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Small Plates – Big Trend

stats1Small Plates is a manner of dining that became popular in Western Foodservice after 2000. Small Plates may either refer to small dishes resembling appetizers which are ordered a la carte and often shared (such as tapas), or to the small courses served as part of a more formal meal.


Some types of Small Plates which have been influenced in the modern Western Concept are:

  • Tapas, a wide variety of appetizers in Spanish Cuisine
  • Mezze, a wide variety of appetizers in Turkish Cuisine, and sometimes Greek Cuisine
  • Antipasti, a wide variety of appetizers in Italian Cuisine
  • The small and usually shared dishes at an izakaya, a Japanese Pub.


Small plates are roughly double the price of sides at leading restaurant chains, likely because they are larger portions.

More Full Service Restaurants (FSR) are positioning starters or entrées as shareable small plates, though only 18% of all FSRs offer these options as of yet.

Non-Breaded Protein are the leading plate variety at FSRs, which includes items like shrimp, fish and meatballs.

Breaded proteins are the fastest-growing small plate at FSR, which include breaded shrimp, calamari and chicken strips and nuggets.

Cheese and nutrient-dense green vegetables are among the fastest-growing small plate ingredients at top Limited Service Restaurants.

Burgers and Sandwiches are declining as starters at top FSRs, as they’re repositioned as small plates




  • Pizza
  • Non Breaded Fish
  • Non Breaded Shrimp
  • Sliders
  • Taco / Taquito


  • Satay / Kabob
  • Fried Pickles
  • Pork / Prosciutto
  • Taco / Taquito
  • Brushetta


  • Cilantro
  • Bread
  • Arugula
  • Mushrooms
  • Hummus


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