Lesson #15: How to Eat at a Restaurant Alone

by Rachel on August 16, 2010

I’ve been making a major point to jump right into life in Houston, and start discovering the city through my eyes, not Eric’s. And really, that means discovering the city through my mouth. So on Friday I did what I do best and made some friends via the Internet! I started following as many #Houston #foodies as I could find and then tweeted, “Where do I want to have my first Houston foodgasm?” The foodies responded and before I knew it, I had a restaurant recommendation!

What I didn’t have was a dinner date! Eric had already eaten and was meeting up with his friends for a drink. So…I decided that I’d take myself on a hot date. I know a lot of people think eating alone is crazy/terrifying, but really, it’s not. Let me show you how it’s done.

Step One: Want it? Then get it.

When you decide to eat alone, do it because you must have that food right now. My motivation on Friday was hunger plus craving, plain and simple. When you’re going to eat alone, you have to do it because you want that restaurant so badly that you can’t settle for staying in. My restaurant of choice Friday night was Beavers Houston.

The BBQ looked good and the double entendres (“We’re just south of Hooters”) weren’t half bad.

Step Two: Confidence!

I’m sure you knew this was coming, but going out to dinner alone is all about confidence. It’s completely a “fake it till ya make it” activity. You just have to act like you go out to eat alone all the time. “But what will people think of me?” I don’t know, when I see someone eating alone, I think she got hungry. Maybe she is in town on business and doesn’t want to eat in her hotel room. Maybe she is just taking a break during the work day. Oh wait…it must be that she is a total loser with no friends/a huge fattie. (Seriously, no one thinks that. And if you think that, then stop thinking like such a jerk.)

When I got to Beavers, I told the hostess I wanted a table for one and didn’t bat an eye…and neither did she. I had to wait for about 40 minutes by myself, and I never felt weird or awkward for being alone. When I was seated at my table for one, I didn’t act uncomfortable. I read the menu, checked my phone in appropriate amounts, and just took it all in. I mean, it was a Friday night. There was good people watching.

Step Three: Impress your date.

When you are taking yourself on a date, you have to treat yourself right! I started off by asking my date if she wanted a drink. She did. She ordered the El Diablo (tequila, black currant liqueur, lime, and the house ginger beer). I told her she could get an appetizer if  she wanted, so she went for the fried pickles, as she’d never had them before.

(I know…not a cheap date.)

When you’re out alone, get what you want.

Step Four: Whip it out (your camera that is).

You don’t have to, but if you can whip out a big black camera and start snapping shots your food, people will make up a back story for you, and then suddenly your confidence becomes clear to the other diners. Of course she’s eating alone. She’s important. We don’t know how or why or for what exactly, but she just looks…important.

But, I’m not really. Or I guess what I’m trying to say is, everyone has the right to eat alone. So act like you have the right to eat alone — or make yourself feel like you have that right with the help of some hefty props.

When I got my camera out to photograph my entree, the three fratty dudes on a bro date at the table next to me just sort of stared in awe. Had I been intimidated by anyone in the restaurant, it would have been three fratty dudes on a bro date. But they just sort of gaped in shock and then one said, “Is it that good?” I just batted my eyelashes and said, “I write about food…I really love food.” (Girls, if you’re ever afraid to eat in front of guys, don’t be! I think any of them would have joined me at that point, they were so delighted/turned on by the fact that a woman could actually love food enough to eat it alone and in public.)

Step Five: Don’t worry about what you’ll do.

Oh my goodness, that meal was good! You know, before I went, I was kinda wondering if I should take something to do like a book. But then I realized what I’d be doing was eating. I spent a lot of time looking over the menu (it was long and it was really hard to decide what I wanted). And when my food came, I spent a lot of time eating it.

I mean, really, how often do we eat really good food alone with no distractions? Even when we eat really good food at a restaurant, we usually have a slightly distracting companion. But to eat in a restaurant alone means you really taste your food.

And this was some good food to taste! The house potato chips were my favorite part, but the shredded pork was really great too. The whole plate was just foodgasmic, and I think being alone made it even better. I didn’t have anything to think about except how delicious it was, and whether or not I should order Beaver Balls for dessert.

Ultimately, I didn’t order the Balls, because I was full enough. But really, I was just so satisfied. I was so happy and also really pleased that I had pushed myself outside my comfort zone a little. I mean, not only did I find my way to a new place without getting too lost, but I also jumped right in to this new city and started tasting everything it has to offer, all by myself.

So if you’ve been too afraid to do it thus far, trust me when I say you should most definitely eat alone sometime. It’s good food with an awesome date; what more could you ask for?