Growing up, I was fortunate enough to eat lots of Cuban food because my parents were friends with a couple of Cuban-born doctors whose wives were excellent cooks. Then when I started visiting the New York area a lot, my NYC friend showed me where to get all the best media noches ("Cuban sandwiches," but literally "middle of the nights"), ropa viejas (literally "old clothes," but really a zesty, long-cooked stew) and so forth.

Well, the food I recently ate at the brand new Plantain Cafe Downtown is about as close to that stuff as I've had in Columbus. This place is one of the more promising new restaurants in town.

Pictured above are the rich but tangy black bean soup and the excellent ropa vieja sandwich. Read more about Plantain Cafe in the next Alive.