"Another Saturday and I ain't got nobody.." isn't that how the lyrics to the Cat Stevens song go? And here it is a Saturday or Tuesday or Friday or any night of the week. All your friends have plans or need to "wash their hair." You are totally bored and hungry and want to get food but don't want to order in Chinese or pizza....again. What's a person to do? Now is the chance to take your first opportunity to step out on your own and grab a bite to eat by yourself. That's right--ALONE. Folks seem to have this innate fear doing most anything by themselves in public as if it will brand them a loser or something, but I disagree and think more people should take the chance and eat out solo. I mean this probably won't be a regular occurrence with you but with everyone having seemingly hectic lives and work schedules it's hard to coordinate all the time. Thus the need to eat with yourself. As part of the learning process for those who are not used to such a thing let's start small and easy. One type of place that makes it easy for people to grab a bite for themselves is the coffee shop.

They are as ubiquitous to San Francisco these days as are hippies and techies. They've been around for centuries and cities across Europe have a plethora of them where people congregate on a daily basis. In the US they grew out of the espresso/bakeries Italians opened on the East Coast and then spread West. One of the oldest here in town is Caffe Trieste in North Beach. And with the rise of what folks call the third wave world coffee in San Francisco there any number of places to choose from, though to be sure, they don't all serve a hearty food fare beyond bagels and pastries. Thus you would have to check online to see if the one in your hood serves food. And if you don't know if the one in your hood serves food then shame on you! You should know your neighborhood spots. The good thing for you in eating at these spots is that food is order and eat quick and it's a place that can feel comfy and cozy and doesn't look down upon folks going solo. In fact, they are used to it.

Once you've found a place, ordered your food and camped out at a table, if you still feel a bit conspicuous don't fret as you have several options. First if you know you'll feel uncomfortable then by all means take along your laptop or pull out your phone. Lots of coffee shops have either free wi-fi or wi-fi when you buy something, which you would be doing since you are eating there. It's a win win for everyone. You can munch away on your salad, sandwich or panini while surfing the web, pretending you are doing something when really it's just Candy Crush or Facebook. Other options are to take along a book, I mean it's a coffee shop after all and people normally go here to relax and hang out anyway so you probably won't be the only one reading. Since this is San Francisco, writing in a journal--you know, old-school pen and paper--is perfectly acceptable. We are a city of artists and creators, it's a pretty regular thing. Or you could peruse one of the innumerable free weeklies cluttering up racks near the front of the shop. You can look through them to see what events are going on later that evening and text friends to make plans for later. And of course you could just people watch. If there ever was a town to do this in--this is it. San Francisco relishes it's oddballs and loners (to a point) and you are bound to find one wherever coffee is sold. You will also notice you aren't the only one dining solo, one look around at most coffee shops will show many of the patrons are by themselves and this should make you feel less conspicuous and, well, alone. If all else fails and you still don't feel comfortable, don't fret, eating alone means you aren't really dilly dallying and you will consume your food quickly and then it will be over and you can be on your way.

Either way you should congratulate yourself when done that you've successfully taken the first step to eating out without the help or company of others. It is like the first step on a long road to solo comfortableness in a public space. A small step maybe, but at least you weren't sitting at home bemoaning the lack of a food date while sitting on the couch stuffing your face with cheese puffs. That's something to be proud of---the going out--not the sitting on the couch. Plus finding a coffee shop is getting easier these days as the new breed of spots are serving up some decent food choices.

Some places to consider for trying out in the city include:

Reveille Coffee Co.--most close at 7pm so it would be an early dinner.
Espressamente Illy--fancy looking but still coffee and food in 2 locations.
Jane On Fillmore--a local place also with a new 2nd location.
Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe--open late-ish too with great pan inis
Blue Danube Coffee House--in case you are out in the Richmond District

These are but a few, and I'm sure if you look around in your hood closely enough you will find one there too that has food and caffeine. Just look for something with Cup 'O, Joe, Mud, Java or whatever in the name and get out and eat out.