Your favorite (and least favorite) restaurant/food chains in Toronto/the GTA
my favorites are:
cora's- had the nutella banana crepe and it was super. not to mention it was MASSIVE. I've also tried the breakfast sausages and they were yummy.
the sandwich box- i always get the chicken/brie/tomato/avacado chipotle mayo sandwich. it's like my go-to place for sandwiches. i think a lot of their stores have closed down though.
mandarin- errr yeah. not exactly proud of this one. but honestly, who doesn't love americanized "chinese" food?
chipotle- SO glad they opened a franchise in canada. i haven't met a person who doesn't like their burritos.
fresh- had a a spoonful of food, and i couldn't finish, it was just that bad. i took it home to give to my dad (who eats EVERYTHING) and he tossed it. the desserts weren't bad though. and the waiters were quite good-looking too, which is a bonus (haha!)
marche/richtree- overpriced, lousy food. eaten there on multiple occasions, and have NOT been impressed in the slightest. from what i can recall, the pastas are always mushy and flavorless. bleh!
i know a lot of you hounds tend to hate on food chains, but i'm curious to see which ones you've actually ENJOYED.
I only go to chains when I want something quick, hot, reasonably nourishing, and inexpensive. Otherwise I'd make fish 'n chips at home.
My two favorites are: Chick 'N Joy, the dark meat special, Mon and Tues for $2.60
MacDonalds Filet 'o Fish meal, with milk. $6.
The two pieces of chicken are better than the Colonel's, and fries can be good. The fries are generally good at MacDonald's, and they have perfected the filet so that it is cooked right and has a generous amount of tartar sauce.
I've pretty much broken the chain and fast food habit... the less you eat it, the less you crave it. That said:
I'm pretty much down to a New York Fries poutine every couple months or so, when the Eaton Centre is only tolerably busy, and a Big Mac a couple times a year whilst on the highway heading to visit family. They taste good when eaten in rare moderation.
As for chains, Spring Rolls, in all its incarnations, is the worst thing to ever strike the downtown core of Toronto.
Freshii - It's overpriced and has become smaller since the Lettuce Eatery transition. But I do enjoy the fresh veggies and ingredients in the wraps and new pesudo burritos. It's filling and sorta healthy so a nice alternative if in a pinch.
Chipotle - I lived outside San Francisco a few years back for work and would get this probably once a week. I was very excited when we got one in Toronto and it's consistant with the quality in the states. I avoid the chewy steak and have come to terms with the fact that I'm eating a huge sodium bomb.
Moe's - Another states chain that's translated well here. It hits the spot and I dig the queso for the chips and the tasty salsa bar. The burritos are under seasoned but you get to spice them up as needed with the various salsas.
Taco VIlla - High priced dog food passed off as tex mex. Disgusting and expensive. I've rarely met a taco or burrito that I didn't like. But this gelatanous slop is inedible and pricy.
Arby's - I enjoyed this in the states but something went wrong here. The meat is like tissue paper dipped in beef boullion. I get sucked in sometimes when craving some roast beef in a food court and it's consistantly crappy.
I will join in and confess to Mandarin.
Lick's for the nature burgers. I know people complain about how the meat hamburgers have gone down in quality there, but I have never had one there, so I still like the place.
Moe's is good.
Jack Astor's. For what it is, it's pretty good service and food.
Quizno's, overpriced too-high calorie subs.
McDonalds, except for the coffee
Spring Rolls, indeed
Taco Bell. Good God. Taco Bell. *shiver* Taco Bell.
The Licks fries used to be awesome. Fresh cut where we used to go, now they aren't even as good as frozen McCains.
Had to go to a Quizno's a while back. Asked for nutritional info. Was told by franchise owner that corporate refuses to give it although she has asked many times. She says they tell her to tell customers to go on their website. No such data on either the Canadian or US sites (although the US site did list something like 10 subs under x number of calories). If I have to do fast food again, sure as heck won't be Quizno's just out of principal. Shame on them.
I like Kelseys Fish & Chips - big enough portion to share too.
Love, love, love St.Louis wings.
Hate all premade burgers - chain, fast food, frozen patties in grocery...I moved here from the states and there's something about the taste that I can't get used to. Give me a hunk of ground beef and I'll pat out my own naked burger, thank you very much.
Have never been to Mandarin in my 12 years of living here. Keep meaning to just so I can say I have...
Number one guilty pleasure is Krispy Kreme. Grew up on those. Every now and then I say a little prayer that the Mississauga store never bites the bullet.
Don't know if this is the kind of chain you are looking for, but the various Sotto's are quite good, especially during the summer/winter-licious festivals (which I am pretty sure they don't officially participate in, but still offer the same deals during.)
As for inexpensive fare, Albert's on St. Clair is a hands down fav- Mashu Mashu on Spadina Rd. is quite good too, great portions if you go for platters rather than sandwiches and their rice with almonds has become a household staple for us!
As for worst- I have to agree with Fresh! When I moved away from Toronto one of the few comforts was knowing that I would no longer be out-voted and forced to eat their psuedo-healthy deep-fried tasteless beans.
I generally like the breakfast chains: Cora's, Sunset Grill, even Boom (though the latter isn't my first choice). I also like Freshii, Chipotle and Magic Oven, despite their crazy high prices.
I don't like: Coffee Time, Country Style, Starbucks, Richtree, Quizno's, Montana's, Manchu Wok. There are probably more I wouldn't like if I ever tried them.
China Buffet King in Richmond Hill is a guilty pleasure, which I think is much better than Mandarin. I haven't tried CBK's other locations, so don't know if they're as good.
I still like Jimmy the Greek's souvlaki dinner if I have to eat in a mall. Faux Greek salad, rice and lamb with extra garlic sauce - an almost healthy lunch for $6.
I really miss Church's fried chicken; Popeye's is OK, but not the same. Swiss Chalet is dependable and I truly enjoy it two or three times a year. Nando's is the same - fine as an occasional thing, but couldn't eat it regularly.
Burgers - I don't really love or hate any of them. I couldn't imagine eating at any one of them more than once or twice a month (that's combined, not each). (Oh, wait, after writing a few paragraphs below, I remembered Hero's which offers the absolute worst burgers, and then rips you off for a piece of tomato to boot.)
Places I really don't like:
Cora's - hugely inflated prices, cold pancakes/waffles, indifferent coffee - the only thing that was good was the fruit.
ALL the pizza chains with Pizza Pizza the worst.
ALL the sub chains - Subway/Quizno way too expensive, Mr. Sub, for all their "different" breads still doesn't have one crusty roll. I make them at home with baby Vienna loaves; can't stand the squishy commercial ones.
Virtually every food court place except Jimmy's and NY Fries. Manchu Wok, Sbarro, Druxy's, etc. - pass.
I've had it with Swiss Chalet. Their quality continues to plummet as their prices steadily rise. My quarter chicken white with a cup of soup cost me $14.88, before tax and was flat out terrible. The entire meal was lukewarm at best, the baked potato and chicken were both overcooked and painfully dry, the sauce didn't taste anything like it used to and the 8-ounce soup was so salty, I added boiling water to thin it out so each spoonful wouldn't be such a shock to my tastebuds. What happened to the seasoning on the chicken? It was nonexistent. The wing was charred black and inedible. I ordered the cup of soup because I was pissed that the full size is now $4.49. I'm not cheap at all, but I firmly believe that the food quality should match the price. The best thing about the meal was the multigrain roll, which was fresh. Pretty sad.
Fave: Tim Horton's, fresh donuts!
Pizza Pizza, on the multigrain crust - I know it ain't gourmet, but it is reliable.
Least Fave: Golden Griddle. It's like being put in a nursing home before your time, torture on so many different levels. Makes IHOP [which is not in Ontario, of course] look like 5 star cuisine.
I think GOLDEN GRIDDLE is possibly the worst and 'maple99' described it to a "T"!!!
I must be crazy (I know I'm over the hill and remember when it was really pretty decent) I keep trying..last time was this summer, spent overnight in Belleville at a wonderful old Hotel called "The Clarion Suites"...the Breakfast 'restaurant' in the hotel was a Golden Griddle....Can you say BAD!! Very, very BAD! It was filled with American tourists of a certain age on a charter trip to the 1,000 Islands...what a way to start your day and then go on a Boat ride...at least we were just driving to Ottawa!
New York fries
Made in Japan
Caz' Fresh Fish
Canadian Popeyes-IMHO just does not compare taste wise to the US versions I have had
Swiss Chalet - not so much for the taste but for the rip off prices.
Other notable mentions..Arbys, 3 for 1 Pizza, KFC, etc..
As a Torontonian now living in California, the two chains I miss the most are Harvey's and Swiss Chalet (if the above is true about the price increases, then that's a shame), although once they changed their fries, it's never been the same for me. I don't know what it is about Harvey's that I've loved so much, but it's always been a favourite.