I’ve always loved food, loved trying new food and loved the communal aspect of having a meal together. But when my anxiety disorder started in 2011, I stopped going to restaurants and in fact, I was too scared to even eat a meal at a table with people – let alone think about eating out alone. It was one of the many things that made me extremely sad and down about my anxiety disorder.

eating out alone

So, as well as wanting to get back into a “normal” eating routine and be able to enjoy a meal with people again and also go back out to restaurants, which I really missed, another goal of mine was to eat out alone.

I’ve always wanted to travel solo or at least go on holiday by myself and whilst I’ve been on a few solo spa trips, which I adore, I’ve never managed to venture further afield.

I love the idea of doing things alone because I enjoy being alone and I enjoy my own company. I spent so long cooped up in one room and also so reliant on everyone else, this need to do things alone just got stronger and stronger.

So eating out alone was added to my list of things I wanted to try and achieve. I thought this was a doable goal which would test me but also be manageable.

eating out alone

I’ve eaten out alone a fair few times now and I absolutely love it. In fact, I’m sitting here writing this post on my own in Starbucks. I have absolutely no qualms about heading out on my own, in fact, sometimes I prefer it. I like the freedom, the peace and quiet and the not having to go by anyone else’s schedule.

And eating out – whether that’s a coffee and a cake, lunch or a full 3 course dinner – I’ve found is an absolutely lovely thing to do alone. But I totally understand why so many people find it extremely daunting. Because it absolutely can be!

I think lots of people have a goal of eating out alone but are too scared to try it, so from one person who never thought she’d live a “normal” life from such a debilitating anxiety disorder, I am here to tell you that you absolutely can do it!

I’m compiled all my best tips in this post for someone who wants to try eating out alone. Yes, it can be daunting but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Here are my 9 tips for eating out alone:

Go somewhere you’re familiar

For your very first foray into eating out alone, it might benefit you to go somewhere that you’re already familiar with. Perhaps a small coffee shop you’ve been to with friends that you know well. This can just take that initial pressure and worry off and allow you to have a really positive first experience of eating out alone.

But if you are looking to try somewhere new and feel brave enough to do so on your solo dining date, then that’s great! Searching for restaurants in Bethany Beach Delaware – or wherever you’re from – will be a good start for finding somewhere suitable.

Start with something less daunting than dinner

You don’t have to go straight in with a 3-course dinner. I think there’s a lot of talk about eating out alone and the “goal” being dinner but that doesn’t have to be the case if you don’t want.

Lunch or breakfast is just as an important meal of the day and can be a nice opportunity to go out and dine alone. You will also find breakfast and lunch crowds aren’t as big and the atmosphere is a bit more chilled.

Pick what you’re going to have before you go

If you’re worried about the choices you’re going to have to make with food when you get there, simply pick what you want before you go! Almost every restaurant has a menu online, so check it out beforehand so you can order straight away and that’s one less thing to worry about, so you can sit back and enjoy your meal.

Ask to sit somewhere out of the way

Obviously some restaurants will have an idea of where they’re going to sit you before you arrive but if it’s fairly busy, why not ask them if you can sit somewhere out of the way because you’re dining alone? Or you might be able to put it on a notes section of your booking when you book your table.

When it’s really daunting to eat out alone, especially if you haven’t done it before, the last thing you want is to be seated right in the middle of the restaurant, so they should be able to accommodate that.

Take a book with you

Any book lover probably does this anyway but if you’re nervous about eating out alone, take a book with you and have a good ol’ reading session whilst you’re enjoying your meal!

When I went for my first solo spa break, I was sitting there reading my book whilst eating my dinner and the waitress actually said how jealous she was that I can just sit there alone and quiet and read my book without interruption – which was really nice to hear!

Cut your food up so you can eat and read / use your phone

If you’ve brough things with you to do like your phone or a book, it’s much easier to manage doing both things at once if your food is already cut up, so you can hold your book/phone with one hand and feed yourself with the other. This is a handy trick I use quite a bit – especially if I’m reading a really good book that I don’t want to put down!

Of course you might want to do the complete opposite and not have any distractions during your meal and just focus on the food, which is fine! But some people need to look like they’re doing something as it makes them feel more comfortable.

Remember that nobody gives a sh*t

But on that note, remember, absolutely nobody gives a sh*t. They really don’t. One of the biggest lessons of 2022 I learned was that nobody really cares and whilst that might sound a bit sad, I find it quite empowering and it’s enabled me to do more than I would have because I remind myself regularly that no-one cares

And the same goes for eating out alone. Nobody cares that you’re alone, in fact, you’re more likely to get people thinking how much they admire you for doing it!

Call someone if you’re nervous

It can be a nerve-wracking thing, eating out alone. Especially for the first time. If you’re halfway through your meal and you get anxious, ring someone to help you calm down and share your worries. You’re not in outer space, so don’t worry, you’re quite okay to use your phone if you really need to.

The only pointer I would make here is that if you’re in a restaurant for dinner, do check that it’s okay to use your phone and don’t talk to loudly, so you’re not disturbing the other diners.

Try and feel a sense of empowerment

And finally, back onto this point of empowerment. Learning to just be in your own company is so empowering. Learning to just get on with your own day and not care what anyone else thinks or what anyone else is doing is absolutely liberating.

Eating out alone can be empowering, whether you’re reading your book, using your phone or just people watching and enjoying your food. Nobody can touch you when you’re in your own little world like that and it’s a feeling you’re going to want to experience again and again!

I just love spending time alone and it’s something I really want to look into doing more and pushing myself out of my comfort zone more with. Perhaps a solo holiday is next on my list? Who knows.

But for anyone who wants to try eating out alone but is too nervous, you absolutely CAN do it! Just start small, start with a coffee and cake and go from there.

There are plenty of wonderful cafés and restaurants to choose from, so you’ll find somewhere that suits you and makes you feel comfortable. It’s a wonderful experience, one that I hope you can experience, even if you are nervous!

Tell me, have you eaten out alone before? Did you enjoy it and what tips would you give? If you’re too scared, what’s stopping you?

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  1. Love this article! Totally agree ‘no one gives a sh#t” because it’s so true. There was a quote that went something like: you’d stop giving a sh#t what people thought about you if you realized how seldom they do” 😀

    Great tips for people thank you for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing, these are great tips, when I go on solo day trips, I find myself eating alone in cafe and restaurants, it can be daunting asking for a table for 1 ,but I find it gives me confidence that I can speak to the waiting staff. I used to do coffee shop reading as well, but I find I don’t have the time, now but hopefully soon 🙂

  3. These are all amazing tips! The one about cutting up your food and reminding yourself that actually no one gives a s**t are some important! We always believe that everyone is watching, but when you get to a point of enjoying your own company it’s a big success!

  4. These are great tips for eating out alone. It’s so important to nurture your relationship with yourself. I love going for a solo coffee, but haven’t yet tried eating out alone.

  5. I actually did this for the first time when I was about 6 months pregnant.. on the run up I was a bit nervous about looking silly but let me tell you, it was BLISS!! I do it all the time now, I often bring a book or just people watch and regather myself and my thoughts.

    WHY did I never do it sooner!?


  6. Cutting your food up is such a good tip! Whenever I go out to a cafe, I find it hard to navigate eating and reading at the same time haha, so that is a great way to make it easier. Thank you for these tips 🙂

  7. Great tips! Going out for lunch and bringing a book are the two go-to’s for me when I want to get out. I’ll remember asking for a table out of the way next time, though!

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. I actually don’t like doing things by myself let alone eat in a restaurant alone. Although I have sat and had coffees by myself in the past, it was daunting. These tips have put into perspective just how silly I’m being. I can do this! Thank you x

  9. I’ve been to bakeries alone for breakfast, but I haven’t been out to eat for lunch or dinner alone. It would be nice try it because I’m normally with my partner and our daughter when we go to restaurants. Also, that is a great idea to bring a book!

  10. Loved this – I have recently started doing this on my ‘self date days’ and it is such a nice feeling and so amazing to feel comfortable in your own company.

    Thanks for sharing some extra tips!

  11. I love eating alone! I’m able to try out so many restaurants this way. I often find myself travelling solo (also my preferred way to travel), and this opens me up to so many new experiences.

  12. I live in Delhi and I follow an Instagram account that shows wonderful restaurants in Delhi. Recently, they posted a video of a restaurant that’s only for soloists. It has boho chic interiors with a balcony overlooking an artificial lake. I am planning to go for a lunch there this weekend. 😀 Your suggestions for first time solo dates are awesome 👍

  13. Jenny, I am so envious of you! Reading my book whilst eating my dinner sounds like the dream to me, but the chances of me being able to escape Alan and Flora are slim to none, haha. Seriously though, these are great tips – especially the bit about cutting up your food first, I wouldn’t have thought of that 🙂 x

  14. That’s so useful tips for eating out alone. I too go out to restaurant and cafes by myself very often I already some these tips like deciding in advance what I am gonna have, and calling friends while eating there, and sometime I choose cafe where they have lot of books to read. But I like the idea of taking your own book along. Wonderful post!

  15. These tips are super useful. I never used to like doing things by myself but once you challenge yourself, you will be surprised. I now even go further and challenge myself to strike up a conversation with strangers and have fun 🙂

  16. Oh gosh, I’d love to go out and eat alone more often. It’s been about a month since I last went out by myself. I love it, and enjoy my own company and thoughts. But totally understand how it can be a daunting thought for some. I used to think the same when I was in my early twenties. I think it’s perhaps something that stems from school. Fabulous post Jenny! X

  17. Good for you Jenny. The thought of being so paralyzed with anxiety that you can’t go out and would prefer to imprison yourself in a small room is baffling to me, I perfer to travel and eat alone.However, I have other fears so I can appreciate the struggle of stepping outside your comfort zone. Well done and keep progressing.

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