08/30/2011 03:22 pm ET | Updated Oct 30, 2011

The Best Jamaican Beef Patty in Toronto

The Jamaican beef patty, served in coco bread, is one of my favourite foods in the entire world.

And Randy's, a take-out restaurant in Toronto specializing in Caribbean cuisine, makes the best patties I've ever tasted.

Now, I've been meaning to blog about Randy's heavenly beef pies for weeks, but haven't succeeded. Why? The reason is simple, but embarrassing: while I have patronized the shop regularly since I got back to Toronto a month ago, I have always scarfed the patties down before being able to snap a picture. Call it over-zealousness, call it greed. But these patties are so good (and best eaten scalding hot) that getting photographic evidence of their yumminess is often the last thing on my mind. I'm too busy trying to shovel these savoury treats down my gullet. Oops.

So what is a patty, exactly? I'm no chemist, and far from a chef, but I will attempt to at least describe its physical and chemical properties. A patty is a pie of sorts -- a crusty, flaky, often yellow pastry shell stuffed with a variety of hot fillings. These tasty innards range from ground beef, to minced chicken, to mixed vegetables. While I am a huge fan of the beef patty, I am unsure of its origins; I believe it to be conceived in Jamaica, but I know that it is also eaten in other parts of the Caribbean. The patty, not quite turnover, not quite shepherd's pie, is perhaps best described as the spicy, reggae-fied remix of the two. Whatever the composition, one thing is for certain: it's damn good.

And then, coco bread: billowy, starchy, and tasting faintly of the coconut milk that it's made with, coco bread is akin to the French brioche. Sliced in such a way that it resembles a pocket, it swaddles the patty like a blanket does a baby.

In my opinion, nobody does the patty and coco bread like Randy's. The atmosphere of the place always makes me smile: located in Toronto's "Little Jamaica" (the stretch of Eglinton Ave. between Eglinton West subway and Keele St.) there is sure to be at least one vendor with a stall set up outside the restaurant, admonishing you to buy his wares: mix CDs of reggae and dance hall music, artwork, bric-a-brac. The vendors, often native Jamaicans, beckon to me with cries of Daughter and Empress, in the hopes that I will peruse their offerings before I enter the patty shop.

Those unfamiliar with Jamaican history will be shocked to see the phenotypically-Chinese man behind the register speaking in a sing-song Jamaican patois (Chinese Jamaicans are the descendants of migrants from China to Jamaica; they were labourers, who, contracted for plantation work, arrived in waves to Jamaica in the 19th century), but being from a Jamaican family I don't bat an eye. Instead, I put in my order: "Six patties, six bread, and a Kola Champagne, please," my words tinged with a Jamaican accent even though I was born and raised in Canada. But that's just how we do things here.

At just over $12 CDN for a half-dozen hot patties (boxes of frozen patties are also for sale), six coco bread pockets, and a fizzy Kola Champagne soda (think cream soda, with a kick), Randy's is one of the best deals in town. One patty and one bread is very filling, though gluttons like me will eat two, or even three, in one sitting.

Have you ever seen or eaten a patty?

Next time you're in Toronto, give them a try: Randy's Take Out
1569 Eglinton Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario
M6E 2G9
Phone: 416-781-5313