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Chowhounding in downtown Toronto?

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!

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  1. 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. 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. 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. 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

            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

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

            Thanks

            4 Replies
            1. re: Roberto7

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

              1. re: estragon

                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

                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

                  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. 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

                    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. 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

                      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. 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

                        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. 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

                          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. 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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  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

                                    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

                                  I'd skip Salad King - mediocre Thai food.

                                  1. re: Roberto7

                                    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. 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

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

                                      1. re: andreas

                                        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

                                          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

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

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

                                        1. 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

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

                                            1. re: Food Tourist

                                              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

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

                                          2. 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

                                              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

                                                "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

                                                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

                                                  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. 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

                                                  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. 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

                                                    NAZI? http://www.originalsoupman.com/l_loca...

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

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

                                                    Chow!
                                                    HL.