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Dec 20, 2009 04:52 PM

College Student Visiting Toronto

Hey there,

I'm a student at the University of South Florida and our team is playing Northern Illinois in the International Bowl on Jan 2nd. We'll be there from Dec 31st until Jan 2nd, and I'm looking for the BEST places to eat in Toronto, but within a college kid's budget.

Also, do you have any suggestions for where we can spend New Year's Eve?

For all your suggestions, please keep in mind that we will be staying in the Westin Harbour Castle hotel and traveling by foot/public transportation.

Thanks in advance for your recommendations!

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  1. Hi USF, hope you enjoy your stay in Toronto. I don't know what kind of food you like, but two places came to mind when I read your post. Utopia on College st has great burritos, burgers, and the like with interesting twists; portions are huge and prices are surely within your range. The other place is Messini, which is on the Danforth; the main draw is their gyros, they have combos which include 2 gyros, greek salad and another side for about 14$; again portions are huge. I'll post again if anything else comes to mind.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bunnylicious

      Why go all the way to Messini's when there's an Alexandro's right next to the hotel selling the same thing?

      1. re: Dimbulb

        Haven't been to Alexandros so I didn't think of it. I don't know what the hours are at Alexandros, but Messini is open late and TTC accessible, if a craving hits later on I guess.

    2. What type of place were you looking for on NYE? Pub? Restaurant? Lounge? what vibe do you want?

      1. Can you give some ideas about what kind of food you like, how large a group you'll be traveling/eating out with, etc? That will help determine places that could suit a larger vs. smaller group.
        For NYE, as already posted, are you looking for a meal out, a bottle service event, etc? Should be a little easier to travel as I believe transit runs free that night...
        And in terms of pricing, college budget can range a lot, especially depending what you're looking for - are we talking places with group specials, or $16 main but no app to make it fit? Wine, beer, cocktails included in budget? - and what are your tastes with those? Nothing with dinner and cheap pitchers after? Cocktails and tap water? Have seen across the board fitting into "college budget" at U of T, so no matter what it is workable - just give some ideas of what you'd like.

        1. Check out Pizza Libretto on Ossington, just south of Dundas. The price is astonishingly good for the quality! Such good food. And the vibe is energetic and fun.

          Cheap and delicious sushi and other Japanese and Korean food can be had at Ho Su on Queen St. West, just west of Osgoode subway station. To this day, I can't figure out how they can pull it off — the food is wonderful, the ambiance is great, the prices are shockingly low, and the location is CRAZY good!!

          Stay away from the club district for NYE — it tends to be overrun by 905ers (people who don't live in the city) who can get a bit out of control in terms of drunkenness, violence, etc. I'd recommend College Street or Queen West for a fun night out. The Drake Hotel on Queen West or the Mod Club or Revival on College would be better alternatives, in my opinion. I guess it depends on what kind of night you want to have.

          1. Thanks everyone for your help already! Personally, I like anything and I'm down to try new things. (any local specialties?) On NYE, just looking for something fun...I personally don't care where I am, as long as I'm with friends, ya know?

            I'm traveling with a group of 100, but we could eat in groups of anywhere from 5-10.
            College budget for me means as much food for as little money as possible. I don't know how much we're being allotted for money, but we'd probably do cheap, quick service food during the day, a nice sit down meal at night. As far as drinks are concerned, most of us will probably have a drink or two with dinner, and some may want some cheap pitchers for NYE.

            Oh and any breakfast suggestions? I'm a breakfast fanatic.

            Thanks again for all your help!

            1 Reply
            1. re: USF_Bull

              Starting with breakfast, no Toronto student experience would be complete without a trip to Aunties and Uncles. Subway to Queens Park, College streetcar west to Bathurst.
              It's busy as hell and the service is... well, it sucks. But the food is good and the prices are great, making it very student friendly.

              Just realizing that most of my recs are in that area... i.e. walking distance from U of T, which is where I honed my "best possible meals on a student budget" skills. So if this seems like more public transit time than it's worth, please do say something!

              A new-ish "all weather" spot (lunch, snack, dinner, hangover food) in Kensington Market is The Grilled Cheese. You can check this thread:
              It'll show you somewhat mixed reviews, but take note of the bar across the street, Ronnie's. They have a great range on tap, so cheap beer on the one hand, Erdinger and Delirium on the other.

              Speaking of great on tap, you can check out Bar Volo on the student splurge end of the scale,
              -C'est What is on the better-priced end (their food is okay, basically pub grub with a twist: it's fresher, not as heavy tasting, and somewhat Canadian themed to go with their long list of well-priced, mostly great Canadian beers) This is also one of the closer options to your hotel. It is walking distance, about as close as Union Station (subway hub nearest you).
              -Sin and Redemption: good prices for a great range on tap, but under NO circumstances should you eat there. Trust me.

              Moving to a food focus, Terroni gets a lot of flak on this board (try searching it and you'll see) with good reason, but the Queen Street location is a good place for students to get quality pizza away from dodgy spots like Cora's, ahem, especially if you plan to cross the street for some drinks at Squirly's afterwards, where you can split an order of colossal chicken wings. They're pretty good about accommodating groups, in my experience, even with the pain in the butt no reservations policy. Personally I'd recommend this combo of resto/bar for NYE. Terroni doesn't accept reservations so you're no worse off trying to get in somewhere on short notice. Squirly's is quite cheap and laid back, decently sized, and there are a lot of other bars in the area if it fills up.

              If you just want a LOT of food, cheap, Dangerous Dan's is the place to go. Quantity over quality here, but a fun experience with a group.
              OH! Korean BBQ, of course! Try Yummy BBQ at Bloor and Bathurst. Another place where you get a lot of food for your money, and a fun group experience. Not the best Toronto has to offer, but this is another piece of student life.
              General consensus on this board is that Toronto has little to offer in the realm of great sushi. It does, however, have plenty to offer in the realm of the student sushi lunch special. Sushi on Bloor is a good example.
              Thai Basil on Bloor has great lunch specials and pretty good food. Lots of bang for your buck, and fast, though not if you have to travel to get there...

              Sticking with the Annex theme, the By the Way Cafe is a lovely sit-down dinner spot. Reasonably priced, depending on what you order.
              Swinging back down to College St. for a bit more of a splurge, but still student friendly, you might check out Sidecar. $24 will buy you a 3 course prix fixe dinner on Sun-Thurs, or between 5-6 on Fri&Sat. Their cocktails will set you back a bit more, but the prix fixe deal is great. In the area, for post dinner drinks, you have Souz Dal and Eat My Martini for the mixed drink crowd, or Ted's Collision for something really laid back.

              For actual fast food, Hero burger is decent. There are a few outlets around town including one in the TD Centre food halls (if you walk up Bay to Wellington and go underground) and one on Yonge north of King.

              Sweet Lulu is a little further north up Bay, turn left onto Temperence. $10 for a giant noodle dish, eat in or take out. If you have a fridge in your hotel, bring back half for the next day.

              I'm realizing how long this post is... so probably enough to sign off for now. Good luck!!