Dining alone: What are your tips, ladies?

Just came across this interesting Huff Post on dining alone.  Then I ran into this story from CNN about how women (successful, attractive, powerful women) are afraid to be seen dining alone. Wow.  Really.

Apparently, they're so embarrassed to be dining alone that many of them skip meals altogether when traveling on business.  .

And it got me thinking.  In the year that I've written this blog, largely on the topic of amusing oneself on the weekend as a single woman sans companions, I've done a lot of dining on my own as well as many nights staying home with a good book or movie.

Hmmm, I started to think about what my top tips would be when dining in restaurants alone.  Certainly not to forget about it and skip dinner : )

1.  Dine early.  It's more fun to get to your destination ahead of the crowd and not feel rushed to make room for waiting diners.  Take your time and enjoy.  After all, you're on a date with yourself : )

2.  Choose a restaurant with wonderful ambiance, music you enjoy, and a welcoming staff.  Food can be secondary to having a wonderful, getting-out-of-the-house experience.  When you choose the right spot, a meal can feel like a vacation.

3.  As Huff Post writer Alyssa Schwartz points out, sitting at the bar is great. You may meet someone interesting, learn something new, or discover a new favorite cocktail on the advice of your bartender.

4.  After trying a new spot each week over the course of a year, you'll end up with a list of favorites.  When you visit your haunts regularly on the same day each visit, you'll come to be known and welcomed by the staff.

5.  Always bring a book you love.  It can be difficult to find time to read when your workdays (and often evenings) are spent absorbed by electronic devices.  It's a luxury to find a few minutes to read a real book, feel the texture of its pages, and enjoy the wonderful smell of paper. 

6.  Think of dining alone as an opportunity to savor a new atmosphere, indulge in new flavors and sensations, and immerse yourself in new thoughts and worlds.  It's far more difficult to do this when you're absorbed in conversation.  Enjoy!

Anything to add to my list?  Please comment!

Solo Sunday Brunch

I love brunch, but when it's Sunday, dining alone can make you feel very, very single.

Today, I spent an hour or so cruising neighborhood brunch spots, packed to the walls with noisy, happy throngs of families and friends, and thought, nah . . . .   I'm looking for a pleasant, low-key atmosphere. Interesting food and drinks. Maybe a spot where I can eat at the bar and read a book. And not feel like an exotic zoo animal.

Here it is:  Yusho at 2853 N. Kedzie Ave. in Logan Square.

It's not exactly a brunch: You get a bowl of noodles (I had grilled shrimp, bonito, kimchi, and bamboo shoots), a draught cocktail (tequila punch with Herencia Blanco, Leopold Three Pines, salers, lemon, roasted kombu), and a cup of soft-serve with basil and coconut croutons for $20.

Atmosphere and music were great, the place wasn't crowded, bar staff was friendly, and it felt fine to be dining solo.

From their website, here's more about Yusho: Street food is the great equalizer—no glamour required. Yakitori, when well-executed, is about the simple flavors of authentic street food. A hot grill provides intense flavors from seasonal proteins and vegetables, grilled to order over a chattering, hissing fire. Beer, wine and sake selections complement the fresh-grilled flavors. Craft cocktails, wines and spirits are chosen for customized meal pairings. Experiment and discover!