If eating alone doesn’t make you self-conscious, you may be the creep the rest of us are desperately trying not to look like. There are all sorts of eating-alone tricks: The classic text your “friends” so people think you have friends trick, or the ol’ call your mom so people don’t think you murdered her routine.
When your lady /man /ladyman is out of town, or you’re on lunch break, or you’re an actual weirdo wishing to avoid being found out, the best tip for eating alone: know your establishments. Don’t go to Tony Rs and put on a creep show at your own table. Find a place that A) Has small tables B) Serves at a bar and /or C) Other lone eaters frequent. Here are some of my favorites places for when I don’t want people to think I’m only outside of my house to stare at their kids.
#10 – Wegman’s Market Cafe
Very popular location for loner-lunchers. But for me it’s a last resort that is best reserved for when I need to get groceries at the same time. The good: 1) Cafeteria-style conducive to eating alone 2) Variety – salad bar (pretty good), sushi, pizza, subs, Chinese. The Bad: A bit overpriced. The Ugly: 1) The worst Chinese food ever.
#9 – Padres Pizza
The exterior doesn’t look like much, but inside has a fun soda shop feel. What makes this place right for the lone ranger is that it’s off the main drag. The cheese steak is good, the garlic knots are popular, and if pizza and subs are your poison, it’s a good bet you’ll dig it here.
#8.5 – Original Italian Pizza (O.I.P.). Not as cool of an interior as Padres. However, OIP is possibly my favorite pizza in Corning so I had to toss it in. It’s very busy for lunch.
#8 – The Site Cyber Bar & Grill
I have never eaten as a one man show at The Site, but having a bar makes it a decent spot for the single eater. It’s a popular lunch location w/ great prices (in the $5 range). The self described “Huge Salad Bar” also includes homemade soups, and is around $5. You’ll also find sandwiches, burgers, and bar food. Check their daily menu specials for deals.
#7 – Evergreen Express
I’m very glad that Evergreen moved to Market St. The former location was grimy. The new location is clean and great for the lunch-in recluse. 1) There is no wait staff to explain yourself to. 2) You’re in the company of other lone eaters. 3) Great lunch specials – They have a pick 2 items w / rice option for under $5. It gets busy at lunch and seating is limited.
#6 – Thali of India
This is one of my favorite places on the list. However, my recommendation to temporary hermits only holds true for the lunch buffet. Come dinner, Thali is better suited for those with friends and dates. The lunch buffet is every weekday (dinner buffet is Monday’s Only). The price is around $10, and while the buffet isn’t as fantastic as ordering fresh off the menu, I do think it’s still worth it; Nan (Indian bread) basket is included.
#5 – DeClemente’s Deli
My most visited lunch spot (it’s very close to where I work, and I feel guilty for accidentally robbing them). The food is decent to very good – they make a killer grilled chicken sandwich. It’s fast, affordable, and rarely lets me down. I used to not be a huge fan of their soups, but on recommendation I tried the Southwest Chicken… flippin awesome. It’s easy to eat alone here, but it can get crowded for lunch. The counter along the front window is perfect for the secluded soldier.
# 4 – Holmes Plate
It’s no secret that I love the atmosphere and food at Holmes Plate. It’s my comfort zone. You might not think it’s a great eat-alone place, but like The Site, they have a bar that makes it easy for compassionate companionless compatriots to dine in peace. Also, there’s always a lunch special to be found. I’m not going to lie; I have once or twice gone in for just a basket of french fries (best in town).
#3 – Walker Cake Company
Unaccompanied desk jockeys and abandoned lovers alike will find Walker to be accommodating and tasty. I absolutely do not go to Walker enough. The atmosphere is fun and the food is great – fabulous breakfast to delicious lunches. I’ve been told it’s mostly or all organic, so it’s relatively easy to get enough nutrition in your meal to validate a cookie purchase before you leave. If you can leave without a cookie, you’re a better man than me, even if you’re a lady; I don’ t know what that means. Anyway, it’s one of the few places with outdoor seating, which adds to it greatness as spring arrives.
#2 – Old World Cafe
Best soups in town, hands down. Favorite sandwich: Chicken Bruschetta on a croissant. With small tables, a great Market St view, and a [small] lunch counter, it my second favorite place to be a self-escort. Did I mention the soup? If you’re eating soup anywhere else, you are doing it wrong.
#1 – Centerway Park
There is absolutely no better place to sit and eat than Centerway Park. There are benches throughout the park and tables in the square. Pack a lunch and partake in a private picnic my lonesome dove. Or hit up any eatery along Market St and get it to go!