EAZY EATS (749 Broadview, at Danforth, 416-461-9576) Atmospheric diner serving terrific island-style home cooking. Complete meals for $17 per person, including all taxes, tip and a $4.50 Red Stripe. Open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 9 pm. Closed Sunday. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Although I'm all too familiar with Shake 'n' Bake, until I visited Eazy Eats, the delightfully retro Trinidadian diner that opened on the east side eight months ago, I'd never encountered Bake 'n' Shark ($5.50). But there it is, listed on the chalkboard over the lunch counter alongside the usual lineup of Caribbean specialties like Shrimp Creole ($8/$10 large) and fried kingfish ($8, $10 large) sided with regulation rice and peas. The shark in question turns out to be a skinny deep-fried fillet, and the bake a flat circular bun that's made to order so the crust is flaky perfection but its centre still doughy. Think of it as island-style fish and chips.
Eazy's tasty meat loaf ($5.50) jumps into another league once it's sauced with pimento-flecked oxtail gravy and a shot of the house-made mustard hot sauce. Side it with a dense, cheesy macaroni pie that references Southern soul food, dynamite string beans and the sweet, creamy crunch of the tiny kitchen's raisin-tossed cole slaw. And don't leave without tasting the bread pudding ($2.25), an exceptionally rich finish that contrasts nicely with the preceding heat.
Farther along the Boulevard of Broken Plates, funky Coco Banana (1690 Danforth, at Coxwell, 416-406-0534) offers a little bit of everything - roti from Trinidad, jerk from Jamaica, and acra, the fiery Haitian malanga fritters it will be selling at this weekend's Hot And Spicy fest (see sidebar, page 73). Decked out with spectacularly ugly 70s sofas, the technicolour space leads to a charming, sheltered backyard garden where you can lounge on a chaise next to Coco's organic herb and tomato patch.
The Drake, the Gladstone and Lot 16 may have made Parkdale unexpectedly popular with poshos, but it's unlikely one of them has ever set a Cole-Haan loafered foot inside Time Out (269 Dunn, at Queen West, 416-535-7777), a tiny Jamaican hole-in-the-wall favoured by cabbies. Next to the obligatory poster of Bob Marley, regulars chow down on Jamaican curried goat loaded with bone and gristle, which are the best parts, as every carnivore knows.
Those with a dread of meat will adore Irie Ital (2516 Eglinton West, at Glen Haven, 416-653-4825), a Rastafarian resto that serves strictly vegetarian dishes like fava beans, kale and TVP nuggets in a deliciously sweet sauce that tastes suspiciously like ketchup.
Kensington Market's Streams of Blessings has been reconfigured as Paradise Bay Fish Shack (285 Augusta, at Oxford, 977-1209), a very relaxed spot with a menu almost identical to that of the former occupant. Grab an avocado, cucumber and tomato sandwich on a coco bun smeared with mayo and house hot sauce this Sunday and get a front row seat for the Market's ongoing car-free street fest.