By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Oct 10, 2016 at 7:06 AM

For the 10th straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, dining guides, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as voting for your "Best of Dining 2016."

La Merenda

They may be small, but the Cream City's small plates incite big opinions. In fact, this year's poll was a race to the finish for the restaurants competing in the tapas arena.

But, after giving up its spot to MOVIDA in 2015, Milwaukee's tapas titan La Merenda is back with a vengeance, taking home the majority vote for best small plates in the city. 

Maybe it's the dedication to local, seasonal fare that keeps fans coming back time and time again. Or maybe it's the agile hand with which Chef Peter Sandroni and his kitchen staff dream up inventive internationally-inspired tapas dishes. 

But, fans shouldn't rest on their laurels. The competition in this category is fierce. And La Merenda edged out Bay View favorite Odd Duck by fewer than 150 votes.

Runners up:
2. Odd Duck
3. Lazy Susan
4. Story Hill BKC
5. Goodkind

Lori Fredrich's pick: Odd Duck 
Odd Duck gets huge props with me for a number of reasons. One, because they run a tight ship. Service is on par, and their staff always knows a surprising amount about dishes that may not have ever been on the menu before. They also get all my respect for not being afraid to step wildly outside of the box with some of their entrees. I want a place that challenges me and offers me new flavors, and this is the spot.

This year we also asked a variety of prominent Milwaukeeans to weigh in on their pick for specific categories. For this category, we consulted CBS 58 morning news anchor Jessica Tighe.

Tighe's pick: Braise
When it comes to sharing great small plates, one of my favorites is Braise in Walker's Point! I love the flavors and appreciate the farm to table, local aspect. Be brave and try the beef tongue taco! I did and tend to get it as one of my small plates every time now. During a recent visit, two of us also shared esquites (Mexican street corn salad with chili mayo), steamed pork buns, humba (Filipino braised pork), miso marinated flank steak, and the rainbow trout roll. The timing and order in which the small plates come out to your table always seems to be spot on. You can sit at an intimate table for two or chat it up with the people next to you at one of the long tables. Even better – grab a spot at the chef's table and watch your small plates come to life right in front of you.