HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


best small plates

Looking for a restaurant that focuses on small plates. Doesn't need to be authentic tapas.
Neighbourhood and price don't matter. Great ambience and reservations a must.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
      1. re: BRI328

        LFeinberg is not going to like my response (again!) as I do not like Stanton Social at all. While the decor is nice and is probably fun if you enjoy young hippie types of restaurants, food is mediocre and service was spotty. I have been to their more than once for dinner (friends reserved the place) and were never happy with the service. Dinners (yes LFeinberg, I hear you about brunch) are filled with loud noise with people running around the restaurant. It may not be the case for brunch which I have heard some good reviews from fellow hounds, but dinners to me were not that pleasant.

        I understand that this type of restaurants has its appeal to some people, and if you think this type of ambiance is enjoyable then SS may be for you. Personally I focus much more on the food, and SS does not live up to my expectation in this aspect.

        Other suggestions sound great, and my favorite is definitely Degustation (more of a french inspired tapas). Food is exceptional, but even with reservation you may still need to wait (which in my case is 30 mins...) Boqueria and Tia Pol are both great for Spanish tapas, and the suckling pig in Tia Pol is one of my favorite pig dishes in NYC (EMP's one is the best pick). Alta is cheaper but the food is solid, not the "I want to go back for that" type (if you know what I mean), but it is good when you have a craving for tapas and in the neighborhood.

        Urena (based on RGR's recommendation) is a great option. I haven't been to Urena myself, but you can search the board on reviews from others.

        For the ultimate small plates, L'Atelier de Joel Robouchon is the place. I will pretty much recommend all the dishes there, especially the ones with foie gras. The desserts are to die-for. My mom and I sometimes just go there for their desserts in the afternoon because they are so great! Of course expect to pay premium, as portion sizes are small and expensive for its portion.

        Lastly, just to give you a more exotic option, go to Aburiya Kinnosuke for Japanese small plates. It is a Japanes izakaya and is very authentic and delicious. You will see a lot of Japanese there and it is a fun environment!

        Hope you enjoy your tapa experience!

        1. re: kobetobiko

          Re: Urena. We haven't tried any of the tapas there, but it is a sizable part of the menu. We've been bowled over by the food Alex is serving and will certainly sample the tapas at some point. If you wish to order only tapas, you can do at a table in the dining area or at the capacious bar up front.


    1. Casa Mono (17th & Irving)...nice wine bar, loved the razor clams & reservations a must.

      7 Replies
        1. re: trishottawa

          Not sure, never been to Bolo. sorry...

          1. re: moymoy

            does he still serve the squid ink risotto? yum

          2. re: trishottawa

            Bolo has spanish influenced small and big dishes. nice if you like those flavors, but wasn't necessarily blown away by all the plates.

            I recommend degustation. i believe they organize their plates by price range...but really delicious flavors. very nice date place. be forewarned the space is tiny and get good directions, b/c it was hard to find (i thought).

            1. re: jno

              Had an anniversary dinner at Degustation and it's great, but it's a japanese style open-kitchen and bar, so it really only works for two people, maybe three if you get a corner. But the food is remarkable. And the markups seemed very reasonable.
              For a slightly larger group I would go to Tia Pol, but it gets very crowded in that tiny space.

              1. re: snaporaz

                major 2nd to degustation! wow. roast beef sandwich is delish among others.. let the chef serve you and trust him.. the best way to eat..

            2. re: trishottawa

              While the tapas I've had at Bolo were quite tasty, the selection is very limited, and portions are teensy. No way can you share them like you can the small plates at other places, like Casa Mono. They are more like "amuses" before the rest of the meal. Those are full portion size and are more than adequate.

          3. You want small plates but it doesn't need to be authentic tapas. Small plates often are tapas, might as well get good tapas.

            Tia Pol is by far an amazing restaurant with wonderful tapas. The food is excellent, the wine is wonderful, and it atmosphere is awesome. For further back up search for it on here, tons of people have given it good reports. They do take reservations but only for groups of 6-8. If you don't have reservations and you go for dinner you may have to wait a bit but it's extremely worth it. If you're going for lunch you don't need a reservation, they tend to be empty during that time for some reason.

            8 Replies
            1. re: hungry_fox

              I have a reservation at Casa Mono but the best I could get was 6:30 which is very early for me. Is it worth keeping it or just go to Bolo. Anyone been to Alta?

              1. re: trishottawa

                I've only been to Bolo once during Restaurant Week, but I was not a fan at all. Casa Mono is much better. Other hounds have been to Alta--you should be able to find old opinions using the search function.

                  1. re: LFeinberg

                    i just did an alta mini review.. check it out...

                1. re: trishottawa

                  See my comment above in answer to your previous post re: Bolo. In short, you cannot make a meal of the tapas at Bolo.

                  1. re: RGR

                    Thanks for the heads up.I'll take Bolo off my list.
                    Any idea of wait times at Casa Mono or Boqueria for 2 on a Thurs. night around 7:30?

                    1. re: trishottawa

                      I haven't been to Boqueria.

                      As far as I know, Casa Mono takes reservations. We've only gone off-hours, i.e., early dinner around 5 with a reservation, late lunch after 2 without, and had no difficulty getting a table. Casa Mono is a pretty small place with less than a dozen tables which are really, really squeezed together. The first time we went, there were three of us, and the hostess tried to give us a table that could just barely fit two! I immediately made it clear that wasn't acceptable, so they put two tables for two together. And at lunch, when it was just my husband and me, there was about an inch of space between our table and the one next to us. There is also bar seating. At least a half dozen seats. I wouldn't sit there because the seats have no backs, but that's just me. (Seats without backs are also the reason I've hesitated about going to Tia Pol.)

                      I don't mean to deter you from going to Casa Mono. I really like the food and, though I would prefer that spacing was more comfortable, I would not hesitate to go there again. So, if you can manage to get a table, I think you will enjoy it.

                      1. re: trishottawa

                        7:30 on Thurs...I would say expect to wait at least 1 hour, unless you get lucky. I was there around 7pm back in June and had an hour wait time and then only got 2 seats at the bar.

                2. Perbacco, in the East Village, is great!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: LFeinberg

                    Since when did Perbacco become a small plates restaurant?

                    Also, I don't think they take reservations, unless that has changed also. Has it?

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      It's always been a small plates restaurant. They have entrees, as well, but a great selection of Italian "tapas."

                      1. re: LFeinberg

                        Definitely second Perbacco! They have great small plates. Their no-reservations policy isn't generally a problem if you arrive by 7:30.

                  2. I've read through the posts and have tried most of the places mentioned. Of these Degustation would comfortably get my vote, it's doing something on a higher plane to the other places in my opinion.

                    Another place that very much deserves a mention is The Monday Room which is the wine bar/lounge that forms part of Public on Elizabeth Street. They are serving delicious and creative pan-Asian small plates and there is a very solid accompanying wine list. I don't think that the setting and decor is as conducive as it could be but it's not bad at the same time.

                    1. Yakitori Totto! For all the parts of the chicken you've never even thought about. Soft knee bone or gizzard anyone? Seriously though, it's really good. And you can order about 5 things each. On W 55th St.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ronoc

                        Awwww if you're gonna suggest Yakitori you have to suggest Yakitori Taisho, I've been to Totto and in my opinion Taisho is still the best Yakitori in NYC.

                      2. I like Azafran for Spanish & 'inoteca for Italian. Though I'm not sure that the latter does reservations.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: downtownstefanie

                          We are 2 women in our late 40's and I think we might look out of place at Stanton Social...although I love the look of their menu.
                          Have a 6:30 reservation at Casa Mono but it's just too early. How crazy am I cancel it and go to Alta instead which can take us at a better time? Our other choice is A Voce, even though it's not small plates.

                          1. re: trishottawa

                            When it comes to places like Stanton Social, I think it's a question not of whether you will look out of place but, rather, how *you* will feel. If you think you and your friend will be comfortable there regardless of the age group surrounding you -- and you can get a reservations at an agreeable time -- I think you should consider going there. Btw, my daughter and her friends were there last year, and they are in their mid-30's, which means the clientele is not just 20-somethings.

                            As regards Casa Mono vs. Alta. I've never been to Alta, but from what I've heard and read, it's a very nice, cozy place, and the tapas are very good. So, if the 6:30 res at Casa Mono doesn't work for you, cancel and go to Alta -- that is, of course, if you've completely abandoned the idea of going to Stanton Social.

                              1. re: LFeinberg

                                Thanks for the kind words, LFeinberg!

                            1. re: trishottawa

                              As for Casa Mono and Alta, I personally think that Tia Pol and Boqueria are more similar to Casa Mono than Alta and will be great replacement (actually I prefer both to Casa Mono...) However, they do not take reservations.

                              I think Alta 's food is more "straightforward", while Casa Mono/ Tia Pol / Boqueria serves tapas with more complex flavors with a lot of ingredients incoporated in a single dish. Alta is a great choice to enjoy the "simplicity", not to mention that the price is cheap. But it may be not quite the same as what you will get in Casa Mono and alike.

                              1. re: kobetobiko

                                I have not been to Spain (yet), nor have I been to Tia Pol (yet). But I've gotten the distinct impression from things I've read that the tapas at Casa Mono is considered Batali's "take" on Spanish tapas, while Tia Pol's is more authentic

                                1. re: RGR

                                  I guess that is a fair assessment. After all, Batali's strenght is in Italian (not to say he is not good in Spanish...). In terms of authenticity, I really can't make any judgement as I have limited knowledge in Spanish cuisine as a whole and have never been to Spain either. I only did my comparison based on taste and not authenticity.

                                  1. re: kobetobiko

                                    I remember reading that before opening Casa Mono, Batali spent some time in Spain checking out the tapas there. He then used that experience not so much to duplicate it, but as a jumping off point when putting his menu together. Even if it isn't completely authentic, I agree that it's very tasty stuff.

                                    1. re: RGR

                                      Not too worried about authenticity because I'm lucky enough to have been to Spain and Italy. I like a creative chef's interpretation of authentic.Thanks for all the advice....will now choose between Alta and Stanton Social.We have a Fri.reservation for Babbo so I'll still get my Mario moment!

                                      1. re: trishottawa

                                        Excellent! Sound like an exciting plan! Hope you enjoy your meal at Babbo! Let us know what you think once you come back!

                                        1. re: trishottawa

                                          Glad we could help you decide. Have a great time, and please report back.

                            2. Just went to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon this weekend and can say without hesitation that if you want small plates and price is no object, then this is a fine choice.

                              The egg with the mushroom foam is amazing, as are the beef and foie sliders, and the scallops. For a slightly larger plate, the quail was extroadinary.

                              We almost went whole hog and had the tasting menu, but we were still rubbing our bellies from the huge brunch at Norma's.