Exploring strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best international food

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hidden behind a derelict North York strip mall, you'll find some of the best jerk chicken in Toronto

Update as of Aug 2014: Allwyn's has moved and is now located at 81 Underhill Drive. Read new post here.

Many of Toronto's Jamaican restaurants are in a sorry state. All too often you get a bland mountain of rice obscuring some fossilized bits of jerk chicken. But North York/West Scarborough locals know that for the juiciest, freshest jerk chicken, you need to head over to Allwyn's.


This is one of the more obscure locations I've come across in my Toronto food travels. Allwyn's is behind Parkwoods Village Centre, an aging strip mall located at 1277 York Mills Road, between the Don Valley Parkway and Victoria Park Ave. Go behind the strip mall and walk through a dark, covered alley and you'll find the place.

A tiny room really, this bare-bones restaurant has been serving take-out food from this location for 19 years. Allwyn's is not listed on the mall's sign, and don't bother phoning ahead either—the owner hasn't kept up with the phone bills, so the number is out of service. There used to be a website, but it doesn't seem to be up any more. 


Staffer Donald Simpson, a native of Jamaica, has worked here off and on since the beginning. He also works at the legendary Fahmee bakery, which supplies Allwyn's baked goods. "A lot of people come here through word of mouth and say it's one of the best places," explains Donald. "It's the way we season the chicken."


Customers of all ages and backgrounds stand in line, waiting for their favourites. Some have been coming for decades, after being lured in during their grade school days by the super cheap prices: a jerk chicken sandwich served on a cocobun topped with crisp coleslaw is just $3.70. If you're not going to eat the sandwich right away, Donald carefully packs the components separately so the coleslaw doesn't make the sandwich soggy. 

"The pricing is reasonable and the food is good quality," says Crystal, who drove here with two coworkers on their lunch break. "We always debate what we're going to get but at the end we always get the jerk sandwich."


The boneless jerk chicken doesn't disappoint: it's moist and glistening, coated with a warm blend of spices. The curry goat is also excellent—the potent, spicy flavour is balanced by the meat's tenderness. The Jamaican patties are also top notch. Thick and bready, with a flaky yellow skin, they are filled with a moist, punchy meat paste. 

Overall, you're sure to be impressed: not only is this one of the truly excellent places for Caribbean food in Toronto, it's also one of the great food secrets of the city. 

Photos courtesy of H. Thanks to Ken from In Your Mouth Toronto for the tip.

Allwyn's is located behind the Parkwoods Village Centre at 1277 York Mills Road, between the Don Valley Parkway and Victoria Park Ave. No telephone. Cash only. 

View Larger Map