Sharable Snacks for Cocktail Crowds

We've all been there at one point or another. What began as a wholesome night somehow turns into a free-for-all ordering debacle that ends with a slew of menu items at a table with friends.

Be it fried, steamed, baked…no matter how it's cooked, it ends up at the table. Lets face it, after a few drinks, there's no denying the hunger that ensues. But the question is, if you're at the receiving end of these orders, what exactly should you have on your menu?

Fish Tacos from Steve O's Restaurant
Fish Tacos- beer battered tilapia, corn tortilla, fresh guacamole, 
pickled pico de gallo, jicama slaw, sriracha aioli.

Sharable snacks can be a make or break item on your menu - whether your establishment caters to the nightlife crowd or the late night diners. It's all about giving the group something to feast upon while they decide on their next move; kicking things up a notch and heading to a club, or opting for a bigger meal and more indulgence in the cocktail menu.

A few satisfying cocktails always end up peaking one's appetite, and if you're in the company of a group hunger tends to spread. That's why menu's at any establishment that aims to keep folks sticking around for some time should offer up some sort of sharable snack items, says Chef Steven Hernandez, founder and executive chef of El Paso, Texas-based Steve O's Restaurant and the famous Create Gourmet Eats food truck.

With a phenomenal selection of sharable bites, as well as solo indulgences that keep the daytime grubbers and late-night bacchanalian crowd coming back for more, Steve O’s is known for their sharable plates, delicious gourmet burgers, and craft beer.

When your establishment serves up a slew of delicious cocktails it's always smart let your servers know to push appetizers or tapas items. While everyone typically opts for fried delicacies, sometimes it's best to go with fresh items that aren't too heavy on the palate.

“A great sharable item is tuna sashimi,” Hernandez says. “I usually put a twist on this and feature it in so many different ways, be it tuna nachos with wontons substituting the tostadas. At Steve O's we let the fish speak for itself and plate it as a sashimi with hass avocado, pickled fruit and top it off with a ginger glaze.”

Many establishments tend to offer a slew of sharable items on their menus that come in frozen form. Although patrons may be enjoying drinks, it doesn't mean that they can’t tell the difference.

Chorizo con Pappas from Create Gourmet Eats
Chorizo con Pappas from Create Gourmet Eats 

If you're looking to balance things out from a cost perspective, it's all about the proportion.

“The proportion of my plating is all based on my food cost,” Hernandez says. “It's really about learning to manage and control your portions. It's an essential factor in making your business profitable at the end of the day.”

As one begins to cultivate their sharable item offerings, it's best to go with a tapas approach…after all, they are small plates that aren't enough for one. “Tapas are meant for a group to order more than one per person, so everybody in the party can manage to taste everything being ordered,” Hernandez says.

Even though appetizers/tapas plates can cost more, at the end of the day, Hernandez says patrons prefer them since they're sharable for the whole group, rather than an item that one person has to decide on.

What's one way to really get the advantage on this portion of the menu? Ensure that you leverage the ingredients your community has to offer. After all, it's hard for your audience to pass up on fresh items that are from the area.

“The locals in El Paso were all raised on the smell of waking up to Huevos con Chorizo [eggs with spicy beef and spicy pork],” Hernandez says. “At Steve O's we deconstruct that with an eight ounce 78/22 beef patty, pepper jack cheese, spicy beef chorizo, a sunny side egg, and put it all together between a Challah bun - a house favorite burger.”

Sure, this item may not be a fit on your menu, but Hernandez believes that no matter what you have to offer, always - no matter what - stick to your guns. “Don't try to be something you're not,” he says. “Stick to your ingredients and be different in your own way.”

Run of the mill won't cut it nowadays, so be sure to whip up items that are out of the box if you're looking of repeat customers. 

Read more on