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Toronto: $15 Dinner around Yonge & Dundas?

My friend and I are visiting Toronto from Calgary. I know I can trust Chowhounders to be thorough, helpful, and trustworthy in taste. We're both students and hoping to save a bit of money by shopping for groceries and cooking our own meals. But we also want to try some of Toronto's good eats!

We're up for almost anything, except Vietnamese, which is abundant and tasty in Calgary, and Chinese. All we ask is that the meal is around $15 per person and delicious. :)

Thank you in advance for your suggestions.

P.S. Is there anything we should try that is special to Toronto or done especially well in Toronto?

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  1. Well simply put, Chinese, to answer your last question. Alas you don't want any of that....There's also peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel bakery in St Lawrence Market. One of the few things culinary that is uniquely Toronto.

    Yonge & Dundas is an area especially devoid of culture, which translates into a lack of good eats. My suggestions, get away from that area as the pickings are slim. (corporate chains, food courts, etc).

    There's Salad King/Linda's around the corner but that's not exactly destination eating. Very popular w/ the ryerson student crowd, so it might appeal to you guys. There's also the Soup Nazi's franchise in the basement of Eaton centre.

    1 Reply
    1. re: aser

      Probably the only Houndish destination would be Bangkok Garden on Elm, but it would be more than $15 per person. Salad King is also a Thai place but they can be very busy downstairs, and Linda upstairs will exceed your budget.

      Also look for the thread on Poutine - which originated in Quebec and not sure if it made it to Calgary yet (cheese curds on fries with gravy).

    2. I say check out Red Charcoal (138 Dundas Street, less than 2 blocks west of Dundas Square) - great comfort food at reasonable prices, good service.


      1. Perhaps wander up to the Kensington Market area where you could do some shopping first and enjoy great empanadas for a third of your budget -

        JUMBO EMPANADAS(245 Augusta, 416-977-0056) Once a subterranean take-away, Jumbo's authentic Chilean street food is now served in a modest cafe four doors down from its old location in the heart of Kensington Market. Snacks so sensational, they're sold at many upmarket eateries at much higher prices. Best: huge latin turnovers known as empanadas stuffed with beef or chicken, hard-boiled egg, black olive and red pepper; take-home specialties like killer homemade hot sauce; vegetarian tamale-esque humitas; pastel de choco -- a sweet cornmeal mush upside-down pie rich with beef, chicken, egg, olives and raisins. Complete dinners for $5 per person, including all taxes and tip. Open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 7 pm, Sunday 11 am to 5 pm. Unlicensed. Smoke-free. Cash only. Access: four steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN

        This isn't a fancy place by any means, small picnic tables really, but great cheap street food.

        And after you can spend some of your savings and try a tapas plate or two at one of the new wine bar/tapas spots on the same strip. Torito has a great patio to have a drink and their Tapas plates are in the $6 - $12 range and very good.


        This would be about a 15 minute walk from Yonge & Dundas...

        1. In that area the best option is Salad King (Thai $20-25 for two) as already mentioned.
          And Indian food is excellent here - and can be very cheap (e.g Rashnaa ~20/25 for 2 - take TTC or 30 minute walk) or great value(Trimurti ~$40-50 for two - and a 15 minute walk from Yonge/Dundas).

          1. On Victoria, just south of Dundas and one block E of Yonge is the Senator, a great diner mentioned on this board a number of times. I believe they have two-for-one burgers on weeknights - check it out. They have better food than burgers, too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: thenurse

              Haven't been for the 2-for-1 - but do recall that the Senator was horrendously expensive last time I went. Their daily special was over $30 - I didn't ask the price when it was offered and they didn't volunteer that information.

              1. re: estufarian

                No so anymore. They now keep most of their lunch menu intact for dinner, including mac & cheese and a great Cobb salad. Ditto the burger.

            2. Spices Cafe on Temperance offers up tasty Indian food for very cheap prices. Beer & wine licensed. Small patio out front. Despite dishes being healthy and low fat they're very high in flavour. Really nice guy that runs the place. Less than 5 minute walk from Y&D.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Googs

                What about Terroni's on Victoria Street (which is about two blocks south of Dundas and a block east of Yonge - 5 minute walk from yong and Dundas). Great Italian food (excellent thin crust pizzas - tommato, buffalo cheese and fresh basil is my fav ) in a funky setting. Clean and good service. For cheap, good eats, that's where I go when I'm in the area.

              2. Thank you for all the great suggestions. I will try to check out the Kensington Market area, Torito, Rashnaa, Terroni's and the Spices Cafe, and report back on our experiences.

                1 Reply
                1. re: aktivistin

                  like someone else said, yonge and dundas is a tourist trap. its hard rock/pickle barrel/baton rouge/red lobster or hot dogs if you stay in that hood.

                  you can get a tasty bacon cheeseburger at czehoski (queen and bathurst)
                  i dunno if its uniquely toronto..but its cheap and one of the best burgers ive had. their veggie burger isnt bad either..and you can get it with bacon too. heheh

                  new york subway (queen and bathurst) such a dive, but its yummy, cheap and filling. i normally get the jumbo chicken.

                  tacos el asador (bloor and christie) right on the outskirts of korea town..super cheap..good stuff. the pupusas are bland..the chorizo burrito is aces..its cheap enough to mix and match. their hot sauce can be really freakin' hot sometimes.

                  jumbo empanada, as someone mentioned is a good place. the corn pie is pretty special.

                  le bar a soupe (dundas and ossington) is a good deal..but the soup selections change often so i cant really recommend anything. the incredibly nice french lady makes a good, and reasonably priced sammich.

                  there are a bunch of tapas-y places you could check out. you wont get a full meal out of it..but you'd get to try a couple of good things.
                  torito (college and spadina) - shrimp al ajillo (i still daydream about it), patatas bravas and the kingfish are all good - if the menu hasnt changed.

                  mini market (college and grace) - decent snacks. good specials.

                  coca (queen and bathurst) - good olives, good skewers, good chorizo, confit chicken wings! and they have a late night menu on the weekends.

                2. Japango is also an easy walk from Yonge & Dundas. Head west just past Bay St, to Elizabeth St, and go left (south). It's a tiny hole-in-the-wall Japanese place that sells the best affordable sushi in the city. Very popular with chowhounders, if you do a search on here you'll find lots more details. The lunch sushi combos are particularly affordable.

                  1. Coconut Grove, on Bay W of Dundas has great, cheap Roti and small lunch specials. Get take-out and sit in the square in front of City Hall (one block south).

                    1. If you are also in the market for a drinking spot near where you are staying, I also just remembed a great little stylish bar and patio in the area (one of the few that isn't a total Hard Rock Cafe-type tourist trap). It is called Minibar and is about 2 blocks from Yonge & Dundas. Kind of hidden little spot, young crowd and happy hour specials - http://www.minibarandpatio.ca/