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May 16, 2011 05:51 PM

Help! Coming to Toronto, liberty village, for 4 days on a student budget but CHOW tastes

Hi everyone!

My boyfriend and I are driving up to Toronto from Pittsburgh for a mini vacation June 1-5th, but I'm a med student, and he's a community organizer, but we both loveeee good food and drinks (especially beer)!

Any recommendations for a "student" budget? We both like all types of food, the only caveat being that I am vegetarian; eggs and dairy are fine, but fish is not.

We'll be staying in an apartment that we rented off airbnb in liberty village, on western battery road. We have a kitchen so any recs on great markets where we can pick up some good food to make a few lunches or dinners would be great as well.

Sorry for the post but as this is both our first times, I got pretty lost reading previous posts. Any help you guys can give will be much appreciated!


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  1. Dufferin Grove market is on Thursday, falls into your stay. Wychwood is on Saturday, but I suggest you only go to one of the two as there's overlap in vendors. Liberty Village also has one on Sunday, but you're leaving that day.

    There isn't anything terribly of interest around Liberty Village since it's a new community. It's built like a suburban complex, and targeted at first time downtown buyers that used to live in the burbs. There are a few restaurants and chain stores, but nothing that is "destination" worthy for a tourist. A ttc day pass is $10, but on Saturday and Sunday, one pass works for 2 adults. I suggest you take advantage of that.

    For a student budget, your best bet is to stick with "ethnic" food. Since you're a vegetarian, I would recommend vegetarian dim sum at Graceful Vegetarian. Combine that with a trip to Pacific Mall to see an interesting slice of Cantonese culture, something you def don't have in Pittsburgh. This requires roughly 1 hr commute from downtown via transit, but it's worth the time imo.

    Toronto is a very meat centric restaurant town, especially with white restaurants. Perhaps Italian would be easiest to skim past meat with pasta/pizza and such. This all depends on your budget, what's cheap to me might not be cheap to you. What would you like to spend per person? $20 & under?

    The trend in Toronto is with mid-tier pricing restaurants, with small plates. The prices are attractive, often under $20 a plate. It's deceiving as portions tend to be small, so things add up quickly.

    The places with buzz in Toronto are Black Hoof, Guu, Enoteca Sociale, Campagnolo, Stockyards, Sukhothai/Khao San Rd etc....but again very meat centric. Check their websites to see if you can manage to cull together a meal w/o meat.

    The best bars for craft beer are Bar Volo, Beer Bistro, Victory Cafe, Smokeless Joe's, Burger Bar, The Rhino.

    Beer Bistro
    18 King St. E, Toronto, ON M5C 1C4, CA

    Smokeless Joe
    Toronto, ON, Toronto, ON , CA

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

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

    Enoteca Sociale
    1288 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

    832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: aser

      20 and under would be around what we would be looking for as we will be making a few lunches at home I think. May splurge a little here or there but that will probably be a gametime decision depending on how much damage we've already done.

      The ttc pass sounds perfect! I will definitely make sure to get the day passes.
      We picked the liberty village one because it had free parking and a full kitchen that fit very nicely into our small budget, but good to know not to stick around there!

      1. re: rbg219

        Just to clarify, I find that many "meaty" restaurants have had one or two good veggie options in Pittsburgh, so am still open to hearing other restaurants for Toronto and then checking out the menus myself to see if its doable or not!

        1. re: rbg219

          The bixi bike share program recently launched too, could be a good way to navigate around the core. Unfortunately the coverage area is quite small to begin with, so it doesn't reach as far west as Liberty Village.

          Kensington is another area you should check out, lots of little ethnic eateries. Perola's taco stand, aguave y aquacate, urban hebivore (veg). Craft pints can be had in that area at Cloak & Dagger, Ronnie's, Burger Bar and Embassy.

          247 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

          1. re: aser

            The bixi stations don't extend past Spadina so still far from Liberty Village. For inexpensive, ethnic eats, I'd explore King and Queen Sts. west from Liberty Village. It's a neighborhood in transition w/ some interesting restos, galleries, bars, etc.

        2. re: aser

          "There isn't anything terribly of interest around Liberty Village since it's a new community."

          I have worked in Liberty Village for the past 4 years and I can tell you there are some really good lunch places in the area that are worth going to for brunch most are fairly affordable.

          School - East Liberty and Fraser Avenue. Very good Cafeteria style food. Their "Detention" Friday night is a good place for after work drinks.

          Merci Mon Ami - Makes really good sandwiches and brunch but doesn't appear to be open on weekends.

          Shawarma's King - If you want a quick shawarma or falaffel on your way out it is one of the few good ones in Toronto. Atlantic Avenue South of King

          Liberty Belle - I haven't been yet but my co-workers have raved about their lunches. They are open for brunch on the weekend. - Jefferson Avenue South of King.

          Shawarma's King
          220 Yonge St, Toronto, ON , CA

        3. There are a few west indian restaurants just west of where you're staying. I find that west indian spots are good for both vegetarians and meat eaters (although sometimes vegetarians should confirm that they don't sneak any animal bits into otherwise veg dishes for "flavour"). I'm partial to Island Foods on King for my roti fix but others enjoy Ali's on Queen. Neither are outright destinations but if you're at your apartment and want a cheap bite without going too far they are pretty good options.


          1. Island Foods at Dufferin and King is close by to where you're staying. It's a family run roti shop. I'm sure they have vegetarian options.
            Tasty rotis and pepper sauce. I think it's about $7 for a roti.
            The bone-in chicken roti is fantastic, just in case your bf is a non-veg.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Hondapendragon

              I forgot about that one. Island Foods is amazing! I am a fan of the goat Roti, they have chicken, veggie, beef as well as really good jerk chicken.

              1. re: Kooper

                Love Island Foods goat roti as well. One of my favorite things, except that it's so friggn' far from where I live. Doubles are also good. Get it mild unless you are well accustomed to very spicy food.

            2. I agree with another posters recommendations about Kensington Market. You can search for threads on here about Kensington for some specific recommendations but many great options there on a student budget. As for other city markets, I recommend Don Valley Brickworks market on Saturday morning as you can also do a hike around that area and learn about some of the history of that area too. Check out the Evergreen/Brickworks website to see if there are any special events that day.

              1. For a casual, tasty, unique experience that you might not be able to get back home, definitely give an Ethiopian restaurant a shot -- typically many delicious vegetarian options, very affordable, and generally a good time. There are several places not that far from LV -- I haven't been to any of them, but maybe someone who has can provide some more insight on which is the best option. :) Have a great time!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

                  M&B Yummy Ethiopian on Queen West at Brock = vegan! Dead cheap and licensed, too. The Rhino is a non-trendy bar with a big selection of beer a few doors away— over 300 bottles and cask ale, too.


                  M & B Yummy Cakes & Desserts Cafe
                  1263 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K1L5, CA