Great Portions, Great Prices: 3 Restaurant Venues for Tapas-Style Affairs

I've been blogging recently about the concept of banquetology and how using serving small plates at your catered events cuts down on both food & beverage spend and event waste. Tapas are a great way to put the principles of banquetology in action.

When I visited to Spain a few years ago, I was told that the first tapas were used to cover diner's drinks between sips in order to keep insects out. In fact, the word "tapar" in Spanish means "to cover."

Today in Spain, tapas are a way of life, so much so that to say you're going out for some tapas and drinks has its own phrase, "ir de tapas." But these small portions have also expanded beyond their Spanish roots and are now commonplace at bars and restaurants in North America as well.

Across the United States and Canada, you'll find several restaurants that can accommodate your needs for group dining space and a catered meal comprised of these perfect-sized dishes. Here are a few of the standouts:

Solera

Located in downtown Minneapolis, Solera has been hailed as one of the world's top 10 new restaurants by Food & Wine magazine. Fried calamari with hot pepper and tomato aioli, deviled eggs with blue crab and cumin, and goat cheese fritters with sherry-braised figs and fennel are among the tantalizing tapas on Solera's seasonally-updated menu.

This Minneapolis restaurant offers numerous spaces for private events of 10 to 1,200 people. The rooftop, complete with a built-in sound system and movie screen, can accommodate up to 100 people.

LEE Restaurant in TorontoLEE

This Toronto restaurant boasts superior service and an eclectic range of tapas-style dishes. The duck confit roll with spiced nuts, oven-dried pineapple and goat cheese and the four satay skewer of chicken, shrimp, pork and beef are favorites on the menu, which is complemented by about 50 versatile wine options.

LEE offers private group dining in Toronto for up to 84 guests. Its patio can accommodate up to 36 guests.

Mercat a la Planxa

The Chicago restaurant Mercat a la Planxa transports diners from the hustle of Michigan Avenue to the laidback life of Barcelona. Traditional tapas such as garlic shrimp, shellfish croquettes and a Spanish omelet with spinach, potatoes and saffron aioli are among the many tempting options on Mercat's extensive menu. White and red sangria and various specialty cocktails and wines round out the authentic experience.

Mercat's airy indoor terrace, La Veranda, is available for private functions of up to 16 people. La Veranda is equipped with audio-visual equipment and flat-screen televisions.
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