Jamaica’s Beef Patties: The Battle…

Whilst in Jamaica, it was impossible to avoid a delicious patty. A golden flaky pastry shell, containing the most delicious fillings, with a deep yellow tint from a coating of egg yolk or turmeric. Dubbed a “street food”, there are restaurants chains across the island dedicated to these tasty snacks. So much more than a street food…

Two such chains are Tastee and Juici Patties. Now, I’m not the first blogger to do a comparison between the two restaurants who specialise in patties, and I won’t be the last…

Welcome to the battle of the patties!

The contenders

The first stop on the battle bus was to Tastee Patties, and their outlet in Washington Gardens. The first thing that hits you is the green frontage and the warming yellow sign. This location had a drive through and even at 7:00am, there was a wrap around of cars waiting for breakfast.

Outside Tastee Patty, Washington Gardens

From looking at the menu, there was lots to eat for breakfast including cornmeal porridge, ackee and saltfish, dumplings, and hard food (boiled yam, boiled dumplings, boiled green banana, etc – basically all the boiled food you can imagine). They even do pastries! But most of all people were there just ordering patties.

Inside Tastee Patty, Washington Gardens

Back to the patties, there were many different flavours to choose from, and my beef patty cost $160 JAD / £0.90 GBP. The process was to pay the server, get an order number, and then move down the counter to pick up your food. When it’s your turn, the server calls out your order number, you show your ticket, and you get your food.

The patty came in an unassuming, and unbranded brown paper bag, with a napkin over the top.

Tastee patty – beef

The other contender on the island is Juici Patty, and I called into the Hagley Park branch in Kingston. Outside the outlet there were a lot of roadworks, and on,y a few people waiting in the queue inside. Juici Patty has a red and yellow colour scheme and had a more greasy spoon cafe kind of vibe about it, which suited me just fine.

Outside Juici Patty, Hagley Park
Inside Juici Patty, Hagley Park

Juici Patty had a much wider range of patties available including soy, vegetable, shrimp, chicken for $160 each and cheesy beef for $200 JAD / £1.22 GBP. Again, the cost of the humble beef patty was $160, and a similar ticket system applied.

Juici patty – beef

The patty again came in a nondescript brown paper bag. Now onto the comparison, ding ding…

Round 1: The appearance

Well both patties look pretty similar – which isn’t surprising as they are both patties. Both had a deep yellow colour, and a pretty uniformed shape. There were no discernible differences between them. The cynic in me thought what if they were actually the same?

Round 2: The temperature and the taste

Both patties were fresh out of the oven and I needed to take a cautionary bite to let the steam out! Once the cooled down a bit, it was about the spicy heat of both patties. Both of the meat fillings are minced beef with spices and unforgettable heat of scotch bonnet peppers. For me the temperature / spiciness shouldn’t and I like to be able to taste the other flavours without the heat from the peppers ruining the taste of the pastry and the meat.

The patty from Juici was a bit too hot for me, which ruined the taste of the minced beef and other ingredients in the filling.

Round 3: The flakiness

To me, the flakiness of pastry, denotes a fresh, well baked product, with lots of fat to get the laminations between the layers just right. Both these companies seemed to get the flakiness of their pastry just right. I used a drop-test to see how flaky the pastry was.

Flake test: Juici patty
Flake test: Tastee patty

From the pictures, Juici had the flakier pastry which fell off during consumption. Was it so you could eat that pastry later, who knows? Surely the idea of having flaky pastry is that you end up eating it, so mane being overly flaky is a bad thing…

The Champion

Overall, I preferred the patty from Tastee, as is simply came down to taste. The level of heat from the scotch bonnet pepper was milder and allowed me to taste the other flavours. Maybe if you are a spicy individual, Juici Patty may be more to you liking. This closely fought race still made me think that both these patties were produced by the same people, with a minor tweak. That investigation is for another time and another blog post.

A box of 12 Tastee patties to take home

The patty in Jamaica is a cheap and versatile snack, which can be eaten anytime of the day. Most people, if not all people, in the both Tastee and Juici were local people and seemed to like both chains equally the same. Maybe they were made in the same place, maybe there weren’t. For $160 JAD / £0.90 GBP, you can’t go wrong for that price, and I had great time eating them. Next time you’re in Jamaica, get yourself a patty or a dozen to take home!

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