What it is
On the Hess Street Village side of King Street West lie a number of take-out-oriented restaurants for residents in need of a quick bite and for the late-night crowds on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The strongest recommendation out of all these locations easily goes to Islands, one of my favourite Caribbean restaurants in the city.
Islands serves up great jerk chicken, oxtail, roti and curry goat.
Their delicious range of Caribbean staples are sure to keep you coming back for more. Islands is easily one of the best take-out restaurants in a downtown core that is seeing a less new options for student budgets.
How to get there from Westdale/Ainslie Wood
Hop on the 1, 5 or 51 bus from campus to Main and Caroline.
From there, walk north to King Street West.
Islands will be on the other side of the street, just across the neighbouring convenience store and Vida La Pita restaurant plaza.
On average, prices range from $6 to up to $12. Rotis average at around $7, and many of the vegetarian roti options and rice dishes are only around $6. Large dinner-sized portions of rice dishes like jerk chicken, oxtail, goat curry and stewed chicken are between $10 to $12.
It’s also worth noting that there is no additional delivery charge for orders over $20 through Skip the Dishes. Islands also now available to order through UberEats.
While the menu isn’t necessarily made for sharing, I would recommend ordering a combination of a small roti and small rice dish to get a good taste for the menu (and still get a substantial amount of food for under $15).
For main rice dishes containing meat, you can’t go wrong with jerk chicken and oxtail on rice and peas. While I personally go for stew chicken roti or curry goat, the vegetarian channa roti and pumpkin roti are also fantastic options. If you’re not one for deliberating over menu combos, a large-sized portion of any of the rice dishes are more than enough to keep you happy and full.
Why it’s great
Some days you just want to skip the fast food in favour of some combination of rice, veggies and protein, and Islands provides a comforting replacement for a home-cooked meal.
While their small location still has plenty of tables for small groups to stop by and enjoy, I’ve always appreciated Islands’ commitment to keeping up with the most convenient online delivery services.
I’ve been going to Islands since I was in high school, often when I find myself stuck in downtown closer to dinner than I anticipated.
After my first try, I quickly found that myself coming up with more and more excuses to treat myself to their food before meeting with friends, or before a commute back home.
Islands has consistently provided many options that are as good as a home-cooked meal, something that has become more valuable as I spend fewer evenings at home.
One of the most consistently satisfying food experiences for me in this city is coming to Islands after a long, busy afternoon, smelling the familiar combination of spices and stew and getting that first whiff of your freshly cut roti.