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Cheap Eats around UofT?

I'll be going to UofT in the fall, and I was looking for some good, but cheap eateries near UofT. Willing to travel a bit outside the downtown core if the food is great. Looking to spend ~$10, before tax. Any recommendations? And no, I'm not willing to eat from those sketchy food vans they seem to have situated on every block.

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  1. You won't have to travel far for korean food, Korea Town is located on Bloor St. between Bathurst and Christie. You'll find a lot of options for <$10 and very filling. Couple of my favorite spots are Ka Chi and Tofu Village but the whole street is full of small korean restaurants.

    Ka Chi
    612 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sam C

      I second Koreatown. Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu is really good too, and everything on the menu is like $7.

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

    2. I believe that the International STudents' Centre also runs a vegan cafe on Thursdays. Now Magazine wrote it up. It sounds like very delicious food at great prices. Mother's Dumplings is also awesome and cheap. Go to Kensington Market for a food adventure too.

      Mother's Dumplings
      421 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON , CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: Zengarden

        The cafe is called "Hot Yam". It runs only at lunch time. Lunch is five dollars and though it's a bit hit or miss it is definitely a good option. It will also give you a chance to meet lots of other people from around the university (including staff and graduate students).

        1. Stay away from sketchy food vans - there are much better options! Here are a few of my usual haunts for lunch:
          1. Kensington Market :: Big Fat Burrito, Bellevue, Salsas, Jumbo Empanada
          2. Baldwin :: Etsu, Hana Korea, Sage Cafe
          3. Bloor Street :: Mt. Everest, Koreatown for fast food
          4. Chinatown :: King's Noodle, Szechuan Garden
          5. Just south of Chinatown :: Fusaro's Kitchen, Ackee Tree, Ravisoup, Little India's lunch buffet
          6. A bit further but worth the trek if you have time :: Ghandi's, NY Subway, Burrito Boyz, Kenzo Noodles, Manpuku

          In the summer, Nathan Philips Square has Tasty Thursdays

          Zengarden's right - Hot Yams is at the ISC on Thursdays - however to be honest, it's not enough to fill me up. Tasty but I usually need to supplement it with a second helping or something else.

          There are more that will come to mind eventually...

          Welcome to UofT :)


          Little India
          255 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V1Z4, CA

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

          Burrito Boyz
          218 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H1W7, CA

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

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

          147 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5V2L7, CA

          105 McCaul St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

          322 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

          Ackee Tree
          170 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2C2, CA

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

          Szechuan Garden Restaurant
          950 Wyandotte St W, Windsor, ON N9A5Y2, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: ekim256

            agree that the vegan food at hot yams is tasty enough considering who is making it and what they're working with, but that the portions are a bit small. it's been a few years since i've been by though.

            if you don't need to sit or want something to go, i'd suggest a couple of bahn mi from chinatown. my preference is nguyen huong but they've been really hit or miss lately. it's not prime food, but i'd also drop into kim moon for some quick and cheap dimsum. there's a lot to be explored in chinatown.

            kensington market is very nearby and one spot that hasn't been mentioned and my preferred stomping grounds for eating is emporio latino. i'm keen on the stuffed poblanos. haven't been since they reopened but the falafel from akram's is well thought of.

          2. If you're near Bloor and St. George Pho Hung and Bloor and Avenue is great for cheap and cheerful lunch (and pho is filling!). You can also get a reasonable lunch for under $10 at Fresh at Bloor and Spadina. If you're at Victoria or St. Mike's I like the New Yorker Deli on Bay south of Bloor for a quick sandwich or salad. Tik Tok (or something like that, may have the name wrong) is a nice little cafe on Harbord.

            1. Skip most of the sushi restaurants on Bloor (Big Sushi, Sushi on Bloor, New Generation, etc). Haven't been yet but recent reports suggest that Sushi Couture (across from Sushi on Bloor) is a much tastier bet, and their lunch specials are in the same ballpark, price-wise. There's also a newer place on Harbord...at Major? Had some fairly good sushi there once last year.

              L'Espresso Mercurio on the south-east corner of Bloor and St. George will give you a lot of bang for your buck for breakfast or lunch (Panini sandwiches around $10), and students save 20% on takeout. Since it's busy there, you won't mind taking your food a short way to any student space.

              You have a number of options at Harbord House for a couple bucks over your $10, so it's a good place to go with friends.

              Likewise, take the coupon from your Timetable/Handbook and go to Insomnia with a friend or a date.

              By the Way Cafe is another lovely option with great value - you can eat well for $12 and it's a fab place for a date - my SO and I had our first date there when we were in first year, we've now graduated and still dine there regularly.

              Sweet Lulu is a short hike to Church and Wellesley, but the size of their noodle dishes will keep you full till you've finished a day of research.

              If it re-opens (possibly on summer vacation), Midi Bistro is a gem for lunch - $10 gets you an open-faced sandwich with frites and salad.

              There's a lot more around that fits your budget. Some is good, some is debatable, a lot is not so good - but that won't seem so bad when you're with good company. I realize that most of what I've posted is at the top end of the ideal $10 or less, and it's just not possible to eat that way throughout a uni career - wait till you get your book bills! Enjoy U of T and exploring the city.

              New Generation
              493 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S1Y2, CA

              Midi Bistro
              168 McCaul St, Toronto, ON M5T1W4, CA

              Harbord House
              150 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1H2, CA

              1. Many good options have already been put out there (Chinatown and Kensington are a student budget's best friend), but I'll throw in a couple more. In the general Baldwin area, there's also a little panini shop called Mangiacake - sandwiches, salads, coffee, etc. In Kensington, Hyacinth is a satisfying and cheap vegetarian lunch (well-stuffed crepes and salads mostly). And in the food court under the Hydro building (southwest corner of College and University), there is a spot called Est West - I used to get the "protein salad" which, for $7-8 easily includes enough fruit and veggies to last you two meals. NOT your typical salad bar. Expect a line if you go during the lunch rush...it gets pretty chaotic.

                160 McCaul St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                Est West Cafe
                700 University Av, Toronto, ON M5G0A2, CA

                1. Some will disagree, but for super cheap eats try the Red Room on Spadina south of College. I like their pad thai, as well as some of their sandwiches, which are ridiculously cheap. I've walked out of there after a sandwich and a pint for less than $10. Very few places in Toronto will give you that.

                  Red Room
                  444 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Gary

                    Red Room is super popular with the UofT crowd, but I went a couple times and both times the soup was ridiculously salty and I wasn't a fan of their food in general. If you're looking for mass quantities and willing to sacrifice quality, I recommend Cafe LaGaffe on Baldwin - they give you so much! Same goes with Buddha's Vegetarian on Dundas. Both will feed you for a couple of meals
                    I second EstWest!
                    There's also a little Indian spot just north of College & Spadina, behind the 7-Eleven. I can't remember what it's called but I've run there multiple times for a quick, cheap meal of curry, rice, and veggies. Cheap, but perhaps not filling enough if you're a super hungry student.
                    Also, late night cramming can lead you to Pho Pasteifur in Chinatown if you like pho - it's open 24 hours...Burrito Boyz is also open until 3AM on Thursdays, 4AM on Fri & Sat, midnight on Sundays you're willing to make the trek (as a well-deserved break after staring at the books for hours!)


                    Red Room
                    444 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                    1. re: ekim256

                      I would suggest California Sandwiches original location on Claremont for veal or chicken on a bun - but I think once you add toppings and a drink it comes to a bit more than $10,

                      And some of us actually like those sketchy food vans... :) In fact, I would say they are less sketchy than a lot of places in Chinatown on Spadina!

                      Many UofT students and alumni alike have their favourite van food, but if you have the time to get yourself to one of the places off campus at lunch time and still make it to your next class - kudos to you!

                      PS - Proof that I am not the only CH-er who likes food from the Chinese Food vans!


                      1. re: LovelyAsia

                        Indeed. I'm still a regular at Wokking on Wheels!

                  2. I'm not sure if they're still doing it this year, but Hart House on campus would have $5 lunches on the first and last wednesday of each month. The menu varies depending on what group is hosting it but it's definately worth checking out.

                    1. You could try U of T itself at Hart House. Now I'm not sure what it's like there now, but I do recall having very decent meals at the main cafeteria (the room with wood panelling, shields, and a big-ass fireplace). There's also (or used to be ?) a small snack shop/cafe in the basement that served killer beef patties. These weren't like your usual generic Jamaican beef patties, but more pastry like (buttery and flaky =9). They were going for about $2-$3 a hit. As someone noted stay away from most of the "sushi" places on Bloor, they're poor quality and a rip off.

                      1. Lots of great places have already been mentioned. If you're on the St. Mike's/Vic/Bay St. side of campus, one other place Biryani House on Hayden (not the one on Wellesley) does a very good, quite filling lunch for about $7. There is also a good lunch special at Ethiopia House on Irwin St.

                        When I was a student people would sometimes go to the prepared food counter at Whole Foods (up Avenue Rd) when they wanted a healthy lunch - this is not a bad option.

                        There has been lots of change since I've eaten regularly on Bloor Street W, but you may want to do a search around here for falafel and shwarma places there.

                        There are also student run coffee shops on campus, such as Diabolos' in the University College Junior Common Room (go into the quad behind the Laidlaw Library, just south of the "back campus" field, and then go in the door that is up the stairs to your right). You can get some decent quick lunches there as well as good muffins and coffee for very cheap.

                        Biryani House
                        25 Wellesley St E, Toronto, ON M4Y2S9, CA

                        1. Ah! I totally forgot about this thread (thanks to an amazing Frosh week I had).
                          Thanks for your suggestions guys! If you have any more, please, please, PLEASE feel free to add some more! (: I'm sure it would help out other fellow UofT/Ryerson/OCAD students.