Maracas bills itself as “a new way to eat Caribbean,” a neon shark fin marking the storefront.
The place comes to us from Douglas Ling, the same person behind the former Caribbean Sunset, and serves dry ice cocktails similar to the ones you used to be able to find at that location.
Previously occupied by El Arepazo, the dim, lengthy space is lit by neon, with industrial touches plus peppers and plants in mason jars on the tables for decoration.
Doubles are part of a list of $4 sides that I’d recommend sticking to here if you’re on a budget. The outer shell is fluffy and elastic, and the chickpea mixture inside is zesty without being too overwhelming. A little mango chow on the side is a nice fruity, spicy, refreshing bonus.
Bake and shark ends up being $17, $12 for your choice of base (bake, salad, rice or roti) with an additional $5 upcharge for shark protein as well as curry goat or stewed oxtail. Ordering is done dim-sum-style using a paper menu, with other sections for additions and a list of poutines.
It’s a good experience for my first bake and shark, the bake awesomely fluffy and fried, the fish flavourful and rich. The sandwich is also stuffed with some mango chow, chutney, pepper sauce, tamarind sauce, cucumber and lettuce, a little swipe of pumpkin puree on the side somewhat quizzical but also yummy.
Jerk chicken seems a little expensive at $12 for a meal with only two pieces, and the skin doesn’t have the best bite-through though the flavours and tenderness are solid.
Pairing with guacamole (though decent) and a somewhat odd salad of greens, baby bok choy, tomato and citrus seems like a strange combo, but it’s cool that you can mix and match, and a house chutney is explosive.
Let d Funky Man-go ($14) is a simple but incredibly boozy cocktail that essentially adds fresh-squeezed mango juice to a gin and tonic, with the extra novelty of being served in a shark head tiki cup with a sour key garnish, and of course with dry ice billowing from the shark’s jaws.
The Dr. Mash Up 2 ($25) serves two, a combinations of Crystal Head vodka, grenadine, ginger syrup, Angostura bitters, grapefruit juice and passionfruit juice that’s only marginally less boozy than the mango tonic but definitely has more going on.
It’s served in a skull-shaped Crystal Head vessel with dry ice smoking out of it.
Being licensed is definitely the major draw in a neighbourhood that already has some great Caribbean spots, with late hours that extend until 2 a.m. most nights.