Best New Restaurants 2015: Tropicalisimo

Traditional Dominican recipes are prepared with care at this Michigan Road gem of a restaurant.

Belkis Rodriguez’s pan-Caribbean kitchen offers the kinds of carnivorous, carbohydrate-rich comfort foods she grew up eating and loving in her native Dominican Republic. Add to that Friday karaoke and Sunday-night salsa lessons, and you’ve got a colorfully appointed restaurant that functions as much as a cultural center as a place to get rib-sticking pork chops or melt-in-your-mouth flank steak with yucca or rice and beans. Latin-food fans can linger over the eye-popping appetizer platter of salami and Longaniza sausage served on a mound of fried chicken bites, plantains, shrimp, and mozzarella sticks. The Puerto Rican mofongo, a signature Caribbean dish, includes a hefty mound of mashed plantains with crispy bits of chicken skin, drenched in a savory gravy and garnished with stalks of fried spaghetti. A recently expanded menu includes smaller lunch plates that venture farther to Cuba and Venezuela, signs that Rodriguez’s palate is as rich as her spirit.

Sound Bites

Concept: Pan-Caribbean

Seats: 78

Owner: Ramon Alberto

Chef: Belkis Rodriguez

Pedigree: Rodriguez, a former in-house staffer for Mel and Bren Simon, enlists family members to help her cook dishes from across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Try it if you like: Delicia

Check it out: 7862 Michigan Rd., 317-672-3549