Operator's Edge | Tapas on the Menu Works - Even in Today’s “New Normal”!

Tapas on the Menu Works - Even in Today’s “New Normal”!

Originating in Spain, tapas are small plates typically eaten between meals or before a main meal to whet the appetite – enjoyed at bars and cafes or at home. While rooted in Spain, the word tapa has become the universal term for all small dishes despite culinary origins.

Small Plates & Snacking

Tapas are becoming increasingly popular in the United States due to the recent surge in snacking among consumers. Consumers are now likely to replace one or two daily meals with a snack.

What is considered a snack? A growing number of consumers say that any food can be a snack if the portion size is small. That’s where tapas come into play. These two-bite treats are delicious and perfectly-portioned.

Make It Modern

As people routinely plan their days around work, errands, and hobbies, pre-determined meal times are beginning to wane, and the popularity of small plates and tapas is accelerating. With that, the definition of tapas has begun to evolve.

The modern tapa is not limited to Spanish cuisine but can include offerings like Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian, and even regional American specialties. As consumers continue to expand their palates, they are seeking new ethnic foods and flavors. Tapas are the perfect way to try small bites of a variety of new cuisines.


In Spain, tinned seafood is a well-established culinary tradition. Today, top chefs are introducing conservas into the American culinary scene. Open a tin of sardines to have with crusty bread; pair razor clams with marinated vegetables, or top a bed of greens with flavorful mussels. Conservas are a quick solution to a filling and elevated snack.

  • Calabrian Razor Clams: Calabrian chili peppers, razor clams, gremolata, lemon crème fraiche
  • Smoked Mussels Escabeche: Smoked mussels escabeche, jicama & saffron in endive with garlic oil aioli, French grey sea salt
  • Yellowfin Tuna Albondigas: Yellowfin tuna, smoked anchovies, semi-dried tomato sauce, shaved manchego

Vegetable Forward

Reducing meat portion size in favor of larger portions of fruits and vegetables is growing in popularity. Using vegetables as a creative alternative to meat or seafood is a great way to bring versatility to small plates. Vegetables bring color, different textures & freshness to a table. We suggest marinated vegetables for that extra punch of flavor!

  • Crispy Longstem Artichokes: Roman artichokes, green chili pepper purée crema, pickled jalapeño & aji peppers, cotija cheese
  • Lemon Oil Poached Asparagus: Lemon oil, lemon zest, tarragon, sea salt, whipped labneh with sumac, marinated garlic chips
  • Crispy Hearts of Palm “Calamari”: Hearts of palm, tempura batter, piquillo pepper jam, avocado oil aioli

Global Tapas

Small plates are a great opportunity to showcase global flavors in unexpected ways. Easily add fusion flair to tapas with spices, pastes & sauces from all over the globe. Think sumac, fine tahini & pomegranate molasses for an Eastern Mediterranean influence, or Peruvian pepper purees for an added kick. Small bites are perfect for experimenting with exciting flavors.

  • Papas a la Huancaina: Aji amarillo pepper purée huancaína sauce, boiled potatoes, kalamata olives, quail eggs
  • Kimchi Gazpacho: Gochujang, scallions, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha sea salt
  • Crispy Halloumi: Beetroot chutney, primo basil pesto, pistachios, date syrup, extra virgin olive oil

Content courtesy of Roland Foods