The Five Best Black Eateries in Toronto
The Five Best Black Eateries in Toronto
It’s no easy task narrowing down the list of the best, Black eateries to just five, but I’m happy to take on the challenge.
Whether there’s a great backstory or a chef is putting a new twist on an old, traditional favourite, we’re spoiled for choice in this city. Read on to find out more about some of the best Toronto has to offer. Sweet or savoury, these choices are sure to hit the spot. Check out the five best Black Eateries in Toronto below:
Available in stores
The weather is cooling down but don’t let that stop you from experiencing the chilly, tropical joy that is Neale’s Sweet n’ Nice ice cream. Neale’s offers a variety of flavours including Rum & Raisin, Pineapple Coconut, and Guava Passion Fruit. For fancier nights at home, check out their fun pairing options and recipes (think seasonal Coconut Pumpkin Pie Bites, yum!).
Neale’s Sweet n’ Nice is a family business originally created by the current owners’ grandfather, Charles A. Neale, in Trinidad in the 1940s. By combining his love of ice cream with fresh local ingredients, Neale managed to turn his passion into a thriving business — all on the back of an ice cream bike! Today the tradition continues with Neale’s grandsons taking the lead. And while the family recipe is under wraps, it’s no secret that the tropical treat has hit the spot with consumers. From its start on a two-wheeler in the Caribbean to its steady expansion across Canada today, the legacy of Sweet n’ Nice continues to make life a little sweeter.
If you missed a visit to their summer pop up at Stackt on Bathurst St, you’re in luck. Their entire line is available in these stores.
812 Bloor St W, Toronto
Just steps away from Christie station, Selam is a popular fixture in Bloorcourt serving delicious Ethiopian/ Eritrean food. The Bloor corridor is blessed with several well-known Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants; you can’t go wrong popping into any one of them. But I stumbled across the recently-renamed Selam in its previous incarnation as Pero, and tend to swing this way when I have a craving for injera.
East African dishes are known for their spices and Selam definitely delivers. An abundance of meat and veggie dishes ensures that there’s something for everyone, even those looking for vegan and gluten-free options.
Injera, a soft flatbread made from a grain called teff, is naturally gluten-free and perfect for soaking up the juices and spices of the dishes that accompany platter combos (e.g., spiced roasted chickpeas, collard greens, beef/ chicken tibsi, cabbage). The injera is also traditionally used as a “utensil” to scoop up the goods on your platter, so I’d definitely recommend that you dig in with your hands for an authentic experience!
And did I mention that Selam is female-owned and operated? Two sisters have been running the show since owner-chef Pero handed over the reins late last year.
172 Main St, Toronto
429 Danforth Ave, Toronto
For anyone missing the succulent scents of summertime rib fests, Beach Hill Smokehouse is the spot for year-round barbeque. This east-end favourite has two locations that are keeping loyal customers warm and fed as the cold seeps in.
If you’re wondering how authentic Texas barbeque made its way north, the answer lies in co-owners Terrance Hill and Darien List’s intriguing backstory. The two initially met playing football at college in Louisiana and formed a friendship that included a shared love for barbeque; Hill eventually became a barbeque master himself. Years later List relocated to Canada and eventually wooed his friend north as well, convincing him that there was a solid demand for barbeque here — and he was right.
The Smokehouse is known for its sandwiches and smoked meat platters — brisket, ribs, sausages, turkey and halal chicken — prepared Central Texas-style (all seasoning, no sauce). Southern staples such as baked beans, Southern mac and cheese, coleslaw, and potato salad, along with rotating specials and desserts, also round out their simple yet satisfying menu. If you’re salivating, try to order ahead or arrive early to avoid disappointment. These guys tend to sell out!
1912 Danforth Ave, Toronto
If you’re wondering what Brigadeiro is, think sweet, delectable, indulgent. Shaped like truffles, these miniature Brazilian chocolate treats are as beautiful as they are delicious! Flavours include Semi-Dark Pistachio, Brazilian Cappuccino, Strawberry & Cream, and Mexican Spice.
The visionary behind these sweet creations is Mary Oliveira. Inspired by a lack of chocolate shops in the city, the Brazilian-born entrepreneur decided to bring a taste of home to our streets. From business school to community networking to Dragons Den to the opening of her storefront location on the Danforth in 2018, Mary’s vision has been a labour of love from the ground up.
What else is on the menu besides hand-crafted, artisanal chocolates? Try their sumptuous, stuffed cookies or rich, chocolate spread (“Brigadeiro in a Jar”). Shoppers can also enjoy vegan and nut-free Brigadeiro, and gift box sets — perfect for the holidays.
Pop up at Caravan Cafe & Tea House, 1165 Bloor St W, Toronto
Last but not least is a project from a local chef that’s keeping tastebuds jumping without a permanent brick and mortar location.
Chef Victor Uguweke’s West African roots shine through in his flavourful and satisfying dishes.
Born in Lagos with kitchen experience in cities around the world, Uguweke’s global palate has been inspiring a fusion of flavours on his changing menus. From rich, warming stews made with eggplant, chickpeas, and jackfruit to the must-try Jollof, a spicy West-African staple made of rice, lemongrass, and smoked crayfish, with peppered chicken, plantains, and slaw on the side, there are always tasty options available for meat lovers and vegans.
So where can you find all this goodness? Torontonians have been enjoying Uguweke’s dishes at pop-ups around the city including an event underneath The Bentway this past summer. His recent partnership finds him offering take-out meals on Wednesdays and Sundays at Caravan Cafe & Tea House on Bloor West. Hungry customers can also make an order directly through Ritual or reach out on Instagram for meal kit inquiries. Make sure to follow @naked.sol.food for updates and future projects.
With reduced hours and looming shutdowns, restaurants need all the help they can get right now. These are only five of the many great Black, businesses sharing their love for food with the city. For more delicious eats and treats, check out this extensive list of Black businesses here. And if you’re able to, support one today via their takeout and delivery!
Who’s on your radar for the best, Black eatery or food product? Let us know! We love getting new, exciting recommendations from our Brookie community.
Keisha Paterson is a lifetime writer of sticky-note poetry who enjoys comfort foods, self-care holidays, and Hawaiian dance. A prolific wanderer, she loves to discover and take home old orphaned books and eclectic records. She is an office manager, private yoga instructor, and freelance editor in Toronto.
Favourite Book: Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou
Favourite brunch spot: Sisters and Co.