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Where to go for food I can't make at home

m
merlot143 Jul 30, 2010 09:03 AM

I cook a lot, and the mid-price restaurants I go to aren't as thrilling me anymore. The food is decent but not a lot better than what I can do. Of course, I'm paying for the convenience and atmosphere, but I'd rather not sit through a meal knowing I can do better myself.
Any recommendation for reasonably priced cafés or restaurants that offer flavours that are a little special? I guess for mains, I'm thinking under $30.
Thanks.

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  1. b
    bogie Jul 30, 2010 09:36 AM

    Hi:

    My wife and I often face the same dilemma, as I'm a chef. We rarely spend even $30 an entree when we dine out, unless it's a special occasion and we're craving a quality piece of fish or steak. We go out to eat at relatively inexpensive smaller places where they craft quality food that we enjoy when I'm took tired to cook.

    For us, good choices include:

    Banjara for tasty, consistent Indian food.
    Black Hoof Cafe for small plates and great cocktails/well-chosen Canadian wines
    China Island for fresh, low salt, non-greasy Chinese take-out or eat in.
    Oympic 76 for thick, cheesy pizzas (not a pretty restaurant though)
    Queen & Beaver Pub for amazing hand-chopped burger and thick fries, cask ales
    Stockyards BBQ for superb smoked ribs and fried chicken
    Sukhothai for inexpensive, exciting Thai food
    Tutti Matti for homemade pastas

    -----
    Tutti Matti
    364 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V1R7, CA

    Banjara
    796 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L7, CA

    Sukhothai
    274 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

    Queen & Beaver
    35 Elm St, Toronto, ON M5G, CA

    The Black Hoof
    928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: bogie
      m
      merlot143 Jul 30, 2010 10:33 AM

      Thanks for the list. Interesting recommendations. I didn't know about China Island. There are times I hanker for some old-fashioned take-out but don't know where is a good spot.

      1. re: merlot143
        b
        bogie Jul 30, 2010 11:22 AM

        China Island was an awesome Chowfind for us!!! It's located on Bloor, just west of Dundas West. They have an open kitchen, which is encouraging from the get go. There many little details that add up to their great overall quality: Dishes are fresh-cooked to order, a proper amount of salt is used, no MSG, battered dishes have just the right ratio of batter to meat and are not greasy, meat dishes have an abundant variety of vegetables in them, fresh not frozen vegetables appear to be used everywhere even in fried rice dishes, they even use fresh pineapple chunks in the sweet and sour chicken sauce, no food colouring is used either.

        1. re: bogie
          d
          detritus Aug 1, 2010 07:37 AM

          Anybody know if there's a menu for China Island online somewhere?

          Thanks.

          1. re: detritus
            b
            bogie Aug 1, 2010 08:43 AM

            I have not found one, but they have most of your favourite and typical Cantonese and Szechuan dishes.

      2. re: bogie
        m
        merlot143 Jul 31, 2010 07:58 PM

        Hey bogie, I went to Sukhothai today! It's fairly close to me. What a great little place. I had the pad thai and the hot/sour soup. So tasty! My favorite was the soup - one sip and I was already happy.

        -----
        Sukhothai
        274 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

      3. j
        jnine Jul 30, 2010 01:10 PM

        I too have this issue, which is even more compounded since I am currently an unwaged SAHM. I get pretty pissed off when I know I can and have made it better myself. These places never disappoint my palette or my wallet:

        Pho Hung (Spadina Only) - rare beef pho
        King's Noodle House - chinese doughnuts and veggie tofu stirfry and ginger green onion noodles
        Pizzeria Libretto-simple Margherita
        Stockyards- Pulled pork, burger or smoked chicken
        Eastern Twist - Butter Chicken Parantha Wrap
        Island Foods - Boneless chicken roti

        -----
        King's Noodle House
        296 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

        Pho Hung
        350 Spadina, Toronto, ON M5T2G4, CA

        1 Reply
        1. re: jnine
          j
          jnine Jul 30, 2010 01:37 PM

          I just thought of some more delish dishes I can't/won't make at home:

          Falafel World (Jane and Bloor) - Chicken Schwarma (ask for potatoes in it)
          Bitondo's - Panzerotti with a side of olives (don't order pizza)
          Korean (don't know the name) at southeast corner of Bloor and Manning - get the Bibimbap

          -----
          Bitondo
          11 Clinton St, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

          Falafel World
          2396 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6S1P5, CA

        2. p
          pastina Aug 1, 2010 06:11 AM

          Thanks for this post. I'm in a similar situation.

          South Indian Dosa Mahal. Eat in (extreme pink colour scheme) or just grab a bag of samosa or spinach pakora. 10 for $3!!!!

          -----
          South Indian Dosa Mahal Restaurant
          1284 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H1N8, CA

          2 Replies
          1. re: pastina
            b
            bogie Aug 1, 2010 08:46 AM

            I love it, also in my neighborhood! Their vegetarian thalis are awesome and cheap too at $6.95.

            1. re: pastina
              j
              jnine Aug 2, 2010 09:16 AM

              Love their dosas. Just like to ones I relished in South India. Cheap samosas are fresh and delish too.

            2. y
              ylsf Aug 1, 2010 08:19 AM

              I would recommend any of the "raw" foods spots to try it out. Live Organic Food Bar, Rawlicious or Crudo with my top recommendation being for Live Organic Food Bar.

              -----
              Live Organic Food Bar
              264 Dupont St, Toronto, ON M5R1V7, CA

              1. Googs Aug 1, 2010 09:18 AM

                Not a restaurant recommendation, but in this vein, I find you can do what you're looking for just about anywhere. I never order anything I can make at home easily. Just about any menu will have something with enough complexity about it that even if you you *could* do it at home, why not just let someone else contend with all the ingredients and prep? This doesn't work everywhere, but almost.

                1. Googs Aug 1, 2010 09:20 AM

                  Any takers on why this thread is pulling up a map of San Francisco?

                  1. w
                    wano Aug 1, 2010 09:29 AM

                    So far it looks likes anything ethnic is the trend so here are my suggestions, some are a trek and lineups but they are worth it:

                    Dim Sum - Royal Teahouse, there are many others but prices climb as well
                    10 Apple Creek Boulevard Unionville, ON L3R 0J5 - (905) 946-1898

                    Cho Sun OK - Korean
                    7353 Yonge St, Markham, ON 9057078426
                    Nigiri-ya Sushi (they only srve sushi)
                    897 Millwood Road

                    Tastee Bakery - oxtail, jerk chicken, etc
                    600 Denison Street, (905) 479-1919

                    Chinese BBQ Pork at - Kom Jug Yuen
                    371 Spadina Avenue
                    Toronto, ON M5T 2G3
                    (416) 977-4079

                    Alborz - Lebanese Restaurant
                    5907 Yonge Street, North York, ON M2M3T9
                    Phone: (416) 226-6564
                    Toronto, ON
                    (416) 423-4419

                    Congee Queen - way better than King's Noodle and cleaner too
                    several locations
                    http://www.congeequeen.com/

                    Smoked Meat - long debate on this site about where is best but I go to Centre Street Deli - they have the best fresh cut fries. Go for a platter and ask for old fashioned (more black peppercorns) /med to fat.
                    1136 Centre Street
                    Thornhill, ON L4J 3M8
                    (905) 731-8037

                    With the great weather, anything on the bbq is great if you don't want to go out.

                    -----
                    Congee Queen
                    895 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M3C3L2, CA

                    Alborz Restaurant
                    5907 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2M3T9, CA

                    Centre Street Deli
                    1136 Centre St, Thornhill, ON L4J3M8, CA

                    Royal Teahouse
                    10 Apple Creek Blvd, Markham, ON L3R 5Z1, CA

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