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Within walking distance from the Art Gallery of Ontario?

We are in town for the Art Gallery Friday and we were wondering if there was something within a couple of minutes walk from the Gallery for dinner. We will have three adults and two older children with us. Thank you!

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  1. Can you tell us a bit more about what kind of food/atmosphere/price range might be suitable for your group (and what about the kids... how old are they, and are they fussy, adventurous, etc.)?

    I like Frank at the AGO, but there is also Manpuku for cheap and cheerful Japanese, The Queen Mum for slightly upscale-d thai (with some more mainstream options too), Midi is a nice French bistro in the area, and Baldwin has lots of choices depending on what you like. The Rex is also fun for groups if you want to listen to music and eat pub grub (I have seen children there).

    3 Replies
    1. re: Rabbit

      I like Midi for French bistro. I also like Vegetarian Haven for nice food that is wholesome.

      1. re: Rabbit

        Like Rabbit, I too am a fan of 'Frank'.inside the AGO. Good food and you don't even have to venture outside into the snow and cold!!

        1. re: Charles Yu

          i am also a fan of frank, but the bill could run up rather quickly for what sounds like will be a casual dinner. double check their website!

          manpuku is a fun casual place but it's nothing really special in terms of food quality, its concept is a bit unique for toronto though and overall it is good.

          you're not all that far from chinatown which could be tasty depending on what you're looking for. there have been a couple of threads about northern chinese food and i believe most of them are east of spadina and so not a terribly far walk away. our best chinese food might be north of the city but you can certainly find good enough options around spadina.

          OH!
          i totally forgot.. down the street is ematei, while it's not spectacular the small hot dishes there are among our better izakaya offerings and a fun a tasty (and potentially saken laden)way to while away a cold night. which i think you may inevitably be in for.

      2. I like Asian Legend Chinese North side on Dundas just West of Beverley Yum Yum google their site Miranda

        1. Not sure what type of food you want, but Kenzo is a good place for Japanese ramen in Toronto, it is also not expensive.

          1. You can get all sorts of crepes at the Art Square Cafe right across the street from the AGO.

            18 Replies
            1. re: mogo

              Frank is good, but five of you can run up quite a bill there.

              The recently-opened Kenzo is also good, but it's more than your-requested a few minutes walk from the AGO. More like 10-l5 minutes in this weather.

              The aforementioned Manpuku, across the street in the Village by the Grange complex, is, in my view, a standout Japanese mainly-noodle joint, and very affordable. Everything I've tried there is flavorful.

              1. re: juno

                juno, and skylineR33, and anyone else, which ramen do you recommend the most at Kenzo? I have been meaning to stop by for ages, but would like to start off with a best bet.

                1. re: phoenikia

                  Personally, I like the King of Kings. I've sampled others and felt this was best. Depends on if you like spicy noodles or not. I haven't been back to Kenzo in a long long time now though, so ymmv.

                  1. re: jlunar

                    thanks jlunar ;-) I know we see eye-eye re: Thai Islamic Noodles (note to other CHs, I realize that Thai Islamic Noodles are an entirely different animal from Ramen and Udon), so I'll trust your judgment, and give the King of Kings a try next time I'm near a Kenzo ;-)

                    1. re: phoenikia

                      just a warning - I found the char siew to be variable. I've had it when it was really good and then only so-so. Very non-consistent on that front.

                  2. re: phoenikia

                    King of Ramen is also my favorite there. It's soup base is spicy. Tonkotsu (Pork bone soup base) is ok, but King of Ramen is their signature noodle.

                    1. re: skylineR33

                      I'm also partial to the King of Kings ramen soup bowl. It's the most expensive on the menu (about $10, if I recall), but has the widest range of toppings, and is quite flavorful. But then, I've enjoyed just about every one of the ramen soup bowls I've tried at Kenzo, most of which are cheaper by a few dollars or more than King of Kings. Kenzo also does a tasty job on gyozas (Japanese dumplings). However, be forewarned that I have no basis of comparison. Kenzo - both the uptown and downtown outlets - are the only ramen joints I've ever tried anywhere in Toronto (there were a couple in Vancouver that I rather liked as well). If someone thinks they know a better ramen spot around Toronto, kindly inform.

                      1. re: juno

                        Finally got a chance to try the King of Kings at Kenzo. Thanks for recommending it, jlunar, juno & skylineR33. I found the broth to be flavourful, and I liked the various toppings! Great deal at $9.95 iirc. I also ordered some gyoza, and was surprised to see they were 2-3x as big as any gyoza I've ordered elsewhere, so I ended up with an unexpected doggie bag.

                        The King of Kings is no longer the most expensive dish on the menu. They also offer a Nabeyaki seafood noodle now, which rings in at $12.95. Might have to try that another time.

                        -----
                        Kenzo
                        138 Dundas St. W., Toronto, ON , CA

                        1. re: phoenikia

                          Glad you liked it! Hmn... must go back some time. Haven't been in a long while now!

                          1. re: jlunar

                            hah! What a coincidence. my friend called me tonight asking me what to get - she also loved the King of Kings. I've tried almost all of their bowls - KoK is the best imo. I'm on the fence about their gyoza though.
                            Erin
                            http://www.cookiesandtomatoes.com/

                  3. re: juno

                    I tried Manpuku tonight, and was somewhat disappointed. I ordered the salad (which came with a commercial tasting dressing), the kitsune udon that came with a inari pouch, a slice or 2 of fish ball and squid, and the jumbo inari. Everything I had was bland or kind of blah- not sure if it was an offnight, I ordered badly, or I just don't like their food. Even though it was just 9 pm, and the restaurant hours on their sign says open until 11 pm on Thu, the Closed sign was up, and the waitress told us that it was last call for ordering food at 9:20. At least it was fast, and cheap, and the servers were friendly.

                    Will try Kenzo next time I'm in the area.

                    1. re: phoenikia

                      manpuku isn't a place to have a revelation. they just seem to have a niche model (for the most part) and some quick and tasty and cheap items. there are definitely items i would stay away from and certain items i would rec. the main thing i would get there is the onigiri, cheap and nicely seasoned rice with a decent amount of filling. great for a quick snack on the go, but with two of these it could count as a small meal. i'm fond of the takosen but mostly for the senbei, much better takoyaki can be had at kenzo.

                      they fit into the neighbourhood, a cheap and filling option for students but at least they offer something slightly more unique.

                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                        The biggest problem with Manpuku is the rice they use for the rice bowl. There is no improvement from the time they open to now. They really need to learn how to cook it from scratch, not to cook some half wet/half done rice. It is basically a trunk of mashed rice mess.

                        1. re: skylineR33

                          i've never had the rice bowls though they always looked like a good value proposition. i'm surprised they're making their rice that wet... you would think they're likely using a large rice cooker or at least have it figured out by now.

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            Hmn. I never found the rice that wet/undone, but I don't like mushy rice either. I tend to eat the rice they make in the Jumbo Inari. Though I'm pretty sure they make it from the standard rice they have on hand.

                            1. re: jlunar

                              The top layer of rice of their rice bowl is ok, but once you get into the middle it is a mushy mess. I am not expecting Japanese rice quality from Niigata or anything, but as a minimal, a good bowl of rice should allow you to separate each grain using the chopstick. The rice at Manpuku becomes a mushy mess once it passes the top layer. The rice at Ematei is pretty good. If you have rice at Ematei and then at Manpuku, you will right away see the differences.

                      2. re: phoenikia

                        Buh! Did we miss you?! We were there too, though I don't remember what time (but later than you, likely). The owners said they had a family emergency last night.

                        Though, I don't think that would have changed the food much. I did have the Jumbo Inari, and that was the usual way it tasted (which I like). Like PSP, it's not revelatory food, but I find it cheap and good.

                        1. re: jlunar

                          Hey jlunar, guess you did miss me, or I missed you guys ;-) I'm sure I would have seen you if you were still there.

                          Too bad if there was a family emergency last night. Hope everything is ok now.

                          I agree it's cheap, and not bad, and an interesting option for the Grange. For a $8-$12 meal, I'd rather walk the 10-15 minutes to Salad King, Mother's Dumplings or Rol San, where I'll leave thinking whatever I ordered was cheap and tasty. That being said, I'll give Manpuku another chance at some point, to try a couple of the dishes that have been recommended.

                          The rice in my inari was on the dryish side, which was fine with me, but it didn't have the texture or taste I usually expect in inari- the only flavours I could detect were scallion and plain rice.

                          Thanks PSP for the suggestions on some of the dishes that you like at Manpuku.

                          skylineR33, thanks for mentioning Ematei- will have to remember to visit Ematei next time I'm in the mood for something Japanese near the AGO.

                  4. Hi there,
                    I really, really like Frank - it's classy, the food is great, and the service is impeccable. If you are on a tighter budget, Art Square & Cafe is right across the street - they serve awesome food with fresh ingredients. I always order crepes when I go there.

                    1. John's Classic Pizza has great pies and it's casual and reasonable. Margerita's has decent Tex Mex. Both on Baldwin.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: MeMeMe

                        Wow! John's is some mediocre Itallian and Margarita's is among the worst imaginable tex-mex. Margarita's is in the "Worst in Toronto" thread and for damned good reason IMO.

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4946...

                        If you go up to Baldwin (say a 10 minute walk), Kon-nichi-wa is a decent Japanese option – especially for cooked items. If you would order ramen or the like, go to Manpuku in the Grange – its better and a lot closer to the AGO. It has a more limited menu though.

                        1. re: Atahualpa

                          I don't think Manpuku has ramen, Udon and Ramen are two different things.

                          1. re: skylineR33

                            Thanks, my mistake. I always order the udon myself, (or the onigiri, or the jumbo inari, or. . .) don't know why I wrote ramen.

                          2. re: Atahualpa

                            I haven't been to Margarita's in years - sorry for the reco. The OP said that there were kids in the mix, so i thought i'd throw in a casual Mexican place as an option. Frankly - I would take the whole family to Frank but the OP suggested something 'near' the AGO.

                            1. re: MeMeMe

                              "two older children".

                              I guess I assumed that meant teenagers and you assumed ten-year olds? It also depends on the youngsters. For many children John's Italian would be a very suitable suggestion. I know when I was that age, I would have wanted the Japanese (or Chinese on Spadina).

                            2. re: Atahualpa

                              Thank you, Atahualpa. I'm glad someone said it. I also can't stand John's Italian or Margarita's. Terrible food.

                              It's three years since this post but I'm going to the AGO tomorrow with a friend and having dinner after. Don't want to go to Frank, any of the awful places across the street, Baldwin, or McCaul. Maybe walk to Note Bene and eat at the bar, but also fine with something more casual... just not one of those quiet little bistros... Something a bit lively.

                          3. Just as a note, I prefer Manpuku over Art Square. Though admittedly, it's been a couple years since I've been to the latter.

                            Depends if you like Udon! There are some rice dishes too.
                            http://www.foodpr0n.com/2010/01/29/ma...

                            and my Frank visits:
                            http://www.foodpr0n.com/2009/11/30/ar...

                            1. Baldwin St is your best bet. I went to the King Tut exhibit a few weeks ago. Baldwin is less than a 10 minute walk. A group of us went to John's Italian Cafe and we really liked the food. I had the pesto gnocchi and loved it. The Mexican place is ok.

                              The only other alternative is to walk or drive 10 mins Spadina and you have a ton of options in Chinatown.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: TOchowgal

                                Or one could easily walk 10 minutes south on to eat at Nota Bene, Queen Mother or the dining room at Osgoode Hall.

                                Or one could also walk 5-7 minutes east to dine at Lai Wah Heen or Japango.

                                Lots of options if you're willing to walk 10 minutes from the AGO ;-)

                                Margarita's serves really bad Mexican food.

                                1. re: TOchowgal

                                  Also recommend Baldwin, it's like a restaurant street. There's French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, vegetarian, etc. from upscale to cafe style. The only "warnings" are that Matahari (Malaysian) is a bit pricey for the style of food, and Konnichiwa is the only authentic Japanese place there.

                                2. I really like Sin and Redemption just north of Dundas on McCaul. The menu is varied so there is something for everyone, and the food is a great value. Make sure you get an order of the Belgian Frites to share...very tasty.

                                  1. FRANKS is nice - they have duck confit and a nice and cod dish. If that's not your cup of tea, I believe there is a vegetarian vietnamese restaurant west on dundas - but the setting is that of a chinese quick food restaurant...unlike Franks. Asian Legend is nice - they have vegetarian dishes but nt strictly vegetarian. They have a mean general tao chicken there. Wah Sing is pretty famous for their deep fried lobster on Baldwin - a good walk. Good luck.