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r
Roberto7 Jan 7, 2007 06:50 PM

We would greatly appreciate help from you experts with some restaurant recommendations!

My wife, baby (1 yr old) and I are staying at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, 123 Queen Street West (next to City Hall), for 1 week in July. We will be on foot only and looking for great cheap-eats within walking distance.

We love:
- traditional breakfasts
- dim sum
- Vietnamese like pho soups, salad rolls and subs
- red and green Lao and Thai curry
- Middle Eastern foods like shawarma and tabouli
- great pizza
- great hotdogs and hamburgers
- gelato
- open to other foods of course!

Please help us out if you can!!!

Thanks!

  1. tuqueboy Jan 7, 2007 09:45 PM

    Hi there.
    Unfortunately, the area right around your hotel is a bit of a deadzone, chow wise. However, there are some great areas within walking distance. If you walk west along queen street to spadina ave., then head north along spadina towards dundas, you'll find yourself in toronto's oldest chinatown. most of the best places there are now vietnamese. there are a lot of very good banh mi and pho places along spadina. also, there are some decent spots along queen itself, further west from your hotel. one that comes to mind is the queen mother, an eclectic kind of restaurant that actually does some of the best lao-style spring rolls in the city (most of the kitchen staff is lao).
    a bit further afield is kensington market, which is probably stretching the definition of walkable, depending upon your toddler's mood. but if you can get there, kensington's also a fun area to hang out in. lots of great, non-trendy food shops and little hole in the wall restaurants. everything from jamaican to portuguese (sometimes you'll see sardines being grilled as you walk along). kensington's between college and dundas, and is (mostly) west of spadina.
    cheers,
    tuqueboy

    1. e
      estragon Jan 7, 2007 11:57 PM

      Within easy walking distance of the Sheraton:

      Great pizza: Terroni, at Victoria and Richmond - http://www.terroni.ca

      Gelato - Solferino, on Wellington, a block or two east of Yonge

      Great Indian - Little India, on Queen just west of University (very close to your hotel) - http://littleindia.ca - Also Trimurti, a few doors west.

      Queen Mother is great for Lao/Thai

      1. z
        zoohort2 Jan 8, 2007 12:42 AM

        You have to go to JAPANGO for Japanese for sure!!!!! This is very close to your hotel as it is just behind City Hall on Elizabeth Street. Their Omakase is amazing as is everything else on the menu!!! You will LOVE it!!! Enjoy!!!

        http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005...

        1. b
          balthazar Jan 8, 2007 12:44 AM

          I agree on Queen St. West, just west of University Ave. the strip there has a variety of places that are reasonable and good. I second the Queen Mum recommendation. That strip also has a sushi place and others that are decently priced.

          Mercatto on Bay (Bay just north of Adelaide) is good for Italian, which would only be a few blocks walk east & south from the hotel, just down from City Hall. Moderate prices. They also have a take out counter with nice hot pastas & vegetables, and salads (you pay by weight & so choose your own portion size and can mix & match) in case you want to take away & go back to the hotel or sit outside at City Hall. They have a small patio too.

          If you're going for basic fries & hot dogs, there are chip truck & hot dog stands are right in front of City Hall during the summer.

          Keep in mind in that area if you walk just a few blocks south King & Bay is the financial district so there are a lot of lovely sit-down restaurants there but they are priced accordingly for the business crowd. For cheaper eats you're better off on Queen St. W.

          2 Replies
          1. re: balthazar
            k
            kobetobiko Jan 8, 2007 12:48 AM

            Is the sushi place called NAMI? This has been my favorite sushi place for years! Their seafood salad and sushi pizza are addictive! Their traditional sushi and sashimi are also of very high quality. But this restaurant is quite expensive and may need a reservation if you visit for weekend dinner.

            1. re: kobetobiko
              b
              balthazar Jan 8, 2007 02:27 PM

              I know NAMI but that's not the one I'm thinking of. This one is very casual and near the Queen Mum. Don't know if it's the best but it's good and close to the Sheraton.

          2. r
            Roberto7 Jan 8, 2007 03:17 AM

            Thanks for all the great tips. Any thoughs on where to find close Middle Eastern foods like shawarma?

            Thanks

            4 Replies
            1. re: Roberto7
              e
              estragon Jan 8, 2007 03:38 AM

              Two great places on Bloor St., between Bathurst and Spadina: Ghazale and Sarah's.

              1. re: estragon
                tuqueboy Jan 8, 2007 03:58 PM

                both great spots, but not really walkable. definitely easy to reach on subway though -- go to spadina station, then walk west along bloor.

              2. re: Roberto7
                m
                munch Jan 8, 2007 04:31 PM

                There is (was?) a place with decent shawarma within easy walking distance of your hotel, on John street just south of Richmond. The name escapes me and I haven't been for a few years, if anyone else would care to fill in the details and confirm/deny its ongoing existence. Right across the street from Smokeless Joes, a great spot for microbrews if your 1-year old is into that.

                1. re: Roberto7
                  j
                  julesrules Jan 9, 2007 07:16 PM

                  I thought of a place that is pretty good and close to your hotel. It has probably been overlooked because it's in a food court! No worries, it is as good in quality as most shwarma places. It is in the Eaton Centre south food court, which is in the basement just off Queen, next to the McDonald's. Shwarma King.

                  Someone must have mentionned the vietnamese subs on Spadina - couple of places on the west side, just north of Dundas make them for $1.50.

                2. b
                  BuggySer Jan 8, 2007 04:25 AM

                  If you walk west on Queen into the entertainment district you'll find an overflowing basket of different places to eat! You'll find something there for sure....

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BuggySer
                    Food Tourist Jan 9, 2007 02:37 AM

                    Verona is about the only restaurant on the King West strip that might be worth the walk, unless you like all-you-can-eat wings at Hooters! But seriously, the entertainment district isn't known for chow-worthy destinations.

                  2. d
                    downtown Jan 8, 2007 11:59 AM

                    For breakfast you can walk over to Victoria Street and up a bit to The Senator. Service is always friendly and you can grab a newspaper and plan your day. Good, honest diner food. Not the cheapest breakfast in the city, but a great vibe.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: downtown
                      mainja Jan 9, 2007 03:23 PM

                      granted i've never been there for breakfast, but do you really think of the senator as diner food?

                      i have to say that i really don't.

                      i still like it a lot, and it's in an old diner that has been funked up a bit, but the food isn't really diner food. i don't know the last time i went to a diner and could get esspresso...

                    2. w
                      Wil Jan 8, 2007 02:12 PM

                      For breakfast, you can also walk down to Richmond and Yonge street for Sunset Grill (1 Richmond Street West). If you end up taking people's suggestion to walk west close to Spadina, there is Cora's on Wellington (277 Wellington Street West)

                      For Thai, there is everyone's cheap and good favourite Salad King (335 Yonge Street) next to HMV north of Dundas (it's really more on the side street rather than RIGHT on Yonge) Hope you enjoy your visit!

                      Unfortunately, there is not much outstanding cheap dim sum in the area.

                      Definately have to encourage Japango, although I wouldn't call it cheap eats, it's good value for your food, just not cheap.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Wil
                        pinstripeprincess Jan 8, 2007 02:29 PM

                        i'd have to say that so far the best cheap dimsum downtown i've had would be at forestview on dundas west just east of spadina. they have dimsum all day but it's obviously best during the morning/brunch rush. on weekdays it's $2 per item and on weekends it starts at $2 to go up to about $4.

                        the place is in great condition for downtown chinatown, absolutely bustling with chinese people, one of the few places that actually has guys standing in front trying to sell chinese newspapers in the morning, tasty and good quality food, decent number of english speaking servers (if translations are necessary) and pretty good service for chinese places in general. oh... and for a touch of nostalgia, carts.

                        i think it's the best afforable place downtown right now.... unless you want to blow some big bucks at lai wah heen for penguin and rabbit shaped dumplings.

                        i personally wouldn't rave about salad king... but that's me.

                        if you're going to get the subs, get them from ngyuen houng on spadina! spicy is the only way to go.

                        and for pizza i'd really suggest terroni.... the atmosphere at the victoria st location is just great in a kind of casual fun way and i think they're super tasty... although they might oversalt at times. think thin crust italian with awesome fresh toppings.

                      2. dinin and dishin Jan 8, 2007 02:42 PM

                        Totally agree with Zoohort2 - Japango for Japanese. Their sushi is amazing--especially their signature Maki's. Beautiful and delish. Japango is on Elizabeth St, just off Dundas, right behind City Hall. Just walk out your hotel and head across the large square (Nathan Phillips) in front of City Hall.

                        One block west of Japango, in the Metropolitan Hotel is Lah Wah Hen (second floor). You'll find many posts about their excellent dim sum. It is more upscale than the usual Chinatown haunts, but well worth the extra expense. You order off menu rather than carts. MMMMmmmm.

                        If you head west on Queen, past University Ave and go north on McCaul, you'll come to Baldwin St (just north of Dundas). It's a great little street with a good selection of restaurants of all types. You'll be very near the Art Gallery also.

                        On Huron St is Mother's Dumplings, which based on the rave reviews on this board, I've been dying to try. They are at 79 Huron, at Dundas (just one block east of Spadina.) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/355364

                        Across from CityTV on Queen is the St Patrick food court. The Sandwich Box makes amazing sandwiches for 6.99 with salad. You choose from several breads, then select your fillings (things like brie, arugula, grilled chicken breast etc.) then they grill it panini style and serve it up with a great salad in a box. You'll find it by the lineup.

                        Here are some links to similar requests for this area.
                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/106017
                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/314219 (skip Peter St Deli rec - ugh

                        )

                        Have fun!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dinin and dishin
                          j
                          julesrules Jan 9, 2007 03:27 PM

                          In the St Patrick food court is also Ghali's kitchen, where they do pastas and pizzas - with jerk pork, or coconut curry chicken. I haven't been there since they moved out of my hood, but I suggest the pastas which I *love*. The sandwiches aren't all that, but the pizzas are also good. Actually this little food court is a good option for getting takeout to bring back to your room when & if your baby doesn't appear to be in a restaurant mood (speaking as a parent here).

                        2. r
                          Roberto7 Jan 9, 2007 12:49 AM

                          Thanks for all the help and for directing me to other threads. I've done some other internet research as well, and I think we'll try to visit as many of the following as possible. Let me know what you think! Basically 7 days and 3 meals per day:

                          BREAKFAST:
                          sunset grill,
                          mimi's,
                          Chinese traditional buns,
                          king's noodle house,
                          jumbo empanada,

                          LUNCH / DINNER:
                          burrito boyz,
                          black camel,
                          naz's falafel,
                          salad king,
                          pho hung,
                          yung sing,
                          queen mother,
                          forestview Chinese,
                          nguyen houng,
                          mother's dumplings,
                          peter pan,
                          solferino,
                          terroni,
                          mercatto.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Roberto7
                            spigot Jan 9, 2007 01:00 AM

                            Very, very good list.

                            - I'd skip peter pan; it's mediocre IMO.
                            - You may find Black Camel a little overrated.
                            - Naz is fine but not exciting
                            - I beg ya not to overlook Sandwich Box; honestly, it's incredibly charming seeing sandwiches made with such delicacy and respect. And they're delicious :-)

                            1. re: Roberto7
                              dinin and dishin Jan 9, 2007 02:09 AM

                              I agree with spigot on Naz, Peter Pan and Sandwich Box. I also wouldn't overlook Lah Wah Hen and Japango. These are two of my favourite places in the city and Sandwich Box has the freshest, most interesting sandwiches in the city---IMHO. They'll keep you going until a late dinner.

                              Have fun!!

                              1. re: dinin and dishin
                                w
                                Wil Jan 9, 2007 12:28 PM

                                I really don't think the OP should bother even looking at Lah Wah Heen, since he or she specifically was asking for cheap eats. Although the dim sum is one of the best in the city, it's the farthest thing from cheap that you can get.

                                1. re: Wil
                                  dinin and dishin Jan 9, 2007 01:16 PM

                                  Your right Wil, I overlooked the price point in OPs original post. I've been meaning to follow up on a recent post for Forestview Chinese Restaurant which would likely be much cheaper than LWH. The following post has nothing but good things to say about this place and it is in the same area:
                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/332938

                                  1. re: Wil
                                    b
                                    balthazar Jan 9, 2007 04:24 PM

                                    Agreed. LWH has excellent quality, but is probably the most expensive place in the city because it's a full-on high end dim sum experience complete with high end decor.

                                    For daytime dim sum also try Rainbow Seafood, 530 Dundas (just west of Spadina) (416) 915-0053. Casual eating. No carts though - you order off the checklist. Quality is not LWH but is perfectly good and a fraction of the cost of LWH.

                                2. re: Roberto7
                                  Food Tourist Jan 9, 2007 02:35 AM

                                  I'd skip Salad King - mediocre Thai food.

                                  1. re: Roberto7
                                    b
                                    balthazar Jan 9, 2007 04:27 PM

                                    Between Terroni & Mercatto, I'd to go to Terroni. I know I was the one who recommended Mercatto, but mostly b/c it's so close to your hotel. Terroni is truly scrumptious and I think better value. If you only can go to one and don't mind going a few blocks further I'd choose Terroni.

                                  2. andreas Jan 9, 2007 02:09 AM

                                    I know everybody rates the Queen Mother but the one time I was there my braised lamb shank was both tough and lacking in flavour. I've never been back since, but maybe I should give the place another try.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: andreas
                                      tuqueboy Jan 9, 2007 02:27 AM

                                      i'd stick with the thai/lao stuff at queen mother. other stuff's a little underwhelming.

                                      1. re: andreas
                                        orangewasabi Jan 12, 2007 11:58 PM

                                        second the advice to stick with the thai/lao stuff. The ping gui is good and the soggy noodle dish (I have to get the proper name for it) is really really good. Cold rolls are good too.

                                        1. re: orangewasabi
                                          f
                                          fickle Jan 13, 2007 02:27 AM

                                          The soggy noodle dish is Khao Soy Gai. I second the Ping Gai and add in the Bah Me Hang. I love their fish specials too, especially when it's the mahi mahi. Yum!
                                          http://www.queenmothercafe.ca/index.htm

                                          1. re: fickle
                                            orangewasabi Jan 13, 2007 03:10 PM

                                            Thank you so much! I'll have to remember it's the two Gai dishes I love.

                                      2. Dimbulb Jan 9, 2007 12:25 PM

                                        Peter Pan has an unbeatable $6.95 pasta/salad/foccacia lunch special and great art deco atmosphere if uneven service.

                                        1. r
                                          Roberto7 Jan 9, 2007 03:05 PM

                                          Thanks agaion for the help. We want to sneak in a couple good burgers, chili-cheese burgers are our favorite. The best we've ever had was from Vera's Burger Shack (Denman location in Vancouver). Are these two good for burgers and a good price (2 burgers, 2 fries, 2 pops/shakes for $30?) Any other's close to City Hall?

                                          Shanghai Cowgirl
                                          538 Queen St. W., (just west of Ryerson)

                                          Epicure Cafe
                                          502 Queen West, at Ryerson

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Roberto7
                                            Food Tourist Jan 9, 2007 03:58 PM

                                            Sorry, I'm not a fan of Shanghai Cowgirl's food - it's too blah.

                                            1. re: Food Tourist
                                              Food Tourist Jan 9, 2007 06:13 PM

                                              I much prefer the french fries/poutine at the blue truck just south of Nathan Phillips Square (city hall) on Queen. Unfortunately, they don't serve burgers, only hotdogs and sausages (avoid the German sausage!)

                                              1. re: Food Tourist
                                                c
                                                camp1980 Jan 9, 2007 07:52 PM

                                                mmmmm the blue truck
                                                one of my favorite places for a quick bite to eat
                                                the fries are GREAT

                                          2. p
                                            Peechie Jan 9, 2007 06:10 PM

                                            regarding your list, I would make the following edits and comments..

                                            BREAKFAST:
                                            sunset grill, - delete, this location isn't really worth it
                                            mimi's,
                                            Chinese traditional buns,
                                            king's noodle house,
                                            jumbo empanada,

                                            Add:
                                            Senator - 249 Victoria St, near Dundas
                                            Daybreak - 399 Church Street, NW corner of Carlton and Church

                                            LUNCH / DINNER:
                                            burrito boyz, - Great place! Sounds weird, but try their Halibut burrito. YUM!
                                            black camel,
                                            naz's falafel,
                                            salad king, - go earlier or sit in dining room (more pricy but has reservations. good for dinner as well)
                                            pho hung, - good choice for good pho and grill meats. Some of the other food I'll skip.
                                            yung sing,
                                            queen mother,
                                            forestview Chinese,
                                            nguyen houng,
                                            mother's dumplings, - its a good find. Go early and try their roast beef noodles in addition to other favourites.
                                            peter pan,
                                            solferino,
                                            terroni,
                                            mercatto.

                                            Add:
                                            California Sandwiches - 244 Claremont Street
                                            - very popular family run joint that's hidden from everything. Try their Veal with your favourite toppings (onions, mushroom, cheese, sweet peppers etc). Go early or be prepared to wait during peek hours.
                                            Etopian House - 4 Irwin Avenue, near Yonge Street
                                            - worth the experience if you're up for this type of food.
                                            Love at First Bite - 96 Gerrard Street East, near Jarvis
                                            - Downtown NY style pizza

                                            As for Gelato - don't know any near you but if you want to venture off.. 2 places:
                                            Hollywood Gelato - 1640 Bayview Avenue, south of Eglinton near Manor Road... has amazing gelato.
                                            La Paloma - 1357 St Clair Avenue West, near Lansdowne is a bit of a far travel for an out of towner but also has a wide selection of yummy gelato.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Peechie
                                              pinstripeprincess Jan 9, 2007 06:44 PM

                                              this sounds like quite an adventure so i'd like to steer you a little my way if i could.

                                              chinatown is very very easily walkable especially during summer. many, if not all, of the chinese and vietnamese places on your list are within very close range of each other. you could easily start at one place to snack a little and keep walking and snacking. this way you could spend one meal on several restaurants and go back to sit and enjoy a full meal at the one that really got your tongue going.

                                              burrito boyz - the halibut is interesting and the best option there but the spicy sauce is just ridiculous. too much of it and all you can taste is a nasty burn flavour only worsened if you attempt to drink anything pepsi/coke. just watch out for that spice.

                                              salad king - maybe i don't get it... but it didn't impress me, especially linda's when my portion was ridiculously tiny and cold in two minutes flat.

                                              pho hung - not for pho anymore. pho has gotten pretty pathetic in the downtown area. my favourite dish there is actually the chef's special duck noodles when they spice it up with a couple chilis. thick vermicelli noodles in a nice chicken based broth with strips of duck, bamboo, chili bits and coriander.

                                              peter pan - reliable, ok tasty but nothing really impressive. walk a little further over to adelaide/spadina and go to tutti matti for southern italian.

                                              please please please pick solferino for gelato. expensive, but just so damn good. la paloma used to really shine, but as of late all i could taste were fake flavours and a hydrogenated oil slick all over my tongue.

                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                r
                                                Roberto7 Jan 9, 2007 07:22 PM

                                                "please please please pick solferino for gelato"

                                                We vacationed in Vancouver for a week last summer and eat everywhere on Denman St.. We loved Mondo Gelato on Denman, it is incredible (www.mondogelato.com)! My wife had 14 flavous in 7 days!

                                              2. re: Peechie
                                                Food Tourist Jan 9, 2007 07:48 PM

                                                Solferino Gelato is much closer and well worth the long walk to Wellington just east of Yonge. If freshly made, the chocolate-date, lulo, and avocado flavours are worth sampling.

                                                1. re: Food Tourist
                                                  p
                                                  Peechie Jan 9, 2007 09:15 PM

                                                  I didn't know about Solferino~! Have to try it sometime. =)

                                                  We always end up going north or west when we're craving Gelato. And yeah, La Palamo isn't as good as it use to be the last time I was there, I thought it was a one time thing. Guess not! I go to Hollywood Gelato unless we're dining in the West end.

                                              3. h
                                                hoagy294 Jan 10, 2007 08:00 PM

                                                This doesn't quite fit what you were asking for - except the inexpensive part - but Osgoode Hall is across the street from your hotel and the restaurant is open to the public. It's lunch only, the food is goood and it's fun to see the lawyers and judges eating lunch in their robes.
                                                http://www.lsuc.on.ca/news/a/archives...

                                                Otherwise I second Terroni and the Sandwich Box.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: hoagy294
                                                  b
                                                  balthazar Jan 11, 2007 04:11 AM

                                                  Osgood Hall lunch is a GREAT choice, a real hidden gem plus the interest of dining at the actual courthouse on a very nice, reasonably priced meal. Make advance reservations, it fills up.

                                                2. p
                                                  Peechie Jan 11, 2007 01:19 AM

                                                  Oh while you're in Eaton Centre, I would suggest trying the "Soup Original Nazi" in the Northend food court (it's the one Seinfield got their character from, or so I heard). Expensive buy pretty good soup (I had lobster bisque, my friend had italian wedding). Soup comes with fruit and baggette.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Peechie
                                                    HarryLloyd Jan 11, 2007 02:10 AM

                                                    NAZI? http://www.originalsoupman.com/l_location.aspx?lid=22

                                                    here is the whole story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Yeganeh

                                                    But really, this is really a NYC experience not Tdot.

                                                    Chow!
                                                    HL.

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