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Good lunch spots at Yonge and St. Clair?

I'm currently working at the most antiseptic corner in Toronto. I need help finding decent places for lunch. Recommendations, please. Otherwise I'll end up eating at Wendy's.

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  1. I haven't been recently but Boccone on Yonge, south of St Clair, used to be good for lunch. Inexpensive Italian cafeteria. http://www.boccone.ca/

    1 Reply
    1. re: mikeb

      I second mikeb on Boccone - their paninis, home-made rolls, pastas, house-made wine and great hospitality are all terrific...a must for lunch, inexpensive and unpretentious.

      Otherwise the 'hood is really way below where is was 10-15 yrs ago with Paramount and its predecessor along with Rhodes, both of which had some panache and were a cut above the every day. Even Frans had real grilled cheese and home-made pastries until they started to cut corners. Now there is the extreme high end of Didier, but its unrelated predecessor on that site (Rhodes) was a far more "useful" mid-range place. The food at the Court Jester used to be great but has also declined imho.

      For a more stylish but still reasonable lunch I tend to walk down (or travel one stop south on the subway) to the Rosedale Diner right across the street from the Summerhill mega-LCBO. It is the sort of place YSC now sadly lacks.

      You notice I omit Terroni, as I am not interested in being subjected to its dictates as to what toppings should appear in combination on my pizza - but if that nanny attitude doesn't bother you, enjoy !

    2. I work at Yonge and St. Clair too. Capocaccia just down the street on Yonge is not too bad; they have some nice salads and pizzas.

      And, of course, there is Cava just north of St. Clair, on the West side of Yonge. It has some fabulous small plates for sharing.

      Didier, in my opinion, is overrated. There's a couple Indian and Thai places. Now that I think about it, the area isn't so bad afterall!

      1. Has anyone tried Franco's at 1406 Yonge, just south of St Clair on the west side? Used to be a falafel place. Apparently now owned by Franco Agostino, is what I heard.

        Probably too far west for you but there's a Presse Cafe at St Clair & Deer Park (Desjardin building) where you can get good coffee and some decent sandwiches and salads.

        Boccone's is good but I also like Passione Italiana hot lunch counter at 1423 Yonge just south of St Clair on the east side for lunch. Food is good, friendly staff, family run, and it's easy to customize your meal so that, for instance, I can have veggies/salad and fish/meat on days when I'm trying to avoid carbs.

        A really good bang for you buck, but take-out only, is to go to Bruno's up at Yonge & Heath and go down to the hot counter at the back -- tasty stews, pastas, soup, all homemade, generously portioned and extremely good value. The soup is fantastic -- full of lots of chunks of beef or chicken or whatever, with lots of veggies and fresh herbs, and a generous portion for only $1.99 to $1.49 or so.

        On the east side of Yonge, there's a sushi place east of the library on the north side of St Clair, haven't been since they changed ownership so not sure. Also a Thai place on the south side near Sobey's, also changed ownership recently, but looks popular.

        15 Replies
        1. re: JamieK

          Franco's!!! Ooooh I was going to ask the exact same question. I'm dying to go to Franco's. Looooved Imperia. A more gracious and amiable host would be hard to find. If anyone's tried it please do dish.

          1. re: Googs

            Franco has actually sold both Franco's and Imperia, should be interesting to try now that he is no longer the owner.
            Imperia is now called Blu.

            1. re: Foodie0423

              I know he sold Imperia. He pretty much just bought Franco's. The deal couldn't be a year old. Are you certain he sold his namesake resto already???

            2. re: Googs

              I went there for lunch last week. I had read that Franco was selling this location and my guess is that he's already done it. The menu reads pretty similarly to Caffe Doria - his sister's resto - but relatively uninspired - predictable wraps, salads, panini and pastas. The food was just so-so. Service was atrocious - real amateur hour. The atmosphere was just plain weird. I won't be back.

              1. re: peppermint pate

                I've only looked in. It's basically a lunch place, with some sit-in and take-out. No licence. Nothing to get excited about , googs!

                1. re: peppermint pate

                  Too bad. I'll have to figure out what Frank's doing next.

              2. re: JamieK

                I've found the Thai place very disappointing since it's changed ownership. The menu stayed largely the same, but the prices went up and the quality went down. We used to go all the time, but not any more.

                1. re: tbonetak

                  ah, good to know, it was always so busy before, it was amazing. But I'm working at a different office in the same area now and haven't been to that end lately. Did you ever try the Japanese place across the road near the library - called Suki?

                2. re: JamieK

                  Bruno's does not do soup anymore as of about 3 weeks ago.

                  1. re: garlicandwingnut

                    They had soup this week. It's not available every day. Sorry, I should have clarified that.
                    They don't do soup during summer but do most of the time during winter months.

                    1. re: JamieK

                      I was in a few weeks ago and asked about the soup, I was told they didn't do it any more.

                      1. re: garlicandwingnut

                        It's vegetable soup today, and yummy.

                        In other neighbourhood news, Himalayan Spice has shut down and under renovation, to be replaced by another Indian restaurant. They've only been operating about five or six months or so.

                        1. re: JamieK

                          Bought a large - $2.49
                          Healthy if otherwise unspectacular.

                          1. re: garlicandwingnut

                            You're right, the meat-based soups are better, more flavouring and better seasoning.

                            And for what you get, better value than the soups at Lettuce Eatery or St Clair Market.

                  2. re: JamieK

                    I enjoyed Passione as well. During busy lunch times, the volume insured that the dishes were fresh. I recall that their wine prices were reasonable for a glass - ditto draught.

                    Usually the first station was my only stop - the 5 or 7 item salad with some substantial and varied choices: cheeses; marinated sea food; olives; sundried tomatoes; various greens and pulses &tc. I recall there was a choice of three dressings, but they would do a wicked Caesar if you asked - nicely. A couple of various bread/bun offerings and I was good for the day. I hope that aspect of the place hasn't changed.

                  3. Please note, further to a previous post, Cava is not open for lunch. However check out its sister gelato place next door at lunch for dessert -- Xococava -

                    Also, for lunch, the Japanese resto across from Cava is pretty good -

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: JamieK

                      Wow, really? Thanks for the tip, since I was thinking of heading to Cava for lunch next week. Doh!

                      1. re: KayceeK

                        Nope, definitely not open for lunch They were at the beginning but I guess it wasn't worth it.

                        1. re: JamieK

                          The last time I went, my guest and I were 2 of only about 6 diners in the whole place. Too bad.

                    2. Merlot, don't know how long you'll be working in that area, but if you get take-out from Bruno's or Swiss Chalet or wherever, there's a lovely park across the street at Heath & St Clair surrounding Yorkminster Church, with picnic tables and benches. For warmer weather, obviously.

                      1. Other news in the Yonge/StClair area is that Sweet Rosies at 1438 Yonge, which had been a decent place to go for soups, sandwiches, pastries, etc, is gone.

                        To be replaced by a Bagel House offering Montreal-style bagels. South of St Clair, west side.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: JamieK

                          Seriously? That's the best news I've heard in a long time. No more weekly treks to Bayview!! Do you know when it's opening?

                          1. re: peppermint pate

                            That's what the sign says. No date though. Will keep you posted.

                            Ha! I knew someone somewhere would be happy with that news.

                            1. re: JamieK

                              Over the moon. Everytime a spot shuts down in the 'hood, I try and fantasize about what kind of place I'd like best to replace it. Top of my list is a great brunch spot. But Bagel House is waaay up there too! Thanks for the info.

                        2. I was a frequent visitor to Takara Sushi, its on the west side of yonge, north of St. Claire. Next to a Subway. Pretty standard sushi place but large portions (they got larger as I became a more regular customer) and their all you can eat menu was pretty generous. I didn't go there often during lunch but I did notice they have some cheap lunch specials.

                          Again, standard sushi stuff, but tasty IMO.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: szw

                            I've got a question re this area...Has anyone been to the restaurant that opened on the east side of Yonge (where Swiss Chalet used to be)... I think it's "Indian"...starts with a "J"....Have passed by a few times and it did have some business-suited folks sitting at linen covered tables ...it looks 'higher end' than most of the other spots (except for Didier/Cava that is). What IS the name and how is it?

                            1. re: pearlD

                              It's called Jaadu (Hindi for "magic") and it's fine dining with a traditional North Indian menu but with little twists, for instance, a brie pakora. Also fine wines and a tasting menu.

                              Haven't been there but there have been previous posts about it (estufarian, I think?) so maybe someone will pipe up.

                              1. re: JamieK

                                re: JAADU ..... Many thanks JamieK...you are a fount of knowledge!
                                Senior's was (for a very long time) our neighbourhood Steak House and we also ordered and picked up Ribs many times...yes, they gave ALL the little 'sides' as well..just as if you were eating in the Restaurant which I always thought was very nice of them. I guess we just forgot about them...should pay them a visit soon. Husband hates to fire up the BBQ in the cold! You know about us 'snowbirds' don't ya'..........

                                1. re: JamieK

                                  I was there for dinner not long after it opened. Lovely service and the food was good but not good enough to match the price. I don't mind paying more for quality Indian - or anything for that matter - but I need to feel there's value there. They've since added a lunch buffet or a lunch prix-fixe - something like that - presumably designed to draw in more of a crowd. I feel for them because they were very sweet in there but I don't think the place is doing all that well - my gut tells me it won't be there long term.

                                  1. re: peppermint pate

                                    Update: Jaadu has been replaced by a Chef of India. I liked the buffet at their Yonge/Eg location, but have yet to try it here. It has looked REALLY empty the times I've been by in the past week. Bit of Indian overload in the area, so I don't have high hopes.

                              2. re: szw

                                I spent 9 years at Yonge & St. Clair up to '04. I've enjoyed the places mentioned on this thread that were there in my time.

                                I'm sad to hear of the decline of the wee Viet/Thai place tucked into the nook by Sobeys - the a la carte dishes were super fine and inexpensive. Takara's lunch specials were excellent - I pre-ordered off the window card, picked it up, and returned to work where we had kitchens, cutlery and plates.

                                No-one has mentioned Seniors downstairs for lunch. I'm assuming it's still going with its good diner food and its outstanding sirloin special lunch value. Their soups were home-made and filling.

                                I hope that the Select Sandwich, downstairs in subway promenade, at the southeast intersection is still run by the same family. Hungarian and fussy. They had the best potato salad anywhere - Hungarian style with dill, sour cream and green beans or peas. Good stuffed peppers. Hungarian sausage with paprikas potatoes. Hungarian potato casserole with sausage - sliced, boiled potatoes, eggs and spicy sausage layered in sour cream and butter. It all came in a fold-over styro container with plastic utensils but if you good supply good utensils it was fine.

                                1. re: DockPotato

                                  Senior's is still definitely there. I've been there a long time ago, but usually do take-out at lunch so am not familiar with the sit-in places in the area.

                                  As far as I know, Select Sandwich is still there, but haven't been in a while. I sort of forgot about it as I don't take the subway, maybe I'll check it out again soon -- your description sounds delicious.

                                  1. re: JamieK

                                    Nope, the sandwich spot is now a Quiznos sub shop.

                                    1. re: merlot143


                                      Forgot to mention the hamburger place in the food court downstairs on the north east corner. It's tucked away at the back and their burgers were pretty good - the owners would do crispy, brown fries if I asked.

                                      1. re: DockPotato

                                        Actually, Select Sandwich IS still there on the south-east side, below level. I just saw it.

                                        The place Quiznos replaced, on the north-east side, was called Vienna something or other.

                                2. re: szw

                                  agreed that takara is pretty standard by most counts, but i enjoy it since it has been consistent and predictable. and! for those who enjoy a sushi pizza every now and again, they make a very good one (maybe the best i have tried so far). the fried rice patty is warm and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. perfect thickness. and the salmon, spring onion, masago and spicy sauce combo is lovely.

                                3. Sprout on St. Clair west of Yonge does a good inexpensive Asian soup or salad.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: placebo

                                    Sprout is gone. It's now a very busy Pizzaiolo outpost.

                                    1. re: peppermint pate

                                      As far as I know, Sprout's still there. Pizzaiolo is next door.

                                  2. About time I chimed in on this – although most of the places have been covered quite well. In my comments I may include some places not open for lunch as it’s easier to summarize everything, but for specific recommendations I’ll make sure they do open for lunch.

                                    The ‘star’ is Boccone – still don’t understand why this doesn’t receive more praise. Outstanding! I also stop by Senior’s street level. Yes, it’s (very) tired and really a ‘greasy spoon’ but it’s consistent and good value. Sprout used to be a regular for me, but it’s slipped and I don’t go anymore.

                                    Haven’t been impressed with the Thai places in general, but the one on the west side of Yonge, south of St Clair (?Mint – the names all seem to meld in my mind) has some good daily specials.

                                    I’ve tried all the pubs/bars in the area and don’t recommend any of them for food.

                                    Indian has several representatives. Jaaadu is easily the best but much more expensive than the others and they’ve become very pushy on extras. The others (Rangoli, The Himalayan place next to Rangoli, Vivah) are typical ‘1-sauce fits all’ places, so if you want a spice hit, choose the cheapest (usually Vivah).

                                    The mini-court underneath the Weston Centre has drifted downwards as the prices have drifted upwards, so I haven’t tried it in about a year. But, of course, St Clair Market on main floor does various take-out (soup, salad, sandwich, sushi) which is not bad – but a little higher priced than most (I nearly always go to Boccone – better quality for less money). Sobey’s also does a similar thing.

                                    Lettuce Eatery just doesn’t hit the spot for me – never seem to find anything I want.

                                    Haven’t tried Franco’s yet – but wasn’t impressed with either of the Middle-Eastern places (one of which is now Franco’s)

                                    I don’t typically do Italian (tomato aversion, so can’t comment on those). But the food at Passione is probably the worst of the bunch, although the owners hustle like crazy. I almost want them to succeed – but I just can’t bring myself to eat there (even for their regular breakfast).

                                    Didier and Cava are both upscale and just not worth the money. Competent at best. But the ice-cream at Xococava is a deal ‘by the pint’ (but not by the scoop).
                                    And I just don’t “get” sushi, so can’t comment knowledgably on that cuisine.

                                    The McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s and Subway are worse than average, the Wendy’s, Il Fornello and Quiznos are ‘OK’ and the Swiss Chalet better than average. Hero’s is quite good, but expensive.

                                    And you’ve got the Timothy’s and Starbucks, both south of St Clair. I prefer the Timothy’s – their soups are OK too.

                                    The Rosedale Diner was also mentioned – it’s gone seriously downhill (no pun originally intended) and prices have increased. Avoid!
                                    One place NEVER mentioned is the Chinese place near the Abbott on the Hill (the Abbott has good beer but atrocious food). Although it’s been there for over 20 years I still don’t recall its name. It looks like a convenience store from the outside, but the guys at the Summerhill Liquor store go there all the time so I tried it. It’s super-cheap and adequate. Better than I expected, but still never springs to mind. Just isn’t an inviting storefront. Please give it a try and report back.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: estufarian

                                      There's also a Timothy's on the upper level of the St Clair Centre (what with winter weather on its way) and a second Starbucks on Yonge north of St Clair. As well two Second Cups, one in the St Clair Centre and one at Heath. The area certainly does not lack coffee shops.

                                      1. re: estufarian

                                        Slight addendum.
                                        The Chinese restaurant is called 'Golden House'.
                                        And as already mentioned by JamieK above, Himalayan Spice is now closed. the sign in the window says it's undergoing a 'Makeover' and will re-emerge as Masala Arts!

                                        1. re: estufarian

                                          I like your write up Estufarian. I just started working at Yonge and Summerhill and have been wondering about the Golden House restaruant. I will try it. Is it super greasy?

                                          1. re: food face

                                            Well, not "super"!. Let's just say that it's better than one expects when approaching the front door. But I must admit I haven't rushed back. Competent and cheap!

                                            1. re: estufarian

                                              ok, thanks for your honesty. There is a time and a place on some of my workdays for competent and cheap!

                                              1. re: food face

                                                And for me too. That's why I threw in the comments about the chain places. Comparing them with the typical outlet is all that can be done. Have to admit that I end up at Tim Hortons quite often - cheap being the reason (I find it better (now) than the Food Court at Weston Centre which has indeed slipped). Coffee is better at Timothy's but not the food.

                                        2. re: estufarian

                                          Just a minor clarification. The 'Weston' Centre is now called the 'St. Clair Centre'. Probably changed eons ago - but it's the building on the NE corner of the Yonge/St Clair intersection.

                                          1. re: estufarian

                                            A couple of places which haven't been mentioned; Brownes Bistro, Terroni, and closer to Summerhill, Petit Thuet and MBco. I'm not saying these are good or bad, there just around. I will say a number of times I've ordered prosecco at Terroni, it has been flat. Petit Thuet has Thuet's bread, which I like.
                                            I've had atrocious food in pubs, I think the Abbott is a notch above this. But, I was once in there and they had mussels in a blue cheese sauce as a special. What was even funnier is the server tried to convince me it was delicious.

                                            1. re: dubchild

                                              Brownes Bistro never used to be open for lunch - is it now?
                                              Petit Thuet is take-out.Expensive (very little is priced clearly and ingredient listings are non-existent).
                                              MBCo opened last week. And this outlet is using crockery - stopped going to the Bloor one as it was all foam plates. Also not cheap but better than I anticipated.

                                              And Mint (just south of St Clair) has disappeared.

                                              1. re: estufarian

                                                Brownes is open for lunch Mon - Friday.

                                                Not a lunch place but there is a new chocolate, Belgium waffle, coffee kind of place at 15 St Clair West called Dahso

                                                1. re: JamieK

                                                  Ah, I noticed that place about a month ago. Have you tried Dahso? How's the coffee?

                                                  There's also another cool looking cafe on the north side of St. Clair, a couple of blocks west of Yonge. I only saw it from the south side, I think it's set in a bit from the curb, maybe at the bottom of one of the office buildings. Ring a bell?

                                                  1. re: peppermint pate

                                                    I've only nibbled on some samples of Belgian waffles they were offering a couple of weeks ago, which was quite tasty. Haven't had the coffee but they have a take-out window on St Clair and everytime I walk by, delicious aromas are wafting out.

                                                    The place across the street is called Bar Mokka or something like that, it's a cafe/restaurant/lounge but I haven't been in. I'm thinking there may be an interesting element to the atmosphere there what with the constant police presence outside its doors and in the building lobby. The Sri Lankan Consulate General is in that building.

                                                    1. re: peppermint pate

                                                      "Dahso Chocolatey" is a much better name for that place.

                                          2. Cafe Doria at Roxborough and Yonge

                                            Grap a samosa from Skippy Mart at Walker or Woodlawn on Yonge

                                            Forget name but the spot on the main floor of the building on the corner of Shaftsbury and Yonge (building immediately north of the LCBO).

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ksapd

                                              The Yonge and Shaftesbury spot is "To Go". They stopped opening during the week about 2 years ago. Week-ends only now.