1. The dining trend toward small, shareable plates has staying power, especially when you pair them with craft cocktails. Witness the warm welcome that diners gave Bryan Sikora’s Merchant Bar (Wilmington, 543-5574), where you can find shrimp skewers with heirloom tomato salsa and smoked duck moo shu—along with a Manhattan or Point-to-Point (Bulleit rye, lemon, egg white, simple syrup and mint).
2. The Brew HaHa! locations in New Castle County are best known for coffee, salads and sandwiches. That changed with the recent opening of a café (Greenville, 658-6336), which has bartenders serving craft cocktails alongside the baristas. Small plates include devils on horseback, tahini hummus and cheese plates.
3. Make it a progressive meal by strolling over to The Copperhead Saloon (Greenville, 256-0535), a sleek speakeasy-like space with artisan libations and sophisticated noshes.
4. Small plates have their roots in tapas, a Spanish tradition. Experience them for yourself at Olé Tapas Lounge (Newark, 224-9378). Order a sangria and a selection of appetizers including chicken fritters with Romesco sauce, white Spanish anchovies and baby lamb chops.
5. Fork + Flask at Nage (Rehoboth Beach, 226-2037), a 2.0 version of the popular coastal restaurant, still offers entrées. But it’s often more fun to sit at the expanded bar and share pimento-fried olives, foie gras toast and crab croquettes while mulling over the extensive cocktail list.