Jamaican beef patties are ubiquitous in Toronto. Pretty much every neighborhood has a shop or two serving the street food favorite. To eat the best, it’s worth going to Little Jamaica, where Randy’s Take-Out has been baking them since 1979. It is in the heart of one of the most vibrant ex-pat neighborhoods in a city full of immigrant communities from all over the world.
The crust on Randy’s patties is stretched thin and baked until bubbly with air pockets. It’s flaky, moist, and crisp on the edges. Meaty fillings of beef or chicken come suspended in rich gravy. In spite of having so delicate a crust and gloppy filling, the patty manages to hold together until the last bite. It’s a marvel of engineering. Lesser patties, so common elsewhere, are ruined forever once you’ve tasted Randy’s. The only mark against Randy’s is that it isn’t open at the late drinking hour, when salty, fatty hand-pies are best enjoyed.
Randy’s doesn’t fancy itself a restaurant (Take-Out is literally in the name), but its curry plates rival any sit-down Caribbean restaurant we know. A day’s special of oxtail is spoon-tender and suspended in gravy rich with marrow. It is spiced just enough to remind you that it’s Jamaican food, but not so much that you can’t taste the beef. It’s served over fragrant rice and peas, with a cooling, peppery cabbage slaw. Altogether, it is a filling, warming plate of food with every element seasoned perfectly. As much as we like it, we’ll probably return for nothing but sacks of patties. They are just that good.
Randy’s is a humble family-owned counter-service operation with no seating. It doesn’t appear busy because most are coming in for boxes of frozen patties. Locals buy them by the dozens. So many patrons come and go with large, colorful boxes that it looks almost like shoe store. Had we not been such a long way from home, we would have picked up several boxes for storage.