Party of One

In a few weeks, I'm going to Spain by my lonesome. I've traveled solo before in Northern Ireland and India, but it's been a few years since I've spent a substantial amount of time touring, reading, and eating alone.

In light of my upcoming trip, I've started thinking about dining alone and all the little things that make such an experience completely relaxing....or depressing.

I love lingering over a menu, taking my sweet time to decide on courses, and spending even more time eating them without worrying about annoying and/or delaying a dining partner. I love shamelessly people-watching in a crowded restaurant, which always seems more socially acceptable when you have no one sitting across from you. I love chatting up the server and getting tips about local attractions. I also love just not talking. I could talk or not talk for hours when eating a wonderful meal.

I hate feeling like other restaurant patrons are shooting me sympathetic stares because they cannot conceive of why a young woman would choose to eat alone in a nice restaurant. I also could do without excessively officious servers who ask more than once if anyone will be joining me even after I've made it clear it's party of one, thank you, and please just bring me some bread.

With the exception of consuming sandwiches in random cafes while studying or sipping a drink at the bar while waiting for less punctual friends (practices I don't really count as meals), I have never dined alone in Houston. I'm curious, however, if there are certain sit-down restaurants that are especially popular with solo diners. Perhaps I should practice a bit before embarking on my Spanish eating tour.

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