From Dianne de Guzman of SF Gate:
I understand that there can be a weird stigma around eating alone, but that is mostly in one’s head. What dining alone affords you — as I’ve found out over years of being seated solo at tables and bars — is chance. And there’s a lot I mean by that word, “chance.” It could mean an opportunity to meet a person next to you. To linger longer with a bartender and ask questions about the big and small things in drinking (and life). It could also mean just taking a chance to listen, whether that be to your own thoughts or to just bask in the bustle of the city.
From my days of business travel, dining alone never bothered me. But wearing a suit while dining versus wearing Bermuda shorts and a golf shirt are quite different. And these days, everyone has their nose stuck in their cell phone anyway.
But the experience can be enlightening from many viewpoints. First, it is easier to engage the waiter or waitress in conversation. It seems easier to find out which wines, specials or dinners to choose from. Second, it is also easier to engage others in conversation.
A couple tips from a seasoned pro. One, just find a seat at the bar. This is the simplest solution. You will also find other “singles” here. Another tip is to dine at “off hours”, when the restaurant is not busy. Or, if you are really bold ,just sit down at the table of the most attractive person in the restaurant!!
Getting a “to go” order is really a poor excuse to miss some of the most enjoyable parts of your trip. My last trip to Munich was a great example. I was seated on a large table, with what turned out to be two Americans. We started talking about food and football, the two important “F’s”. We started buying each other beer and some shots. Next thing we know, two young German ladies are sitting at the table, buying and drinking shots with us!!! I ended up staying until closing, even though I went for a quiet, early dinner!
Sometimes, dining alone can serve other purposes. The time can be used to communicate back home, make future plans, read a book, or take photos. Or in my case, I try to do all of these things!
But I enjoy trying to establish a relationship with locals, find out what they like to eat, where they hang out, and what they want to know about the U.S. And more often than not, we have a toast to our new friendship!!!