Chris Jerk Caribbean Bistro (Toronto) for takeout

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

Have you ever encountered a situation where you’ve lived in a neighbourhood, but felt you overlooked an area and now wish you discovered it sooner? For me, it’s Huntingwood Square, a strip mall at Birchmount and Huntingwood in Scarborough.  I must have driven by the plaza hundreds of times while traversing Huntingwood trying to miss the busier arteries. Little did I know it’d be home to some well-loved authentic mom-and-pop places, one of them being Chris Jerk Caribbean Bistro.

And when I say Chris Jerk is known and loved, I’m not kidding. The weekend crowd is well documented online, so I thought I’d be smart and visit on a random Tuesday instead. Arriving ten minutes to 11:00am, before the restaurant opened, there were already a couple of cars parked around the entrance. By 10:55am, someone started a line. Before the doors even opened, there were ten people queued up. All on a regular Tuesday.

Chris Jerk serves up an array of Jamaican food, but there’s a couple of surprising things on the menu like the shawarma plate and even more popular shawarma poutine. It seemed a little out of place, but then I learnt about Chef Taylor’s background at Me Va Me and the menu made more sense.

Even so, I didn’t feel like shawarma. What had me salivating was the other meals I’ve seen, substantial well-rounded meals. Unlike most places, the containers aren’t merely filled with rice, peas, a protein, and perhaps a tong of coleslaw. At Chris Jerk, each meal also arrives with vibrant buttery stir-fried vegetables and sweet soft fried plantains. It’s a full-sized affair where you’re bound to have leftovers.

As soon as I saw the large pieces of oxtail ($16.95) I was ready to dig in - you’re lucky there’s any pictures that’s part of this post. Boy was it tasty: thick and meaty with more than enough of the lovely gravy to mix into the rice and peas. While it was tender, it wasn’t braised so long that it fell off the bone. You could still pick up each piece and get a bite of meat and jellied cartilage all together.

I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about all the chickpeas accompanying the curry chicken ($12.45) but, in retrospect, the crumbly legumes with the juicy chicken were a nice combination. Despite the vibrant yellow hue of the sauce, the spices weren’t too powerful. Everyone seemed to ask for hot sauce on the side, something I’ll pick up next time to add a bit more heat to the dish.

In fact, nothing is overly spicy. Even the jerk chicken leg ($3) was rather tame tasting like barbeque chicken with a jerk element, equally sweet to spicy. I’m glad we only purchased a side order as it would have been a disappointment – when one orders jerk chicken you want that hit of flavours, this was not it.  

If you ever visit Chris Jerk and see a line-up, don’t get too scared. It moves fairly quickly with their order, pay, leave phone number, and get out of the store system. In about 15-20 minutes when your meal is ready, you’ll get a call. At that point, head back into the cash register area and the fragrant to-go package is presented. Good food takes time, and these hearty meals are worth the time. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2570 Birchmount Road
 Delivery:  Uber
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 -  wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!

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