Going it Alone--the Art of Dining Solo

Eating alone....can be a good thing.

I bet we’ve all been part of this frustrating conversation at some point in our lives:

“So, where do you want to go for dinner?”

“I dunno, anywhere. Where do you want to go?”

“Well, how about Italian?”

“Nah, I had pizza for lunch.”

“OK. Chinese then?”

“No, I’m kind of off Chinese right now.”

“Maybe that new Greek place?”

“Nope. I hate feta cheese.”

“Well, so where do you want to go??”

“Anywhere you want to.”


Sometimes it’s better to go out alone. No one to convince, no one to argue with, no frustrations. No grumbling, grumpiness or scowls, no I-told-you-sos.

In a past career, I traveled a lot for work, and I got very used to doing exactly what I wanted in my off time.  Sometimes I'd join my colleagues for a meal, and other times, I’d make an excuse and I’d take off for a walk or head to a museum or I’d find a transit map and take a bus to some far flung destination.  I’d do some research and target two or three spots I wanted to see or experience. Sometimes people came along, and sometimes I went solo--I was always content to do it on my own (which is sort of what I’m doing here, I guess.).

When it comes to restaurants, heading out to dine alone is really quite enjoyable...with a little preparation, of course.

For me, it has always helped to have something to read or a crossword or Sudoku puzzle (actually that's not true, I hate Sudoku), and now, possibly something electronic (a phone or iPad is handy, but not a laptop)—it’s a good idea to have something you don’t have to read, so that if you want to be distracted by people watching or to focus on your food or to acknowledge and chat with the server, you can always pick up where you left off later.

Fiore, 638 17th Avenue, SW.  A great place for a meal with friends...or not.

Recently I found myself on my own on a Sunday evening, and I decided to head to Fiore.

Fiore (or sometimes on some signs it's called Fiore's--I didn't ask which was proper) is, as you might guess, an Italian place.  It's been on 17th Avenue for a really long time; I remember it was down on the strip when it was hit with a really bad fire back in the early 2000’s, and I had been there before the fire, and maybe once after, but now not for many, many years.

From Sunday through Tuesday they offer a pasta special, so it seemed like a good time to try it out.

I grabbed a magazine (and my phone, of course) and walked over.  I scored a seat on the sidewalk patio and ordered a glass of Chianti (what else?), a salad and some lasagna.

The house salad was a good choice, as it was loaded with all sorts of fresh vegetables, and the pasta was perfect—just enough to satisfy.  Lasagna to me is always good, solid comfort food, and if you don’t eat too much, is a perfect way to fill the hole in your belly.

I have to mention that I’m always surprised when I find carrots in the tomato sauce, in between the layers of noodles, cheese and ground meat, but there they were.  I’ve never thought to put them in my sauce, but I’ll need to remember to try that sometime.

And then, I even finished off with a piece of cheesecake.

Funny, as I read my magazine (a NY Times mag from April--yeesh!), in between bites and glances at the street traffic, I noticed a woman sitting at the next table, facing me, alone.  She was about my age, better dressed than me, and at first I thought she was waiting for someone, a date perhaps.  But no one came—she was a solo diner too.

Not that I stared at her or anything, but I had to look up and forward every now and then, or it would have been weird.  I saw that she didn’t have anything to read, and that she wasn’t spending a lot of time with her phone.  But she seemed perfectly relaxed and content as she dug into her pasta special and glanced out at the street activity—the world passing by on the other side of the fence.

So it just goes to show you, everyone has their own way of dining out alone.  I suppose there are people who are like either one of us—either over-prepared or not in need of props. 

And then there are others who we’ll never see….because the idea of going solo is not something they can imagine.

I’d encourage them to try it.