“To make a long story short, I came to open my restaurant by wanting a roti one day and then realizing that Caraibe Delite was closed,” Jeba Bowers Murphy tells Eater. First, disappointment over the loss of the Mile End Guyanese restaurant set, but then Bowers Murphy started entertaining the idea of opening something else in its place. Like its predecessor, Lucki Delite is a simple, though noticeably more stylish, spot for comforting, affordable Caribbean fare — with Bowers Murphy’s commitment to keeping that tradition alive signalled by the echo in the restaurants’ names.
A Mile End resident and Toronto native, Bowers Murphy has a background in wedding planning, education in creative writing and classical archaeology, and a few stints in restaurant work under the belt. Their father is from Jamaica, and their mother from Dominica, a small island nation in the Lesser Antilles. “It’s a gorgeous, lush, magical place, and I’ve been eating food from there my entire life,” Bowers Murphy says.
Since opening in October, Bowers Murphy has been dishing sandwiches, patties, and salads that creatively layer the flavours they grew up on. For instance, the menu’s cucumber salad was modelled after their grandmother’s to preserve its distinct balance of sweet and sour, but it adds mango and salt fish to hit some extra notes. Meanwhile, a tamarind salad, with carrots and candied sunflower seeds, is doused in a vinaigrette that transports Bowers Murphy to their favourite childhood snack: tamarind balls. “They’re the best. I used to eat them all the time — and I kind of still do,” they say.
For the sandwiches, freshly made coco bread gets loaded with “all this good stuff,” Bowers Murphy says, referring to jerk-spiced chicken and squash, barbecue pork ribs, fried fish, plantains, veggies, and other fixings. But hearty lunch fare is just one facet of Lucki Delite; the other is its commitment to community engagement.
For Black History Month, Lucki Delite is inviting patrons to come in and purchase a meal that will go to feeding Black birthing people in Montreal. “I am a firm believer and advocate in reproductive justice and know that food scarcity and access to fresh foods is limited in our city, a lot of the time at a higher proportion for Black and birthing people,” Bowers Murphy shares via e-mail.
The restaurant gears toward supporting local artists, having already hosted an event for painter Caro Deschênes and “Autumn Comforts,” an acoustic set from musicians Alex Bourque and Avery Jane — the first installment in what Bowers Murphy hopes will turn into a seasonal series.
Eventually, Bowers Murphy says the goal is to open Lucki Delite for dinner and brunch with menus that celebrate lesser-known dishes from smaller West Indian communities. “We want food that you wouldn’t necessarily have if you went on vacation to Jamaica or the Barbados,” they say. To whet our appetites, Bowers Murphy describes a cornmeal-battered-and-then-fried skate fish on a celery root purée, served alongside pickled onions and carrots.
As with Cuisine Caraibe Delite, Lucki Delite is, necessarily, a two-person operation — the size of the kitchen requires it to be that way. Bowers Murphy runs the restaurant with partner Marlon Knoll, who brings experience from the kitchens at defunct St-Laurent supper club Globe, Mile End venue and Spanish restaurant La Sala Rosa, and Summerhill winery in Kelowna, British Columbia.
As for the dining room itself, it’s equally snug, but with a tall ceiling, mosaic tile flooring (laboriously discovered beneath layers of vinyl, carpet, foam, and glue), and seating for 15. In the daytime, Bowers Murphy describes how the sunlight effortlessly pours in through the front window, and at night, especially with some live music trickling through the space, how it gets “just perfectly moody.”
Lucki Delite is open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday to Monday at 4816 Parc Avenue. Follow the restaurant’s Instagram account for updates on events, community outreach, and its food offering.