When is tapas the right choice for dinner?

I recently had dinner with a former co-worker and we decided that we would each bring our significant others, who hadn’t met and didn’t know each other. Since I was the “restaurant expert”, it was up to me to pick a place that was convenient to downtown and at a decent price point. Easy enough.

An important factor in picking a restaurant on this occasion, for me, was conviviality. I wanted four of us to relax and be able to have a cross-table conversation instead of two of us rehashing shop talk while two ate. A great wine list or cocktail selection goes a long way to loosen things up, however, I knew that at least one person would not drink so that wasn’t a choice. Other wow factors like an interesting setting or gimmicky surroundings could also work, but I wanted the focus to be at the table.

The solution? Tapas. Specifically, Tavernita (151 W Erie Street).

After the introductions and switching tables so we could face each other, the four of us conquered the menu together, navigating our individual culinary quirks, and building a case for more hamachi and less eggplant & pepper crostini. It’s hard to stay in your shell when you’re dividing flatbreads or making a play for the last wagyu meatball. The conversation flowed back and forth as the steady stream of d papas fritos and serrano ham added new configurations to the table. Success!

In my opinion, tapas breaks down conversational lulls better than individual entrees. I’ll try it again the next time I’m mixing company. Have you had a tapas success story? Let me know the details!

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