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Living in Downtown Toronto

I've just moved here last weekend, feeling very lost.
I'm living round university avenue x richmond street at the moment.
I don't know toronto at all and worse of all - I CANNOT DRIVE!

1. I can't find any proper supermarket (where things aren't overpriced) round here in walking distance, or in easy access by public transport
- need to get some essentials
- fresh meat/fish/veg/dairies

2. Any good restaurants (not too expensive) round here? - esp Japanese :p


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  1. Two good discount chains for basic items are "No Frills" and "Food Basics".

    From where you are, walk down to King (or up to Queen) and take the streetcar east to Parliament. Go up Parliament, and once you pass Gerrard, you will see a big "No Frills" on the east side of the street. Or, continue on to Wellesley, and walk west about a half a block, where you will see a "Food Basics".

    You'll either have to schlep your stuff back on the bus and streetcar, or call a cab.

    1. Welcome!

      A couple of ideas. For shopping, I would suggest Kensington Market. It is not a market, but an area, focussed around Augusta Avenue between College and Dundas. Plenty of fresh fruit and veg, as well as some mind-blowing ethnic places for street food and casual fare. European Meats is good for decent reasonable cuts. Segovia meats for south American choiizo and other goodies. Don't be afraid to poke your head in the little shops, as there are many cool things going on in the back, such pupusas, arepas, churros, and empanadas. Easy street car ride down Spadina, or not too long a walk.

      St. Lawrence market is also good, though will be higher priced for the fruit and veg. The price of fish drops drastically after 2pm on a Saturday.

      1. Welcome to Toronto. When you have some time on a weekend afternoon, you should walk over to Spadina and North to St. Andrew and explore Kensington Market. Sample some of the goodies in the area and you can pick up some cheap produce at the same time.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pescatarian

          Hope you are settling in to your new city. If you are looking for Japanese ingredients you could walk over to Sanko on Queen Street West. A good Japanese restaurant at Queen and St. Patrick is Ema-tei. It is an izakaya style restaurant but also serves great sushi.

          You may also want to go to T&T supermarket. You should be able to find your meat, fish, veg, and take-out sushi here. I am not sure of the exact route by ttc but if you search T&T on this board you will be able to find which bus you need to take. The prices are always good and you will find everything you are looking for under one roof.

        2. I live in the same area.

          1. Dominion on Front Street between Yonge and Church. 15 minutes walk. Open 24 hours. Across the street from the St. Lawrence market, which is also good for fresh meat, fish and dairy. I would consider these places "average" sort of city prices. They're not inexpensive, but not over-the-top.
          2. Fresh and Wild at King and Spadina is over-priced, but it's within ten minutes walking-distance and it has gourmet-ish grocery (or maybe just gourmet-ish prices), meat, veg and takeout.
          3. Chinatown (15 minute walk straight up Spadina is good for inexpensive fruit and veggies. Also Kensington Market (Spadina and Baldwin).
          4. There is a tiny convenience store at 140 Simcoe Street where I wouldn't want to do a lot of grocery shopping, but where I do pick up essentials (except meat. It is expensive. It is super-convenient. And it's run by the nicest people on the planet.

          - The No Frills that ekammin recommends will definitely be cheaper than my options, but it is not walking-distance, while my suggestions are. Also, there is a liquor store across from Dominion or at Baldwin Street (on Spadina) across from Kensington Market (sounds like this might be helpful).

          1. Ematei on St. Patrick just north of Queen is a five minute walk. My partner is half-Japanese (and so choosy about authenticity), and this is his Japanese resto of choice (in the neighbourhood).
          2. Burrito Boyz on Adelaide is quick (usually), filling, inexpensive, and a super-short walk.
          3. Baldwin Street (15 minute walk north on McCaul, just north of Dundas) is a charming street with lots of good and inexpensive options, including various "ethnic" (stupid word, sorry) options.
          4. Little India is at Queen between Richmond and Duncan, and it's not-too expensive.
          5. I like Pho Hung (15 minute walk) on Spadina for Viet, and especially pho.

          The grocery shopping thing is a problem around here. Even though what I've listed is relatively convenient, it just feels like there should be something better. There isn't. Still, it's a great 'hood, and I hope that once you've found your bearings you'll settle in.


          1. THANK YOU EVERYONE!
            Even though I wasn't very successful in hunting down what I want while walking around the area today... It's great that i turnt into the internet and found this forum :p

            I'll try and explore the city further tomorrow. Wish me luck :p

            1. Welcome! Toronto is an awesome city to live car free! No worries there.

              In addition to all the great ideas already given, during the week, there is a Longo's grocery store in the downstairs of BCE Place that has standard pricing for groceries (pricey for prepared food and salad bar).

              Has someone explained the "neighborhoods" of Toronto to you?
              There are areas/zones like Little Italy, GreekTown, Leslieville, The Beaches, The Village, Queen West, ChinaTown, Kensington, Ronscesvalles that each have their own little main street/area and unique foods. Exploring one of these hoods a weekend would give you a terrific flavour of the City and all are readily accessible by TTC.

              1. Welcome to Toronto! Trust me, you don't want or need a car in downtown Toronto, as traffic and parking costs would make driving more of a hassle than a convenience. You can walk surprisingly far, and the east-west streetcars along King are really not too bad outside of rush hour. Embrace the car-free lifestyle! Plan ahead and pick up groceries a few times a week, so you don't have enormous amounts of things to carry at once.

                Agree with the above posters -- you're in a bit of a no-man's land in terms of food shopping in your immediate area, but you are surrounded by great neighbourhoods that are easily walkable on a nice day, and accessible by transit on a not-so-nice day.

                Heading east to Church and then a few blocks south to the St. Lawrence Market and Dominion, as described above, is probably your best bet for serious stocking up -- just remember the market itself is closed on Sundays and Mondays. There's also an LCBO in this area.

                Heading west to Spadina and up to Kensington Market is also a fun idea, but it is not a "market" in the way the St. Lawrence is. If you're used to supermarket box store shopping it may be a bit of a shock. But if you are open to different foods, cultures, experiences, etc., then it's a great resource.

                In terms of nearby restaurants, I enthusiastically second Little India on Queen West. I might also add the Queen Mother Cafe, roughly across the street from it, as another decent option. Japango on Elizabeth St, which is just north of the new City Hall buildings, is probably the best affordable authentic sushi in the city, a favourite of many on this board.

                If you're not familiar with the city, research online and google map the places you want to go, print out the map, and bring them with you. Most of the downtown is a grid so it gets really easy to find your way around after a short period of time.

                Wikipedia has a great entry on all the neighbourhoods in Toronto, here:


                Over time, definitely check out the St. Lawrence, Distillery, Gay Village, Corktown, Kensington, Chinatown, Beaches, and Harbourfront areas. (Not all in one day, though! Ha.) Every one of these is unique and will give you a great idea of how diverse this city is.

                1. Within walking distance is Konnichiwa on Baldwin Street or Baldwin Village, the little area mentioned above. It's reasonably priced and has had a number of positive reviews on this board. Click on the place link for a map and to read other threads mentioning the name.

                  31 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                  1. oh yeah, you're in a great area to be a zipcar member too. Check it out at www.zipcar.ca. $12 / hour for a car, including gas, can't beat it. I think there's a couple lots within one block of you.

                    Okay, once you have your car . . . and this is food related now, for asian groceries head out to:
                    - T&T on Cherry Street.
                    - and up north to Pacific Mall

                    1. depending on where you work, there are a few grocery stores on the subway line at college park, yonge/eglinton centre and yonge/st.clair, which are handy for picking up extras on the way home.

                      1. If you walk over to Spadina Avenue and take a southbound streetcar heading to Union Station, there's a Sobey's Express in the Queen's Quay terminal building (get off the streetcar at York street). Relatively small, but has a great deli/takeout and you should be able to pick all your staples.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: jayzie1

                          There is a new Sobeys looking like it's just about to open at King and ???. I'm pretty sure it is Sherbourne. I'll check it out on the streetcar this evening, unless someone else knows.

                          BTW - Sobey's is my new favourite grocery store.

                          1. re: Mila

                            Really? I find the Sobey's near me in Thornhill to have the worst produce, which is also overpriced. The groceries are ok, but nothing unique. I prefer Loblaw's. I only go to Sobey's late at night because it's open 24 hours, which can be handy.

                            1. re: pescatarian

                              I'm in the east end and they have revamped our Sobey's on Broadview. The produce is always good with lots of selection, prices are a little more expensive than my standby, No Frills.

                              Dominion drives me crazy because all their veg and fruit are triple wrapped and I can't tell if it's fresh. IGA on Danforth has such a poor selection and I was at the Loblaws at Lakeshore last night and it has gone severely downhill.

                              Maybe it is location specific but the Broadview Sobey's has friendly staff, decent amount of fresh fish and seafood, a butcher that has done special cuts for me, fresh produce and even followed up on a request for a yoghurt product I wanted them to carry.

                              1. re: Mila

                                I'm sure it is location specific. It also depends on your options. I have never found a Dominion with a good produce section. There a few good options in my area for good produce - the No Frills isn't bad. There's Concord Produce, which is small but great produce. And the Loblaw's near me isn't bad for produce. I find the meat and fish counters comparable at all of the above. The Loblaw's near me has a decent organic food section where I get yogurt, etc. Ambrosia is nearby for other whole foods. In my hood, Sobey's is only a good late night option. Having said that, I might end up in your hood in the near future, so it's good to know. Thanks!

                            2. re: Mila

                              The on-the-way Sobeys is actually on Front Street, just East of Sherbourne on the South side. They are converting an old warehouse building and seem to be about halfway there...

                              1. re: jgloverwork

                                Thanks jgloverwork, my memory is quickly sliding into shorter and shorter retention. Looks like it is maybe a week or two away.

                              2. re: Mila

                                To be precise, the new Sobey's is on the southwest corner of Front and Princess. If coming from afar, jump off the King streetcar at Sherbourne, walk south to the gas station, and hang a left. The signage is all up and the dry goods are stocked on the shelves -- should be open in a week or two at most! 24 hours with pharmacy. Hallelujah, no more Market Square Dominion for me...

                            3. Hey there xdorax. First, get onto google earth, or maps.google.com. The city is a grid system, and the TTC is your friend. Well, sometimes she ain't so friendly.

                              Your supermarket should be Kensington Market at Spadina & Kensington (again, check out the map). Saturdays there's the St. Lawrence Market, which is at Front & Jarvis. Farmers go there on Saturdays.

                              If you like Asian, you are close to one of our Chinatowns on Spadina, but a super store just opened on the Toronto docks on Cherry Street, named T&T. Google it, it's their new Ontario location.



                              1. Found the Dominium :) walked over and took the T&T back.

                                Might try and make a trip to No frills. Kensington and St Lawrence market (as well as Niagara Falls :-) ) this weekend. Haven't noticed a Sobey yet, but will try hunting for that sometime too.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: xdorax

                                  Glad you found the Dominion. In general, Dominion produce is the worst of the major chain stores, so you should definitely hit up some of the other suggestions to see what you think. The Kensington Market area is a real gem of a neighbourhood. It's great for good eats for cheap. If you do a search on "Kensington Market", you'll find some recent threads on the best cheap eats to get.

                                  And just to clarify -- you took the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). T&T is the big Asian supermarket down on Cherry St. But you can take the TTC to T&T! :o)

                                  And welcome to Toronto!

                                  1. re: TorontoJo

                                    I agree that Dominion is not-so-good and that the produce sucks, but in this neighbourhood it is the most convenient for not-ruinously-expensive staples. And it does have the advantage of being across from the St. Lawrence where you can get great produce, fish and meat, dairy, and misc specialty and dry goods. I two-stop shop and just get the essentials at Dominion.

                                    Although Kensington is charming, and especially for cheap eats, I don't particularly like the butchers or fishmongers. Plus, wandering about outdoors gets less attractive to me as winter approaches!

                                    1. re: Rabbit

                                      I am surprised about the response to Dominions produce. I guess it depends on locations but I shop at the Front Street location often and I find it OK. It's convenient anyway and not as overpriced as Loblaws (I always get sucked in to buying all of their prepared PC stuff which kills my grocery budget).

                                      Again, I suppose location might be a factor but I have never seen good produce or meat from any of the budget grocery stores. There is no way No Frills can have better quality produce than Dominion!

                                      I live fairly close to the OP and if I can suggest another resonable priced restaurant in the area it would be Terroni. They moved to the larger Adelaide and Toronto Street location last week. Whether it's the pizza or the pasta I've always had a good meal there.

                                      1. re: badbhoy

                                        You are right that it all depends on the location. I have been to No Frills (Bloor and Dufferin comes to mind) that have way better produce than any Dominion I've been to - including the Front St. location. I will say though that the Front St. location seems to have slightly better produce than other Dominion's I've been to, such as the Yonge and Eglinton one. I've never been to a Sobey's that I've thought had great produce, although maybe I just haven't been to the right location.

                                        1. re: badbhoy

                                          I agree that Dominion, Sobey's and Loblaws usually have the best looking produce, but I find that the produce from the markets tends to taste better. This isn't a guaranteed fact, but I do find that is true more often than not. No Frills has decent produce, with a larger emphasis on Ontario-grown products, which is something I definitely prefer.

                                          1. re: xtal

                                            Absolutely, the markets tend to have better produce, but I wasn't including them in the same category (Loblaws, No Frills, Dominion, etc.)

                                            1. re: pescatarian

                                              We're in agreement then.

                                              As for the three major supermarkets you mentioned, I usually prefer to go to No Frills. I find the produce to be of higher quality, and local. If it's not, at least it's a smart financial move to shop there.

                                    2. Dominion fish counters are worse than their produce. For fresh fish I'd go to St.Lawrence or a Chinese Supermarket early Sat morning.

                                      Interestingly, I can get better beef short ribs and oxtail from a Dominion than other grocery stores.

                                      The Queensway Sobeys is better than the other Sobeys for produce (and everything else, imo).

                                      For the best bargains on produce, I'd shop Kensington and Chinatown.

                                      1. Not related to food so much, but to your lack of car... You're downtown: bike! Cheaper and faster than the TTC and definitely beats walking. You expand your range dramatically; "reasonable distance" goes up by a factor of 6 or so. :-)

                                        A milk crate rigged to a rear rack will hold a good amount of groceries. ;-)

                                        1. I used to swear by Kensington market. Now I find most of the stuff cheap (and not the good price cheap) and rancid. Best bet to get everything done is the St. Lawrence market area. Like people have said, there is a Dominion, LCBO, the market itself and even Loblaws all in walking distance. Walk there and take a cab back. I even know a few vendors at the market that will let you leave your bags at their shop so you can walk around free handed (you just better buy something from them). Market may not be the cheapest - but it is consistent in quality.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: MindGrinder

                                            Yes, it's sad how downhill Kensington has gone. The fishmonger's stores smell terrible, the produce vendors seem to specialize in rotting vegetables and the cheese stores are terribly overpriced.
                                            Needless to say there are still a few gems:
                                            Perola and Mexican Dry Goods for southern specialities
                                            Segovia Meats for chorizo
                                            European Meats for great prices and yummy salamis
                                            House of Spice for every kind of spice
                                            Moonbeam for fair trade coffee
                                            St Andrew's Chicken for cheap chickens etc
                                            and I'm sure there is a few I've forgotten.

                                            1. re: Mila

                                              I've been shopping in Kensington for years, and I have noticed more inconsistency of late. I definitely have my go-to stores, but will shop around if the items I want are of higher quality elsewhere in the market.

                                              I'm curious about your comment regarding the cheese shops though. I agree that Global isn't really worth the time, but their neighbour, Mendel's, is quite good by my estimation. Are there places in the city that are cheaper for the same quality?

                                              I definitely agree with your list of gems. I'm all over the Mexican dry goods store when I'm there. Interestingly, it seems that the eastmost store (on Baldwin) is the one with the largest selection of Mexican products.

                                              1. re: xtal

                                                Should have been more specific on cheese. Yes I got burned by Global badly paying ridiculous amount for a Montery Jack which they then claimed was some special cheese (it was not). And secondly was at Cheese Magic which when I compared prices with Schefflers was way out of whack for something I think was a Canadian Triple Creme.

                                                For quality but cheaper cheeses my picks are Grande for Italian and Chris's Cheese in SLM which is owned by Alex Farms but usually at about 20% cheaper.

                                                I'm trying to visualize the eastmost store without luck, will definitely check out when there again. Thx.

                                                And my 2 cents of grocery stores...
                                                I like No Frills (Carlaw and Gerrard) for produce, fresh with good turnover. I hate Dominion because of all the packaging and you can't see what you are getting.

                                                1. re: Mila

                                                  Thanks for the reply. I'll check out Grande and Chris's the next time I'm in SLM.

                                                  Check out Mendel's in Kensington, It's the cheese shop directly south of Global (it looks very similar). The people in there are super nice, and very open about what you're getting. Unlike Global it seems.

                                            2. re: MindGrinder

                                              I'm at St. Lawrence every weekend (live in the neighbourhood) and buy the majority of my produce/meats/fish/cheese there. The best news is Sobey's has recently opened in the neighbourhood (Front & Sherbourne) so I no longer have to go to that horrible Dominion!

                                              1. re: jayzie1

                                                The Dominion on Front St is a great place to hail a westbound cab after stocking up at the St Lawrence Market and the LCBO, but that's about it.