A full portion of protein, starch and vegetable is what Americans have come to expect when dining out. Recently, however, a new trend has taken root that is spicing up the food scene: tapas. Sure, a hearty entree can be comforting, but there’s something playfully enticing about dishes that compose a variety of flavors and textures in a single bite. Though tapas is a refined cuisine usually served at upscale spots, its finger-food element is guaranteed to bring out your inner child.
This Spanish-originated style also alleviates the stress of navigating a menu – why spend half an hour contemplating when you can sample a majority of the menu? Besides the culinary benefits, tapas also draws in diners for its communal experience. Made for sharing, small plates are the perfect centerpiece for your next night out. Here are some Miami restaurants doing it right.
Adding global influence to the Spanish style, this eatery offers Japanese favorites like rice and noodle dishes, sushi, and sashimi at sharable sizes. Owner Hiroshi Shigetomi was born in Japan, so it’s no surprise that their special Ramen-style noodle soups are as authentic as they come. Open until 3 a.m., Yakko-San is the perfect destination for late-night dining with friends.
3881 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach, Fla. 33160
El Carajo International Tapas & Wines
Tucked inside a working gas station, El Carajo is truly a hidden gem. Diners are sure to feel like locals in the secret spot that doubles as a wine market, but don’t be fooled by the odd location – the eatery delivers elevated dishes featuring traditional ingredients like chorizo, Serrano ham and plantains. A family business motivated by a powerful passion for food, El Carajo is an off-the-beaten path destination worth seeking out.
2465 SW 17th Ave., Miami, Fla. 33145
As its name suggests, Happy Wine is a fun, lively wine and liquor market that offers more than 800 different varieties of wine. The true stars of this spot, though, are the dishes served at small tables between the bottle-stacked shelves. The menu proves that good things really do come in small packages, featuring bold, rich flavors in miniature meals like the bacon-wrapped dates and the “mar y tierra,” its version of Surf ‘n’ Turf. With weekly discounts and special events, Happy Wine is sure to become an instant favorite.
2833 Bird Ave., Miami, Fla. 33133
This rustic, cozy restaurant blends Spanish classics with cutting-edge techniques in a particularly memorable menu. Bold spices and fresh seafood are the focus of the cuisine, though meaty proteins like oxtail and ham make an appearance. Barceloneta achieves big flavors in conveniently small bites. Stop by the South Miami location and treat yourself to this traditional tapas with a twist.
5850 Sunset Drive, South Miami, Fla. 33143
Tourists and locals alike flock to this trendy Midtown spot. Under twinkling lights, surrounded by sleek decor and walls covered in greenery, diners savor small plates and sip colorful craft cocktails. With the feeling of a chic enchanted garden, SUGARCANE offers American dishes with a global spin. Comfortable classics like fried Brussels sprouts and risotto are available, but the menu also offers foods for the more daring diner, like pig ears, bone marrow and lamb heart. Miniature portions allow diners to sample bizarre bites and try new tastes, and that’s what tapas is all about.
3252 NE First Ave., Miami, Fla. 33137