Key West Plantain Chips



We flew to Key West for the Memorial Day Weekend. Normally I would not consider going to Florida at the end of May because it’s usually somewhat warm here in Boston and downright sweltering there. But this year’s frigid winter has been so reluctant to depart that it’s trailing a tail of cold through Spring, keeping temperatures in the 40s and 50s instead of the 60s and 70s. And I wanted some sultry air to relax in.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is eating food unique to a region or city. While it’s easier and easier to get any food anywhere (except for Cailler Chocolate in the US), it seems to taste better in its native habitat, not only because a food and its place of origin are inextrricably connected, but also because there are so typically so many variations on it it – variations that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

In South Florida, I love to eat plantains –  from crispy, transparently thin deep fried plantain strips dipped in the  garilcky-citrusy mojito sauce to the thick, meaty double-fried tostones. They are abundantly available at cuban restaurants all over the area… and in the grocery store via Chifles plantain chips.

As my regular readers will know, I consciously avoid processed foods. But Chifles are relatively unprocessed for a packaged food, and they are a vacation treat. Made without preservatives and fried in unsaturated oil, the chips are also fairly low in sodium, high in potassium, and are gluten free. But that’s not a reason to eat them. I enjoy the on the trip because they are so. good.

There were four varieties at the Publix grocery store where we procured our condo provisions – lime, ajo (garlic), hot & spicy, and maduros. A plantain chip taste-off was in order. Whether we should have done this as our lunch on Saturday is up for debate. But that’s exactly what we did, and I enjoyed every single bite.




Who could resist lime? Certainly not D. who always says he’s “very citrusy”. The combo was the essence of tropical – the tart lime balanced the salty rich plantain well.


Hot & Spicy

The spicy chips had a slow lingering heat, like one would imagine a sultry evening at a nightclub in Cuba in the 50s as the sun sank low and the daytime heat dissipated.


Ajo (Garlic)

The Ajo chips, I think, were meant to evoke the taste of the plantain chips dipped in the mojito sauce. Conceptually brilliant. In reality, a bit overpoweringly garlicky.




Somehow I missed taking a picture of the maduros bag by itself. These chips, made from the ripe plantains instead of the green plantains, have a natural sweetness, then are lightly salted. They are delicious, but a bit too sweet to be eaten on their own. They would be great with a dip.

It was hard to pick a winner between the lime and the hot and spicy. It was pretty much a tie. But I’d eat the garlic again too. And would love to try the maduros with a dip.

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