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Best places near the University of Toronto (no car)?

jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 08:29 AM


First time visitor to Toronto here. I will be in town for a conference at the university (staying on Bloor St). I found an old thread with cheap eats:


I would appreciate any updated recommendations including places that aren't cheap eats. We won't have a car. Thanks a lot for any advice.

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  1. TorontoJo RE: jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 08:40 AM

    If you walk down to Harbord St., there is a great stretch of really good restaurants between Spadina and Brunswik to choose from:

    Harbord Room
    93 Harbord
    Boulevard Cafe
    DT Bistro (brunch is excellent, haven't had dinner there)

    All have different vibes and price points. I'd either do a search on any of the above for more detail or give us a little more detail about the type of places you like and we can recommend some specifics.

    93 Harbord
    93 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

    97 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

    88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

    Harbord Room
    89 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

    1. s
      somewhere4 RE: jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 09:15 AM

      Well, if you are interested in "places that aren't cheap eats", there's the Hart House Gallery Grill @ the U of T. I went there for an Xmas office party a few years back and had a favourable experience.


      Gallery Grill
      7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

      3 Replies
      1. re: somewhere4
        TorontoJo RE: somewhere4 Aug 2, 2010 09:43 AM

        I love Gallery Grill as well, but the OP should be aware that they are closed until September!

        1. re: somewhere4
          curnonsky RE: somewhere4 Aug 2, 2010 09:44 AM

          Gallery Grill is closed in July and August and hardly cheap as the OP requests. Lunch for two is $75 plus booze, tax and tip.

          1. re: curnonsky
            TorontoJo RE: curnonsky Aug 2, 2010 09:47 AM

            Actually, the OP asked for "places that aren't cheap eats" as well.

        2. p
          phoenikia RE: jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 09:28 AM

          Second Gallery Grill.

          I like Matahari on Baldwin, although I haven't dined there for a while.

          I also like dining at Frank at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Although some of their lunch/brunch dishes can be hit or miss, I've enjoyed all the desserts I've ordered at Frank.

          39 Baldwin Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1L1, CA

          Gallery Grill
          7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

          FRANK @ The Art Gallery of Ontario
          317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5T I4G, CA

          7 Replies
          1. re: phoenikia
            fickle RE: phoenikia Aug 2, 2010 11:52 AM

            I went to Matahari 3 weeks ago, the food is still very good but the service has gotten worse. It used to be slow and they have managed to make it even slower. We were there on a Tuesday night at 6pm. One waiter for the entire restaurant, one bus staff and one person watering the flowers. Allow yourself 3 hours minimum if you plan on going and always order an appetizer, you'll need something to tie you over while your entrees come an hour later.

            I really like Frank. Make reservations if you go.

            39 Baldwin Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1L1, CA

            1. re: fickle
              phoenikia RE: fickle Aug 6, 2010 09:24 PM

              Hopefully someone reading this thread will tell Matahari to pick up the pace. 3 hours for dinner at Matahari is ridiculous! I would have been so frustrated!

              39 Baldwin Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1L1, CA

              1. re: fickle
                pinstripeprincess RE: fickle Aug 7, 2010 06:12 AM

                i'm so glad to see the love for frank. i've never been for brunch or lunch but quite enjoy it for dinner. it's not always a stupendous hit but no dish is any less than good and still more often than not great. i much prefer it to nota bene, the food seems more honest. it's a great pairing to a night at the AGO (their late hours are on Wednesday, so it is possible to check out a sight while at a conference). not sure when you're in town but they've currently got some coupon on their website to print out that can get you $7.50 (why that amount, no idea) off admission and/or dinner.

                i don't know where you're from, but i think it is at least worthwhile to use the public transit system (ttc) to perhaps at least go across the bloor line. i can' t speak for danforth (east) but there are certainly a lot ethnic communities with tasty food to explore. between bathurst/christie is korean and further west towards ossington is african (mostly ethiopian) and a smattering of latin/carribean as well.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                  shekamoo RE: pinstripeprincess Aug 7, 2010 06:18 AM

                  have had an ok dinner and a DISGUSTING brunch there

                  1. re: shekamoo
                    jlunar RE: shekamoo Aug 7, 2010 07:00 AM

                    Hopefully that was just a "bad day." I've had brunch there a couple times and thought it quite nice. Pastry basket was inconsistent for me during my visits, but everything else was pretty solid.

                    http://www.foodpr0n.com/ -- food. is. love.

                  2. re: pinstripeprincess
                    phoenikia RE: pinstripeprincess Aug 7, 2010 11:59 AM

                    I also prefer the food at Frank to the food at Nota Bene.

                    AGO members also get a 10 percent discount.

                    I've been for brunch a few times, and for lunch once. Haven't found anything to be disgusting.

                    Would have hoped for a lighter souffle on one visit, but this is Toronto, so I wasn't surprised that the souffle wasn't ideal. The souffle is no longer on the brunch or lunch menus.

                    Nota Bene
                    180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

                    1. re: phoenikia
                      shekamoo RE: phoenikia Aug 7, 2010 01:34 PM

                      The pancake and omelet were both inedible, everything smelled of rotten eggs. the bread was stale. when I say disgusting I mean it literally. It is an unfortunate cultural weakness that I have a hard time sending food back in restaurants. This would have been a prime candidate. I don't bad-mouth restaurants on a public forum lightly, even if doing so is inconsequential in practice

              2. j
                jefedejefes RE: jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 01:03 PM

                Thanks for the input. I'll give those places a look online. Excited to be visiting Toronto!

                1 Reply
                1. re: jefedejefes
                  T Long RE: jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 01:11 PM

                  For Chinese restaurant recommendations at Spadina Chinatown check this thread:

                2. a
                  ace123 RE: jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 01:47 PM

                  C5 at ROM.

                  1. c
                    ctl98 RE: jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 02:11 PM

                    Nota Bene is also a reasonable walking distance. It's on Queen just a wee bit west of University.

                    Nota Bene
                    180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

                    1. r
                      raebmv RE: jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 02:16 PM

                      Do you have a cuisine in mind? There's a lot of good food downtown, so some direction might be good.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: raebmv
                        jefedejefes RE: raebmv Aug 2, 2010 02:30 PM

                        You know, there's not a type of food I don't love, so just hit me with your best shot. I will be subject to the whims of a group whose tastes I am unfamiliar with. If they say Chinese food, I want to be prepared to lead them to good Chinese food.

                        1. re: jefedejefes
                          raebmv RE: jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 08:44 PM

                          Awesome. That's how I feel about food too. Here are some ideas

                          1. Indian - Host. Quality indian food, but a little pricier than usual. The atmosphere is pleasant and service is usually good.
                          2. Deli - The New Yorker Deli. Good place for lunch or a snack.
                          3. Japanese izakaya - Koyoi. An alternative to Guu. There won't be a line-up and the food is excellent (as is the service). However, menu is limited.
                          4. Ethiopian - Ethiopian House. As the name implies.
                          5. Dim sum - Dynasty. Order from a card type dim sum place. Generally good quality, a little pricier than the chinatown locations.
                          6. Crepes - Crepes a gogo.

                          All the above should be walking distance if you are on the Bloor side of U of T. Hope that these can give you some ideas.

                          p.s. If Korean is up your alley, it might be worth taking a trip across Bloor to Bathurst/Christie. Most of the restaurants there will do a good job, but I am partial to Joon's for their hot plate spicy strifry, cooked at your table (caveat: I don't think they have much in the way of korean bbq).

                          New Yorker Deli
                          1140 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

                          Dynasty Chinese Cuisine
                          69 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, ON M5R 1B8, CA

                          Ethiopian House
                          4 Irwin Ave, Toronto, ON M4Y1K9, CA

                          14 Prince Arthur Ave, Toronto, ON M5R1A9, CA

                          Crepes A GoGo
                          18 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M4W1L4, CA

                          Joons Restaurant
                          605 Bloor W, Toronto, ON M6G1K5, CA

                          398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

                          2 Irwin Ave, Toronto, ON M4Y 1K9, CA

                      2. z
                        Zengarden RE: jefedejefes Aug 2, 2010 02:35 PM

                        For tapas, go to Torito in Kensington Market. Not cheap but great for interesting tapas. I concur that there are some nice spots on Harbord Street which have already been mentioned.

                        276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                        147 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1H1, CA

                        1. y
                          ylsf RE: jefedejefes Aug 3, 2010 06:40 AM

                          Since you are right by the subway line I wouldn't limit yourself to "walking distance" restaurants. I am sure you would enjoy seeing the rest of the city and maybe you can co-ordinate a meal that is a bit further away with something else you want to see.

                          I will second the recommendation for Kensington Market area though, interesting atmosphere especially if you are there for one of the Sunday "Pedestrian Sundays" where they close off the streets. There are 2 in August though normally one on the last Sunday of the month.

                          1. m
                            MeMeMe RE: jefedejefes Aug 3, 2010 06:45 AM

                            If you're looking for Italian, try Serra at Bloor and Spadina or Mercatto on College at University.

                            1. estufarian RE: jefedejefes Aug 3, 2010 08:31 AM

                              I go to a couple of cheaper places in the area.
                              For a 'huge snack' visit 'Wokking On Wheels' a truck parked outside the U of T Robarts Library (St George north of Harbord). The Singapore vermicelli (Special #1 is my favourite).
                              For Indian, Nataraj (N side of Bloor, a couple of blocks west) has rebounded (new chef) and after a lean spell is now my favourite in Toronto (and far cheaper than The Host).

                              And Splendido is my upscale choice - their Friday lunch deal is very reasonably priced for the quality.

                              88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

                              1. m
                                markdsgraham RE: jefedejefes Aug 7, 2010 07:12 AM

                                I second many of the recommendations so far, particularly: Splendido, Boulevard Cafe, Nataraj, and Ethiopian House. All of these would be great dinner options (in ascending order of formality). You could probably get into Nataraj without a reservation, but depending on the size of your group you would likely need one for the other options. Depending on what hotel you're in, I also recommend checking out some of the Chinatown options.

                                There are a lot of Thai restaurants in Toronto but one that is an easy walk from the campus and in my view one of the best in Toronto is Pi-Tom's, just east off Yonge, north of College. This would also be a good place for a group outing. I think the pad thai there is just bright with flavour in a way it's not most other places in the city. And the mango (and papaya, IIRC) salads are fresh (note: if you search for Thai restaurants on this board you will find hundreds of posts lamenting the shoddy state of Toronto Thai food - IMO, Pi-Tom's avoids most of the common mistakes, even if it's not like eating at your ยาย's house).

                                88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

                                Ethiopian House
                                4 Irwin Ave, Toronto, ON M4Y1K9, CA

                                1. ekim256 RE: jefedejefes Aug 7, 2010 09:04 AM

                                  Really close to campus:
                                  Boulevard Cafe for Peruvian & a lovely patio
                                  Baldwin street for quick lunches if you're on the south end: I like Hana Korea's bibimbap, Etsu's fresh sushi boxes. I recommend staying away from Margaritas & Cafe La Gaffe
                                  Kensington Market - Jumbo Empanadas, Wanda's Pie for Sour Cherry pie, a pulled pork burrito @ Big Fat Burrito, Taquitos @ Salsas
                                  You can hop to Koreatown while you're up there for some walnut cakes @ Hodo Kwaja, a decent bowl of SoonDubu @ BukChangDong

                                  Those are all within very short walking distance. Venture a little farther and you get a lot more options...but if you're up there, your station is just a few stops away from Greektown on the Danforth

                                  Enjoy :)


                                  Jumbo Empanadas
                                  245 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L8, CA

                                  Hodo Kwaja
                                  656 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                                  Cafe La Gaffe
                                  24 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T1L2, CA

                                  Big Fat Burrito
                                  285 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2M1, CA

                                  Hana Korea Restaurant
                                  45 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T1L1, CA

                                  1. f
                                    FrankD RE: jefedejefes Aug 7, 2010 01:05 PM

                                    Since no one mentioned it, you're only three or four subway stops from the Danforth, which is well known for its Greek offerings, but has a whole bunch of other spots available offering North American, Japanese, Indian, vegan. If you want Greek, you can choose between cheap and cheerful like Astoria or the Friendly Greek, or more upscale spots like Ouzeri or Mezes. If it's a nice evening, take the tube to Pape, and walk west towards Broadview. Lots of people watching, and you'll stroll by lots of resto options.

                                    456 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P4, CA

                                    500A Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K 1P6, CA

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