The joys of eating at bars....

When you travel as much as I do, you often eat alone in restaurants. Eating at your own pivate table is nice sometimes, when you need some quiet time, but otherwise, is not so much fun.

I almost always eat at the bar if that is possible. Especially at airports. If nobody is around, I can usually pull up my laptop and go online, but usually not for long. I always have someone sit close to me and easily find some reason to start a conversation. Some people think you are creepy, but most of the time, I find something we can talk about.

Since my profession involves classic cars. I often get into a conversation where someone will say something like , "My dad had a 1956 Chevy."

But, there are endless conversations just waiting to happen between people stuck eating at a bar because they are doing a job out of town.

So, this new thread is about getting something to eat leading to making a new friend -- even if you don't remember their name when its done.

Please tell us your stories.

CD
 
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TastyReuben

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I do prefer to eat at the bar (or at the counter in a diner), but it's not to talk to other people, it's just because the service is faster.
 

morning glory

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I think that 'eating at the bar' isn't so much a thing in the UK. There are 'bar snacks' and 'bar food' on some Pub menus - but that tends to mean smaller plates or more informal pub type meals - and that food is generally eaten at a table so one isn't as likely to strike up a conversation with someone new.
 

TastyReuben

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MrsTasty, OTOH, is very much a table person; even if we're stepping into a bar for just a drink, she still wants to sit at a table (or better yet, a booth) in the bar area.

My brother Lee, he's The Friendliest Guy In The World, and he'll sit at the bar for the sole purpose of talking to someone. He's very outgoing.

Back sometime in the '90's, he came up to Minnesota for a visit, and he's a lifelong Vikings fan (NFL football), so I got tickets while he was in town.

We went downtown a little early and went into the bar at the Embassy Suites hotel, because they have decent bar food.

We sat at the bar, ordered a couple of beers, ordered some appetizers, bar's a little noisy because of the game later, and I got up to use the restroom, so I left him at the bar.

That took, at best, four minutes. When I came out of the restroom, every person in the bar was standing around my brother, slapping him on the back, he was talking crap to three or four people, he had a girl on each arm, and I could hear everybody shouting his name, like, "You said it, Lee! Hahaha!"

In the span of four minutes, he'd made friends with every person in the bar, and picked up two women.

But wait, there's more...

I started working my way through the crowd to get back to my brother, and when I got more or less up there, one of the guys actually turned around and said, "Hey, you here for the game?! Well, I'd like you to meet my friend Lee, he's here from out of town, all the way from Ohio, just to see the Vikes! Get him a beer!"

Yeah, uh, I know him. 😒

By the time we left, we'd had our fill of beer and food, and didn't have to pay a dime for any of it. I'd like to pretend that was unusual, but he's like that everywhere he goes.
 

Backbay

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In the 90s went to a bar with a friend going thru a divorce. She was younger than I and she ran into some folks her age who were going to another party. I stayed behind to grab a bite and then take my old-self home. Guy at the bar next to me starts a conversation with me - tells me he is out commemorating the X anniversary of his father's death. Goes onto explain this father had died in the woods of a certain US State during the fall season. Names the exact location which was an area where outdoor guys had cabins and spent time playing in the woods. Upon hearing the exact location, my ears perked up. "Who was your father I asked? " He tells me his father's name and my reply was" my father carried your father out of the woods" . TRUE STORY. Our fathers did not know each other - my dad just happened to be in the same area when help was needed. We married a year later. One of the greatest bar stories ever, in my opinion!
 

morning glory

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TRUE STORY. Our fathers did not know each other - my dad just happened to be in the same area when help was needed. We married a year later. One of the greatest bar stories ever, in my opinion!
That is an extraordinary story! And you are still with him?
 

TastyReuben

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Yep, still with him 27 years later. Funny part of it is as time went on we found more familial connections in the generations before us but, until that night in the bar had never known each other's immediate families.
Quit looking or you might find out you're first cousins! :)

Seriously, though, that's a very good story!
 

Backbay

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More to the story of engaging in conversation with someone in a bar : My Dad had an ice fishing sled and spud bar hanging in our garage for years with a lake freighter Captain's name stenciled on it and the name had no familiarity to me. After I started dating future hubby from bar story, he is over at my parents house and sees the sled. Turns out it was his maternal grandfather's sled who was a Captain on Great Lakes freighters and my dad had traded the Captain some ice fishing poles for the sled. Just a random trade as theCaptain lived down from the tin shop where my Dad worked.

off topic but indirectly related to bar conversation. Move or delete as necessary.
 

caseydog

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I think that 'eating at the bar' isn't so much a thing in the UK. There are 'bar snacks' and 'bar food' on some Pub menus - but that tends to mean smaller plates or more informal pub type meals - and that food is generally eaten at a table so one isn't as likely to strike up a conversation with someone new.
I do recall from some of my trips to Yurrip that people there are not as "open" to a stranger starting a random conversation at a bar. Perhaps bad experiences. But, I also have met some new "friends" from Yurrip at airport or local bars who are staying in Texas and after cracking the ice, are quite talkative. I think people who are completely out of their element are both cautious, and eager to meet locals.

I hate eating alone at a table in a restaurant. If they have good wifi, I dine with my MacBook. Otherwise, I eat at the bar, which in Merca usually means full menu available at the bar these days.

I get good food tips, too. I remember going to South Dakota on business a few years ago, and there was nothing going on. The menu at my hotel/restaurant/bar looked pretty mediocre, but they had fried walleye in a few places, which I had somewhat heard of, but never eaten. I asked the guy next to me at the bar about walleye, and five people chimed in, "you've never had walleye?" I had it two nights in a row after that.

That can be REALLY helpful when researching places to eat. People will post anything to Yelp online, because they are completely anonymous. But, if you sit next to someone at an airport bar, especially if that person is somewhat lubed up, you can get a real opinion. If you can get two or three locals to talking at a bar, you can get a real good idea about what's good and what is for the tourists.

CD
 
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TastyReuben

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I do recall from some of my trips to Yurrip that people there are not as "open" to a stranger starting a random conversation at a bar. Perhaps bad experiences. But, I also have met some new "friends" from Yurrip at airport or local bars who are staying in Texas and after cracking the ice, are quite talkative. I think people who are completely out of their element are both cautious, and eager to meet locals.

I hate eating alone at a table in a restaurant. If they have good wifi, I dine with my MacBook. Otherwise, I eat at the bar, which in Merca usually means full menu available at the bar these days.

I get good food tips, too. I remember going to South Dakota on business a few years ago, and there was nothing going on. The menu at my hotel/restaurant/bar looked pretty mediocre, but they had fried walleye in a few places, which I had somewhat heard of, but never eaten. I asked the guy next to me at the bar about walleye, and five people chimed in, "you've never had walleye?" I had it two nights in a row after that.

That can be REALLY helpful when researching places to eat. People will post anything to Yelp online, because they are completely anonymous. But, if you sit next to someone at an airport bar, especially if that person is somewhat lubed up, you can get a real opinion. If you can get two or three locals to talking at a bar, you can get a real good ideas about what's good and what is for the tourists.

CD
I know when we first moved to the UK, my (British) neighbors went out of their way to invite out to the pub several times and somewhat school us on pub culture.

According to them, the rule of thumb is, at the bar, you're signaling you're open to talk, at a table, you're signally you want to be left alone...except on Quiz Night, then everyone is talking to everyone else. :)

Walleye...that's a religion in the Upper Midwest. When we lived in Minnesota, you couldn't get away from it. Walleye this and walleye that, and the fishing opener is enshrined in the state constitution. No one, and I mean no one, works on the first (several) days of fishing season. It's a state holiday and vacations are built around it.
 

caseydog

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I know when we first moved to the UK, my (British) neighbors went out of their way to invite out to the pub several times and somewhat school us on pub culture.

According to them, the rule of thumb is, at the bar, you're signaling you're open to talk, at a table, you're signally you want to be left alone...except on Quiz Night, then everyone is talking to everyone else. :)

Walleye...that's a religion in the Upper Midwest. When we lived in Minnesota, you couldn't get away from it. Walleye this and walleye that, and the fishing opener is enshrined in the state constitution. No one, and I mean no one, works on the first (several) days of fishing season. It's a state holiday and vacations are built around it.
LOL, walleye fans can be pretty pretty enthusiastic. But, they have good reason. Its good -- really good.

CD
 

rascal

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MrsTasty, OTOH, is very much a table person; even if we're stepping into a bar for just a drink, she still wants to sit at a table (or better yet, a booth) in the bar area.

My brother Lee, he's The Friendliest Guy In The World, and he'll sit at the bar for the sole purpose of talking to someone. He's very outgoing.

Back sometime in the '90's, he came up to Minnesota for a visit, and he's a lifelong Vikings fan (NFL football), so I got tickets while he was in town.

We went downtown a little early and went into the bar at the Embassy Suites hotel, because they have decent bar food.

We sat at the bar, ordered a couple of beers, ordered some appetizers, bar's a little noisy because of the game later, and I got up to use the restroom, so I left him at the bar.

That took, at best, four minutes. When I came out of the restroom, every person in the bar was standing around my brother, slapping him on the back, he was talking crap to three or four people, he had a girl on each arm, and I could hear everybody shouting his name, like, "You said it, Lee! Hahaha!"

In the span of four minutes, he'd made friends with every person in the bar, and picked up two women.

But wait, there's more...

I started working my way through the crowd to get back to my brother, and when I got more or less up there, one of the guys actually turned around and said, "Hey, you here for the game?! Well, I'd like you to meet my friend Lee, he's here from out of town, all the way from Ohio, just to see the Vikes! Get him a beer!"

Yeah, uh, I know him. 😒

By the time we left, we'd had our fill of beer and food, and didn't have to pay a dime for any of it. I'd like to pretend that was unusual, but he's like that everywhere he goes.
My wife would prolly say to you, that I'm like your brother, I'm very outgoing, always have been, a couple of years ago we went to a bar, wife said to grab a table while she went to the loo. She was gone like 4 to 5 mins, ( I don't know what they do in there) she came back to me and another guy in fits of laughter, we met at the bar, I made a flippant cheeky remark , I got a smart retort, and we hit it off, his wife was at a show in town that he didn't want to go to. He said he came from grey mouth, a town 3 hrs away, and a town I know well. I told him some funny stories about people we both knew. It was funny. Wife thought I'd known him for years. Being a rep on the road all the time I often ate alone at a table, not a lot of eating at bars done here. Although you can get bar snacks.
I've changed as I've got older, tend to want to be left alone. I have a group of friends and don't really need anymore. I've stopped going to my local as I used to go with one or two mates, but as people get to know us, gravitate towards us. It ended with about 10 people hanging around us. Too many people for me. I've changed pubs to get some peace.

Talking of random stuff, my first trip to Australia about 30 years ago, was random, I used to work with this guy les, and he had left two years earlier to,start a new life in ozzy. I said to my wife on the way over, wouldn't it be funny if I saw les in ozzy. My wife laughed and said ozzy is a massive place. Anyway we decided to go to SeaWorld on the Gold Coast one day. The car park was massive, hundreds and hundreds of cars parked in dozens of rows. We said that we would meet on the hour back at the car park if we got separated. Sur enough about 3 hrs later we lost each other. So I wandered back to our car. In the dozens of rows of cars was a guy leaning on his bonnet with a sombrero on eating an ice cream, was les. What were the chances of that happening.?
I've had other things like that happen to me as well. I've been told I'm very random! Lmao.

Russ
 

caseydog

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I've changed as I've got older, tend to want to be left alone. I have a group of friends and don't really need anymore. I've stopped going to my local as I used to go with one or two mates, but as people get to know us, gravitate towards us. It ended with about 10 people hanging around us. Too many people for me. I've changed pubs to get some peace.

Russ

For close to the last 8 years I have been 100-percent self employed, and divorced. So, I mostly live alone, sleep alone, cook alone, travel alone and -- most of the other stuff alone.

I don't go out for food much when I am at home, so when I travel, I make it a point to eat at the bar and strike up a conversation. You never know what you will get, but I have found that if you listen to the parson's first interaction with the bar-tender, you can get a feel for whether they are friendly or not.

CD
 
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