically, it doesn’t even end up being that solo. You are surrounded by fellow diners, people passing by the window, and the staff. In every way, you’re part of a community. You’re sharing a space with people who may not share anything else with you aside from their desire to enjoy a good meal.
I understand that eating alone can feel uncomfortable, whether you’re accustomed to it or not. I for one have to be in the right mindset to make the effort to eat out by myself. If I’m not, the intrusive thoughts may float in—do I not have friends? am I sad? And maybe they stem from a long-running stigma around eating alone. But when I’m clearheaded, I know this: I love good food and even though I love who I surround myself with, I also relish in my own company. Nothin’ wrong with that.
Something to Consider
I know that taking the first step to eat alone can be scary, especially if you’ve never done it before. But I encourage you to try and see what you learn—and if you do, please tell me about it! Some tips to help you get started:
Make sure you pick a restaurant with food that you are actually excited to try. That’s a huge part of it. That way, even if you hate the experience of being by yourself, you still get a stellar meal out of it.
If you have ~*social anxiety*~ like I do, try eating at off-peak times. I know that even when I’m with others taking up a table, I start to feel anxious about taking up too much space for too long (something I should probably discuss in therapy! 🤪).
Bring an emotional support activity. When I studied abroad in college, that was the first time I ventured into this world of eating and traveling alone. I was less comfortable with it than I am now, so I would bring a notebook or a book everywhere I went and it acted as a crutch. Eventually, I would still bring it but realize I wasn’t relying on it as much, because I was starting to simply enjoy the meal and my surroundings.
Sit at the bar and talk to the bartender. Automatic human interaction and the bartenders are always cool cats. It’s like a rule.
ICYMI, I shared this inspiring little gif on my Instagram this week. May the power of Dolly get you through whatever you need to get through!!!
Something To Laugh About
This is giving Vine energy and I’m just so glad that energy is back.
This is becoming a whole series and I can’t handle how wholesome it is.
Is this what it’s come to.
No need to do a wellness check or anything, but I think about this on almost every flight??
Shoutout to my friend Michael L because he fully understands this concept of the daily little treat.
This is so funny and for what.
Have a lovely weekend, ya’ll! I hope you seek out the best meal in the world and enjoy every morsel because you deserve it.
Til’ next time, solo diners. Your friend,
By the way…I’m reading this.
Technically a re-read, but The Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of my favorite books as a teen, and let me tell you, it. holds. up. I love this book with my whole heart and the words continue to give you these pangs in your heart even years after the book was published.