Small Plates FAQ

Eight of our top 10 picks shun entrées in favor of diminutive dishes. We sort out the big deal about small plates

Illustration by Peter Hoey

What are they?
Call them tapas, nibbles, or noshes, they’re all the same: several small dishes that make up your meal. The idea is to share. If you keep them to yourself, you’re missing the point. 

How many should I get?
On average, most places recommend two to three per person, not counting desserts. Stick to the lower range of whatever they tell you. It’s kosher to order a second round. 

In what order will they arrive?
The restaurant will “course out” your meal according to dish style, size, and kitchen flow. If everything comes out at once, they’re doing it wrong. 

They don’t cost much, but are they actually cheaper?
Sometimes. The $5 to $25 price tag seems swell, but order too many higher-end dishes and you might wonder why you’re crammed at a communal table rather than being pampered at Cut. 

Why is everybody doing them?
Only some recipes hold up to main course portions, and that can be limiting. Chefs love small plates because of the freedom to experiment. Diners love them because they can sample more of the menu, not to mention experience pig’s tail without committing to a platter. Plus sharing is fun. 

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