Are Small Plates Still a Trend in American Restaurants or Have Eateries Moved on to Other Ideas?

Over the past few decades, the American restaurant scene has seen a surge in the popularity of small plates, or tapas-style dining. This trend, which originated in Spain, involves serving a variety of small, shareable dishes that allow diners to sample a wide range of flavors and cuisines. But as with any trend, it’s natural to wonder whether the small plates craze has staying power or if it’s being replaced by newer dining concepts. Let’s delve into the current state of small plates in American restaurants and explore what might be coming next.

Are Small Plates Still a Trend?

Yes, small plates are still a significant trend in American restaurants. According to data from the National Restaurant Association, small plates have continued to grow in popularity over the past few years. This trend is driven by a variety of factors, including the desire for more varied dining experiences, the rise of foodie culture, and the increasing importance of social dining experiences where food is shared among a group.

Why Do Diners Love Small Plates?

There are several reasons why diners continue to embrace small plates. First, they allow people to try a variety of dishes without committing to a full portion. This is particularly appealing in our increasingly foodie culture, where trying new and unique dishes is highly valued. Second, small plates encourage social dining. Sharing dishes among a group can create a more communal and interactive dining experience. Finally, small plates can offer a better value. Instead of ordering a single, expensive entrée, diners can order several small plates to share, potentially getting more variety for their money.

What’s Next for American Restaurants?

While small plates are still popular, restaurants are always looking for the next big thing. One emerging trend is the rise of experiential dining, where the focus is not just on the food, but on the overall dining experience. This can include everything from chef’s table experiences, where diners watch their food being prepared, to themed restaurants that transport diners to another time or place. Another trend is the increasing focus on sustainability and locally sourced ingredients. As consumers become more conscious of their environmental impact, restaurants that can provide fresh, local, and sustainable options are likely to stand out.


In conclusion, while small plates continue to be a significant trend in American restaurants, the dining scene is always evolving. As diners seek out new and unique experiences, and as sustainability becomes more important, restaurants will need to continue innovating to stay ahead of the curve. But for now, it seems that the small plates trend is here to stay.