Some people are, understandably, a little intimidated by the prospect of hanging out alone. Our culture socializes us in a way that tricks us into thinking only the socially inept hang out alone. But that couldn't be further from the truth—once you get comfortable in it, there are few things better than rewarding yourself with some time that's all yours, whether you're partnered or not.
First off, a high-quality self-date need not be reserved for nighttime hours. Three immediate places come to mind in Durham: the Lakewood Cocoa Cinnamon, Baby Scratch, and Monuts. Get up early and read a book over a slice of pie in Baby Scratch's warm, sunny nook, or do the same with a churro (or four, no judgment) across the street at Cocoa. Especially on the weekends, Monuts can have a line out the door and down the sidewalk. But Monuts' policy is that, if you sit at the bar, you don't have to wait in such a line. It is much easier to find one of those cherished, abbreviated-wait bar spots when you only have one body to worry about.
If you're dead set on flying solo after the sun has set, all of your usual date spots will be just as welcoming to you alone as they would be with a companion—they're a person, not a dinner jacket. But my all-time favorite solo evening jaunt is dropping into the Raleigh crown jewel that is Mecca, which offers affordable meals and a cozy ambiance. I have yelled at just about everyone I have ever met to eat Mecca's blackberry cobbler, which is the food equivalent of receiving the best, warmest hug you could possibly imagine. There is no better indulgence.
In Chapel Hill, Silverspot offers an easy dinner-and-a-movie combination, whether through its restaurant offerings that you can eat in the theater or its excessively stocked and gleaming snack counter. Splay out in one of their huge seats all by yourself, pick your way to the bottom of a plate of truffle fries, and see if you don't feel like a damn princess. Another strong option is to grab a burger from Al's Burger Shack, dip around the corner to Beer Study, and post up at the counter with a cold beverage of your choosing (a greasy slice from Italian Pizzeria III also does nicely).
Or maybe you want to get dressed up and go somewhere a little nicer, just to feel fancy. That's cool, too! If you're a whiskey fan, Raleigh's Dram & Draught will feel like a godsend, but if wine is more your thing, stride over to Durham's Bar Brunello and sip one of the special orange wines they've got in stock. At Alley Twenty Six, splurge on a custom-crafted cocktail, then order a plate of pimento cheese and toast points and crush it. The bar does tiki-themed Waikiki Wednesdays now, too, which is another dose of silly fun.
If you're feeling a little directionless, consider choosing a spot your usual dates would veto. Maybe you've been itching to try out a new vegan place, or you want to try a super-spicy dish from Gourmet Kingdom, but your best friend only likes mild stuff. A self-date is the time to go for it (and take home the leftovers).
Adjusting to alone time out in public can make you feel a little weird and vulnerable, but it gets easier and more fun as you keep going. You spend more time with yourself than anyone else—so why not take the time to enjoy your own company?