Bad Jamaican food is a tragedy of sorts. An over-run of black pepper with Habaneros, little nutmeg and a lack of sweetness turns staples dish into a hideous mess of bathroom runs and overcooked meat that has not had its respectable time to marinate. Great local restaurants are hard to find.
Brampton is a city of word-of-mouth over reviews. Hunting for flavourful, soulful Jamaican food in Brampton that overwhelms the senses and leaves dreams of jerk is difficult – despite the flourishing Jamaican population in the city. You have to find a well-versed point-guard to direct you to the right establishment.
Enter Tropical Paradise, a buzzing year old family owned restaurant located in the Kennedy & Glidden area. The inside is stripped down to two-toned green walls, bright flower centre-pieces on wooden dinner tables with hotel-banquet hall chairs, and an incredible bar stocked with Jamaican beverages.
Partnered with JustEat and now UberEATS, the business clearly served them well, as the separate take-out counter sign is just as bold as the tropical-coloured restaurant sign that illuminates the parking lot.
And it suits the restaurant personality — Tropical Paradise hosts Saturday night entertainment, summer BBQs and buffets, organizes sports-watching gatherings and celebrates birthdays — setup for a birthday party was in full swing on the night I went.
Clearly, I should have come here sooner.
When we arrived for a sit down, the tables had all been wiped and cleaned for a birthday party. Men were walking in and out with large speakers and cases of beer, prepping for a late night bash. By the booth we chose to sit, large balloons stuck to the wall with curled ribbons hanging loosely. The energy was calm but full of anticipation for what was sure to be a long, albeit enjoyable night. Nonetheless, our waitress was very jovial and more than happy to give us her recommendations.
The menu covers the staples, from dumplings and fish croquettes to jerk chicken. We ordered the plantain, ox-tail and the curry goat — the restaurant’s most popular dishes. The plantain pieces were thick sliced and fresh, slightly firm and kept together well. Enjoyable, yes; however, in the midst of the main dishes, the plantain could easily be forgotten as a side. Did we devour it? Yes. Worth eating as a starter? Yes. Order two.
Our waitress delivered very healthy portions of the ox-tail and curry goat. The ox-tail came on its own in gravy — no potatoes, no carrots, just meat and bone. Juicy and not fidgety, the meat slid off the bone and was incredibly tender.
The sauce used to stew the ox-tail was incredibly succulent, and reduced with a hint of sweetness, which I presume comes from the onions cooked with the browning meat. Ox-tail stew is made with a variation of onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, tomato, paprika, allspice and a solid kick of Scotch Bonnet pepper, whisked together with broth or water. Tropical Paradise’s stew made a perfect combination with the rice and peas.
The curry goat is also a divine experience. The meat was generous on the plate — big, tender chunks of goat, slightly gamey yet warm and rich. The curry sauce was thick and creamy, an undertone of garlic on top of the ginger and turmeric and just a splash of heat. If you’re looking for comfort food, and fullness of spice and flavour without a burning palette, the goat is a great choice.
Also, as most Jamaican meals do, the side portion of coslelaw was fresh, slightly crunchy and had only a slight edge of sweetness – a thankful balance away from the rest of the meal.
The food was excellent and the restaurant is intensely popular, so I can only assume the jerk chicken is great. Sadly, I have not been able to test that yet – I ate too much on the first round; however, I plan to return to the restaurant, and I plan to eat.
Tropical Paradise is a local food paradise with mouth-watering, island flavours. In the growing competition of Caribbean food across Brampton, this young restaurant is on the right path to stay another year — and even longer — as a staple in the city.
SERVICE: Friendly, attentive
Kids Menu: No
RECOMMENDED:Plantain, ox-tail and the curry goat
DRINKS: The usual, Jamaican drinks, alcoholic beverages
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: No
PRICES: $40 for two people, no alcohol
OPEN: Monday – Thursday: 8am-10pm, Friday, Saturday: 8am-11pm, Sunday: 10am-8pm
168 Kennedy Rd S. (Kennedy and Glidden)
Phone: (905) 455-8100