Houston is about 35 miles x 35 miles, so restaurants available will depend on where you are staying, but it has the usual franchises. I would take a book when I used to have to eat alone. I can't say I ever really enjoyed eating alone as much as eating with someone else.
My comfort level depends a great deal on the situation.
Obviously hotel restaurants are usually good for business traveler types dining alone. (And the exception to that was one estate hotel in England where I was almost the only diner, there was no music or conversation, and I had about 4 waiters/waterers/others fawning all over me. Ughh.)
Patio dining or a similar casual setup is fine. And pubs aren't uncomfortable if it's a business type crowd.
Would really like to enjoy eating by myself, but I always feel uncomfortable - even with a good book. Not sure why. I traveled for several weeks on the road a couple of years ago, and rarely ate out alone. Except when I could find a place they'd allow the dog, who was with me for the journey. That was fun. A great ice breaker.
Have no problem going to the movies on my own, trying sports, or almost anything else. Maybe because I equate eating out with doing something special - and prefer it with someone? Whatever. Should try it more often. Am encouraged that so many others here do!
Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes
I travel a ton for work, and am usually alone when I do. I've eaten alone a lot at the Chilis in DFW, lol. Airports are a great place to get comfortable with solo-dining - because most everyone is doing the same!
I refuse to take a book or a kindle or anything like that when I go out alone. Pull up a barstool, talk to your fellow patrons and the bartender. Bartenders are often the most interesting people to talk to in new cities - and they're great for getting recommendations for other places to try for dinner or sights to see.
I was in Minneapolis this past fall, went to the hotel bar for a quick drink and a little something to munch on after a looooooooooooong day at a trade show - ended up meeting a cool fella from Pensacola who has horses and is a roper (married, though - shucks!).
You just have to be open to potential conversations. It can turn out pretty awesome.
Everyone is running from something. Especially this person I'm chasing.
I don't mind at all so long as a have a good book or magazine and the restaurant isn't too loud.
The Galleria has a ton of restaurants but most are either chains or fine dining. The only restaurant I can think of that falls in between those two types and is in the immediate vicinity is Yia Yia Mary's, which is greek food.
I love eating alone! I enjoy it so much that it makes me wonder how social i really am, lol. Socializing and being with people can be great as well (pretty much always is!) But there's something about being by myself to sit, watch people, read a book (i feel a little weird not having reading material- like, where do I look so that i don't end up inadvertently staring blindly at the same unsuspecting person throughout my meal... but i also just LOVE reading) and enjoy the food. It just feels indulgent. Plus I feel recharged by the other people around me.
It's a little intimidating being alone and wanting to strike up conversation with a stranger, aside from maybe the bartender (a statement which would make my old friends laugh because I used to date bartenders almost exclusively!). My dad went on a solo trip through the Carolinas, Kentucky and Tennessee on a barbecue mission this fall. He was by himself and just asked anyone and everyone for recommendations for food and entertainment. My dad has never met a stranger (which is ironic considering he's a kinda paranoid man in many respects) and just moseyed his way around the region, on his quest for the best bbq chicken (in order to compare and improve upon his own recipe!). I just get tickled thinking of my dad doing this- like the host of his own food network show :-)
MrB's attempt at talking like a horse person, "We'll be entering in the amateur hunter-gatherer division...."
I'm totally okay eating alone as I have something to engage myself with - a book, a magazine, my iphone/iPad, whatever - I just want something to look at so I'm not gazing around and drawing unwanted attention.