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Best Central/South American food: A breathtaking range of meaty textures 

Platano

The best dishes at Irma Mischler's dark and sprawling cafe offer glimpses of Salvadoran cooking that go far beyond pupusas. Yeah, we love the pupusas, especially those filled with queso y ayote, cheese with an impossibly itty-bitty dice of zucchini. But in a handful of meat dishes, the kitchen works a breathtaking range of textural changes that seem to get to the heart of an underappreciated cuisine. There's yuca frita, fried cassava root topped with big hunks of deep-fried pork shoulder; or the chewy shards of cold poached beef known as salpicon. Best of all is the daft, salty tangle of dried beef fibers and scrambled egg of the carne delisada. Don't miss Platano's technically masterful casamiento, a simple fry-up of rice and black beans cooked as crisp as good hash browns. Stick to the rustic classics, and suck down bottles of cold, crisply bitter Suprema lager. A meal here can be as exhilarating as travel.

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