1. Become a regular at a couple places you really like and fit your budget. Get to know the names of those there and tip well. You'll become an honored guest and often be included in the ‘family' that develops in the restaurant.
  2. Pay attention and compliment the wait staff/chef on the food or details of the service. Over time you might well get extra attention rather than less. Restaurant folks tend to love people who are truly interested in what they work so hard to provide.
  3. If a restaurant is popular and hard to get reservations, go early or late when the wait staff is less pushed and would have time to interact.
  4. Consider taking a seat in the bar—not necessarily to drink, but to eat. Many restaurants now have bars that are the center of the action and overlook the kitchen. Other single diners might be there as well as other regulars.
  5. Consider using social network sites like Facebook to post a plan to dine out and seek others who might want to join in.  I've done this several times while traveling and connected with family/friends I wouldn't have thought to invite out for a meal.

Did you notice the theme in Kevin's tips? They're all about building relationships ... with restaurant staff, "virtual" friends, even other diners. Some are long-term, some just long enough to clean your plate, but the point is that dining alone doesn't have to be lonely. When you think about it, every meal is eaten with One who loves you. I sometimes make a date with God and spend my time—silently, so as not to frighten anyone—chatting with him over dinner. (We've been known to go to the movies together, too.) Don't let lack of a (human) companion keep you from enjoying a good meal. A table for one can be fabulous.

Bon Appétit!

Susan Ellingburg is a natural-born Texan who sings at every opportunity, reads as much as possible, and cherishes every day she gets to spend with friends.  She's a serious foodie and not-so-serious gardener who is determined not to let being single stand in the way of living an amazing life.  Read Susan's blog at TastingGod.wordpress.com.

**This column first published on November 11, 2010.