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Gale's Snack Bar - Cheapest Place In Toronto?

m
Moorepark Apr 7, 2007 05:05 AM

Last week, while on business in the Eastern & Carlaw area, I stumbled upon Gale’s Snack Bar, an anachronism of a greasy spoon from another era in more ways than one. The small, rundown lunch counter with three cramped booths looks like something out of small town Ontario and serves what must be the cheapest food in Toronto.

The menu posted on the wall lists prices right out of the ‘70s. Club Sandwich – $1.95, Corned Beef on a Kaiser – $1.60, Fish & Chips - $2.75, Pie and Ice Cream - $1.15.

Now the prices and the look of the place would be quaint and amusing in themselves, but the food is actually quite good for what it is. I had the most expensive thing on the menu, a Hot Turkey Sandwich for the princely sum of $3.00 and it was great, with what seemed to be real turkey off an actual bird. Lunch for two, with tip came to $8.00.

Have any of you found other bargain joints like this around town?

  1. redearth Apr 7, 2007 06:23 AM

    I am well impressed that you had the cojones to step foot in that place. I have never been brave enough to venture inside, past its dilapidated and unwelcoming (frankly, frightening) exterior. Now I've got to try it! Those prices are ridiculous! Thank you for leading the way...

    1. ostracario Apr 7, 2007 09:12 AM

      OMG! People actually eat there? I drive by every day, and I always shake my head in wonder. A while back they fixed up the exterior for a movie shoot they were doing in the 'hood, but as the cameras and stars left, so did the updated digs. Those prices do sound crazy, and while I commend you for your daring, I cannot say that I'm as brave as you.

      1. Vise Apr 7, 2007 10:21 AM

        Hmm... I figured that place was soley a hangout for the neighbourhood crackheads. I live about 3 streets over from Carlaw and Eastern, drive by there several times daily and never, ever see anyone entering/leaving Gale's. I have no problems checking our local dives/greasy spoons but that place scares even me.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Vise
          Leslieville Apr 7, 2007 01:49 PM

          I've eaten in Gale's a few times, and surprisingly there are no crackheads. Thats not to say the clientel isn't colourful! The food is good and the prices can't be beat! I don't think the place has been decorated since it originally opened, but it's not dirty, just worn out.It's part of what I love about Leslieville, that you have Gale's co-existing with Tomi Kro and Gino Ranni's!!!!!

          1. re: Leslieville
            m
            Moorepark Apr 7, 2007 08:06 PM

            So Gale’s looks a bit scary from the outside, but what the hell. Adventure is the spice of life. I agree with Leslieville’s take on it. Gale’s is a very unpretentious place that offers an amazing value proposition when compared to the establishments usually discussed on this board. Enjoy it while you can.

            1. re: Leslieville
              m
              Moorepark Apr 7, 2007 08:10 PM

              Gale's Menu

               
              1. re: Moorepark
                m
                Moorepark Apr 7, 2007 08:29 PM

                Gale's Menu - Better Picture

                 
                1. re: Moorepark
                  DockPotato Apr 8, 2007 01:30 AM

                  I would mug you in church for those signs! Vintage 60's "one-shot" lettering. Beautiful. Thanks for the pix.

                  1. re: Moorepark
                    fruglescot Dec 23, 2007 10:30 AM

                    Moorepark

                    Your photo of the counter and menu board does the place justice and the staff of one does a remarkable job of service,cooking, and baking the pies.
                    Notice the ancient aluminum coffee strainers for the coffee making in the left lower portion of the photo.
                    One of Toronto's well kept secret bargains in dining.

                2. re: Vise
                  koknia Apr 11, 2007 10:47 PM

                  There's nothing scary about Gale's. It serves tons of film types from the studios around the area. Check it out, you won't get hurt.

                  1. re: Vise
                    r
                    redcoconut Apr 22, 2007 11:39 AM

                    What would make you think this? Just because it's a working-class joint doesn't mean everyone is on crack you know. It's a family joint, doesn't serve liquor/beer, and usually you can't even find a seat at lunch time on a weekday because of all the kids from the school up the street. People in the 'hood have been going there for years. The old man and his daughter that work the counter are nice people, I often bump into him shopping at the No Frills at Gerrard. There's always a newspaper in the joint and coffee refills are free. The food is nothing amazing, but well well worth the price.

                  2. shana Apr 7, 2007 08:07 PM

                    I love Gale's. The owners are so sweet. We went there 2 weeks ago. There were 4 of us. We had a club (with real turkey and surprisingly good tomatoes for this time of year), sides of fries and we all had a chocolate shake - total before tip - $16.40.

                    It's the best deal in town!

                    1. s
                      superizzy Apr 8, 2007 09:06 PM

                      Been going to Gale's for years. My Mechanic is right across the street.

                      Nothing spectacular but defintely the cheapest place in Toronto.

                      As mentioned the club house has real turkey and the soups arent half bad.

                      Definitely NOT dirty, but certainly a bit .......threadbare.

                      1. foodyDudey Apr 10, 2007 04:14 PM

                        Like the other people who replied, I have driven by many times but would never think of going in. I'll have to try it now since it's probably OK, and there's little chance of meeting the Hell's Angels there now since their clubhouse was shut down.
                        I see that pie is 0.85 a "cut", I'll have to ask them to cut one in half for me. :-)

                        1. Vise Apr 10, 2007 05:38 PM

                          I take back my earlier comments, after seeing the prices (umm... crazy!) and hearing the comments I'm looking forward to trying Gale's! I would have guessed the food would be on par with the Tasty Chicken House, we shall see soon enough.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Vise
                            m
                            Moorepark Apr 11, 2007 12:21 PM

                            I believe Gale's closes at 6PM, so it's hardly a dinner choice. It's also closed on Sunday. It's really just a place for a quick lunch.

                            1. re: Moorepark
                              mainja Apr 22, 2007 08:48 AM

                              DOH! I'm reading this thread and thought I'd go for lunch today, but apparently not, 'cause, well, it's Sunday. *grin*

                          2. f
                            Fetter Apr 11, 2007 10:27 AM

                            I am soo going there either tonight or this weekend.

                            Does anyone know the hours?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Fetter
                              m
                              Moorepark Apr 13, 2007 07:25 AM

                              Since some of you chowhounds indicated you were going to give Gale's a try, I'd be interested in hearing you comments after your visit.

                            2. diesta Apr 11, 2007 11:48 AM

                              Hong Fat BBQ on Dundas/Huron... $3.25 at lunch for a decent sized portion of rice and bbq pork with some greens, a bowl of soup and tea.

                              It's damn delish as well... my fave BBQ Pork place in Chinatown.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: diesta
                                Leslieville Apr 11, 2007 01:39 PM

                                Living in the neighbourhood and having been to Gayle's, I find it so hilarious that anyone would consider it a "destination". The other thing I feel compeled to address, there were never any motorcycle thugs there or any other restaurant in the area. If you didn't know were the clubnouse was, you would never have been aware of their presence in the community. ( I'm not addressing anything else they might do, just how they were as neighbours). Some times the remarks about crackheads and gangs get tiring!

                                1. re: Leslieville
                                  s
                                  SusanB Apr 11, 2007 02:37 PM

                                  Definitely should not be considered a 'destination'! I live right around the corner and have never been to Gayles. My husband did drop by there once and in his words, 'you get what you pay for'.

                              2. redearth Apr 13, 2007 06:48 PM

                                So, I went to Gale's for the first time today, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. The Club House sandwich, at a mere $1.95, was composed of real turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and three slices of perfectly toasted white bread. The sandwich, with a pop, came to a whopping $2.80. I was more than happy to hand over a five dollar bill and not accept the change. My tip was almost as much as the meal! I will be going back, but be warned: a place such as Gale's, which provides decent food at astonishingly low prices, does attract a certain type of people that perhaps could not afford to eat out at other places that might charge 3 to 4 times as much for the same food as Gale's does. Don't get me wrong - I think this is entirely commendable. However, I must say that my lunch companions (on either side of me, as the place was full) were somewhat odorous, and not really in an appetizing way. The place is tiny, with about 7 stools at the counter, and 3 or 4 small booths, two of which can only seat two people comfortably. That said, the club sandwich was definitely satisfying, and I will be back to try the rest of the menu (also, their pies look home-made and delicious, and at $1.15 a slice, with ice cream, how can you go wrong?!). To conclude, I would not hold it against you were you to order your food to go. Check Gale's out - there is definitely nothing like it in TO that I've ever seen.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: redearth
                                  vorpal Apr 13, 2007 07:42 PM

                                  When you say "real turkey", do you mean cold cuts or actual pieces of cooked turkey? I plan on trying this place out soon, but due to MSG, if cold cuts are used I'll stick to a hamburger instead.

                                  1. re: vorpal
                                    redearth Apr 14, 2007 01:22 AM

                                    Actual pieces of cooked turkey (or perhaps chicken, but either way, it's real meat!).

                                  2. re: redearth
                                    Vise Apr 13, 2007 09:06 PM

                                    They do takeout? Done and done! :-)

                                    1. re: redearth
                                      b
                                      bruce_from_sydney Apr 21, 2007 07:18 PM

                                      Gale's is:

                                      1) very clean - it is not new but it is very clean. I have neem in many kitchen's and I trust Gale's
                                      2) sincere - the owner is named Dave and he treats everyone like they were a King. Fantastic guy.
                                      3) extremely tasty - fresh ingredients prepared with car and attention.
                                      4) best club house and fries in Toronto
                                      5) great burgers and milk shakes.

                                      If appreciate care. attention and yumminess as opposed to the leased BMW poseur crowd - Gales is where it is at.

                                      1. re: bruce_from_sydney
                                        z
                                        Zengarden Apr 21, 2007 08:29 PM

                                        Liked what you had to say about Gale's. I for one am tired of people overpaying for items such as burgers and then complaining about them so it's refreshing to hear that you are complimentary and not elitist about this spot.

                                        1. re: Zengarden
                                          i
                                          idnas Apr 21, 2007 08:44 PM

                                          I gave Gale's a try recently and have to agree it's one of the city's greatest bargains. If you're looking for haute cuisine it's not the place, but for basic food you can't beat the price and service. I had a fried egg sandwich, which admittedly is hard to mess up, but having someone else do the cooking is worth more than the 75 cents they charge. It was very tasty. My companion had corned beef on a kaiser and it wasn't outstanding but his chocolate milkshake was great. Nice and thick. I also tried the pie. For 85 cents, I couldn't resist. It was blueberry, and not good at all. The crust was fine but the filling was... well, I couldn't eat it. But oh well, that just kept me from overindulging. :> All that and a glass of milk for 6 bucks including taxes. You can't help tipping way more than the standard percentage when it's so cheap and the service is so friendly. The lady who waited on us couldn't have been more cheerful and helpful. I'll go back for sure.

                                    2. j
                                      JaPe May 9, 2007 07:52 PM

                                      Tried this place today - Good cheap food. Nothing very scary about it. It was pretty much the opposite of some of these pop-up overpriced trendy restaurants - People just there to eat and relax not to be seen - which I found refreshing.

                                      1. g
                                        ghetto_scarlem Jun 2, 2007 11:47 AM

                                        After reading about Gale's on this site - I just had to try it out. The first time I went, it was a SAT at around 11:45 am. It had not opened yet, so I went somewhere else. I think they open around 12:30 pm....

                                        Today was the day. I got there around 1:15 pm, and sat on a stool as the 3 booths were already taken. I asked for the club-house sandwich, fries & gravy and an orange juice. The owner (David) said it would be about 15 minutes. Since I was not in a rush, I read the paper and overheard some interesting conversations from the colourful patrons. This place is definitely a throw back to another era. As I sat, I tried to take in all the atmosphere that you can't get anywhere else.

                                        As all the other posts here have said, the club-house is one of the best around town. The meat is real (not cold-cuts), bacon is crisp, tomatoes & lettuce great - all on toasted white bread. The fries & gravy were nice, but not as good as the sandwich. The total bill came to $3.90. To have a nice meal like that at another restaurant could have come to $10 - 12 easy (and it wouldn't have been as good).

                                        David was extremely nice to all the customers and made you feel welcome. You can tell that he puts a lot of TLC into serving everyone.

                                        I saw a young couple order Hot Turkey sandwiches that looked very tasty, another gentleman have a nice weekend breakfast, and the milkshakes seemed very popular as well. I will try something else next time I go, but the club-house was definitely very good.

                                        If you are looking for an honest, family-run place, this is it. The prices are so ridiculous, I keep on smiling and shaking my head every time I think about them. I don't know how they stay in business and pay all the bills....

                                        Others have said that Gale's closes at 6 pm & that it is closed on Sundays - so I guess next time I am in the area on a Saturday afternoon, I will check it out again.

                                        1. d
                                          dzire78 Aug 6, 2007 06:13 AM

                                          At first I was completely skeptical about going, as everybody is. Afterall, they don't bother to decorate or keep the place looking spiffy. They have a real steady flow of regulars that keeps them afloat. My friend took me there one day for lunch. I ordered three burgers, fish and chips, two shakes, a pop, and three fries and it came to $11 after tax and before tip.

                                          It was depressing that I had spent my entire life living two blocks away from this place and I had never let my curiosity overcome me to allow me just to waltz in. Frankly speaking I'm going to go eat there in the next two hours. I think they open around 11AM but somebody on this board said it was 12:30.

                                          Gale is an excellent waitress. The plates, cutlery, you name it was spotless despite the fact the restaurant is in decay. The other clientèle weren't cracked out. They were mainly older people who maybe unable to cook or people looking for a cheap meal. That or a bunch of broke students such as my friends and I just looking for a good burger.

                                          Don't let your fears overcome your appetite. Go scrounge up all your loose change and go have a feast there. Tip well because the service is great. If the food doesn't persuade you the bill definitely will.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: dzire78
                                            z
                                            Zengarden Aug 6, 2007 09:40 AM

                                            I've always seen Gale's from the car when I take Eastern Avenue downtown. I never realized that it was actually open.

                                            I think that it is great that there is an affordable spot for people in the neighbourhood. It is very difficult for older people to find the inspiration or motivation to cook for one. This also gets people into a social environment.

                                          2. Leslieville Aug 6, 2007 01:33 PM

                                            If you go to see Hairspray, you may recognize the Hardy Har Hut as Gale's, especially in the opening shots!!! There are other area locations featured in the movie also.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Leslieville
                                              T Long Aug 6, 2007 02:46 PM

                                              Very enjoyable reading this string of posts. Only wish I lived a bit closer to the area so that I could check this place out easily.

                                              1. re: T Long
                                                50firstdatesguy Jan 3, 2008 11:29 AM

                                                T Long don't let the negative opinions about the area and its 'crackhead' residents shy you away, please come visit Gale's one day when you have the time just for shts and giggles. To make the trip worthwhile, 5mins further West on Eastern Ave. brings you over the Don Valley on to Front St. and very close to St. Lawrence Market.

                                              2. re: Leslieville
                                                y
                                                YummyYummy Jan 3, 2008 07:28 PM

                                                My sister's friend Dad owns Gale. The 2 days of shooting their restaurant for the Hairspray movie they got paid $5000 for it.

                                              3. s
                                                sweetgrass Jan 3, 2008 10:29 AM

                                                Gales is THE place to go when you don't have much money in your pocket. You don't go to Gales because the food is awesome. You go because Gales has decent food that is cheap. -

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: sweetgrass
                                                  mainja Feb 17, 2008 07:22 AM

                                                  I would say the pie was awesome...

                                                  It's an amazing little place, tiny, friendly, cheap as dirt.

                                                  My partner and I had a very filling meal there yesterday and for the two of us the bill came to $6.50. that was for Hamburger and Fries (didn't love the hamburger, I might go back to hot chicken sandwich next time), egg sandwich and fries, a cup of coffee and a chocolate milkshake.

                                                  So, with tip, my partner and I had a whole meal for $8. It's crazy. He said "I'm not sure we could eat this cheaply at home..."

                                                2. m
                                                  MelodySoul Aug 26, 2008 10:28 PM

                                                  Does anyone know the address? How cool that it was used as the Hardy Har Hut in Hairspray! Isn't that also the building they lived in the movie? I would definitely like to check this place out sometime. Can't beat the prices that's for sure.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: MelodySoul
                                                    koknia Aug 27, 2008 08:32 AM

                                                    Southwest corner of Carlaw and Eastern.
                                                    I always go for the hot turkey sandwich and fries. It's like 3 bucks, and good.

                                                    1. re: MelodySoul
                                                      thenurse Aug 27, 2008 08:40 AM

                                                      It's on the SW corner of Eastern and Carlaw.

                                                      1. re: thenurse
                                                        k
                                                        kernalpanx Oct 25, 2008 12:29 AM

                                                        Shhhh please do not go to Gale's!! Food is over priced and bad!! :-)

                                                    2. t
                                                      thedeltaskipper Jan 22, 2009 07:37 PM

                                                      After driving by a number of times and reading the reviews here and elsewhere, I just had to try Gale's. A friend and I decided to stop in there today for lunch and it is exactly as described by others here.

                                                      Walking inside is like stepping back in time, I swear the decor hasn't been significantly altered in at least 40 years. However, the place is as clean as you could expect during a salt-slushy winter and the service is very friendly.

                                                      We both ordered the Club sandwich with fries. I had a coffee (with top up) and my friend had a chocolate milkshake. The food was average. Good, but not anywhere close to great. Overall just made from common and inexpensive ingredients. As others had posted it is impressive that the club is made with real hand cut meat.

                                                      The best part was the bill: $8.75. For everything. This must be the best restaurant food value in the city. I was so sidetracked by how cheap it was I forgot to leave a tip, which I'm feeling pretty guilty about. Hopefully I'll be back there soon to correct my tipping mistake and try something else from the menu board.

                                                      1. y
                                                        YummyYummy May 19, 2009 01:15 PM

                                                        Prices are still the same. I had a clubhouse sandwich for $1.95 and french fries for $1.00 plus taxes. Best place in the neighborhood to beat the recession!!! ;)

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