A Study in Plantains, $12

I go bananas over great plantains, and the semi-recently opened, appropriately named Plantain Cafe is the place I like to do it. Sure, the Plantain Cafe makes lots of other great Cuban food, but for a sweet and starchy Caribbean splurge, a little study of plantains is hard to beat. Three versions are served at the cafe, for $4 apiece, and I'd wager you'd be amazed at how different each tastes.

Here's a breakdown. Mariquitas: these paper-thin and crispy curls eat like potato chips and arrive just-fried and shimmering from a garlicky, tart and wholly complementing mojo sauce. Tostones: green plantains fried, smashed and fried again into what look like pressed brown flowers. They're midway between sweet and savory, halfway between chewy and crispy, and all the way delicious. Maduros: perfectly fried, very dark, mouth-melting chubby clumps of the most mature plant. These deliver the deepest sweetness.