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If you’re single, travel for business, or just enjoy savoring a meal without small talk, you’ve probably had the experience of dining alone. This can be immensely pleasurable or incredibly daunting, depending on your temperament and overall approach. To ensure your next table-for-one adventure is as enjoyable as possible, offers up these time-tested tips for dining alone.

For fine dining at home, try these delicious DIY bistro menu ideas from

1. Be Bookish. Always come armed with reading material. Having something to read not only keeps you from getting bored but also serves as a shield against waitstaff pity or unwanted conversational overtures from fellow patrons. Keep in mind that certain reading choices are better than others due to their portability and fold-ability (good: Sports Illustrated bad: War and Peace). In fact, frequent dining alone might be the real motivation for investing in a Kindle – although be wary of spilled beverages!

2. Try The Bar. For many would-be solo diners, the fear of being surrounded by lovey-dovey couples or raucous groups can be prohibitive. Requesting a seat at the bar is a good solution: Most restaurants will serve the full menu, bar seating is casual and low-profile, and you’re likely to be surrounded by other content singletons.

3. Exude Confidence. Stride up to the host or hostess and proudly request your table. Never shrug or say, “just me” as though you’re apologizing. It takes guts to eat alone, and you should command the respect you deserve.

4. Eavesdrop. People in restaurants tend to be drinking, which often results in loud talking, over-sharing, bawdy jokes, or bitter marital brawls. Either way you can (discreetly) listen in on proximate tables and gain valuable insight into the human condition. Bonus points for detecting awkward first-time Internet dates.

5. Befriend Your Blackberry. Most of us are borderline addicted to checking our Blackberries or mobile phones. While it’s impolite to do this in the company of others, it’s an absolutely acceptable activity when you’re dining alone: Reading the news, checking your Twitter feed, fondly reading old emails from loved ones, or scanning your secret crush’s Facebook page…the wireless possibilities are endless.

6. Go, Team! Even if you’re not terribly into sports, if there’s a game playing, become a fan for the evening. You’ll be surprised how an entranced gaze up at the screen now and then will give you a sense of purpose, as will a well-timed groan of defeat or hearty fist-pumping “Yes!”

7. Think Like A Food Critic. Pretend you are reviewing the restaurant. Observe the nuances of each course, take in the presentation, note the faults and strengths of the décor and keep a sharp eye on the service. This puts you in a position of judgment – always empowering.

8. Life Is Short, Enjoy The Steak. Finally, remember to relax, enjoy yourself, and focus on the positives of solo dining. Just think: There will be no quibbling over who pays, no awkward pauses, and no drawn-out discussions about your companion’s relationship or work problems. You really can be your own best dinner date.