Small plates go by many names—tapas,
mezze, antipasti or shared bites—and
these days the little dishes are making
a big impression on the local dining
scene. Among the newcomers embracing the trend is Gringos & Mariachis,
which opened in Bethesda in February with a menu full of appetizersize Mexican fare. The restaurant joined
Jaleo and other established tapas faves,
including Share Wine Lounge & Small
Plate Bistro, also in downtown Bethesda,
and Silver Spring’s La Malinche, both of
which opened in late 2012.
No matter where you go, results are the
same: shrunken portions and a restaurant’s
often outsize expectations that each guest
will order multiple courses. Jose Nicolas
Guardado, chef-owner of Guardado’s in
Bethesda, recommends three to four tapas
per guest (ranging from $5.95-$11.95). La
Malinche advises diners to start with two
plates, though the average order is three
($4-$12). And servers at José Andrés’ Jaleo
suggest between two and four tapas per
diner (ranging from $2-$24).
If diners aren’t careful, all those small
plates can add up to big bills and lots of
extra calories. Order too little, though,
and you might walk away hungry.
The good aspect of ordering small
plates: Customers can try more of the
menu, satisfy a variety of diets and
enjoy a communal dining experience.
To really take advantage of the benefits,
though, think about dining in groups of
four or more. n
It’s a Small World
Gringos & Mariachis
More than a dozen tacos vie for your
attention, but hone in on the barbacoa.
Slow-braised lamb’s naturally earthen
flavor is leavened by fresh cilantro,
chopped onion and salsa verde. $7. (4928
Cordell Ave., Bethesda; 240-800-4266,
Think of the chorizo fundido as a meaty
Spanish fondue. A blanket of slightly
piquant Manchego cheese covers
chunks of spicy chorizo sausage. $6.95.
(4918 Del Ray Ave., Bethesda; 301-986-
Buñuelos de bacalao may sound daunting, but they’re simply deep-fried rounds
of mashed cod. The briny golden fritters
pair nicely with the honeyed aioli. $8.
(7271 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-
The slight gaminess usually inherent in
grilled lamb chops is tamed with a rich,
roasty cocoa reduction. A bed of fingerling potatoes helps make this a substantial small plate. $12. (8622 Colesville
Road, Silver Spring; 301-562-8622, www.
Share Wine Lounge
& Small Plate Bistro
Spears of verdant asparagus come
dressed with a salty-savory-spicy-sweet
combo of honey, soy, Thai chilies and ginger. $7. (Doubletree Hotel, 8120 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-2000, double
Small Size, Big Flavor
Here’s a sampling of some of
the small plates you must
la Malinche’s grilled lamb
chops with fingerling potatoes
come on a small plate, but
they definitely satisfy.
turning the tables
Carole Sugarman is the magazine’s food
editor. Nevin Martell is a freelance writer
who frequently writes about food from