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Dec 16, 2013 02:39 PM

Best Caribbean food?

While I'd love to have some outstanding jerk or oxtail, I'm interested in knowing where you think we can get the best Caribbean food in or around Toronto?

Even for jerk chicken, i've yet to find a place that makes it flavourful and decently spicy.

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  1. Simone's on Danforth is about a minute away or less for you, and has some pretty decent food. We order from there a few times a month.
    I've had the ox tail, chicken roti, shrimp roti, cod fritters, and soup. All the soups have been really tasty, and we usually order the soup, cod fritters and chicken roti for takeout.

    Have you been to the new location of the Real Jerk? Both of these places are very good but I don't know if they are "the best" as that is very subjective. That's only 2 minutes away.

    5 Replies
    1. re: foodyDudey

      haven't been to the RJ. only place in the 'hood I ever went to was Eazy Eatz (RIP). amazing meatloaf, very good jerk chicken.
      there's a place on Pape on the west side just north of Danforth that I want to give business to. no idea if it's good.
      also, Beryl's Pepperpot on Gerrard E is beckoning.

      my wife doesn't dig west indian food (she hasn't had their curry, so i need to get her to try it). likely going on a eating tour with a Toronto chef (who also lives in the east end), so we wouldn't mind having more hits than misses.

      1. re: atomeyes

        I would call ahead to the place on Pape - I've tried to grab lunch there a few times around 12:30-1PM after seeing the dentist next door, only to find the chicken wasn't even ready yet! Sometimes they are set up outside with a grilling drum.

        1. re: gimel

          I'm trying to picture where this place is on Pape? Is it just north of the Danforth or is it the place off of Pape on a side street just south of Mortimer.

          1. re: Baelsette

            Just south of the Tonka gas station (always cheap!) at Fulton & Pape, tucked in behind a barber shop so not visible from Pape proper.

            1. re: gimel

              Yes, that's the place I was thinking of. I've eaten there but it was a while back and I seem to think that they've changed names? It was really good though......

    2. Have you been to Raps on Eglinton West? They grill jerk in cans out on the street -- may just be on the weekend evenings, though.

      1. There are some excellent Jamaican bakeries/pastry shops around Toronto. Randy's for Patties and coca bread and Allan's for excellent Plantain tarts, Gizzada, coconut drops and Bulla cake.

        I also like Drupati's and Blue Water for Roti and ACR for doubles. Drupati's also makes a nice Aloo Pie and some very good Sahiena.

        I have said this quite a few times before but for Jamaican cooked food I have never found anything worth running back for. The Jerk on EgW is good for a late night drunk snack but if you are seeking excellent jerk nowhere really fits the bill. If someone can point me in the direction of a place that changes my mind I would be more than happy to retract. I plan on trying out Simone's next week when I am back in TO.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Matt H

          never got the hype about Randy's. runny, Taco Bell-esque patty fillings with too much salt

          1. re: atomeyes

            Just a personal preference but I like my patty filling a bit runny, which is why in JA I was always in the Juici patty camp vs Tastee.

            1. re: Matt H

              I agree. I like Tinnel's too.


          2. re: Matt H

            I haven't had anything in TO that resembles anything I've had in Jamaica, mon.

            Also, no one makes Festival dumplins that are any good either.

            Sad state of affairs.

            BUT. Kori's roti in Oakville makes the best roti I've ever had. Worth the drive, even.

            1. re: justxpete

              I am not even expecting Jamaica, but on par with Brooklyn, London and Lauderdale would be good enough for me.

              I may just hop in the rental car after landing at YYZ and stop off for a Kori's Roti, thanks for the tip.

              1. re: justxpete

                It's funny, I have a good friend who used to work in Oakville and swore by Kori's as well. He is vegetarian but im sure their meat offering are good as well.

                1. re: themiguel

                  Kori's, for Roti, is as good as it gets in the GTA. I promise.

                  Their heat scale is higher than most, so order under what you'd normally get.

            2. kind of a nitpick - The Caribbean is comprised of lots of different types of cooking - most prevalent here (GTA) would be Jamaican, Trinidadian & Guyanese. While Guyanese and Trinidadian are most similar due to the ethnic make up of the populations, they are not the same as Jamaican or any other food in the region. "Caribbean" food really isn't interchangeable...

              End of rant :o)

              15 Replies
              1. re: Truffles

                I agree, it's just like saying "I want to go eat some Indian food, where shall I go? " makes very little sense to me as there are such varying styles in the different parts of India.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  I don't understand what the issue is. I don't think anyone's associating "Caribbean food" strictly with Jamaican food.

                  Roti is predominantly Trinni/Guyanese. Jerk is primarily Jamaican.

                  What's the problem?

                  1. re: justxpete

                    The problem is that the OP asked about the best "Caribbean food" and even while I was answering, I was wondering if he meant best Jamaican, Guyanese, Venezuelan or ??

                    The question was vague. Do people ask where is the best restaurant for European food? I've never seen that question here, but I have seen people ask for the best Italian, Croatian, Serbian, or Greek etc.

                    1. re: foodyDudey

                      Carribean food is more a genre or specific type of food (in the GTA anyway). European food is rather vast and narrowing it down is necessary because there's so much diversification.

                      Caribbean food is largely less diverse, and many dishes overlap (exactly), which you don't often find in European cooking (ie, compare Italian food to French to German, and then compare Jamaican to Trinnidadian to Guyanese).

                      1. re: justxpete

                        Agree, justpete.
                        I think of Caribbean cuisine as a regional label, similar to using Scandinavian for Swedish/Finnish/ Norwegian/Danish/Icelandic, Balkan for Greek/Serb/Croatian/Macedonian/Albanian/Bosnian/Romanian/Bulgarian, Central European for German/Austrian/Swiss/Czech/Polish/Hungarian, etc.
                        I've got plenty of regional cookbooks, including a few Caribbean cookbooks, that group the cuisines this way.

                      2. re: foodyDudey

                        I think its safe to say when speaking in a GTA sense, you can assume that the focus is Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana. Bahamian, Puerto Rican, Lucian and Bajan foods are non existent; and Dominican, Haitian and Cuban are underrepresented.

                        Which is a shame, because there is some damn good food to be had from all over the Caribbean.

                        1. re: foodyDudey

                          I don't think it's too vague. Chowhounds ask about other regional cuisines/foods, without being more specific, when they ask about Middle Eastern cuisine, Mediterranean cuisine, Irish/English/Scottish breakfasts, falafel, baklava, etc.

                          The OP mentions searching for spicy jerk and oxtail, so I'd just recommend places serving good spicy jerk and oxtail, regardless of whether they're owned and/or cooked by Jamaican Canadians or not, regardless of the subject line. ;-)

                          The Caribbean has a regional culinary style, even if Jamaica is more about jerk and Trinidad is more about roti. Each island has specialties, but it's easy to find roti and jerk on every English-speaking island in the WI, even if that's not the island's claim to fame. Most TO WI restaurants offer roti and jerk, regardless of whether the owners are Jamaican, Trini, Guyanese or from anywhere else in the WI.

                          I don't think most people would include Venezuela as part of the Caribbean food experience, since its food has more in common with its Latin American neighbours.

                          1. re: prima

                            A Jamaican curry is different from a Trinidadian curry is different from a Guyanese curry. The ingredients might be the same or similar, but the preparation is different and fairly specific to the location.

                            To say that the food is less diverse (justxpete) does a disservice to the many cultures that are represented in the Caribbean.

                            1. re: Truffles

                              Carribean food is less diverse than European food. It's not a "disservice", it's just a matter of fact.

                              1. re: justxpete

                                Being "Caribbean" myself I have to agree. It can be compared to the overlap you see in Khmer, Vietnamese and Thai cooking. Yes you know when you are eating Thai as opposed to Khmer, but the overlap is clearly there.

                                Calling Caribbean food less diverse than European is not implying that it is any less complex, interesting or lacking variety, but the similarities are definitely present.

                                1. re: Matt H

                                  Yeah, that's all I'm saying too, but someone is taking issue with it.

                                  It's a population of 40 million vs a population of 500 million, so it's rather elementary to see why there's such a disparity.

                              2. re: Truffles

                                I realize Jamaican, Trinidadian and Guyanese curries are different, as does anyone who eats Jamaican, Trinidadian or Guyanese curries. No one said they weren't different. That being said, Jamaican, Trini and Guyanese curries, while distinct from one another, still have more in common with one another than they have in common with South Indian, Thai, Japanese curries or any other curries from beyond the Caribbean.

                                If the ingredients are the same or similar, and the islands are located in the same geographic region, why can't a broad regional label be used, in the same way a broad regional label is used for Middle Eastern cuisine or Southern cuisine? If a Chowhound is just looking for any Caribbean curry, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to use a more general regional term like Caribbean, and if/when a Chowhound is looking for a Jamaican or a Guyanese curry, they often tend to be more specific.

                                Back to the topic of food, who serves the best Caribbean chicken curry (open to all types) in TO these days? I haven't been impressed by the last couple versions I've tried. I do plan to try Simone's version some time soon.

                                1. re: prima

                                  best israeli food can mean anything, since it has Iraqi, Iranian, Lebanese and Turkish influence.
                                  No one ever asks for the best Turkish israeli food.

                            2. re: foodyDudey

                              not sure how it's a tough question.
                              best Indian food would mean "any food from India". I don't care if it's hakka or curry or seafood.
                              best Carribean food can be Haitian, Jamaican, etc.

                              i listed jerk chicken and oxtail as some of the things i've had, but not exclusive to the list.

                      3. Have you tried Mr. Jerk in the Peanut?? I go there after hockey a fair bit. It may not be the best in the city/world but it's tasty and I'm always surprised at how much heat is in it at it's base level.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Davwud

                          Mr Jerk is Peanut is by far the most aggressively seasoned Jerk in the GTA I have personally tried. The cooking technique has somewhat been hit or miss, but its definitely a Jerk that doesn't tone it down for the audience.