Tapas, Pupus, Canapes: The Art of Ordering Light

| October 16, 2012

tapas optionsCertain appetizers make an excellent light meal. Their smaller size allows you to taste several different dishes at a restaurant without filling up, especially if you order for the table and everyone shares. Learn more about three popular appetizer styles — tapas, pupus and canapés — then use DexKnows restaurant listings to find establishments at which to enjoy them.


Originating in Spain, these appetizers, or snacks, are meant to be enjoyed with an adult beverage. El Meson, a popular tapas restaurant in Houston lists 20 different tapas on its menu, including traditional dishes such as the Spanish potato omelet with olives and the Serrano ham with aged Manchego cheese plate. Tapas with a regional spin at El Meson includes Texas quail grilled with garlic Madeira sauce. Such culinary interpretations prove common throughout the United States, with many tapas served here not at all resembling those found in Spain.


Hawaiians use the term pupu instead of appetizer, and these Polynesian-style bites can be savory, sweet or both savory and sweet. Poke, a raw seafood salad typically including Ahi tuna, proves a common sight on pupu menus, as do Hawaiian spareribs, coconut-battered shrimp, bacon-wrapped pineapple and skewered meats of many kinds.


Perhaps the most decorative of all appetizers, canapés start with a bread or cracker base, often in a geometric shape. A spread of some sort, typically cream cheese or flavored butter, comes next, with a meat or vegetable on top. Finally, a garnish completes the bite-size culinary creation.

Tips for Ordering

Finding Spanish restaurants that serve tapas doesn’t prove difficult, neither does discovering Polynesian dining establishments that offer pupus. Canapés, on the other hand, tend to be more commonly found on catering menus. If you do plan to enjoy any of the above as a light meal, keep the following two tips in mind:

1. Ask about portions. Certain tapas, such as olives, share easily. Others, including many of the meat tapas, do not. Know the number of portions and order accordingly to avoid making the members of your party wait for another order to arrive.

2. Keep prices in mind. Their sizes may be small, but their prices can quickly add up to a costly restaurant bill. If you want to enjoy these types of appetizers as a light meal, order a salad to go along with them. Or, like the appetizers, order more salads for the table to split, depending on the size of your party.

DexKnows restaurant listings allow you to search by cuisine, making it a simple task to find establishments that serve these types of appetizers. Links to menus and diner reviews also help you to narrow the options.

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Category: Food & Dining

About the Author ()

Pamela Mitchell spent more than 15 years at daily newspapers such as the Hartford Courant and Houston Chronicle before becoming a full-time freelancer. She now writes about a variety of topics, from dining and entertainment to pets and travel.