Sort-of Secret: Taudo’s, Toronto Raptor Dalano Banton’s favourite Jamaican restaurant in Rexdale
The sort-of secret: Taudo’s, a Jamaican seafood restaurant in Rexdale
You may have heard of it if: You’re a big Raptors fan and already know that Dalano Banton digs the place
But you probably haven’t tried it because: It’s tucked away in a west-end plaza
In Jamaica, there’s a saying that goes, “Every mickle mek a muckle.” It means that many small efforts can make up one large effort, and that’s the ethos that drives Taudo’s. Having opened up shop mere months before the pandemic, chef-owner Al Gordon knows first-hand the power of a collective. “In the beginning, it was the pandemic. That’s all I’ve been knowing. We’re still navigating it, and I don’t think we recovered as yet, but slowly we’re getting there,” he says.
After working at a friend’s restaurant, Gordon decided to take a chance and open his own. He named it Taudo’s, his childhood nickname, and hasn’t looked back since. Despite the turbulence of the past couple of years, Gordon has continued to cook up seafood exactly how he learned to make it while growing up in Rocky Point, a small coastal town in Jamaica’s Clarendon parish.
His menu includes typical Jamaican fare. “We got oxtail. We have goat, fried chicken, jerk chicken, curry chicken, stew chicken. We have ackee and saltfish. We have veggie dishes, we have callaloo. Soups—whether it’s fish, chicken or conch—are really good sellers, especially the fish and conch soup.
The restaurant is known for its seafood recipes, largely inspired by Gordon’s boyhood adventures back in Jamaica. “Where we’re from, we gathered and cooked. We played games, then cooked. We’d go to the beach, then go cook,” he says. “We’d get up first thing in the morning, get breakfast, then we’d leave the house and wouldn’t be back until it’s time to go to bed. So we learned to figure things out and we learned to cook together. If we were in the bushes, we’re going to be cooking. If we’re at the beach, we’re going to be cooking. You gotta eat, so that’s where learning to cook came from.”
Gordon cites garlic shrimp and curry shrimp as the restaurant’s most popular dishes as they’re always the first to run out, but he offers a variety of other seafood dishes including lobster, crab legs, red snapper, doctor fish and pepper shrimp. “I think we have hands-down the best fish in Toronto,” he says confidently. “I have no doubt. I’d put money on that any day.”
Though seafood is the star of the menu here, another dish may offer some fierce competition—but don’t take our word for it. Toronto Raptor Dalano Banton says his favourite meal to order at Taudo’s is the curry goat. Banton, who grew up in Rexdale’s Mount Olive neighbourhood, eats at Taudo’s regularly, and he usually gets the tender curried goat on a bed of fluffy white rice (or, on some Sundays, rice and peas). Gordon isn’t surprised that the Raptor loves his cooking—Banton is no stranger to Rocky Point cuisine. “He’s basically a little brother,” Gordon says. “His dad and I are from the same community in Jamaica, so we’re like family. His grandfather was my barber!”
You can tell that family anchors Taudo’s. All of the employees are Gordon’s relatives, and on weekends, the place is bustling with patrons of all ages who come to enjoy familiar flavours, much-loved riddims and an all around good time.
“On the weekends, we have music and sometimes wings and beers. We gather—it’s a family atmosphere. Everybody knows one another. It’s mostly friends, because you call up your friends and then those friends call their friends. It’s friendly vibes.”
The energy of Jamaica is very much present inside the small dining room as streams of smiling customers—all greeting one another in patois—come in and out. With Taudo’s, Gordon has brought a piece of Rocky Point to Toronto.
Taudo’s, 50A Rexdale Blvd., 416-887-6760, @taudosrestaurant