West U soccer teams, Rice students needing a study break, and preparty revelers all converge at El Meson for top-notch Latin American cuisine. And while the Mexican dishes are solid, the Cuban entrées are the real reason to visit this neon-lit spot along University Boulevard in the Village. Perhaps that's because we have a soft spot for the fried plantains that accompany those dishes, or maybe even we need a break from the Tex-Mex that dominates this town. Top picks include the masitas, with its smoky, garlicky flavor, and carne guisada, a stew that reminds you of what your mom might make if she were Cuban. Chase that with a piece of tresleches cake, and you'll leave the restaurant with a tummy full of goodness.