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Montrealer visiting Toronto for first time!

So I'm a foodie/student from Montreal visiting Toronto for the time! I'll be in TO for 2.5 days this week. Any musts? I'm on a budget for lunch (so 'hidden gem' so-called "ethnic" cheaper spots are appreciated!), but budget is less of a concern for dinner. Lunch ideally 10$, 15 or 20 (before tax/tip) and dinner 100$ for two taxes included. I'm staying in yorkville.

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  1. Ther are many great places, espcially chinese and other ethnics.
    Don't try to compare our delies or bagels to Montreal, Enjoy

    1. You won't be very far from the Black Camel which is a wonderful eclectic place for a great lunch sandwich (before 11 a.m. they serve what they call Eggspresso Sandwiches) but the main event is after 11 a.m. when they serve amazing pulled pork sandwiches and an amazing roasted Roma tomato sandwich too ... and it will fit your budget ...

      Black Camel
      4 Crescent Rd, Toronto, ON M4W1S9, CA

      1. DO compare the montreal bagels and smoked meat. I am not up to speed on the newest places but do a search for smoked meat on here.

        Take a stroll around Yorkville for:
        - Crepe's a Go-Go (lovely little place w/ amazing owner)
        - Dessert Lady (on Cumberland)
        - Cafe insomnia (try the baked pancakes...bewarned they take 20 min to make)

        North of Bloor (toward Rosedale, Summer Hill etc)
        - Thuet's Bakery (a little expensive)
        - Origin (for dinner, expensive)
        - Veda (cheap Indian takeout...a cheap healthier take on Indian food)
        - King Palace (on Church St...cheap, not so healthy indian, flooded with Taxi drivers)

        U of T area (yonge to spadina-ish, on/south of bloor)
        - Any of the gourmet burger places: W Burger on College and Yonge, Craft Burger (Queen St) or go to the beaches area for Burgers Preist (high end burgers)
        - Kensington Mkt or Spadina for chinese duck/pork (cheap)
        - Kenzo Ramen (on Bloor, cheap)

        From Bloor-Spadina to Bloor-Christie for Vegan (Fresh), Middle Eastern (Sarah's shawarma), Sushi (lots of them), Korean (go to the walnut cake place if you can)

        609 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

        King Palace
        820 Church St, Toronto, ON M4W2M9, CA

        Dessert Lady
        12 Cumberland St, Toronto, ON M4W 1J5, CA

        Kenzo Ramen
        6180 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2M, CA

        Big Smoke Burger
        573 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M1, CA

        1. I'm from Montreal as well, moved here 7 years ago - I would definitely take advantage of the ethnic food advantage that Toronto has over the 514. Good lunch spots just a bit west on Bloor include Kenzo for ramen - not the equal what one gets in Japan, but the best in downtown Toronto and better than anything in MTL. Also, Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu for Korean tofu stew is a great lunch of $8. You should definitely go to Guu for dinner, it's a boisterous Japanese izakaya, packed to the gills with Asian students, and there is seriously nothing like it in Montreal. You'll wait an hour for a table at least as they don't take reservations, but whatever, you're used to the cold, and $100 for 2, stuffing your faces and with a pitcher (or two) of beer, is certainly not a stretch there. I would also recommend going for dim sum, Crown Princess right near where you're staying is the equal of many spots up in Richmond Hill, and if you go before 11am you can grab the early bird special. Cantonese food in Montreal is nowhere near the level it reaches here in Toronto.

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

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

          Crown Princess
          1033 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3A5, CA

          Toronto, Toronto, ON , CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: childofthestorm

            If Guu is busy, just hop over to Koyoi on Irwin.

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

          2. wow thanks everyone! does anyone have a rec for best indian, best sushi within reasonable distance of where I am? I did search the threads, but the indian thread seemed to have no consensus and the sushi places were all very far. If there is nothing decent an affordable cab/metro ride away I'll just skip sushi.
            Thanks for the recs for asian food! Asian food (specifically, Chinese) is really lacking in Montreal.
            I'll give a report when I come back for sure.

            3 Replies
            1. re: klagirl

              Eh you can get good Indian - or specifically, Northern Punjabi-style - in Montreal, and that's most of what you'll find in downtown Toronto. In the suburbs you'll find interesting regional places like Anjappar Chettinad, which have no equivalent in Montreal, but yeah, far without a car. Maybe go for southern Indian vegetarian, dosas and thali and chaat? In which case I'd recommend Udupi Palace in Little India.

              For sushi, Zen really is the best but it's far from downtown. Sushi Couture is quite nice, has gotten a bit of backlash on the board after its initial popularity, but the sushi chef Ken is to be trusted. Plus it's very close to where you're staying.

              Udupi Palace
              1460 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L2A3, CA

              Sushi Couture
              456 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M5S 1X8, CA

              1. re: klagirl

                Copper Chimney recently opened on Avenue Road (there is a thread somewhere here), and has been getting rave reviews.
                I also like Veda and King's Palace (mentioned earlier), but they are each a unique experience.. Veda is clean, healthy very western, King's is greasy, crowded with taxi drivers and not as pretty

                King's Palace Restaurant
                111 Water St S, Cambridge, ON N1R3E1, CA

                1. re: klagirl

                  I would say not far from you is Kathmandu on Yonge South of Wellesley - Haven't been there in a while but I always loved their Thali plates.

                  I second Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu in K-Town, Crepes-a-gogo in Yorkville

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

                2. Pizzeria Libretto. Seriously. You won't get better value for the quality. They have a prix fix 3 course lunch menu for $15 and a 4 course dinner for $25/person. Amazing neapolitan pizza. GO! Dundas & Ossington. PLEASE GO! (but go early for a table) http://pizzerialibretto.com/

                  Also, for super cheap, delicious homemade dumplings go to Mothers Dumplings at College & Spadina. Two can easily stuff themselves for $40 or less, including tax and tip. Used to be one of those hidden gems until it moved locations and everyone found out about it... but it is still awesome and affordable--serious comfort food. Make sure to get a green onion pancake. I'm serious.

                  You can find great, affordable indian food at Mt. Everest (amazing dinner for two deals) in the Annex, near Spadina. Also Banjara at Christie is a hot spot. I second Udupi Palace for south indian thailis, but that's more of a trek for you. Madras Masala is great for dosas.

                  Udupi Palace
                  1460 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L2A3, CA

                  796 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L7, CA

                  Pizzeria Libretto
                  221 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                  Madras Masala
                  Toronto ON, Toronto, ON , CA

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: earthmomma

                    THANK YOU! Libretto looks fantastic. Also, I adore dumplings. And thanks for the Indian food recs!
                    I'm getting all excited now, haha.

                  2. Oh, and for cheap sushi ... you're just a couple stops away from the Annex (between Spadina & Bathurst). Tons of cheap sushi joints along that strip, the most popular being Sushi on Bloor, which is a bit closer to Bathurst.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: earthmomma

                      Yeah but those are pretty much terrible. Couture is the only decent spot on that strip. Good rec of Libretto though, the lunch special is a steal.

                    2. Just a short block south for you, on Irwin between Yonge and Bay, is Ethiopia House, which is perfect for a lunch at the low end of your price range. Not really "hidden" but definitely a gem.

                      A bit further out, but also fitting your lunch bill, would be Sukhothai.

                      Have fun!

                      1. For good, heavy winter food, visit The Prague (www.theprague.ca). Don't know of too many other Czech restaurants out there either.

                        1. What are the say top few restaurants in Toronto? I'm planning one splurge dinner, what are the Toronto highlights these days ?Fantastic food and good atmosphere (not too stuffy, but vibrant). Any "hip" but overpriced/not so good food places to avoid?

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: klagirl

                            What is a splurge dinner for you price wise? My fav splurge dinner place is George but you're looking at about $400 for two with good wine pairings. You can do it for less but I find it hard. As well do you have any food preferences? Are you into the whole nose to tail thing or is that too much? Small plates or full serving sizes where you can order more dishes?

                            1. re: JennaBean

                              400 for two is a bit much, looking at more like 200 for two tops (but only 2 glasses of wine, total, we don't really drink much at all). We do enjoy several small (or tiny!) plates rather than a big hearty plate. I'm not really familiar with the nose to tail thing (I looked it up, but it doesn't seem to be very big around here yet). Is it good?? What places serve that type of food?

                              1. re: klagirl

                                I'll say it before everyone else does - go to the Black Hoof.

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

                                1. re: childofthestorm

                                  Closed for the holidays after tonight!

                                  1. re: jlunar

                                    Ohhhh that's right, damn them and their taking time for themselves! What about MY needs?

                                    1. re: childofthestorm

                                      Yes, how selfish of them! Pffft.. holidays. XD

                                2. re: klagirl

                                  Based on the small plates preference and the price point I would recommend looking into the following options:

                                  - Buca which is Italian and the plates can be easily shared on King near Portland
                                  - Cava Spanish inspired tapas on Yonge north of St.Clair
                                  - Salt again Spanish inspired tapas on Ossington just south of Dundas
                                  - If you want to try nose to tail type of approach to food you may want to consider Beast but this is not traditional small plates.

                                  Both Buca, Beast and Salt are good locations for after dinner adventures as where Cava is a little removed.

                                  As well, if you're still looking for cheap and cheerful options you may want to consider Guu on Church. it is likely that you'll have to wait for table but it is worth it.

                                  I would have suggest Black Hoof or the Hoof Cafe for nose to tail BUT they are closed now.

                                  1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA

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

                                  604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

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

                            2. On Queen St. just E of Bathurst is Ghandi Roti (closed weekends)... not the cheapest roti ever (~$7-12 I think) but a unique and delicious East Indian style I haven't seen elsewhere. The butter chicken roti is the "cheap eat" I miss most when I'm away.

                              1. Ah, there's Utsav for Indian right in Yorkville, better than the other Indian places around. Or Maroli on Bloor west if you wanna try out Malabari styles.
                                For lunch you should try out a bunch of places at the St. Lawrence Market.
                                Fun weekday small plates ($4) menu at Beast from 5-7pm.

                                St. Lawrence Market
                                92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

                                69 Yorkville Ave ( Near Bloor and Yonge ), Toronto, ON M5R1B8, CA

                                1. Try out Kensington Market. Most of the good bits are on Augusta, south of College. El Trompo for decent Mexican, the pizza place next to Amadeu's (you'll notice it) which is further south, El Gordo for takeout empanadas, and sometimes Torito at lunch. There's also a small unlicensed Indian place called Debu which is better than most of what you'll find downtown, though menu is limited.

                                  El Trompo
                                  277 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2M1, CA

                                  276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                                  El Gordo
                                  214 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON , CA

                                  1. Just flew back in. Before I get to the food, wow Toronto! I'd never been (bought into that whole Toronto sucks thing), but I was really impressed. Montrealers often joke (and shouldn't) that Quebec City is a "village" but really Montreal seems like one next to Toronto! Very lively, diverse, wonderful place. And the wonderful food...

                                    So, my first lunch was at Craft burger that I walked by. I had the burger called "the craft" or something, it was good ,messy, juicy, cheap. Yum. That night we went to Guu, there was an hour wait but it was absolutely worth it. Great fun, great japanese 'tapas' style food (we loved the slightly seared tuna especially), and the atmosphere was really something. Super affordable too. The only thing is that their cocktails barely tasted like they had alcohol in them, but no biggie.

                                    The next day, I headed to Chinatown and had lunch at Mother's Dumplings. We have a comparable place (though with a less nice interior,less tables, etc. and worse service:P) in Montreal. Dumplings were very good (had the lamb steamed ones), but of course would have been more fun if I hadn't been alone and could have sampled more. Good food, ok service, my dumplings were a bit expensive for the (5) I got but whatever! Yum. Chinatown in Toronto was really impressive. I tried a new (chinese) bakery that had just opened up that same day, it was just OK but ridiculously cheap. I went shopping on Queen st. West (and went far west) and stopped by some cafe on for espresso and couldn't believe just HOW MANY independent cafes there were. How do they stay open???? There were 4-5 a block sometimes! Nice change from the starbucks all over the city.

                                    For dinner that night I went to the ONE restaurant at the hazelton, had some good duck confit, and a delicious dessert (mint chocolate millefeuille and a wonderful scoop of mint ice cream).
                                    Great ingredient quality, prices were high as expected. Went back for lunch today before my flight, yummie mini burgers/mushrooms sides, pretty terrible apple salad though.

                                    The next day, went for breakfast/lunch at Crepes a Gogo- shared the cote d'azur (goat cheese) and a sweet cinammon ones, delicious. Atmosphere was rather kitsch but I didn't mind. Their limonata is really tasty, they are selling it all over town these days it seems. Perhaps I can make some myself. Then for dinner we headed to Libretto. Great margheitas, really perfect. Had them with the more expensive buffalo mozzarella, not sure how it compared to the regular one. The dough was thin, perfectly cooked, and the tomato sauce really made the pizza IMO. Similar to Bottega pizza in Montreal, though slightly better because a) the crust was thinner/a bit more cooked and thus less "doughy" and filling b) lower prices, better atmosphere, location etc.
                                    Tried their gelato, the chocolate was OK but the vanilla (real vanilla bean) was superb. Yum.

                                    And thank you for time & recs everyone you made it a much better foodie trip! I am coming back soon so many more places to try, couldn't eat it all in a few days.

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

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

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: klagirl

                                      Thanks for the report! Most of us would have spent the ONE money elsewhere but hey, whaddya gonna do, sounds like you had a good trip. And you're right about the cafe culture here, it is out of control, and somehow virtually all of them seem to make money. Guess this is a caffeinated town.