Celebrate Jamaican Patty Day in Toronto on February 23rd

Written by Karen Burshtein

The City of Toronto recognizes February 23rd as Jamaican Patty Day, not that anyone needed an excuse to grab themselves a tasty hand-held meat pastry. Typically filled with beef that is spiced to perfection, the flaky pastry crust surrounding the ground beef filling owes its brilliant colour to a combination of egg yolk and turmeric, and that golden shell is a sunny spot in the dead of February winter.

We’re going to let you in on all the best spots to grab Jamaica’s number one snack food in Toronto. But before we do, we have to tell you the story behind how February 23 was chosen to celebrate the snack. It’s a story for the food history books – one of a battle between the meat patties. 

The significance of February 23rd dates back to the “Patty Wars” of 1985, between patty vendors and the City of Toronto. Regulators ordered local vendors to refrain from using the term “beef patties” to describe their offerings for fear that the name would cause confusion amongst consumers. At the time, the term was unofficially reserved for the meat patty in a hamburger, not something encased in a dough or crust. The rift made headlines. Following a series of heated negotiations, the patty vendors prevailed in a ruling on February 23, and the day has been known henceforth as Jamaican Patty Day in Toronto.

This year, the Jamaica Tourist Board is teaming up with Patties Express to give away free patties on Friday, February 23 at Union Station in celebration of Jamaican Patty Day in Toronto. Visitors can head to the Bay Street sampling kiosk at Union Station from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to taste delicious Jamaican beef patties and learn more about the destination. Destination Jamaica will also be hosting a Patty Day contest and giving away a trip for two to Kingston, Jamaica in partnership with Flair Airlines and Spanish Court Hotel

“From the historic Patty Wars of 1985 to today, Jamaicans have been making their mark on Toronto’s culinary landscape for decades. On February 23 we encourage everyone in the city – and beyond – to sample a true taste of the Caribbean and pick up some patties in honour of Jamaican Patty Day,” said Angella Bennett, Regional Director, Canada, Jamaica Tourist Board.

Wondering where you can snag some of the city’s tastiest Jamaican patties? Honourable mention goes to Randy’s Takeout in Little Jamaica on Eglinton West – an iconic spot that would have certainly made the list prior to closing its doors in 2022. Luckily, there are more than enough great Patty joints to fill the void. They include:

Sun-Light Bakery (2512 Eglinton Ave W.) is another Little Jamaica fixture. It’s been around for decades and is a great local spot for delicious beef patties.

Known for its spicy beef patties, Patty Time is a beloved Jamaican joint in a strip mall on Lawrence Avenue East in Scarborough. Grab one or two to go in the patty’s classic white paper bag or a box to take home and share.

The “TTC Patty Stop” is a Toronto tradition. The TTC even hosts a Best Subway Jamaican Patty contest. A couple of our favourite patty stands on the subway line are Cafe on the Go at Islington Station (1226 Islington Ave, Etobicoke) and Fahmee at Bathurst Station. They tragically shut down after a fire three years ago but have since reopened to reign supreme as the official Jamaican Beef Patty of Bathurst station.

Another gem is Patties Express, which has multiple locations in Toronto including one in the Union Station food hall, making it a very convenient stop for commuters and the downtown crowd. Grab one plain or sandwich the patty between coco bread (a Jamaican patty tradition) if you’re looking for a more substantial meal.  

Albert’s Real Jamaican Foods is a Saint Clair West fixture that has people stopping in all day for Jamaican Patty snacks, available in both spicy and not too spicy.