When it comes to dining these days, mini is more! The experience of small plates and shareable menus has become a recent dining trend amongst consumers. Perfect for creating a unique social environment, ordering from a shareable menu is a moment where a group of people can get adventurous together and try out several small plates over chilled cocktails. Customers are always looking for something exciting, and shareable menus combine the joy of sharing a meal with others and the thrill of trying something new. If you’re interested in creating a shareable menu at your restaurant, our guide to small plates below features all the information you need to craft the perfect menu for guests.

What Is A Shareable Menu?

A shareable menu is a selection of small plates that can be split up and enjoyed amongst a group of people. Also known as “tapas-style” dining, these small plates are in between an appetizer and an entrée. It is common for guests to order several shareable plates for one table instead of ordering individual meals. Shareable menus typically feature a selection of cocktails or mocktails that can be paired with each menu item. The beverages and plates often feature flavors that complement each other to create a customizable dining experience.

Why Consumers Enjoy Sharable Menus

Consumers these days are attracted to shareable menus because of their distinctive format and natural social aspect. Shareable menus are completely different from traditional menus that feature starters, entrées, and desserts. By only featuring small plates that are designed to be enjoyed amongst several people, they create a unique way to share a meal. People often enjoy trying new things, and shareable menus allow you to order a variety of dishes to try without committing to a large portion.

Snacking has been a recent trend amongst millennials and sharable menus appeal to those looking to eat small bites versus multiple courses. Shareable foods are often prepared in bite-sized portions, so you’re able to make an entire meal out of snack-style plates shared amongst your table.

Shareable menus encourage a social, causal environment for customers. Sharing small plates amongst friends and family is appealing for those looking for an intimate dining experience. You can order different drinks and shareable plates, and spend time chatting with others at your table as the kitchen prepares and sends out your order. People are always looking for new ways to connect with others, and a great way to do that is by sharing a meal or trying something new together.

How To Create A Shareable Menu

If you’re looking to add a selection of small plates to your menu or looking to start a brand new restaurant concept, consider putting together a shareable menu. If you’ve only worked with traditional menu formats previously, a shareable menu might seem intimidating to build. However, you can take inspiration from the popular meals already found in your menu or experiment with flavors that you’ve been looking to incorporate into a dish. Below are some helpful suggestions for creating your own shareable menu.

Select Your Menu Items

Take some time to create a structure for your shareable menu. The best part about putting together this kind of menu is that it can be used for any time of the day, from brunch to dinner to desserts. You’ll want to settle in on the exact time your shareable menu will be open for customers to order.

Shareable menus should include small plates designed to be easy to split and share amongst guests. You won't want to serve customers meals that would be difficult or messy to serve, as it will damper your guests' dining experience. Foods to avoid would be ones that require extensive use of utensils, are greasy, or overflowing with sauces. Finger foods or bite-sized portions are encouraged for small plates. Below are some options that are ideal for shareable menus.

Shareable Menu-Friendly Items

  • Charcuterie board
  • Chips and dips
  • Tacos
  • Flatbreads
  • Sushi
  • Antipasto
  • Burrata
  • Fries
  • Small sandwiches
  • Dumplings
  • Croquettes
  • Fritters
  • Brownies
  • Cupcakes
  • Dessert bars
  • Cookies
  • Donuts

Select Your Beverage Items

Once you’ve settled on the plates you would like to feature on your shareable menu, you’ll want to create a drinks menu to go along with menu items. Customers often enjoy ordering cocktails alongside small plates when they are out with family and friends. Your restaurant will stand out if you create a specialized list of beverages that can be paired with your shareable plates.

Below are several beverage options that you could feature in your shareable menu. Many of the drinks featured can also be prepared as alcohol-free beverages. Get creative with your drinks and make unique iterations of classic cocktails.

Cocktails For Shareable Menus

  • Margarita
  • Moscow Mule
  • Sangria
  • Martini
  • Negroni
  • Aperol Spritz
  • Manhattan
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Whiskey Sour
  • Mojito
  • White and red wines

The Art Of Pairing Drinks & Food

Creating the perfect flavor palate between cocktails and small plates is essential for elevating your customers’ dining experience. Keep in mind that the flavors from your cocktails have the power to enhance the flavors found in your menu items. Choose an array of flavors and textures that complement and contrast each other to create a successful pairing. If you don’t know where to start, click here for our helpful guide on cocktail and appetizer pairings.

What To Keep In Mind When Creating A Sharable Menu

Once you’ve finalized the beverages and plates you want to include in your shareable dining concept, there are several things to keep in mind before unveiling the menu to customers. Shareable foods must be easy to enjoy, you won’t want to include items in your menu that are difficult or messy to eat, like pasta or ribs. Shareables should be foods you could eat with your hands like chips and dips spread, mini tacos, or a charcuterie board. Be sure to fill your menu with foods that aren’t labor-intensive to make so that your back-of-house staff can keep up with demand.

Apart from correctly pairing your foods with drinks, you’ll want to ensure that the foods found on your shareable menu fall in line with the food concept running at your establishment. Staying true to your brand will help attract customers to try out your new menu, and will be much easier to market on social media platforms. You wouldn’t want to create a shareable menu full of Italian cuisine when you are running a healthy fast-casual restaurant. Use your shareable menu to put a spin on the popular items found in your menu or chef up small plates inspired by your favorite foods.