Abbie Ginis

Let’s say you have an hour between a class in MLB and a meeting in North Quad. You’re starving but don’t have time to go home. You’ve checked Merge and none of your friends are free. Unless you coordinated your entire schedule with a friend, the reality is there will be times when you just need to eat … alone.

I find myself in this position all the time, and I have become an expert at finding the best places to go. I know better than to be caught eating alone in Sava’s, Sadako or East Quad, but I also can’t live off of the tiny bites offered at Starbucks or Bert’s.

Have no fear! I have personally tested the waters to give you this definitive list of the best places to go by yourself without feeling like a total loner.

1. Panera:

eat alone

Photo by Alison Weissbrot


Pretty obvious, but it’s one of my go-to spots. There are a lot of different food options, comfy seating (including a downstairs area at the North University location that is so underrated) and free wifi. Also, it’s in a really convenient location if you need to be near North Quad or MLB.

2. Bruegger’s Bagels:


Photo by Abbie Ginis

As a general rule, places with extensive coffee drink selections and free wifi are great to go to alone; they want to compete with Starbucks or Espresso Royale and become your hang out/study spot (this rule goes for Panera as well). But they have more food options. My one complaint is that the music is a little too loud to be background music. I found it annoyingly distracting while I was trying to study and all I could hear was “Counting Stars.”

3. Babo:

Photo by Parisa Soraya

Though it is a tiny bit out of the way, this market owned by Sava’s is definitely worth the trip. With a case of prepared hot foods and counter style seating, it’s one of my favorite places in Ann Arbor for some quality alone time. Think Sava’s, minus the wait and the scene.

4. Mia Za’s:

If you’re on the South U side of town, Mia Za’s is the Italian chain spot near Revive that has build-your-own salad, sandwich or pasta dishes. Very low key and casual. And tons of seating.



Photo by Abbie Ginis

This hidden gem is not just a website (I know, it’s misleading). They have awesome sushi and two separate dining areas – perfect for a lone diner like yourself. You can sit in the smaller seating area away from the tables of four that may be silently judging you (“I swear I’m not anti-social!”). I also love that they bring you hot tea, miso soup and those little ginger salads the second you sit down. Yum.

6. Amer’s:

This one’s almost too obvious for explanation. It falls under the coffee-drink rule (see above) and is mostly worth mentioning because it has two locations, one on State and one next to Rick’s. And self-serve frozen yogurt.

7. New York Pizza Depot:

Believe it or not, this place does exist before Skeeps o’clock. I love how easy and casual it is. If you haven’t been there during the day, give it a try. Also, their chicken and eggplant parm is easily the best in town, just sayin’.


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Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

There are some people who have mastered the art of eating alone with grace. Last summer, my best friend and I went to a little town in Provence. At dinner, this girl in a baby pink sweater came in and sat at the table next to us. Pulling out a novel, she ordered a glass of Chardonnay and salmon with black truffles in perfect French (with a flirtatious wink). Her sleek ponytail flashed in the sunset every time her head turned from the food to her book. I stared at her almost the entire meal–her elegance was breathtaking.

Then, there are people like me—who stand in front of Crossroads, debating whether or not to go inside, scared of eating alone. For meeating has always been a communal experience. I confess, even though I know it’s ridiculously dumb to skip meals just so I won’t have to eat alone, I still feel awkward having lunch by myself in the dining commons.

Eat alone

Photo by Jocelyn Hsu



In middle school, there’s that kid who always eat alone. You don’t want to be that kid. This is why you desperately look around to see if there’s someone you know, the moment you walk into the cafeteria. If you do end up eating alone, you try to gulp down everything on your plate because you want to get up from the table as soon as possible.


Most of my friendships are built around food. Asking the person in your discussion group to lunch after class upgrades you from a random stranger to a friend. Trust me; there’s no better way to get to know a person than by sharing a meal.


When you eat with friends, you talk to them. This gives you time to eat your food slowly. Also, when there’s no one to judge you when you get eight plates of food, you take in more calories.

Eat alone

Photo by Jocelyn Hsu



If you think about it, you never spend time alone. Your roommate is always in your room; you go to class with 400 other people daily; you even share a bathroom with your floor. Eating alone is a great time to catch up on work and to contemplate your life in relative silence.


Chances are, your friends don’t have all the same classes that you do. You all have different lunch breaks, so you spend your lecture time texting everyone on the contact list to get a lunch buddy. If you eat alone, you can walk into Crossroads whenever you feel like it.


Okay, if you’re going to the dining commons, that doesn’t sound appealing. However, if you eat out, you’ll want to taste the delicate flavors of your $9 crepe to make it worth the money. Conversations can be distractions. Practice mindful eating.

After all, eating alone is not as torturous as it sounds. Sometimes, the perks of being that kid can outweigh the awkwardness. As long as you enjoy the meal, who cares if you’re eating it alone or sharing it with friends?

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Health is hard.