ethnic bargains in toronto...
I'll be traveling to toronto from Ohio in a few weeks with 3 small children in tow. We're staying out near the airport (unfortunately?) and need really cheap bakeries/graocery store deli's or very casual restuarants. I'd love some culinary adventure at the same time. We'll be hitting places like the ontario scence center and the harbourfront as well as the beaches. Any thoughts?
I don't know the area around the airport well, but generally it's a wasteland of hotel strips and other ugly buildings. (Probably cheaper than staying in downtown Toronto.)
Anyway, not too far from the airport is Toronto's west end, which is lovely. I'm talking about the area of Bloor between High Park and Jane Streets. High Park is beautiful, not too far from the waterfront, and your children might enjoy it. That area is Bloor St. is chock-full of interesting stores, wonderful Ukrainian bakeries, and ethnic food shops. It would really be worth your while to explore there.
There's a very good falafel house (I think it's called Falafel World) just east of Jane on Bloor (north side). Very reasonable and super tasty!
Near the airport on Albion Rd near Islington are a string of good hole in the wall Indian restaurants. Madras Dosa Hut, mentioned in another post is excellent and inexpensive. I got a great Masala dosa to eat on the plane for about Can$6. Also in the samll strip mall is a Turkish place that looked pretty good.
Anchored near the airport area and not knowing your method of travel to areas you mentioned, I think it wise to check former Posts that you can adapt to your needs! Rather than posting, I suggest your Chowhound search a very valuable tool and as you sound adventurous, fly blind, get on main thoroughfares ( Danforth Greek ) ( Little Italy St. Clair or College ), areas Queen West, Bloor West, etc., etc. --- and in any ethnic area expect to find a Vietnamese, an Italian, a Caribbean, etc. restaurant in the same block or two! If in an area, do not hesitate to ask local people, strollers, shopkeepers, etc. to get opinions! I really don't want to give explicit instructions, but as you are near the airport, probably your very best bet is a Hakka Restaurant, be careful of spicing in dishes for children, cannot recall name ( was there today ), in a plaza at main corners Airport Road & Derry Road, hidden North East plaza not seen from the road, but access from 2 directions ( not easy, but think behind and above all the cement, located at the end of the plaza without takeout blocked by 2 large pillars ), clients mostly Indian, Indian/Oriental, some Caucasian, etc., lots of great food, inexpensive, common kitchen table/chair non expensive atmosphere, if you had an egg roll all the same, but their Chicken Egg Roll so superbly unique!!!! Well, do enjoy, research and a contact would help!
Harbourfront features the "World Cafe" on weekends, with food stalls that span the ethnic diversity in the city. Not gourmet, necessarily, but a fun thing for the kids.
Kensington Market is also a great place for moving from store front to store front munching. On Sundays in the summer, it's car-free Sundays, so it's open to pedestrians only and you will often see people show off their skateboarding skills and other unique spectacles. Akram's is great for cheap pita sandwiches. There are a number of empanada shops though I tend to prefer Jumbo Empanadas over the others. There's a Jamaican patty place there. And some of the Latin American grocers serve tamales and pupusas at the back of the stores. Shai's Cafe often has Indian curry lunches for $6 that are okay. Big Burrito serves just what the name of the shop says.
Adjacent to Kensington is Chinatown, where you can find some decent cheap eats. Vietnamese subs for $2, dumplings at Mother's Dumplings for $4/dozen or so, noodle soups at King Noodles for $6, pho at various shops for $6, and the list goes on.
Other cheap ethnic eats I like:
- Little India for lunch buffet $8, or dinner a la carte at Trimurti (which is not cheap but reasonably priced)
- Ghandi, where you can get some fantastic freshly made rotis for $7-11
- The Kabab House for cheap Persian kebab dinners for $6
- Tokyo Grill for great Japanese comfort food at very reasonable prices
- Ethiopian House for fun "eat with your hands" experience for the kids (ordering enough for one person is usually enough for two adults to eat so you can walk out for less than $20 depending on what you order)
- Balkan Bistro, which serves homestyle Turkish but also has other random things like schnitzel if your kids don't want Turkish food. Most menu items are under $11.
- Grill Time for fun "cook your own food" for the kids. Not the best Korean grill place around but good value.
Hope that helps. Enjoy your stay.
Kensington Market is a neighbourhood, and yes it's open every day. The St. Lawrence Market is a building (with the second, north building open on Saturdays only) and it's closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Good luck with your food quest -- you've gotten some great suggestions so far. Toronto is great for cheap, yummy eats.
Just a couple of comments on Juniper's recs, which are great. Gandhi's rotis (my personal favorites) are huge, so one roti will easily feed two people. Mother's Dumplings is great. Another place to get high-quality dumplings and noodles for cheap is Chinese Traditional Buns (on Dundas, just south of Kensington Market). You can feed a family of 4, with leftovers, for under $20.
Welcome to TO!