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Mar 9, 2008 09:51 PM

Tapas ... hit or hype?

I'm looking for some feedback here because I can't believe I'm the only person that cringes when I hear a restaurant's menu described as tapas style. It's been around for a number of years but I've yet to be impressed. Disappointed describes my feelings better. The prices are the same but the plates just got smaller. I feel that it's a clever way for the restaurants to increase their profit margin. Come on! If your are going to serve sampler plates, they should not be at lower prices. For some reason, people think they are getting better food when the portions are smaller. Tell me what you think. I don't mind being proved wrong .. but I doubt I will.

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  1. It's a "hit" for me. Pretty much all my dining out is now of the small-plate variety. Where I live (Vancouver BC), small-plates are definitely the best way to eat (IMO). (tapas, along with tasting menus, izakaya, sushi, dim sum, charcuterie, etc.)

    I like the variety and freedom - and best of all - small plates are (usually) designed to be shared. Furthermore, the mix-and-match synergy with wines by the glass (..& beers, sake, etc.) can't be denied.

    >>The prices are the same but the plates just got smaller.

    That isn't my experience here.

    >> If your are going to serve sampler plates, they should not be at lower prices.

    Is there typo in that sentence. Did you mean: "should be" at lower prices?

    1. My experience has been that eating tapas can get pricey, but you get a greater variety of food. And if you order with price in mind, you can keep within a budget. What I hate is when I go to a "regular" restaurant and am served an "entree" that is the size of a small appetizer - and it costs $25!

      1. Tapas, Hit. Tapas Style, ripoff.

        Real, authentic, tapas are relatively inexpensive and very good. Usually they are made with the lesser priced cuts of meat and small fishes and seafood.

        The tapas style dishes are usually expensive and may be hit or miss in quality. It all depends upon the place.

        1 Reply
        1. I am not a fan of Tapas restaurants. I wouldnt call it hype, since others seem to enjoy this style of dining, but for me, give me my own entree, and I will be happy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: swsidejim

            Frustrated Chef, it had to be -- gasp -- twenty years ago that I first tasted tapas at a nuevo hip chic restaurant (can't remember the name) in the Tribeca area of Manhattan. Koch was mayor and the restaurant Odeon was 'in'.

            I don't remember the prices, but I bet they were steep. My brother, on the other hand, had tapas in Spain years ago, where they were priced as they should be.

            I don't know what Spain has done with their tapas pricing, but I do know that tapas have now caught on in Westchester NY. In fact, an overpriced tapas place has just opened in a new overpriced hotel/condo complex in White Plains and all the rich and oblivious are rushing to it, declaring it the 'new best' thing.

            Long story short, yes you are correct. As someone who eats only appetizers, I don't mind the sizes of the tapas, but of course, they are waaaaay overpriced. However, they are overpriced in this area because the market will bear it.

          2. Tapas are a Spanish or a Spanish-derivative small serving in jfood's opinion. He would never consider one ravioli or a small piece of gefilte fish a tapa plate. And jfood really likes the traditional tapas.

            That being said he basically ignores "hype" words. An Italian Tapas resto is a basic yawn. Jfood goes for the food not the nomenclature.

            7 Replies
            1. re: jfood

              I think if the US could adopt tapas in the way they were actually intended to be served it would be much more interesting. Each place specializes in one type of tapa and perfects whatever it is that they make. Its impractical I know but it much better.

              1. re: mexigaf

                I doubt that will happen in the U.S. In Spain, it is an important cultural tradition. But the tradition usually involves alcohol. People wander from tapas bar to tapas bar, and eat and drink along the way. With the American car culture, I think this would be very unsafe (unless you could get a designated driver). I have to say, I have never walked so little as the time we spent two years in the States. I put on a lot of weight in the States. Some of it came off when we returned home and I started wlaking everywhere again.

                1. re: moh

                  Haven't US bars always served 'tapas' - that is, snacks and salty items that encourage patrons to linger and buy more drinks?


                  1. re: paulj

                    Yes you are correct, but I guess I don't get into salted peanuts, pretzels, popcorn, buffalo wings, jalapeno poppers and other fried products, nachos in the same way I do spanish tapas. Don't get me wrong, I love all those bar foods, but they don't inspire me to wander from bar to bar to try them out.

                    1. re: moh

                      moh, quite true. The happy hour foods or the pretzels/chips at the bar are NOT tapas.

                      I've never had tapas in Spain, but imo, America doesn't know how to properly DO tapas. Or, they're too greedy.

                  2. re: moh

                    >> With the American car culture, I think this would be very unsafe.

                    Excellent point moh. I believe that the "crawl" is part of the overall experience (one or two plates plus a bottle, then move on). Serving a singular meal "tapas-style" at one single restaurant is just not the same.

                    Barcelona's Ramblas is the exemplary example of this.

                    1. re: fmed

                      Oh the Ramblas.... Are you trying to make me cry Fmed? And the old city was fabulous too. Oh the jamon iberico pata negra....