Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Jamaican Spice: Sharing the Tastes of an Island Paradise

Jamaican Spice is a gem in Toledo’s culinary crown. A cross between a beach shack and a welcoming family restaurant, the eatery on W. Sylvania Ave. has an inviting atmosphere and serves authentic Jamaican food.

Housed in the location of a longtime restaurant, (previously occupied by Pepe‘s, and long ago by Yanni’s) Jamaican Spice is operated by Roy Reid (call me Richie, he insists), a Jamaican native who moved to Toledo some 20 years ago. The restaurant previously was housed on Byrne Road adjoining a gas station, but when this location became available, Reid jumped at the opportunity to move his establishment to the location. 

The interior is clean and well lit, more of a comfortable club than a restaurant. Along with a DJ booth and a full bar, the tables occupying the inside are comfortably spaced. Ordering is done either at the bar or at the kitchen window and then, when the food is prepared, names are called to summon those waiting. The establishment has a large outdoor patio, lined with potted plants and trees, really a charming and secluded space behind the building with another bar and a place for outdoor buffet service. The patio is available for use by groups for events and celebrations.

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Reid learned to cook from his grandmother and, as he tells it, comes from a long family line of kitchen professionals. The menu is varied with spicy jerk recipes along with milder simmered dishes. The curried goat is delicious (you should try it, seriously), as is the oxtail, a long simmer until tender cut of meat. Chicken, shrimp and fish are all available in fried, broiled or jerk preparations, portioned in medium large or extra large quantities, delivered at the kitchen window or otherwise for pick up in clamshell to-go boxes. Despite ease to carry out, the atmosphere at the interior tables as well as on the patio are welcoming and comfortable.

This is decidedly not a fancy eatery, but rather one that is authentic and accommodating. Whether you are an experienced Caribbean food enthusiast, or a novice concerning the foods of Jamaica, this is definitely a place you should try.

Appetizers and small plates are available with beef or beef and cheese patties, as well as chicken patties. Wrapped in a flaky dough and fried, these are handhelds. Also jerk chicken, fish and shrimp are sold by the piece. These can be either spicier or served in a milder preparation upon the diners request.

Entrées include combinations of a variety of selections, such as tilapia, salmon, shrimp, goat, oxtail, chicken (fried or jerk recipe), with accompaniments from the island, like rice and peas, fried okra, mac & cheese (Jamaican? Who knew?), green beans, greens and festival (a type of fried dough similar to a churro, but much smaller) for a little sweet kick.

The full bar includes a variety of beers and some wines along with prepared frozen drinks as well as a nice stock of spirits and liqueurs to accommodate most drink orders.

The vibe is relaxing and, while not quite that of a Caribbean Paradise, the food, the reggae music and the friendly smiles of the patrons and staff, are welcoming and worth a visit.

M – Th: 11am – 10pm

F – Sat:  11am – 1am 

Sun: 2:30pm – 7pm 

1540 W Sylvania Ave.



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