If you’ve ever had a restaurant dream, you probably didn’t think much of it. This is the reason why figuring out your restaurant dream meaning is more challenging than you realize.
If you’re like most people and if everything went well in the dream, you might even think that you had a pleasant nighttime vision.
After all, who wouldn’t want to enjoy some good food at a great restaurant that everybody wants to book a reservation at?
But there’s a lot more to your restaurant dream meaning than wish fulfillment or ideas regarding a well-lived life.
In fact, your restaurant dream meaning can get quite deep to the point that it might even surprise you.
General Meaning of Restaurants in Dreams
When you see yourself in a restaurant, it’s very important to understand that when it comes to the law, restaurants are service businesses.
They’re not food providers.
When you eat at a restaurant, it’s not like you go to a grocery store to pick up food.
Instead, what you are really consuming is the service.
This is how, at least in the West, restaurants are judged.
It all boils down to the service because if the place you are eating at truly prizes your business, they will go out of their way to make sure that you get the experience you came for.
Different restaurants have different experience level expectations.
You don’t walk into a McDonald’s and expect a 5 Michelin-star experience.
It just doesn’t work that way!
There’s a correlation between expectations and how much you pay, where the restaurant is located, its appearance as well as its reputation.
With this in mind, if you dream of eating at a restaurant or going to one, this is your subconscious trying to communicate to you the importance of rank in life.
A lot of people would rather not think about this because, for some, the idea of class, ranking, or even reputation is offensive.
In their minds, everybody is equal.
Just by being born, you are equal and deserve the very best things in life just like the person who is born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
On paper, that makes a lot of sense.
In fact, a lot of people get a nice emotional rush thinking about equality, justice, and fairness.
But we live in the real world!
Eventually, you will be judged and you will be placed in a box.
There’s always a totem pole made up of boxes.
There’s the lower tier, middle tier, and top boxes.
I’m not just talking about money.
I’m also talking about looks, competence, athletic ability, singing ability, or even dance moves.
In fact, the list is endless.
If it’s a human endeavor, you can bet that human beings will find a way to rank each other.
That’s just the way we are wired!
At the end of the day, we are still animals, and animals rank each other ultimately based on their ability to produce the next generation.
It’s all about survival.
And despite our latest technologies, despite the fact that we’ve sent people to the moon, and despite the fact that we have unlocked a lot of Mother Nature’s mysteries, we are still animals deep down inside.
Survival is always top of mind.
It manifests itself in many different behaviors and ideas.
But at the end of the day, it’s all about the ability to pass your genes on to the next generation.
If this is the metric, then focus on competence.
People rank each other based on their competence.
Can I trust this person?
Am I confident in this person’s ability to provide, protect, to help me get to the next day?
This is the unspoken assumption that we have when we are voting for leaders and interestingly enough, for spouses or life partners.
Even if we’re just looking for a one-night fling, you’d be surprised as to how your selection criteria are informed or even guided by these built-in biological biases.
Men, generally speaking, prefer women with fuller breasts because that is an indication of fertility and the ability to properly nurse the next generation.
Call this sexist, call this outmoded, call this outdated, and call this misogynist as much as you want.
But you cannot call it false because biological research has established it.
This is built-in to the human DNA.
Now it can be overridden by culture, but it’s there.
And if we are to deny it or pretend that it doesn’t exist, then we’re just playing games with ourselves unable to articulate why people on the whole act the way they do.
When you dream of restaurants, your subconscious is trying to communicate to you important truths about your anxieties, frustrations, and ideas about the concept of ranking.
Let’s get one thing clear: You are always being ranked.
Either you’re ranked by the country you come from, how much money you make, how much your family has historically made, the “quality” of your family name if you come from an East Asian cultural background, etc.
All of these are in place.
Nobody, at least when it comes to ranking, is a blank slate.
People are always going to consciously or subconsciously size you up.
They have to!
They can’t help it.
Survival depends on it.
You may be thinking:
“Well, we’ve made so much strides in technological progress in the past 200 years.
Surely, this type of thinking is outmoded.”
You can easily be forgiven for thinking that, especially if you live in a first-world country like the United States.
But on the rest of the planet, it’s all about survival.
We have all sorts of traditions and customs that help people figure out the signs so they can properly put people in their boxes.
Is this unfair to the individual?
Is this judging the person before they even get the chance to perform?
But this is also part of human nature, and to deny this is really to put yourself in harm’s way eventually.
You can have all sorts of romantic, idealist, and idealistic ideas about how people should act.
But the moment you get out there in the real world and it unfolds the way it normally does, you may end up paying a high price.
In fact in many circumstances, you might even pay with your life.
Ranking is a core part of the human experience.
Your subconscious is showing you through your restaurant dreams a wide range of personal truths regarding this touchy reality.
What Does It Mean to Eat in an Expensive Restaurant?
If the main focus of your dream is the fact that this restaurant is very fancy and expensive, your subconscious is trying to communicate to you on two levels.
Obviously, you have made it there.
You are not part of the waitstaff.
You have not broken in to steal the food.
You are invited.
You may even be paying for your meal.
On this level, this is a subconscious indication that somehow or other, you have “arrived.”
In other words, your personal competence has risen to the level that people will respect you.
People understand that you have certain skills and that you can do certain things that many other people cannot do.
This is a good sign because if you want to act confidently and you want to feel that you are somebody in the world, you need to build competence.
Most people could agree on this.
What they don’t agree on is the process because it can take a lot of time.
Also, it can be discouraging.
When was the last time you tried something new?
Chances are, you didn’t get it right the first time around.
In fact, if you’re like most people, you didn’t get the results that you’re looking for the first few times you tried.
Welcome to the world!
That is reality.
You don’t start out at any kind of project, whether it’s your romantic life, your business, your education, or whatever else as a master.
That’s why you enter college as a student.
That’s why you play games as a newbie.
Do you see how this works?
It’s really important to understand just how crucial achieving mastery is.
If you look at life as just one giant video game, there are levels.
When you play a video game, you get an achievement message: “Welcome to Level 20” then “Welcome to Level 50,” and so on.
That’s not just the game’s way of keeping you engaged.
It’s speaking to how people are hardwired because we are looking for external signs of whether we’re doing a good job or whether we have sufficient learned useful stuff.
Once we have learned these things, we can now use our newer abilities to scale things up in terms of the difficulty of the challenges we choose to face.
Do you see how this works?
So when you see yourself in an expensive restaurant with a great reputation and ranking, your subconscious is telling you: “Congratulations!”
Your competence level has increased to the point that you can get some recognition.
Your subconscious is picking up on this based on what you do.
That’s not the stuff that you say to yourself nor the things that people say to you, but it is based on your actual skill level.
This is an important sign to, not only, acknowledge but to embrace and internalize.
If you want to fail, all you need to do is blindly attempt stuff that is way out of your league.
Maybe you have this overly confident view of yourself.
So you take on challenges and you get knocked down time and time again.
There’s a disconnect between your skill level and your confidence.
Real confidence (and I’m not talking about being given a participation trophy for just showing up) is based on competence.
Generally speaking, when you are more competent, you are more persuasive, and influential.
You have a better choice of sex partners or romantic partners or whatever you’re looking for.
You also are in a position to make more money.
People find you more valuable, and it all boils down to competence.
Now you may be thinking: “Well, I’m a competent English professor.”
Sadly, even in our vocations, there is still a hierarchy.
This of course changes from culture to culture.
But in the United States, if you want a lot of admiration based solely on what you do for a living, try being a celebrity.
Try high-end finance.
Try certain professions.
But an accountant, English professor, high school teacher — that kind of thing, unfortunately, is not high up in the status totem pole.
Do you see how this works?
So it’s not just competence; it’s competence in certain fields.
Being a topnotch athlete in a sport that everybody watches is definitely going to have a higher status valuation in our society than being a topnotch stamp analyst.
Everybody in your field might look up to you and you might make quite a bit of money.
But when it comes to the rest of society, you’re just another face in the crowd.
So keep this in mind.
Ranking is crucial, not just in terms of your personal level of competence, but also in the status accorded to your field.
They go hand in hand.
When you’re eating at a nice restaurant, this indicates that you have arrived either in reputation, social valuation, or competence.
If you were to ask me, I would focus first on competence because that is the part that nobody can take away from you.
Reputation can easily be made and destroyed depending on who vouches for you or who criticizes you.
But when it comes to competence, you are in control because either you can do certain things at a certain level, or you can’t.
It’s that simple.
It’s black and white.
What Does It Mean to Eat at a Busy Restaurant?
The meaning of this type of dream depends on how busy the restaurant is.
If it is so busy that you feel the waitstaff is ignoring you, this indicates that you feel that whatever it is that you’ve strived so hard to achieve wasn’t worth it in the end.
Sure, you have gotten the diploma.
You’ve also gone so far as to get the right credentials and certifications.
You have gone through the whole career checklist and everything is checked off, everything looks neat, and all your credentials are legit.
But here you are still getting disrespected because nobody cares.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, different areas of specialty have different status levels in the United States and elsewhere.
Did you know that in the United States, we place a high priority on financial independence?
And that’s why successful business people in our society are looked up to.
Many kids want to be millionaires and billionaires through the business path.
But what if I told you that historically in many parts of Asia, being a merchant no matter how rich is viewed as just a step above prostitutes?
I know, it sounds crazy, right?
Who doesn’t like money?
Well, the problem is that in Confucian societies like old-time China, certain parts of Vietnam, and Korea, merchants are looked down upon because they are viewed as people who simply move stuff around.
They don’t really create stuff on their own.
An uncharitable way to describe them would be parasites.
I know this boggles the Western mind because we understand logistics.
We understand value chain.
Also, we know that there’s a lot of risks in buying low and selling high.
Sure, you may be thinking:
“Oh, the merchant is just greedy.
What does the middle man do?”
Well, try buying grain from farmers and seeing half your stock rot at the warehouse.
Try buying and selling stuff and then some of your shipping containers get broken into and half your inventory gets stolen.
It’s a very risky enterprise, and that’s why they charge the margins that they do!
It’s well deserved.
After all, the higher the risk, the higher the reward.
Well, unfortunately, or fortunately, in some societies, that isn’t good enough so merchants are looked down upon.
Keep this in mind because you may be in a field that you’re passionate about.
You may be in a field where you really have earned a lot of respect.
Keep thinking that.
Take pride in your work, but don’t expect everybody to salute you.
Don’t expect the rest of society to realize how much blood, sweat, and tears you have invested in your career and give you the proper status because it doesn’t work that way.
Depending on the culture you’re in, certain jobs don’t get as much clout and respect as their practitioners would have hoped.
In the East, scholars are highly praised.
You may be broke, but if you are a learned scholar, people beat a path to your door because they put sage advice and wisdom on a pedestal.
In the West, depending on the field that you have “wisdom to share in,” people might not give a damn.
In fact, if you go out of your way to verbalize how smart you are, you might be pigeonholed as a nerd, a geek.
Who do we prize in Western, American society?
The chad, the jock, the go-getter.
Nerds and geeks are lower on the social totem pole, especially in high school.
But just like magicians in whatever MMORPG you may play (I’m letting my inner geek speak now), you may start out weak and ignored.
But as you go up in competence and as you’re able to master the power of magic, people eventually recognize you for your prowess.
If you need proof of this, just look at any biography of Elon Musk or Bill Gates.
Since we are living in a world of technological transformation, nerds have also undergone a massive sea change in status.
People still laugh at them but that’s early on.
But as they go up the ranks, people begin to fear them.
People begin to see just how consequential they are.
Because as it stands, we live in a society that is quickly becoming an expertise-driven society.
It’s no longer about how many degrees you have on your wall nor how prestigious the institutions that gave you those diplomas may be.
It all boils down to competence in fast-developing fields, especially data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
Make sure your expectations of status recognition keep pace with technology and changing times.
What Does It Mean to Eat Alone in an Empty Restaurant?
A lot of people might be concerned when they see themselves eating alone at an empty restaurant.
It might remind them of troubling lyrics from the Eagles’ classic song “Hotel California.”
But in truth, this is one of the most empowering dreams you could ever have.
Imagine eating a decent meal at a decent restaurant.
If there is no indication in your dream that you are eating horrible food, this is a very empowering dream.
A lot of people define themselves based on what other people think.
In fact, a lot of people only feel that they have an identity if they’re connected with some larger group that has more status than them.
Instead of saying “My name is John Smith,” they say:
“I’m John Smith.
I’m a member of the TKO fraternity.
I went to XYZ University.
I am friends with A, B, and C.”
Do you see my point here?
This is called derivative identity.
Too many of us engage in it, and we lose ourselves in the process.
And more importantly, we lose sight of just how much power we have to push our lives forward.
We become so dependent on others opening doors for us that when the time comes for us to perform, we fall flat on our faces.
What makes this so tragic is that it doesn’t have to happen this way because if push comes to shove, most of us can do the job.
The issue here is that you’ve gone so dependent on your social network that you think connection is the same as competence.
If you are a complete and total blithering idiot, no matter how many recommendations you get, no matter how many high-powered people open doors for you, you will be kicked out on your butt sooner or later.
The world rewards results at least when it comes to the West.
It is my understanding that some societies focus so much on family name that even a completely incompetent person, who makes decisions that leads to millions of dollars in losses, still gets to keep their job.
Well, in the United States and many parts of the West, people feel that they cannot afford such a system.
At the end of the day, you are judged based on your results.
Seeing yourself in an empty restaurant means you are reconnecting with your sense of Self and by extension auditing yourself in terms of competence.
You should welcome this dream imagery because it’s all about getting back to basics.
It’s all about getting a clear understanding of who you are, what your skills are, what you have to offer, and the outcome to be expected from your efforts.
This is an invitation for a personal moment of truth.
Sadly, so many people shy away from this because they feel that they’re not good enough.
They feel that they are incompetent without the assistance of other people.
That’s too bad!
If you continue to think that way, you will be incompetent because you have become so dependent.
In reality, you have what it takes to succeed.
But you have grown so emotionally dependent on others that you really have robbed yourself of the opportunity to show just what you’re made of to the world.
Welcome the image of the empty restaurant!
In fact, create time every single month or every quarter where you just take time alone.
Sip some coffee, look out into the distance, and be at peace with your thoughts.
Do some self-assessment.
This is a very powerful investment in rediscovering, celebrating, and building on your personal competence.
Everything else flows from it.
Unfortunately, in the past few decades in the West, we have gotten into this whole “self-esteem” movement, the theory being as long as people say to you that you are worthy and encourage you every step of the way, you will find competence later on to succeed.
The verdict is in!
That method of child-rearing as well as social reinforcement produces incompetents who, to add insult to injury, go out of their way to blame everyone and anyone except themselves for their own screw-ups.
That’s the society that we’ve built.
It’s a generation of snowflakes where all the issues of the present are somehow the fault of the past.
Nowhere in that analysis does personal choice, autonomy, and self-ownership play a role.
What Does It Mean to Eat at a Fancy Chinese Restaurant?
When you eat at a Chinese restaurant especially one that serves dim sum, pay attention to what the waitstaff do.
They follow a certain procedure.
There’s a certain layer, no matter how thin, of the ceremony.
You don’t just park your butt on a chair and just start chowing away.
It doesn’t work that way so they take out the dim sum racks.
These are the round bamboo pieces that they use to steam dim sum.
And then after that, they would fill a shallow plate with the condiments that you’re gonna be using.
It really is a sight to behold because it’s punctuated also with the scent of the food that you’re about to enjoy.
When you see yourself eating at a fancy Chinese restaurant with a certain level of ceremony, this is an indication that your subconscious is trying to communicate to you the power of processes in building competence.
You have to have a plan coming in.
You can’t just say: “I’m gonna do more work today!”
You’re emotionally pumped up.
But you can’t run away from the next question.
This is a question that’s being begged to be asked.
You have to come in with a plan.
You can’t just say: “Today, I’m just gonna get stuff done.”
You can only run on emotional fumes for so long.
Just like a dim sum Chinese restaurant, you have to lay out what comes first, what comes next, and what to expect.
Believe it or not, the process that you follow to do any kind of task either pushes you forward or wastes your willpower.
I wish I could tell you that willpower is recharged in real-time.
But according to research, willpower is actually recharged most reliably by one activity: sleep.
As you can tell, this is out of the picture because you’re in the middle of a cubicle at work.
You can’t sleep on the job.
But here you are forced to make heavy decisions or you’re nitpicking away at many different tasks, and you feel your willpower just slipping away.
Do you see how this works?
That’s why having a process is crucial.
By arranging your tasks in a certain way, you maintain your willpower and you maximize your return on effort.
As important as the email may be, it saps away enough of your willpower and attention that it’s a good idea to focus on heavy-duty stuff first.
By heavy-duty tasks, I’m talking about projects that push the needle forward.
If you complete these daily projects, you’re well on your way to completing a bigger project.
These are the types of projects that can help your career or take your business to the next level or have some sort of impact that is substantial.
Don’t get me wrong!
I’m not saying that there’s no space for email or checking social media updates.
But you have to arrange them in such a way that they don’t sap your willpower.
When you get into the office, focus the first two hours on the heavy-duty stuff.
Once you get that out of the way, you are already in the top 10% of your office pool, believe it or not.
In fact, if you were to boil down the typical production of the average American worker in an 8-hour period, they probably only do real work for maybe an hour of that time.
Everything else is just doing “busy stuff” that eats away at your willpower like checking email or going to meetings after meetings and otherwise wasting time.
Focus on what counts first.
And then after that, you can devote your time to stuff that drains willpower and analytical skills because, by that time, the heavy-duty stuff has already been taken care of.
A little bit of ceremony or ritualization can go a long way when it comes to making you a more effective person.
I’m not just talking about work here.
I’m also talking about education if you’re still in school.
This even applies to your relationship.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis with your partner?
Maybe you need to do certain things that can deepen the relationship and then the other stuff, which is prone to drama, can be distributed in another.
Do you see how this works?
So when you do the heavy stuff, you build mutual trust and you deepen your love and your bond so that when the other nitty-gritty bullshit comes in, it pretty much takes care of itself.
What Does It Mean to Dream of a Crowded Restaurant?
If you’re in a crowded restaurant but you are still being served, congratulations.
This is a subconscious indication that whatever competition you are up against is nothing.
You are skilled and competent enough to take care of whatever challenges come your way, and people know it.
That’s why they serve you first or you’re part of the short list of people that they serve on a priority basis.
Everybody has to wait and everybody else is another face in the crowd.
Do you see how this works?
This is a ringing endorsement of your competence.
Your subconscious may be showing this to you because a lot of people suffer from a disconnect between competence, status, and confidence.
I knew a guy who had this unfortunate habit of getting women pregnant and bailing out once he finds out that he is going to be a father for the 30th time.
He does this all the time.
He zeroes in on women that, for lack of a better word, are quite naive.
He takes advantage of that and then pretty soon, he becomes a father again and that is his sign to hit the door.
Since he’s always leaving people behind, he never really became good at anything practical.
To my knowledge, I don’t think he’s ever had a real job, except if you think of working at McDonald’s and flipping burgers is a real career path for somebody in his 40s.
Competence is the foundation of confidence.
But when you ask my friend, let’s call him Ron, he is the most competent person in the world.
The guy is just so confident that I can understand why he draws so many members of the opposite sex.
Ask him a question even if you know the answer is flat-wrong, he does an amazing job of convincing you or at least appearing to be convinced by himself of what he is saying.
That is his superpower.
But there is no underlying competence to back up that confidence.
It’s all made up.
Last I heard, he was in jail for a wide variety of violations and felonies.
But I raised the story of Ron to draw your attention to the fact that people can get really overconfident about very little competence.
Your subconscious is showing you that you are being served in a very busy restaurant to let you know (and hopefully get you to acknowledge and celebrate the fact) that you are competent enough to be confident.
Be proud of your achievements to the point that you can be confident.
Now, this doesn’t mean you got to be cocky.
This doesn’t mean that you’re going to put your achievements or your self-regard in the face of people and say:
I’m so much better than you because I make so much money.”
All it means is to be comfortable enough in your skin because you have earned it.
You are a net asset to society.
Unfortunately, like in the case of Ron, that cannot be said of everybody.
Many people are net liabilities.
They take out more than they contribute.
You’re not one of those.
You bring in more than you take so celebrate your achievement and be a little bit more confident.
This way, you attract better quality people because remember, like attracts like.
And despite how much money you have and how much respect in your field, if you have such low self-esteem because you haven’t fully bridged your proper level of confidence and your high amount of competence, you will always attract the wrong people.
Dream interpretation and symbology have fascinated me ever since I read Freud’s classic, “The Interpretation of Dreams.” Ever since, I have explored Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist as well as Jungian psychological ideas about the meaning of dreams. Thanks for joining me in my exploration of the amazing intersection between our conscious waking world and the rich expanse of our subconscious-the home of our intuition, instincts, and hidden potential.