Yes, I’m Dining Alone. Yes, I’m Eating the Whole Thing.
There’s a simple joy in eating at a restaurant. There’s not much that I don’t love about it. Living in Arizona, I’m afforded the great luxury of having beautiful restaurants with stunning patios and open-air seating. It’s easy to sit yourself down for a meal and get lost in the experience.
I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon. I’d rather have a big meal mid-afternoon than one at night. More times than not, when I go out to eat, I am my only company.
I’m a single woman and I have a tendency to make decisions in the moment about going out to eat. I don’t know the last time that I actually planned to go someplace for a meal. They just happen.
I can’t tell you the first time that I went out to eat by myself. I do know that after my divorce I decided I was not going to be held back from enjoying myself at beautiful restaurants because I lacked a dinner or brunch companion.
With this decision, I realized I truly enjoy going out to eat by myself. It allows me a little bit of space to clear my mind.
I always sit at the bar. It seems like a courteous thing to do when people are waiting for tables. I don’t mind. The bar always has good opportunities for interaction.
There’s also something absurdly fun about sitting at a bar next to a cute couple who just ordered a large appetizer to share as I order the exact same thing and consume it all by myself.
I feel like I’m getting away with something.
Two of my favorite restaurants in town are open air concepts that allow me to have a substantial amount of food and a glass of wine or two for not a lot of money. This is the Holy Grail of dining out for single people.
I’ve long since railed against the high cost of entertainment and dining as a single person. When restaurant week rolls around it’s always geared toward couples, not the single people.
At both of these restaurants, I can get a “shareable plate” and a bottle of wine for $20. But guess what? I’m not sharing a damn thing.
At the quaint and funky wine bar, I can get four different types of bruschetta on large pieces of bread and a bottle of wine. I’ll have a glass or two of the bottle of wine and the wonderful thing is that I get to take the rest of that bottle home to enjoy later. But, I’m gonna eat that whole board of bruschetta by myself and not even give it a second thought.
It’s not necessarily an inordinate amount of food. It’s a large appetizer. But it’s very similar to the same kind of joy you feel when you get a single serving individual cake. You get to eat the whole thing and not feel bad.
Another place is a Sicilian style restaurant where I can order a big board with four big meatballs on a bed of creamy polenta with toast points and a bottle of Italian wine. $19.
The last time I went there I sat next to a sweet older couple who were sharing the exact same appetizer. My board and bottle came and the gentleman looked over at me and said, “Are you going to eat that whole thing? By yourself?”
“Well, sir, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got,” I told him. He smiled at me like he was now in on the fun.
Going out to eat by myself gives me a little something to look forward to. When I do this, I always feel a little bit like I’m on vacation. It’s that same feeling I had visiting Denver this summer where I could sit at the bar at a restaurant strike up a conversation with people next to me and enjoy being in a different space both physically and mentally.
I enjoy the community of sitting in public, in close proximity to other people, having a meal. Dining alone, frequently people do start conversations with me. It doesn’t always happen so I bring a book with me just in case the experience becomes a little dull but I want to linger a little. There’s something peaceful about sitting in a nearly empty restaurant, reading a book, and eating a large bowl of gumbo.
In the modern wasteland that has become single living, it’s fun to have a few things that are undeniably joyful. Not having to share is one of them. I could look at this from a negative perspective. I could sit in that restaurant with a half a bottle of wine left at the end of my meal and wish that there was somebody else to drink the rest of that bottle.
But I don’t. I’m too happy, having stuffed myself with meatballs, to even be concerned. I sit back in my chair on a beautiful patio with the sun shining on my shoulders and revel about the fact that I am in complete control of my life.
I’m going to keep doing this, even if I found myself not single one day. And I’m sure it’s going to continue to happen that people ask me if I’m alone and ask me if I’m going to eat the whole thing. Yes. Yes, I am.