Steps to Solo Travel: Adventures in Solo Dining

“Are you waiting for anybody else?"“…Nope! Just a table for one, please."

I first uttered that response during my “spring break” trip to Denver. I wasn’t traveling solo and, in fact, I was staying with a great friend and her family! I really had this restaurant I wanted to try and it wasn’t on anybody else’s agenda. But I heard some pretty fantastic things about the milkshakes here…so missing out was NOT an option. Simple solution: I went by myself!

I like to think of myself as a strong, independent woman (and I am thankyouverymuch), but this was the first time I have ever gone out to eat by myself at a sit down restaurant. Sure, I’ll grab lunch by myself or hang out at a coffee shop and get some work done. This felt different! One of my goals for 2016 is to go on my first solo venture. I thought this was a very appropriate practice session.

“…Nope! Just a table for one, please."

“Okay, cool. Let’s place you by the window so you can get some good people-watching in."

This waitress knew the way to my heart. The restaurant is called Sassafras American Eatery. I want to take a quick moment to shout out mad props (is that what you do with mad props?) to this spot. Just off of my trip to New Orleans, I was intrigued by their southern flair. With a name like Sassafras, how could you go wrong? And it was right near the capitol building, so I cannot suggest strongly enough that you stop by.

I was just coming off an exploration of the Capitol building, also solo, so I was feeling pretty confident. As I settled into my corner seat by the window, I was hit by the fact that every. other. table. around me had at least two people sitting there.

So what’s a girl to do? Immediately reach to Snapchat, as it seems.

“I’m solo dining for the first time! At a sit-down place!"

But I didn’t want to spend all of my time on the phone. So I got my snaps in, as well as sending a Twitter poll out about which milkshake I should get. Then I tucked my phone away and settled in.

After perusing the menu and consulting the aforementioned gem of a waitress, I decided on a fried green tomato po’ boy. With bacon, of course. As I waited for my food to come out, I discovered the first reason why I love solo dining: the WHOLE carafe of water was mine. I’ll be the first to tell you that I down water like a pro and the fact that I didn’t have to share it with anybody was pretty great.

We’ll have another pause to say that this sandwich was glorious. I don’t know where my love of fried green tomatoes has come from, but I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon.

Once I had my food, any awkwardness I may have felt because I didn’t have somebody to talk to was gone. I have this thing when I eat that I have to try to keep pace with somebody that’s eating slower than I am (hello, Paul). I just don’t want to be jealous when they still have delicious food left and mine is gone. I don’t know, I can’t explain it.

When you’re solo dining, it’s all about you. And something about that is pretty awesome. If you don’t want to share your Brussels sprouts, you don’t have to. You won’t feel too guilty about leaving anything behind OR eating the whole entire thing without a second thought. And while dining with somebody affords you the luxury of splitting two meals, solo dining forces you to be more decisive. And I think that’s very important for my future solo adventuring self!

Plus people don’t judge you when you pull your camera out again to take a picture of the newest kitschy salt shakers you just spotted.

I don’t know if I just had a rockstar waitress, but being alone also kind of made me feel like the staff was looking after me. Already when I reached the end of my meal, I felt ten times more comfortable asking my waitress for a recommendation. Then we got to chatting about things she likes to do in Denver and I got the inside scoop on a more unique museum than the big art museum (the Kirkland Museum) and a spot to shop. And that spot led me to a magical bookstore (that Becca’s family also recommended!) that I would fly back to Denver to visit: Tattered Cover.

In conclusion: I would try solo dining again in a heartbeat. It is definitely a step out of my comfort zone that I really enjoyed. I think I’m going to try it in my home city too.

Oh, and about that milkshake?

Sometimes when you’re dining solo, your waitress slips in that they’re considering adding peanut butter to the chocolate dipped bacon milkshake. And there’s really only response.

“Yes! Bring it on."

Let’s Chat!

  • Where are you on the solo dining spectrum: never tried it, an old pro, or somewhere in between? 
  • Have I convinced you to go on a solo dining adventure? Be sure to tell me all about it!