Nobody has asked me this yet, but I imagine some visitors to my blog might get confused sometimes about why I write so many restaurant reviews at SoloFriendly.com. Isn’t this supposed to be a solo travel blog? Shouldn’t I just be talking about the solo travel experience and let sites like Chowhound worry about restaurant reviews? Well, I am focusing on the solo travel experience. Eating out alone is part of that experience.
The reason I focus on restaurants so much is that many would-be solo travelers (and even some experienced solo travelers) have great anxiety about dining alone when on the road. They’re not used to dining alone and are afraid that they’ll be treated poorly by waitstaff or shunned by pitying strangers who will see them as “friendless”. I write about my solo dining experiences to try to show others that there’s really nothing to fear and that you don’t have to be restricted to fast food, takeout, or room service when you travel solo.
You can have a truly enjoyable meal all by yourself in a restaurant. Many people dine solo. I could (and have) given general advice about dining out alone, but when I’m doing research for my trips, I find it useful to read specifics about another solo traveler’s experiences (“What was it like to eat alone at Restaurant X?”). I figure if I find those sorts of reviews useful, others must, too.
You’ll notice in my reviews that if I have a great experience, I’ll tell you that. If I have a bad experience, I’ll tell you that too. I try to note whether a restaurant has plenty of two-top tables, other solo diners, bartop dining, TVs, windows, and other features that make it a good solo dining spot, or whether it really did seem to be populated with couples, families, and groups. I’ll note what service is like and how friendly the waitstaff and bartenders seem to be. I also try to note what meals cost because I know that, as a solo traveler covering all the costs of your trip by yourself, you might need to be budget-conscious. If I notice I am treated differently for being solo than other customers, believe me, I’ll say so.
We solo travelers have to look out for each other and share our experiences at specific restaurants with each other. I don’t want to waste my time or money by going to a restaurant that doesn’t care about customers who are dining alone. And I’d hate to see someone turned off from dining alone because of a bad experience at the wrong restaurant. I have found that 95% of all restaurants I have eaten at while traveling solo were pleasant experiences. Of course, good food counts, too–why go to a solo-friendly restaurant if the food is crap?
Do you enjoy my restaurant reviews, or would you rather see more general posts about solo travel? Are there aspects of the solo dining experience that I don’t currently cover in my reviews that you’d like to know about? How do you feel about dining alone?