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Visiting your great city...Help!

We will be staying near Eaton Center. At the Pantages hotel. Any recommendations for moderately priced, not so touristy places that would give us a good flavor for Toronto dining? Lite lunch recommendations and good dinner suggestions would be much appreciated. All types of food are OK, and we will walk wherever. Thanks so much in advance for your help!

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  1. My recent favourite is a restaurant not often discussed on this board, but is loved by everyone I know. It's called Hair of the Dog, and is located near Church & Carlton. From your hotel, head directly east, turn left (north) on Church, and walk until you see the restaurant on your right. It's just north of Carlton. It's probably a 10-15 minute walk from the Pantages.

    They serve a variety of 'pub-inspired' dishes. Many are good, and most are great. Prices range from $10-20 for an entrée. Their homemade vegetarian burger is fantastic, as is their seared tuna (it's a special).

    Hair of the Dog
    425 Church Street

    1 Reply
    1. re: xtal

      If you go to Hair of the Dog - order a casear. Its like a Bloody Mary but made with Clamato juice instead of tomato juice. It is so good there - they add horseradish to it.

    2. If you travel west along Dundas to Spadina, you'll find yourself in the midst of Chinatown (about a 15-20 minute walk). A lot of very good options there. Search this board for some recommendations, but my personal favourite is located at 338 Spadina---Taste of China. Be sure to try The General Tso chicken. Taste of China is located just north of Dundas, on the west side of Spadina.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Brain of J

        Chinatown is worth the trek. My personal favourite restaurant there is Swatow, which is at 309 Spadina Avenue, just north of Dundas.

        Try the shrimp dumpling soup, and the tofu & vegetable hot pot, as well as the eggplant. Hey, just try everything. :)

        They are a cash-only establishment, consider yourself forewarned.

      2. On Adelaide Street is the Black Camel for lunch. They have fabulous brisket or pulled pork sandwiches.

        2 Replies
        1. re: faijay

          Where on Adelaide is the Black Camel? The only listing I find is on Crescent St.


          1. re: Cheech5001

            It recently opened as a branch of the one in Rosedale. The address & phone number: 322 Adelaide Street, West: 416 260 4670. Dunner for 2 with tax & tip $25.

        2. My favourite food in the city is more of a take out spot, so if you're looking for a casual lunch type thing this is the place...."Gandhi." This is a roti restaurant...in the South Asian style. The place is not fancy, but in my opinion has the best food in the city! Try the Chicken Korma, or the goat. And be careful of the spice...hot is too hot for most people, and takes away from the flavour of the food.

          If you walk west on Queen St. to just before Bathurst St, on the north side you'll find it. (554 Queen St. W) It's also a nice walk through down Queen St, which is a very popular and interesting street in Toronto. It'll probably take you about 45 minutes to walk there, so wear comfortable shoes and bring your appetite!

          Enjoy our city...we have EVERY kind of food you might crave!

          1. I back starvin this is a good spot , but the busier they get food goes down some times . then there is IQBAL KEBOB at thorn hill

            1 Reply
            1. re: tastebudintoronto

              You mean at Thorncliffe (near Science Centre) right? I hear this place is a really good (and cheap) place.

              Also there's Albert's Real Jamaican a couple doors down from Ghandi's.

            2. Hey Kramer, where ya from??

              When in town I'd definitely head to the St. Lawrence Market. http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/
              It's a huge meat/vegetable/seafood market with plenty of little snack bar type restaurants. All are really good. One of my favourite places.


              1. Agree on St Lawrence Market... the peameal bacon sandwiches are good, but I think vary between where you go, I'm still wondering where to find the best one!
                Another place I love is in the back right corner, its a little place that sells fresh pasta and sauce, and already made pasta, pizza and ice cream. I loooove the meat sauce there, it is very crave worthy... I go there on weekends just for that!

                2 Replies
                1. re: jayseeca

                  I think the best peameal is up stairs, west side in the middle. Not sure of the name but they claim to have "World famous peameal sandwiches"


                  1. re: Davwud

                    I agree. It always has the longest line. But, I love the veal sandwiches available down stairs. Another Big Smoke Treat.

                2. Fatastic place for lunch or dinner close to the Pantages is called Ginger 2. Walk North on Yonge St on the East side and it's on Yonge (in between Dundas and College).

                  Tasty, cheap Thai food that's filling. Enjoy!

                  1. Or if you can, just walk an extra 5-10 minutes and go to the orignal Ginger, just south of Bloor St on Yonge, same side (way better food). Queen St W. is loaded with all types of restaurants, as well, so is King St past University (5 min cab ride or 15-20 minute walk). Chinatown, in the Dundas/Spadina offers great selections.

                    Sometimes, the best thing to do is walk and see :)

                    Enjoy your stay and let us know what else you've discovered.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: capularis

                      There's also a third Ginger restaurant, which is at the Church & Wellesley intersection. In my opinion, this one has the best food and atmosphere of all three locations.

                      1. re: xtal

                        The prices at the Church Ginger is higher than the original Ginger, but it has the best decor of the three, as it feels more like a restaurent than a fast-food canteen. Ginger 2 has the cheapest decor (though I think they have redecorated since I was there.) BTW they are Vietmese, but serve Thai food as well.

                      2. re: capularis

                        When I worked by Bay/Bloor, I would pretty much go to Ginger everyday for lunch! Good, solid comfort food for a very very good price.

                        Also, behind City Hall on Elizabeth street is Japango... amazing, fresh Japanese food - you pay for quality.

                      3. Thanks so much for all the great advice! I will report when we get back!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Kramer

                          For Thai, I think a good lunch can be had at the Salad King at Shuter, east of Yonge.

                          1. re: faijay

                            Actually, Salad King in on Gould, not Shuter. Gould is one block north of Dundas. Shuter is one block south of Dundas. Regardless, Salad King is a great recommendation! And for dinner, try Linda's upstairs from Salad King for a finer dining Thai.

                        2. Good suggestions so far. Hair Of The Dog has great menu, but delivers a little less. Chinatown has multiple restaurants (although a 25 minute walk). Swatow is good, but right now the Vietnamese restaurants seem to be better overall (try Pho Hung). Similarly Ghandi is around 30 mins walk, and I prefer their 'sister' restaurant New York Subway (about 100yds closer) which, despite its name serves great wraps (and no subs). Ginger is OK - it's now a chain, but not bad for all that. And I don't 'get' the Black Camel! Meat is certainly good but sauce is watery and bread is awful (they should use the fantastic Portuguese bread that's widely available in T.O.) But the best place within walking distance is Linda's (for formal Thai dining) or the cheaper Salad King downstairs (communal tables). About a 5-minute walk from the hotel, one block north of Yonge and Dundas on the east side. Salad King can get crowded but should be easier now that the University crowd from Ryerson are away. At Linda's try the sift-shell crab, duck breast in red curry, cornish hen thai style (and pig out on the 'salt' that accompanies it), guinea fowl with basil - and many more (e.g. more traditional such as beef Panang). They even serve foie gras with lychee sauce (although I think the aforementioned dishes are better).
                          And a favourite Indian on this board is Trimurti - juust west of University and Queen (south side) - a 15 minute walk.

                          1. Walk straight down Victoria Street to King and you will find Terroni's. I love this place - although I usually go to the Queen Street branch. It's crowded and the atmosphere is very festive. Mostly pizzas, pastas and sandwiches but very yummy. They have a lovely brioche and nutella breakfast if you have a sweet tooth. Oh and since you are at Pantage's, have breakfast downstairs at Fran's - they have one of the best in Toronto. Oh, you're just across the street and down a little from the Senator. It dubs itself California style and it's a bit pricey but they do have some wonderful food.

                            1. For more up to the minute cuisine you should try the molecular gatronomy at Senses. The Lobby is also attempting that kind of menu, but I have not eaten there. Also, Jaimie Kennedy has opened a place in the newly refurbished Gardiner Museum of Ceramics. It is a great museum. Try wandering around Kennsington Market--I like Le Palette and Mata Hari (Indonesian) and the tapas bar Il Torino. For something super special (and very expensive) have the tasting menu at either Perigree or Splendido. There is much discussion of these on our board. Enjoy yourself.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: faijay

                                for lobby, do you mean the canadian chef that trained in spain for molec gast? if so, he's now long gone from lobby due to differences with the management and someone else has taken his place, unfortunately, and molec gast is not on the menu.

                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                  As I said, I have not eaten there, but I read about him in J. Kates. I do like Senses though.

                              2. If the weather is good and you are adventurous, a long walk west along Queen St. West can be entertaining and render you some good eating opportunities. Yonge to Spadina is the trendy part, keep going for more interesting sites and sounds.

                                If you make it all the way past Bathurst (you can hop on the streetcar anytime you get tired), around Niagra St., you will find one of my favourites "Little Tibet." Authentic Tibetan, you can often see the family making their trademark Momo's (dumplings)at the back. My personal favourites include the fried vegetarian Momo's (always accompanied by a very fresh salad), the lamb curry is amazing (different from Indian curry), the steamed bread is great for sharing and dipping if you have the curry and we usually start by sharing steamed soy beans.

                                Before you get as far as Little Tibet, there is a great pizza place that serves a wide variety of slices and usually has a lineup. I'm sorry, I can't remember the name, starts with an M, but I am sure another hound can help out.

                                Further west, towards Strachan, you will find Claflouti, they make great desserts and sandwiches (but can be expensive). There is a fish and chip place near there also, but I haven't tried it yet.

                                Keep going and you'll pass the Drake hotel, an interesting bar for people watching in a renovated old hotel. I think the Gladstone (further west), another renovated old hotel, is now open for business as well, but I haven't been there yet.

                                If you keep going past Dufferin St, you'll come across Bachus Roti - oft touted as the best Rotis in the city. Not fancy, or expensive, but definitely filling and my favourite roti spot.

                                Go even further and you will come to Roncensville. North on Roncensville is little Poland. You can definitely find some authentic perogies and wonderful baked goods up here.

                                In the summer, taking a long walk along an interesting street like Queen W is one of my favourite things to do. The good eats is just another bonus.

                                The TTC (transit) now has an all day pass and weekend family passes that make getting around the city quite inexpensive.

                                Enjoy your stay!

                                1. Ditto on the Queen West suggestions. If you do find yourself in the neighbourhood, the fish and chips place dinin and dishin was mentioning was Chippy's and they have fabulous fish and chips, with homemade tartar sauce, garlic mayo, curry sauce. My fave is the salmon. It's great to take out and eat at the park across the street.

                                  I happen to love One of a Kind pasta near Queen and Claremont, great value and great food. Their Pink Lady is so delicious, I am craving it right now. They also have a surf and turf special for under $25!

                                  I also agree that Kensington deserves a trip - it really does represent the variety of ethnic cuisine and culture that Toronto has to offer, and it's fun to people watch on a patio - especially on car-free Sundays when the streets are closed down and there are bands playing on the street.

                                  1. I don't agree on the Salad King and Ginger 2 but I think I am prejudiced because I think it's hard to beat home cooking if that's the culture you grew up in (Laotian). I absolutely agree on wandering around Kensington (it's next door to Chinatown). It's great. Wander and get full on "snack" stuff. Get doubles or a patty, try a pupusa, try cassava fries, wander into a bakery and eat something. (Also, if you like to buy earrings, they have a nice affordable, unique selection at the shops.)

                                    1. Salad King - I think some dishes are good there and some are not. One time I had - maybe it was the green curry chicken, it tasted as if the chicken breast was steamed by itself, then dumped into the green curry sauce. Tasteless.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Teep

                                        That's exactly it. I too, once tried a curry and it tasted as if the meat and vegetables were cooked separately (and cooked unseasoned as if salt never existed) and then added to the sauce. Usually, the meat is cooked at the beginning and simmers away in the curry sauce to take on the flavours of the sauce. The kitchen took very untasty shortcuts. To me, this is not authentic and that would be fine because then I thought, okay, I can think of this as a Thai-inspired restaurant and after all, everyone has their own interpretations.

                                        But then, the service sucked. And I've been there about three times and each time I didn't like the service or the food. Yes, they're busy because of Ryerson students (and I was one), but I don't see this as an excuse. Once, everyone else at my table had their food and I had to call a server twice to ask what was taking my food so long and my food came when everyone just about finished theirs. Given the shortcuts they took with the food, it should have come much more quickly.

                                      2. The Rebel House on Yonge St at the Rosedale subway station. Great little patio and the food is comfy and homey and beyond compare - bison, gourmet mac and cheese, amazing soups & flatbreads. I have NEVER had a meal there that was less than fantastic.

                                        If you're into brunch, try Aunties & Uncles at College & Lippincott. Excellent ingredients, everything is made on-site. Service sucks, get there before 10AM On weekends.