12 of Toronto’s best Caribbean restaurants

12 of Toronto’s best Caribbean restaurants

Our favourite places right now for roti, jerk chicken, curry goat and beef patties

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AF1 Caribbean Kitchen
596 College St., 647-340-3924, caribbeancanteen.ca

From the chef and owner of Kensington Market’s Dirty Bird comes this Caribbean kitchen on College. Adrian Forte cooks up a menu of Jamaica’s greatest hits like jerk chicken, oxtail stew and beef patties, as well as less ubiquitous specialties like curry duck and peppered shrimp. To drink, there are island favourites like Ting, Dragon Stout and Red Stripe. The most potent potable is the rum punch, which comes in two flavours: red and yellow.

Yum. ? ? #roti ??

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Ali’s Roti
1446 Queen St. W., 416-532-7701, alisroti.ca

Yes, a rational diner would see the chana dhal puri roti at this Parkdale institution as plenty for two meals. But a funny thing happens once this bundle of split peas, curried chickpeas and potatoes is torn open: the eager mouthfuls just keep coming, especially once the subtle tug-of-war between Ali’s sinus-clearing scotch bonnet sauce and equally soothing tamarind chutney has started. It’s best to just keep going.

Jerk chicken roti from Bacchus Roti. Hits the spot. #cheapeats

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Bacchus Roti
1376 Queen St. W., 416-532-8191, No website

Parkdale’s bright little roti shop has survived a changing neighbourhood, a new generation in the kitchen and even an ill-conceived Restaurant Makeover intervention. Chicken curry roti is the classic, though veg roti is where Bacchus shines. The soft whole-wheat shell can be filled with any combo of chickpeas, spinach, eggplant, sweet squash and gooey melted cheese. Peanut butter stars—shortcrust pastry twisted around a sugary, nutty paste—are a must-order. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Beryl’s Pepper Pot
1610 Queen St. E., 647-748-1400, berylspepperpot.com

The specialty at this Ajax-based chain is Jamaican home cooking, served in a simple fast-food setting by cheerful staff. The fragrant, herbaceous jerk makes a nice, earthy marinade for soft slices of pork. Long-simmered chicken stew is saucy, savoury with onion, garlic and thyme and disintegratingly tender. Coconut-scented rice, peas and a dollop of sweet coleslaw accompany each dish. Weekend breakfasts specials include wonderfully soft ackee and salty cured cod, underserved by bland, stodgy sides like dry dumplings and brick-hard green bananas.

Riverdale site visit…Means Jerk Chicken FTW! #BroadviewMunchin #UVeats #TorontoEats #TOeats

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Caribbean Dutchpot
751 Broadview Ave., 416-465-7779, thepeoplesdutchpot.com

Several years after closing its Beach location in 2006, this 10-seat roti shop and restaurant resurfaced on Broadview, causing an outpouring of joy on Chowhound. The room is tidy and cheery: gingham tablecloths are dressed with Jamaican map placemats and sauces that range from plain old hot to hurt-yourself hot. You’ll need them for the chicken curry, which is generous with the bird but miserly on spice. Tender oxtail is finger-licking good, as is the spicy, nicely blackened jerk chicken. Traditional Jamaican rum fruitcake is deeply flavoured with ginger and molasses.

I must confess, I'm addicted to doubles. This Trinidadian treat called doubles is a sandwich made with two bara (flat fried bread filled with channa (curried chick peas). It's then topped with either mango, tamarind, or extra pepper sauce. This amazing street food is even better than patties. Yes, I said it! I love that West Indians' 'hot' is actually really hot and I can keep asking for more (my spice level is insane). I need my doubles at least once a week, and I'm always hunting for the best doubles in and around the GTA. Have you tried? If yes, where do you recommend? Let me know! #livetoeat #sasaeats #doubles #chana #trinidadian #trinidadandtobago #trini #streetfood #carribeanfood #islandfood _ #vegetarian #getinmybelly #nomnom #ilovefood #fromabove #thatsdarling #thehappynow #fromwhereistand #whywhiteworks #nothingisordinary #simplepleasures #flashesofdelight #livethelittlethings #makemoments #foodart #chooselovely #feelfreefeed #littlestoriesofmylife #f52grams #torontofood

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35 Woodbine Downs Blvd., 416-745-4189, drupatis.com

The first thing you need to know about doubles is that they are called doubles, even if you’re eating just one. It’s not “a double.” Ever. In Trinidad, the spicy sandwich with chickpea filling between fried buns is a street food enjoyed in the morning. In Toronto, the breakfast thing isn’t strictly enforced, but what matters is that you get your doubles from Drupatis, the Etobicoke-based mini-chain. And if you’re lucky, macaroni pie will be on special—the dense West Indian take on mac and cheese uses pimento cheese and is intensely creamy.

The perfect jerk pork sandwich.

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Fahmee Bakery
119 Montezuma Tr., 416-754-2126, No website

Toronto has plenty of Jamaican spots serving dry, flavourless jerk chicken. At Fahmee Bakery, by contrast, the jerk chicken on a coco bun is stuffed with intensely fiery chunks of dark, moist meat. The flaky crust of the patties gives way to doughy centres and lots of spiced vegetables, beef or chicken. The (bone-in) curried goat with rice and peas is flavourful and satisfying.

La Cubana
392 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-538-7500, lacubana.ca

Even on a rainy night, there’s a queue to get into La Cubana, the spot from Corinna Mozo, the chef-owner who ran Delux on Ossington. She modelled the seafoam-hued room on a diner her grandfather once ran in Cuba: swivel bar stools overlook an open kitchen where cooks in Jays caps fry plush conch fritters and shimmy to vintage jazz. The menu consists of snack-size plates, like a sandwich of guava-glazed beef and tangy pickled cabbage barely contained by a Cuban-style sweet egg bun, and larger dishes, like Ontario pickerel.

DEAD SET ON LIFE ! CARIBANA ????????????? @viceland

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Randy’s Takeout
1569 Eglinton Ave. W., 416-781-5313, randyspatties.com

Crimped pockets of beef, seasoned with pepper and green onion, have been sold at this Little Jamaica institution since 1979. Break the bank for a dozen (a whopping $14.95) to get one of the red takeout boxes, decked out in cartoonish, iconic Randy’s Patties script.

Rhum Corner
926 Dundas St. W., 647-346-9356, rhumcorner.com

This venue from Black Hoof owner Jen Agg recreates the laid-back vibe of a Port-au-Prince hangout. Savoury Haitian fritters made from grated malanga, a yam-like tuber, are served with a bracing scotch bonnet–laced coleslaw. Griot—pork cooked sous-vide, then fried—has a powerful citrus tang. Goat is as rich and tender as a long-simmered boeuf bourguignon, stewed with the bones for extra depth. A wall behind the bar displays 100 rum varieties.

The Jerk Joint
238 Queen St. W., 647-748-7011, jerkjointtoronto.com

The empty food court across the street from MuchMusic languished for years until this terrific, tiny takeout spot reinvigorated the space. The versatile Jamaican jerk marinade offers up complex notes of allspice and clove, tasting full-bodied and sweet on soft chunks of smoked pork tenderloin and astringent and peppery on chicken. All the herb-rubbed meats have a blazing scotch bonnet kick, just as they should, and come with toothsome, thyme-speckled rice, pigeon peas and a pile of sweet coleslaw. Drinks include ginger beer, Ting and other Jamaican sodas.

Left Chicken Roti and right 1/4 Jerk Chicken, slaw, and dirty rice. #sodamngood #jamaican #cuisine

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The Real Jerk
842 Gerrard St. E., 416-463-6055, therealjerk.com

After being unceremoniously kicked out of its longtime home on Queen East, this Jamaican patriarch has risen again on Gerrard East—and risen it has! The food is good, but the kitchen is a little too timid in its spicing. Chicken roti is saucy and bright, and jerk chicken is fragrant and tender, but neither makes much use of crucial scotch bonnet peppers. It doesn’t matter: come for the chewy salt cod fritters, the dense sweet potato pudding and the friendly counter service.