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Jamaican Food

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I'm looking for a good AUTHENTIC Jamaican/West Indian restaurant in Toronto. Any suggestions? So many of them out there serve stale food...nothing seems fresh. Right now I will only eat at Wong's Restaurant or Irie on Queen West.

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  1. I don't know about authenticity...but Roti Hut in Scarborough serves fresh food.......in plaza one light south of Sheppard Ave., off the west side of McCowan Rd.

    1. Try to the Alberts on the NW corner of Vaughan Road & St Clair for good jerk. It's only of a take-away or stand and eat. Can't speak for their Queen location.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mikeb

        I'll second Alberts. Mighty tasty jerk, and the curry chicken rotis are damn fine ... especially late-night.

        1. re: Nab

          oooh yes.

          many's the late night i've grabbed a bite there. i heartily endorse this recommendation!

          (although, admittedly, i'm a wimpy white kid who can't handle food that's too spicy... albert's seems to do a good job)

        2. re: mikeb

          I agree with everyone who said Albert's... it's usually busy too

        3. There's a great roti spot you'd probably know about south of bloor on bathurst called Carribean Roti Palace; they're very good if you want a roti - great curried veg's too...
          I'll second Alberts for the jerk as well (same in both locations) and add in their curry goat as well, it's full-on addictive. I will have to say though, their roti is not that great at all.
          Never had wong's, looks a little dodgy outsite so didn't go in - might have to do that - any recommendations?

          3 Replies
          1. re: dannyboy

            At Wong's Restaurant, I recommend the curry shrimp or fish tea (soup). Definately. It's one of those places that serves the best food and doesn't worry too much about decor...the cutest oriental woman is the cook - like someone's mother.

            RE: Alberts on Queen - I had some jerk pork as well as some fish and had to actually throw the food out. I was hungry too! I was better off going to Vena's Restaurant a few blocks west for their roti (the best!!!).

            1. re: sunshine

              Vena's (Queen W) does make some damn fine Roti. There's a Bloor St place by the same name near Lansdowne but I don't know if it's the same owner/quality.

              1. re: sunshine

                Thanks for the Wong's reminder, I always think of them in terms of Chinese Food--but they do West Indian dishes very well. The service is slow but worth the wait and their prices are reasonable. My favorite dish is their Chicken Fried rice. They also do nice soups and curry dishes.

            2. As far as the best Jamaican restaurant in Toronto, I have to say that right now Fish Palace (1356 Weston Road @ Jane St.) is the best and most authentic.
              I have tried pretty much every Jamaican place in the city. From take-out joints, to sit down restaurants.
              This one has them all beat.
              It's a nice, cozy place. The vibes and the food remind me of the restaurants I visited in Negril.
              Seafood is the specialty of the house but the menu also has
              Jerk chicken and pork, oxtail, ackee & saltfish, callaloo, etc.
              I always order the fish (whole spicy snapper w/rice & peas) with a couple of Red Stripes of course...

              And by the way, Jamaican food is different than West Indian food. I'm not saying that one is better than the other, only that they are different.
              It's like saying Vietnamese and Thai food are the same.

              4 Replies
              1. re: weebey

                I think it's inaccurate to say that Jamaican food is different than West Indian food, since it is West Indian food. Perhaps you were suggesting that it was different from those counties that have a more East Indian influence.All the things you have mentioned, I have had in other parts of the Caribean and enjoyed.

                1. re: weebey

                  weebey: what are the prices like at Fish Palace? I think we might check it out.

                  1. re: LovesToEat

                    Prices are approx. between $8 to $15.
                    Give it a try and tell me what you think.

                    1. re: weebey

                      Yep, tried it last Thurs. night. Ordered the jerk chicken dinner and the curry goat dinner. Both were delicious. Wish the meals came with coleslaw instead of the wilted lettuce and tomatoes but over all, everything was good. Will be back for sure! Thanks for the recommendation!

                      We usually go to the Rope In on Dundas St West in the Junction, which is also good but Fish Palace will become another one of our favourite haunts!

                2. I've been to The Real Jerk on Queen East many times. It's a sit-down restaurant, very good, although I do prefer the take-out from Albert's Real Jamaican at St. Clair and Vaughan.

                  1. Pretty hard to argue that Jamaican food isn't West Indian food, but they do have a unique flavor in Jamaica.

                    I find most other Caribbean foods outside of the East Indian influenced one to be quite similar.

                    1. I just had some wonderful food (jerk chicken and much more) at Raps on St Clair W. Very delicious and very welcoming.

                      I used to like Alberts and the Real Jerk, but can't recommend them any more.

                      Just last week, Alberts sold me a stale patty, dried-out chicken, and a revolting microwaved fritter (at a peak time with many customers lined up). I will never return.

                      The Jerk used to be a great place, and they are still capable of good cooking, but they don't bother to try most of the time. Food is usually dry (perhaps precooked and reheated) and lacks the exciting flavours one might expect. I've had blah chicken, blah fish, blah shrimp, and blah (and mushy) rasta pasta. However, their rotis aren't bad.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: embee

                        embee... was that the st. clair or queen w. location? personally, i've favoured st. clair over the years, but the last 2-3 times, I've found the fare to be..indifferent? At least not as good as it used to be. Meanwhile, i've really enjoyed the curry goat (this is made differently from the other joint) and oxtail at queen recently. Also, their rice & peas has been much better.

                        1. re: Chester Eleganté

                          I assume you are asking about Albert's. It's St Clair -- I've never been to another location. I had been their many times over several years, and liked it, but I hadn't eaten there in a very long time. The food was absolutely awful -- everything was bad. It was busy and there were several people behind the counter and at the back. So there was no excuse. Had this been my only experience with Jamaican food, it would have put me off the cuisine indefinitely.

                          1. re: embee

                            Fair enough. I guess as a partial defence, those items (patty, fritter, and..fried chicken? or jerk..) are ones that can be sitting around for awhile, busy or otherwise. I've had bad festivals as well, for example, but it's always been fine when I stick with the main stuff like curries/rotis/oxtail.

                      2. Gonna try this new Caribbean joint that just opened up in Gerrard Square's food court. More cool places to eat in my neighbourhood now! ;)

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: YummyYummy

                          I'm sure you'll let us know what it's like. I really miss the Dutchpot and I don't like The Real Jerk, so even though its in a mall, I'd go there if it was good.

                          1. re: YummyYummy

                            Tropical Joe's...got there yesterday, friendly staff, fish looked really cooked ahead, so I tried the oxtail(sauce a bit too tomatoey for my taste) and the jerk chicken (it bites back a little, yum)Chopped cabbage, carrot and green peas side was nice for a change from slaw, and rice and beans quite tasty.

                            1. re: YummyYummy

                              Had my lunch there today. Ordered a small oxtail combo with rice/peas and vegetables (as per Wiley's desc). The oxtail was a little bit tough but it was alright. I ate them all, that's for sure. The rice/peas, however, were way too mushy (overcooked) for my taste. Only nibbled on the veggies. I would go back though. I'm open to trying their other dishes. Plus, a tall can of coconut water cost only $2!!! Good deal, imo. (Hubby ordered from the Thai place and fell in love w/ their chicken wings)

                              1. re: sierramum

                                Hmmm maybe we need a Gerrard Square Food Court thread! Who knew, who knew.

                                1. re: julesrules

                                  They're really re-doing everything in there! But if they want the food court to improve, they definitely need to ditch the KFC! Also, we were really disappointed to find out that Poonie's is gone. Instead, it's a generic type chinese fast-food type place.

                                  1. re: sierramum

                                    I think Poonies was the last remaining original Gerrard Sq tenant and the second-last independent operator. I suspect that the Thai place's lease won't be renewed.

                                    1. re: embee

                                      Tropical Joe's is pretty good for a take out Caribbean in a mall. They are Guyanese style. Potato balls are ok, but skip the Poulories IMO. Maybe I am just used to the Trini style ones. You get a good portion on a chicken roti, roti is fresh and good dhal purie, though I find their curry chicken is too strong and if it wasn't for the fact that they mix the chicken with the milder curried aloo (potato) I wouldn't be able to eat much of it; but mixed together it's decent. Peas and rice are ok, but stay away from the chow mein, it's mush. The fish is usually good and you get a nice size piece. My wife likes their Jerk chicken but I just find it okie dokie. You can get coconut buns for patties, but I've found the only patties that aren't made from scratch that aren't either two much dry pastry, or soggy and/or chewy are the michedean ones.

                                      The Thai place is back in the same spot, but under a different name. The same cook is in the back, and if you ask him he will cook all the same stuff that was on the old menu (my wife used to always get #112 Spicy chilli beef with cashews, and ask for it extra hot).

                              2. re: YummyYummy

                                Paid a visit here on Monday night and had the Chicken Curry Roti. Roti skins are good, but not made on premises. The Chicken Curry was tasty and not too spicey, but quite salty for my tastes. The portion size was HUGE - as it usually is for Roti. I'd like to go back and try the jerk chicken - the staff there say it's the best.

                              3. I think the problem stems from the fact that West Indian/Caribbean food is often narrowly defined by Jamaican food, when in fact, Jamaican food is just one form of Caribbean food. Caribbean food is in fact very diverse, and each country within the Caribbean has a very distinctive style. And the influences go a lot further than just East Indian...

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: Truffles

                                  I agree. I was referring to the tendency to clump all Caribbean food into the same box.
                                  When I was in Negril, it was hard to find a roti shop or any East indian type food (doubles, pouhlories etc)
                                  These foods are more Trinidadian/Guyanese than Jamaican.
                                  Yes you can find jerk chicken in East Indian influenced islands as well as ackee and saltfish, oxtail etc. but it is prepared different. Each Island has its own flavour.
                                  But when I think of dishes that are traditionally associated with Jamaica (ie: Ackee & saltfish, their national dish btw) I would go to a Jamaican restaurant to eat it.
                                  Likewise, if I feel like eating Doubles, I would go to a Trinidadian restaurant.

                                  1. re: weebey

                                    Weebey...............Very accurate comment. Roti in Jamaica is almost unheard of..most Jamaicans don't eat any kind of 'wrap' that I know of..in fact, you would be hard - pressed to find anything like a sandwich (as we know it)Street food is JERK either pork or chicken ..when eating in a Restaurant you would probably be offered Rice & Peas and (mayonnaise-based) Cole Slaw. Salads, per se are not eaten...lettuce and other salad veggies are usually too costly.."Root Vegetables" or long life vegetables (Cabbage) are generally cheap and readily available.
                                    By the way, when home in Toronto we always get take out from Albert's on St.Clair...have never had any problems re stale or whatever.. One last comment re 'festival'...unless it's being made from scratch in front of you..do not order..it is made by deep frying and then sits around all day waiting to be microwaved. When it's freshly made it's yummy!

                                    1. re: pearlD

                                      Uh-huh. Roti is an East Indian influenced thing. Trini and Guyanese, since there are much larger such populations there. Ditto for other permutations of East Indian cuisine. And there's also Guyanese Chinese food ...

                                      1. re: pearlD

                                        are any of you guys actually jamaican?? my family is jamaican, so i know for a fact that roti and curry (either curry goat or chicken) are definitely a celebrated part of the jamaican cuisine. though not as big as in trinidad and guyana, there is a East Indian community in Jamaica.

                                        1. re: gypsy1783

                                          But that being said, Guyanese and Trini rotis are ten times better than Jamaican ones.

                                          1. re: goodcookiedrift

                                            Well, alas, that hasn't been my experience, but maybe you could share where to get the 10x better rotis...

                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                              Ali's - Queen and Lansdowne.

                                              I'd have to say is my favorite. Curry goat + pumpkin.

                                              1. re: Full tummy

                                                I really enjoy the roti (boneless chicken is my usual order) at Caribbean Palms - Flemingdon Plaza - Don Mills north of Overlea Blvd. Can really taste the individual spices. Would love you to try it and let me know what you think.

                                                1. re: tochowchick

                                                  That location is quite convenient for me. Would you say it's better than Island Foods (on Don Mills north of Lawrence)? I will definitely make a point of going there soon... Thanks for the recommendation.

                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                    I like it better than Island Foods but would love your opinion...the owner is really nice guy...I believe (?) he's Guyanese....

                                                    I'm no expert by any means but I just know what I consider yummy and I find this roti is...

                                                    Let me know what you think...cheers...

                                            2. re: gypsy1783

                                              Well , no, I am not Jamaican BUT I have been a winter resident for four months every year (usually), we do own property,& pay taxes and ..have been doing this since 1977.....does that somewhat qualify me for judging 'some' Jamaican food.....I have never seen seen a ROTI in Ocho Rios where we live.....

                                      2. Diner's Corner at 3 Gloucester Street downtown. Amazing food, and fresh everytime. Dine in or take out but no delivery. It is not cafeteria style so there will be a wait to recieve your food. I definatey recommend Diner's Corner.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: jen2202

                                          Diner's make the best festivals. Sometimes I drop by for half a dozen to go just for the walk home ;-)

                                          1. re: fickle

                                            If you don't mind me asking, what are festivals?

                                        2. i agree, and they have amazing chicken wings too!!! I know, not West Indian exactly but still great ;)

                                          1. I was really disappointed with Albert's after hearing all the great reviews. I had the vegetable roti and hubby had the jerk chicken. They were pretty bland compared to our local joint in Richmond Hill - Carribbean Jerk Pit (I think the owners might be Trinidadian).

                                            Luckily Albert's rum cake was delicious.

                                            1. U had Alberts on ST Clair last night. I ordered a small jerk chicken, it was moist n yummy and the rice n peas were good too. The bad part of my experience; a stale microwaved festival :( I would go back.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: jen2202

                                                I have always liked Island Foods which has a few locations around the city. The roti and curried goat that they serve at the Ex is some of the best I have ever had. Very hot and fresh! I make it a point to go the Ex every year to have this, some German food (sadly it seems to be the only place to get it now) a fresh lemonade and Tiny Tim donuts.

                                                There should really be a topic for the worst Caribbean food in the city. There are so many popping up now it seems to be becoming the next "Thai food". Unfortuantely, so many of them don't seem to give a damn about the quality of the food and turn people off it.

                                              2. A place that I visit frequently is Royal Caribbean Cafe, which is at 1127 St Clair W, just east of Dufferin. The curry goat is great, and the chef is very friendly and accommodating.

                                                1. If you find yourselves wandering around out my way around Port Credit, Mississauga and are feeling pangs of hunger pick up a little snack to keep on keeping on at>>>

                                                  Barb's Roti Shop, 1181 Lakeshore Road East West Of Dixie Road Mississauga, Ontario, "Quality Roti For Quality People".

                                                  ...And thanks for the tips on spots I might be passing by.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: vintage

                                                    I've been going to Barb's for the past 10 years. Excellent roti's, don't be intimidated by the sketchy strip mall location.

                                                    1. re: Marfil

                                                      BARB's on lakeshore is SO DELICIOUS!
                                                      The curry goat, curry boneless chicken and butterchicken all divine as roti or with peas and rice.
                                                      Everytime I eat a roti elsewhere I always wish I'd gone to Barb's <3

                                                      Like today for example I had a roti from Jan's - they had a booth set-up at the Metro Hall farmer's market and although the curry was yummy.. the meat was chewey and the roti was as thick as a greek pita bread.
                                                      *I did pick up their jerk sauce to brbq with this weekend so I'm looking forward to that!

                                                      1. re: MissDarling

                                                        Check out La Limonada the next time you're at the Metro Hall farmer's market. It's closer to Wellington, off the grass in one of those round rotunda things. Look for the table with limes and lemon outside. They make a really good jerk chicken sandwich and doubles. The roast beef sandwich is weak but they do have Randy's patties. They're opened all week if you can't make it there on Thursdays. I wasn't impressed with Jan's either. It was quite bland. I would rather wander up to Ackee Tree instead.

                                                        1. re: MissDarling

                                                          What's better Barbs or Ghandi's Butter Chicken???

                                                    2. Island Foods @ King & Dufferin St. or in the Village by the Grange (across from OCAD) does nice Trini roti, jerk, blood pudding etc.

                                                      1. Hey LovesToEat, Glad you liked Fish Palace.

                                                        There's a place on Queen & Bathurst. I think it's called Irie Food Joint.
                                                        I'll be checking it out one of these days.

                                                        Anyone been there?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: weebey

                                                          yeah we were thre recently. nothing to get too excited about it. however, I would have to go back and give them another chance to further gauge. I think the OP having been a regular there would have more to say.

                                                        2. Carribean Queen at Bloor and Lansdowne is great

                                                          1. I've been a West Indian food fan for years and my current favourite spots in the city are:

                                                            -Ali's West Indian Roti Shop, 1446 Queen Street West, just E of Lansdowne: This place has always had consistent quality and fresh ingredients every time I've been. For years, there used to be a Halal meat shop next door that was run by the same family, I believe. I still walk right by Bacchus, which is closer, but doesn't match Ali's for quality in my opinion

                                                            -The Jerk Hut, 171 Front Street East at 134 Lower Sherbourne (just S of the Rabba on the same level: This place opened last Christmas, and it's quickly become one of my favourites. The neighbourhood had been lacking any WI food of note for several years, so they were an immediate hit. I've thoroughly enjoyed everything I've tried on the menu (especially the Jerk Chicken Roti!) and the quality and prices are excellent.

                                                            -Gandhi Cuisine at 554 Queen West, just E of Bathurst: I know it's technically an East Indian dish, but you really must try their Butter Chicken Roti. Unbelievably addictive, and although a bit pricey at the checkout (very little room for eat-in), it completely fills the take-out container, and you'll know it was a bargain after the first bite. I honestly have no idea what else is on their menu, as my imagination doesn't stretch further than the BC Roti once I walk in their door.

                                                            1. We stopped for lunch at Allspice Bakery Cafe this Monday for the first time. It's a great find in Mississauga at 3115 Winston Churchill Blvd, just north of Dundas. It looks like it used to be an old donut shop but now it serves quite a variety of Carribean food. I loved the rice & peas with curried chickpeas that I had. Very fresh and tasty. The other dishes coming out of the kitchen looked just as good. Very reasonable prices too.

                                                              1. If you're up in Markham, there's this place called Negril Baked Goods and Take-out Foods that has a delicious jerk chicken sandwich on cocoa bread! They also have great jerk chicken dinners and rotis.

                                                                Negril Baked Goods and Take-out Foods
                                                                2002 Middlefield Rd Markham ON
                                                                (905) 294-9694

                                                                1. I also like Ali's on Queen west . . . The food is always fresh and always tasty!! ...
                                                                  I always seem to go back to them after having tried most in the area...the owner is also very nice


                                                                  1. For a quick fix of Jamaican, I go to Gerrard Mall. Yes you heard me correctly. In the food court it's called Tropical Joe's. I have my usual a large Jerk Chicken with a side of Rice & Peas with Ox Tail gravy on the Rice.mmmmmm. All for tax included $6.47
                                                                    The staff is extremly friendly and I think the food has alot of flavour. A nice kick. Stopped going to The Real Jerk on Queen St. years ago. Had a bad experience all around and haven't returned. Food was dry everything overcooked and staff didn't seem to care. Sounds like I need to try Albert's.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Riverdaleguy

                                                                      You should try Albert's at Vaughan and St.Clair West...apart from the usual rice n'peas, oxtail etc...try the homemade soups..they are excellent.
                                                                      Forget the 'so-called' Albert's on Queen Street...it is not the same by any means and it may even be closed at this point.
                                                                      I don't eat the jerk chicken ..my hubby does and loves it....my fave is the curried oxtail dinner and ask for extra 'gravy' on the rice n' peas.
                                                                      If you like Roti (which is not typically Jamaican) and I/we do ..we go to Bacchus on Queen Street near the Designer Fabric Outlet.

                                                                      1. re: Riverdaleguy

                                                                        I hate to disappoint you, but you"re not getting a quick fix of Jamaican food here, you're getting a quick fix of Guyanese! But I do agree, their food is pretty good for a mall food court.

                                                                        1. re: Riverdaleguy

                                                                          I really like that place. If running errands at Home Depot, I try to time it so that I have to get lunch there. Nice Roti's as well. The hot sauce has some good flavour. And the staff is friendly.

                                                                          Real Jerk stinks. When a jerk place serves you chicken breast instead of dark meat, you know something's off.

                                                                        2. I keep seeing more references to Roti and Jerk, but what about good patties? Where to you get them? I love the spicy Beef ones.

                                                                          I used to got Allen's pastry in the peanut plaza on Don Mills to get them.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: smr714

                                                                            Caribbean Queen of Patties on Bloor at Lansdowne has good patties.

                                                                            1. re: smr714

                                                                              Allen's is still there and very good. Randy's on Eglinton W., and Tinnel's, a bit further west on Eglinton, make my favourite patties.

                                                                            2. Has anyone tried Ackeetree on the NW corner of Spadina and Queen? I've always wanted to try that place out.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: jtamin

                                                                                Yes, it is terrific! I haven't eaten there in about a year but last time I was there they had a delicious jerk sandwhich.

                                                                                1. re: jtamin

                                                                                  just had lunch there today
                                                                                  deliciuos fish dish and oxtail . service great -- place was very clean and pleasant -- looking forward to going back

                                                                                2. Albert's is only fresh if you go early in the day when they first open, and even then you may not have the freshest food. Their soup on Sunday is the best thing out of that place.

                                                                                  For real roadside Jamaican (West Indian) barrel cooked, grilled chicken, check out the man outside on Eglinton Ave West between Oakwood and Marlee on Friday and Saturday's in the summer from 11pm to 2am at night. You'll have the freshest, most delicious BBQ'ed chicken for a decent price.

                                                                                  Can't beat Ali's in Parkdale for real Trinidadian dal puri (ground chickpeas in the middle) roti.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: W4W Toronto

                                                                                    Thanks for the tip on the barrel cooked chicken.

                                                                                    1. re: W4W Toronto

                                                                                      Just a note - dhalpuri contains ground yellow split peas, not chickpeas.

                                                                                    2. best jamaican restaurant is Diners Corner on Gloucester/Yonge. They have the best fried chicken and curry goat there. I always get them in a combo w rice and peas. the festivals are best in town as well. oddly enuff, they have some of the best wings in town. i think thier better than duffs. jerk chicken is so-so

                                                                                      for take-out, i love going to Mr Jerk's on Wellesly. great jerk chicken and jerk pork.