Transport yourself to the tropics without leaving the city at these Toronto patios serving authentic Caribbean food.
Just because you may not be jumping on a plane to a tropical destination today or tomorrow, does not mean that you can’t enjoy a West Indian meal outside under the warm sun, that makes you feel like you are actually in the tropics. All you need is a list of great Caribbean restaurants with bumping patios (check) and a little bit of imagination. Sure, summers right here in the city may be short, but they’re among the best weekend getaways. So here are just a few of my picks for Caribbean restaurants with patios that will take you on a mental vacation.
Simone’s Caribbean Restaurant
Now everyone knows that the Danforth serves up some world-renowned Greek food but what you may not know is that one of the hottest restaurants on the strip is serving up authentic Jamaican cuisine.
Yup, that’s right Simone’s Caribbean is one of the spots that has added even more depth and variety to this already food-centric neighbourhood. Like I mentioned the flavours are authentic, so you can’t make a mistake ordering anything on the menu. But If you are a roti lover, then this is the spot for you.
At Simone’s the menu boasts 10 different options, including classics like goat roti and more unique options, like jerk potato. But the hidden gem of the overall experience here just may be their backyard patio. It has a warm, cozy and intimate vibe that allows you to focus squarely on your food and who you are there with (even if who you are with is yourself).
This one holds a special place in my heart. I used to go to Nicey’s (which also functions as a West Indian supermarket) with my parents as a kid whenever my folks needed those foods and products to make traditional dishes or that made them feel closer to their native Barbados.
What I remember the most fondly is the aroma of the prepared meals behind the counter, and asking my parents if we would be getting beef patties (the answer was always “yes”). I also remember the friendliness and sense of community felt within the walls and I swear that love could be tasted in the meals. Some of my favourite dishes at Nicey’s include the fried dumplings, oxtail and Jamaican-style fried chicken. There is definitely a reason that Nicey’s has been a staple in the Scarborough community for over 30 years.
Well, it is also where I come to meet some of my favourite dishes in the city. Inspired by the diverse range of expertise amassed by owner/chef Craig Wong, this menu is packed full of food and bucket list-worthy must-have meals. I beg you, please do not go home without trying the Hickory Sticks topped Chinese pineapple bun burger, the legendary Jamaican Patty Double Down XL or their cheese-covered take on Trini Mac Pie.
And the fun doesn’t stop there, the drinks are also island-inspired and will bring you as close to the beach as possible without getting sand in between your toes. If you do go and happen to bump into chef Craig while you are there, please lobby on my behalf to have him bring back the prosperity jerk fried lobster to the menu. It will bring you to tears, I promise.
The Real Jerk (Gerrard)
How do you make Monday feel like a vacation as opposed to just the beginning of a long week? Hit the patio on Gerrard East's The Real Jerk for Martini Mondays. They serve them up in a traditional and in various island flavours as well for what is guaranteed to be a great time.
Can’t make it on Monday, don’t fret, TRJ is open seven days a week, serving up some of my favourite Caribbean fare in the city. This spot is straight up legendary. Don’t believe me, just pull up Rihanna’s iconic “Work” video featuring the 6ix’s own Drake, which was shot on location inside of the restaurant.
Or ask one their loyal customers who have been supporting the brand during its over three decades of existence. And before we move on, I’ve got a super pro tip for you, no matter what you order, please, please, please get an order of dumplings and gravy. Then ‘thank me later.’