Inside Street Shak: Queen Street’s Favourite Caribbean Restaurant

Image: Libby Roach

Caribbean food doesn’t get the recognition in Toronto that it should. Tony Bradshaw is set to change that, with his tidy Caribbean kitchen on Queen West, Street Shak.

Open since 2016, Street Shak is an energetic space, decked out in bright orange reclaimed wood. A cheerful wall is decorated with a custom mural with cheeky and cheerful island sayings, all eliciting a wave of warmth and a departure from some of the stark and minimalist eateries that dot this busy pocket. With large people-gawking windows in the front and irie tunes drifting through the space, it’s easy to let your mind drift and get caught up in the island vibes.

Pledging to bring Caribbean food to Toronto’s forefront, Tony is enigmatic and downright charming. He started his restaurant career decades ago at Top of Toronto (360 CN Tower), then worked with Morton’s and Canyon Creek as Front of House. After years of the corporate grind and bouncing back between Canada, the US, and the Caribbean, Tony was ready to settle down with a project of his own, and Street Shak was born.

Initially looking for a suburban location, he was persuaded by friends and family to give Queen Street West a try and the rest is history. His food is a love letter to back home, with recipes borrowed from relatives then married with Canadian influences, like his fiery Jerk Chicken Poutine ($8.95) loaded with Canadian curds, scotch bonnet BBQ sauce, and a garlic aioli.

Jerk Chicken Poutine (Image: Libby Roach)

A popular party dish, fluffy Fish Cakes and Bakes ($7.50) are crispy balls of battered fish paired with doughy chunks of bread, covered in tamarind and sour cream. Basa fish stars in the Seared Fish ($12) sandwich, with in-house crunchy pickled cabbage paired well with a zippy lemon aioli. Green seasoning, which Tony also makes in-house, is a Caribbean recipe made with basil, parsley, scotch bonnet, clove, curry and green onion, adding an herby edge to this fishwich.

Fish Cakes and Bakes (Image: Libby Roach)

Seared Fish Sandwich (Image: Libby Roach)

For those looking to buck carbs, the Jerk Chicken Salad ($12) is a winner. Tender chicken breast is coated with spices and paired perfectly with a light lime cilantro dressing and slivers of dried mango.

Jerk Chicken Salad (Image: Libby Roach)

While the space is fast casual/ takeaway, it is blessedly licensed, meaning you can partner up that inferno with a cold one, Street Shak offers local domestics by the bottle, as well as premium Steamwhistle, Red Stripe and Banks Beer. Half bottles of red and white round out the offerings.

Marking their first year in business is no small feat for any restaurant. Street Shak is amped up to mark the occasion and Tony is hoping to open more Street Shak locations in the near future.

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Have you had a chance to try a taste of the Caribbean at Street Shak on Queen West? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.  

Libby Roach

Libby Roach

Libby Roach has been following Toronto's food scene since 2011, stalking chefs, overeating and indulging to bring you the best bites in Hogtown. You can follow her new food adventures over at AuburnLane.com
Libby Roach