Respect: The Best Takeout Places for Jerk Chicken in Canada

Written by Karen Burshtein

The Rihanna and Drake “Work” video, shot at the Real Jerk Restaurant in Toronto back in 2016, brought iconic Jamaican jerk flavouring to the culinary forefront. But for many, jerk – the Jamaican spice rub with its fiery/smoky blend of scallions, garlic, cloves, Scotch bonnet peppers, soy sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt and pepper (and each restaurant’s secret combination thereof), isn’t a trend but a culinary classic synonymous with the Caribbean island itself. 

In Canada, you can find plenty of Jerk mashups – Jerk Shawarma and Jerk Poutine, for example – but we have One Love for classic takeout Jerk Chicken. In honour of the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence this year, we are sharing some of our favourite jerk chicken takeaway spots across Canada. 

At each, the Jerk the meat is tender and covered in rich and flavourful sauce. None of the cooks at these restaurants brag about their jerk chicken being the best, but all boast that they “cook with love.”

Boom J’s (Montreal ,QC)

Many people caught the Boom J‘s bug at city festivals after trying their patties and other Jamaican faves at their food truck. At their shop, they cook love and joy into classic Jamaican fare like oxtail, ackee ‘n saltfish, and Jerk Chicken of course. Here the Jerk chicken is served with rice and peas, side salad and plantain.


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Jerk King (Toronto, ON)

Naming the best jerk chicken in Toronto is one of the harder calls a food writer can make. There are so many, including the Real Jerk. But if I absolutely had to choose one, it would be the Jerk King on Bloorcourt. The restaurant features a chill atmosphere, serving up juicy, boneless jerk chicken – with tasty charred blackened bits here and there – on top of a generous helping of rice and peas.

Negril's Jerk Hut (Scarborough, ON)

Negril’s Jerk Hut in Scarborough is one of three locations of the famous Jamaican restaurant, the other two being in New York and Jamaica.

The juicy and tender chicken, with just the right amount of heat from the scotch bonnet and warmth from the allspice, is a GTA favourite. The owner humbly calls his jerk chicken “nice” and says modestly, “I like to cook for customers.” The dish is served with rice and peas and coleslaw, or you can order it with a side of festival, Jamaican dumplings.

K&S Island Grill (Winnipeg, MB)

Keisha Powell-Ewers and Sean Ewers’ brightly painted restaurant, K&S Island Grill, is where expat Jamaicans come to eat and takeout island classics. The jerk chicken has a real scotch bonnet kick to it. It’s an easy 10 out of 10 on the heat scale. The quarter chicken served for takeout is beautifully cooked and charred, and the festival dumplings on the side are fluffy and fresh with just a hint of sweetness. “The secret to good jerk chicken,” Sean says, is “the smokiness,” and he and Keisha both add together, “Love”.

Simply Irie Caribbean Cuisine (Calgary, AB)

The jerk chicken at the lively family-owned restaurant, Simply Irie, a neighbourhood and Jamaican expat mainstay is marinated in a nice and spicy sauce, then oven baked and served with your choice of white rice or rice and peas.