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Your top cheap eats

gastronom Oct 1, 2009 09:13 AM

Recession or not, lunch is getting to be really expensive. I work at King and Spadina and getting a decent lunch under $10 is nearly impossible. But there are a few places that you can grab a good deal, here are mine:

1. Jerk Chicken and Bean Rice topped with Oxtail stew-Ackee Tree on Spadina 5.50 tax inc
2. BBQ Duck in Noodle Soup-Noodle King on Spadina 4.15 tax inc
3. Shrimp Dumpling Soup with Noodles-Swatow on Spadina ~$5
4. Steak Sandwich-European Meat Deli in Kensigton ~$4

What are yours?! Can be in any neighborhood.

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  1. Dr Butcher RE: gastronom Oct 1, 2009 10:10 AM

    I'm an east ender so my recs are from that area:

    1. Jerk pork sandwich on coco bread with plantain, Nun Such Jerk - Lawrence/Kennedy ($3.50ish)
    2. Falafel/Shawarma, Shawarma Empire - Lawrence just west of Warden ($4.99/$5.99 for two)
    3. Chicken Vindaloo with rice or naan (lunch special), Cheetal Indian Cuisine - Old Kingston Rd/Military Trail ($5)
    4. Banh mi, Rose cafe - Broadview/1st Ave ($2)
    5. Banh mi, Nguyen Huong - Steeles/McCowan ($2)
    6. Allan's Patty & coco bread with a pop, Mr. Jerk - Morningsige/Sheppard ($2)
    7. Wood oven pizza, Calabria Bakery - Midland south of Ellesmere (starting at $8 for a pepperoni)
    8. Potato roti, Roti Hut - Pitfield/McCowan ($4.50ish)
    9. Crab curry, Hopper Hut - Sheppard/Kennedy ($5ish)

    5 Replies
    1. re: Dr Butcher
      downtownfoodie RE: Dr Butcher Oct 1, 2009 01:38 PM

      what's coco bread? coconut?

      split a butter chicken or chicken tika masala roti from Ghandi Roti - $6/each

      1. re: downtownfoodie
        Dr Butcher RE: downtownfoodie Oct 2, 2009 06:44 AM

        Coco bread is a sweet bun which is par baked and then folded in half to finish baking. It makes it's own flap which opens with a gentle pull so you don't have to slice it. I'm pretty sure it contains no coconut (at least the ones I've tried).

        Here's a shot of a Nun Such Jerk sandwich I had a while back:


        Babu on Sheppard Ave (east of McCowan) has some cheap lunch specials as well. I've only been once (can't remember the price but it was under $5). The selection was mind boggling.....

        1. re: Dr Butcher
          Paulustrious RE: Dr Butcher Oct 2, 2009 02:16 PM

          Correct - no coconut in coco bread.

          1. re: Dr Butcher
            Davwud RE: Dr Butcher Oct 8, 2009 04:50 AM

            As I understand it, it's called coco bread because you crack it open like a coconut. It was told to me by a Jamaican but I still don't know if she was just pulling my leg.


        2. re: Dr Butcher
          Crispy skin RE: Dr Butcher Oct 1, 2009 05:43 PM

          Cool nice post is the hopper hut crab curry real crab? Thanks for the east end restos cause i live there too. im going to either hopper hut or non such tomorrow.

        3. Splendid Wine Snob RE: gastronom Oct 1, 2009 10:14 AM

          The sandwich combo at Caplansky's for $10 (tax not incl)

          The $7.99 Veg platter at Nazareth that serves 2 people (dinner only)


          1. food face RE: gastronom Oct 1, 2009 03:40 PM

            Manpuku Curry Beef udon- $5.99
            Buddha's special veg noodles- $5.99
            Little India's (on Queen) Veg Thali$10.99 Big enough for 2 famished people (with leftovers to spare)
            Gallery Sushi- Sushi Takeout special 2 rolls for $5 (includes tempura shrimp and california choice)
            Hare Krishna Iskon Sunday night Dinner- Free temple is at Avenue and Davenport
            Baldwin Street Chinese Restaurant on the corner of Baldwin and McCaul- Wonton Soup is $3 and good broth and dumplings. Generous portion of each.

            1. Muffin__Top RE: gastronom Oct 1, 2009 04:28 PM

              Butterfly Bakery on Dundas
              Mother's dumplings!
              IKEA.... ehehehhehhe

              2 Replies
              1. re: Muffin__Top
                itryalot RE: Muffin__Top Oct 15, 2009 03:12 AM

                Which mother's? Last time I did a search, there were two.

                1. re: itryalot
                  TorontoJo RE: itryalot Oct 15, 2009 06:42 AM

                  There's only one Mother's Dumplings that I know of. It's on Huron, just north of Dundas.

              2. jayt90 RE: gastronom Oct 1, 2009 05:46 PM

                1. Roast pork belly with rice, veg, and soup $5. at Ho Ho, 3833 Midland Av.
                2. Chick 'n Joy Monday and Tuesday special: 2 pieces, fries or biscuit, and gravy for $3.50
                3. Pulled pork sandwich and fries at the BBQ place, Thickson and Wentworth, Whitby, $6.
                4. Steame's in Oshawa for two dogs with cabbage, and a poutine, $7.50.
                5. Dunn's smoked meat at Costco food court, $5.
                6. Breadhouse, Bayly & Westshore, Pickering, for a sausage in puff pastry, $1.50

                1. Charles Yu RE: gastronom Oct 1, 2009 06:33 PM

                  Chu Hau braised beef brisket and tendon Lo-Mien - Origin Congee/Noodle, Middlesfield T&T food court. Delicious and ultra tender meat. Generous portion of noodles, meat and vegetable and one of the best tasting wonton noodle broth in town! ( $4.25 )

                  1. munchieHK RE: gastronom Oct 2, 2009 02:36 PM

                    Jerk chicken lunch special at Ritz on Yonge. $3.99!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: munchieHK
                      wontonfm RE: munchieHK Oct 25, 2009 06:48 AM

                      Ritz is always my pick. Such a good deal and the price remains stable!


                    2. c
                      Crispy skin RE: gastronom Oct 2, 2009 03:40 PM

                      Vienna meats on Birchmount, schnitzel and 2 sides for 6 bucks.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Crispy skin
                        MiniMom RE: Crispy skin Oct 7, 2009 07:30 AM

                        Nun Such Jerk - is this place located in the plaza with the driver licencing bureau and a burger joint in the middle of the parking lot? There was a place near Sheppard about 5 mins from the 401 that had the best jerk pork sandwich and was approx $3.00 cheap and yummy.

                        1. re: MiniMom
                          Dr Butcher RE: MiniMom Oct 7, 2009 04:46 PM

                          MiniMom, you've got it. There is also a Chinese bakery in the same plaza that sells pretty much everything for under a dollar. I browsed through there the last time I hit Nun Such Jerk and picked up a pile of stuff for a few bucks. I remember liking the curried beef buns but they were so greasy.

                          1. re: MiniMom
                            CeeQueue RE: MiniMom Oct 7, 2009 06:46 PM

                            Harry's Drive-In is the burger joint. They have the best home-made onion rings and a decent homeburger, though the bun is the kind that falls apart (browned layer peels off), which is annoying.

                          2. re: Crispy skin
                            CeeQueue RE: Crispy skin Oct 24, 2009 02:24 PM

                            Thanks for the reco for Vienna Meats. I went there today thinking I would have a schnitzel on a bun, but remembered the $6 dinner (which I wouldn't have had on my radar otherwise). Huge plate of nicely fried potatoes (nice browning) and hot, tangy, pickled cabbage, with a very nicely fried piece of pork schnitzel -- crispy, good breading and moist inside. Delicious with a wedge of lemon. It wasn't a huge, dinner-plate sized schnitzel, but the perfect size with the two sides (think saucer-plate size -- it would hang off the ends of a big kaiser).

                            I will definitely go back. The place was packed while I was there around lunch time today, and everyone was ordering schnitzel.

                            1. re: Crispy skin
                              CeeQueue RE: Crispy skin Nov 6, 2009 05:56 PM

                              Went back to Vienna Meats today and had the schnitzel on a bun with a huge side of pickled cabbage for under $6.00. The schnitzel was so nice and crunchy around the edges and moist inside. My friend had the Friday special of fish of the day, which was sea bass. It came with two sides for $6.50 and was a huge piece of really nicely cooked fish (a nice crust on one side). The fried potatoes with onion are really nice too. I liked my taste of his lunch so much that I got a take-out of the sea bass and had it for dinner tonight.

                              This place is a real hidden gem. Cheap eats, large portions, cooked with love. Too bad the seating is just wooden stools and small tables or a counter on one side. Not comfortable to sit and visit with someone, so we ended up at Calabria for dessert and coffee. Ironically, it's the first time I've been there when the pizza oven was still on, but we only had room for our desserts.

                            2. b
                              bytepusher RE: gastronom Oct 7, 2009 08:02 PM

                              1. Yung Sing on Baldwin
                              2 . Black Camel across from Rosedale Station, $7 for their excellent brisket sandwich, slightly cheaper if you get the frequent flyer card
                              3. Mother's Dumplings

                              1. Davwud RE: gastronom Oct 8, 2009 04:54 AM

                                Oxtail dinner at Caribbean Queen on Bloor. Comes with rice and peas and cabbage. $4.

                                Bahn Mi. DN Vietnamese Sandwiches at the corner of Dupont and Edwin. Best Bahn Mi.
                                (hope this works) http://maps.google.com/maps?source=s_...


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Davwud
                                  fogducker RE: Davwud Oct 26, 2009 12:28 PM

                                  This link may be better.


                                2. p
                                  Pincus RE: gastronom Oct 8, 2009 12:28 PM

                                  Pizza slice at King Slice.

                                  1. b
                                    blogs RE: gastronom Oct 15, 2009 07:02 AM

                                    Caplansky's smoked meat sandwich for $7, both cheap and good.

                                    1. m
                                      merlot143 RE: gastronom Oct 24, 2009 04:36 PM

                                      Surprised no one mentioned this yet -- roti from One Love on Bathurst near Bloor. Vegetarian Caribbean food including a kick-A corn soup ($3/$5) and different rotis with your choice of whole wheat or chickpea tortilla ($5/$8). Amples portions and good prices.

                                      1. t
                                        thebutcher RE: gastronom Oct 24, 2009 06:02 PM

                                        I also work at King & Spadina and here are my picks:

                                        Fusarro's at Spadina/Richmond - they have a $10 lunch special everyday - pasta/salad/bread - always terrific. Their pizza/sandwiches are good too - big portions - you could split with a pal for a cheap lunch (I wld estimate less than $6.00 each with a pop).
                                        Craft Burger - combo special is $10 for burger/fries or rings/pop.
                                        XTecca: On King east of Peter - I like the tacos (Burritos are too heavy). I believe they are $6.95 for two with chips n salsa. Pork and the shrimp are my fav.

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: thebutcher
                                          vorpal RE: thebutcher Oct 24, 2009 06:40 PM

                                          For a burger with fries, I never really thought of Craft as particularly cheap. Decent taste, yes, but more medium priced, really.

                                          1. re: vorpal
                                            thebutcher RE: vorpal Oct 24, 2009 07:07 PM

                                            do you have a reco for a cheaper but still good tasting burger in the king/spadina area?

                                            1. re: thebutcher
                                              vorpal RE: thebutcher Oct 25, 2009 07:15 AM

                                              I'm not too familiar with the area, so no, but there are cheaper burgers in Toronto that are much better, and for me, location does not affect value when judging the quality of cheap eats.

                                              1. re: vorpal
                                                Davwud RE: vorpal Oct 25, 2009 02:13 PM

                                                Not in that area but check out Collegiate Lunch on Gerard, just west of Greenwood.
                                                Home made burger, (1/3 lb or so) with cheddar and bacon and fries (frozen but I don't mind) for $5.75

                                                JayT turned me on to that place. Good call.


                                                1. re: Davwud
                                                  vorpal RE: Davwud Oct 26, 2009 09:17 AM

                                                  I used to live RIGHT around the corner from this place (right at G&G) and am incredibly sad that I never popped in during the two years I was living there :(.

                                                  1. re: vorpal
                                                    jayt90 RE: vorpal Oct 26, 2009 09:24 AM

                                                    The Chinese couple who own Collegiate bought it from a Greek around 1970, and he taught them how to grind the beef, add garlic and egg, and basically keep the place 60's diner style.
                                                    My first time there, I asked for a medium rare burger but they refused, and agreed to "not well done", and it came out juicy, with a hint of pink, so this is what I ask for now . It's a cash only place btw.

                                                    1. re: jayt90
                                                      jayt90 RE: jayt90 Nov 7, 2009 04:49 AM

                                                      I revisited Collegiate for the $5.75 burger special. Just as good as before, with a gently cooked home made patty from a flat top grill. The photo shows what you get for the price.

                                                      1. re: jayt90
                                                        CeeQueue RE: jayt90 Nov 7, 2009 06:34 AM

                                                        That looks pretty damn good.

                                                  2. re: Davwud
                                                    jlunar RE: Davwud Oct 26, 2009 12:10 PM

                                                    Hmn. Will check this out! Thanks guys.

                                            2. re: thebutcher
                                              Negaduck RE: thebutcher Oct 25, 2009 12:06 AM

                                              I believe you mean z-teca. I prefer bandidos/boyz though.

                                              1. re: Negaduck
                                                thebutcher RE: Negaduck Oct 25, 2009 08:29 AM

                                                Thx Negaduck - did mean Z-Teca.
                                                Does Bandidos have lighter option on their menu, like the Tacos at Z-Teca? I've only had the Burrito - which was great...but too heavy for a productive afternoon :)

                                                1. re: thebutcher
                                                  Negaduck RE: thebutcher Oct 27, 2009 06:59 PM

                                                  Quesadillas? That's almost like a taco.
                                                  Boyz now serves a haddock burrito that isn't fried. You can always make it less hearty by holding the rice and beans.

                                            3. y
                                              Yongeman RE: gastronom Oct 25, 2009 08:45 AM

                                              ABC Bakery at 3816 Victoria Park has rib-sticking one-dish meals in the $5.00 range. My favourite is the Yung Chow fried rice. Great with Srirachia sauce. I used to go frequently when I worked in the area, and still miss it.

                                              1. s
                                                sandi123 RE: gastronom Oct 25, 2009 09:16 AM

                                                Mainsha at Donmills and Overlea has a great toonie special your choice of jerk, bbq or fried chicken 2pcs with rice of your choice plus your choice of coleslaw or macaroni salad for $2.50 great food at a great price

                                                1. elvisahmed RE: gastronom Oct 25, 2009 02:37 PM

                                                  Pizza Pide at Gerrard and Pape. Pide (turkish variation of pizza) for 10$ thats enough to feed 2 people sometimes.

                                                  1. grandgourmand RE: gastronom Oct 26, 2009 11:16 AM

                                                    Don't know if it's my top cheap eats, but I recently had a good kebab wrap (kebab in naan with salad and sauce) at Makkah, located at 1020 Danforth. It was $4.49.

                                                    I really enjoyed it. Will try again, as their curries looked good. $7 and below for meals.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: grandgourmand
                                                      dory RE: grandgourmand Oct 26, 2009 12:56 PM

                                                      I second the suggestion for Makkah. I enjoy their tandoori chicken and their curries are decent too. Prices are very reasonable and portions large and tasty. Self serve but with quite a few tables at the back. And often you can get parked right out front which is great if you're picking up.

                                                    2. Teep RE: gastronom Oct 26, 2009 01:23 PM

                                                      Mine is the bahn mi at Ginger on Yonge near Bloor, $3 for delish grilled chicken or tofu (and also pork I think?) on a fresh bun. I can't eat it at my desk at work because it just smells so good that people would come and ask what it is!

                                                      1. g
                                                        garfield RE: gastronom Oct 26, 2009 06:56 PM

                                                        Yueh tung near bay and dundas.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: garfield
                                                          Ediblethoughts RE: garfield Oct 29, 2009 05:42 PM

                                                          Ditto that one.

                                                        2. hippotatomus RE: gastronom Oct 28, 2009 06:32 PM

                                                          Red bean walnut cake in ktown. 6 for $1.50 ... so DAMN good.. especially when it's fresh and the red bean is nice and oozy...*dies and goes to heaven*
                                                          (plus any ktown restaurant basically...ka chi, buk chang dong soontofu)

                                                          Gourmet burger co. 2.99 for a fix of sweet potato fries~ it's not the best sweet potato fries but it certainly does the trick, the gbc burger for 5.50 is not too shabby either with your choice of some toppings (mushrooms, avocado, caramelized onions) at no extra cost..

                                                          Buk Chang Dong
                                                          691 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                                                          1. o
                                                            OTFOODIE RE: gastronom Oct 28, 2009 08:09 PM

                                                            Brandt Meats in Mississauga (only open Wed-Sat) choice of farmer's sausage, weisswurst or bratwurst for about $2 if I recall, or a bit more. (I had two a week ago and got change from a $5) Alternatively a huge plate with a smoked pork chop (kassler) with home fries & good kraut for $6.

                                                            Brandt Meats
                                                            1878 Mattawa Ave, Mississauga, ON L4X, CA

                                                            1. jayt90 RE: gastronom Oct 28, 2009 08:36 PM

                                                              Highland Farms sells trays of end pieces from the deli for $2.50 There is an assortment of sliced sausages, ham, headcheese (maybe), and cheese. Add two kaiser rolls and small drinks or milk, and two can have a good meal for $5.

                                                              Highland Farms
                                                              850 Ellesmere Rd, Toronto, ON M1P, CA

                                                              1. j
                                                                JPJ RE: gastronom Nov 5, 2009 05:56 PM

                                                                When I have to be up in Scarborough for work I always stop at the Roti Hut on Pitfield for their chickpea roti with pumpkin - about $6 (less than $5 without pumpkin). Excellent, definitely my favourite cheap eat.

                                                                Roti Hut
                                                                351 Pitfield Rd, Toronto, ON M1S3E5, CA

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: JPJ
                                                                  Ediblethoughts RE: JPJ Nov 6, 2009 04:42 PM

                                                                  That sounds very yummy. A pity I'm never in that neck of the woods.

                                                                2. vorpal RE: gastronom Nov 7, 2009 03:00 AM

                                                                  Tokyo Grill on the west side of Yonge just north of Wellesley is my absolute favourite cheap eats location. Fantastic home-style Japanese food served in a cutesy setting by lovely wait staff. One of the places I miss most from my Toronto days.

                                                                  Tokyo Grill
                                                                  582 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4Y1Z3, CA

                                                                  1. l
                                                                    Livingtoeat RE: gastronom Nov 12, 2009 06:05 PM

                                                                    I am so surprised that Gale's Snack Bar wasn't mentioned....or perhaps I was reading too fast.


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