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Please add to my list of good, cheap, inexpensive FOOD in Toronto (Downtown, Scarborough, North York, Markham/Rich Hill)...

  • m

Kind of ironic, but one of the things I hate most is the feeling of getting ripped off, and having to pay for it afterwards...ESPECIALLY at restaurants. I'm hoping all the foodies here can help me build a good list of GOOD, CHEAP, INEXPENSIVE restaurants in Toronto. Since it's hard to judge taste because everyone has their own experiences and expectations, let's mostly base the recommendation on cost and portion size. Taste MATTERS (obviously it can't taste like horse sht) but we're not talking about 5* hotel quality food here, decent/above average/"I'd go back a second time" is all we're looking for here. Customer service and decor are secondary. So if we were to weigh the review categories, it would be like this...cost 30%, portion size 30%, taste 20%, customer service 10%, decor 10%. Let's TRY not to add franchised restaurants or fast food joints (East Side Mario's, McDonalds etc.) unless they are the few that are actually "good".

The following is my small, personal list (aiming for $10ish :) ):

Messinis, Greek, Danforth
Comments - You can get a combination meal - one gyros, Greek salad, and roasted potatoes - for roughly $10.95 (add a second gyros or souvlaki stick for $1.50-$2.00 extra WOW!). Drinks are bottomless. Been here 50+ times in the past 3 years.

Sukhothai, Thai, Downtown
Comments - Flame suit on....arguably the best AUTHENTIC Thai food in Toronto (for me and my friend anyways). I've been to so many Thai restaurants before and none compare in terms of price AND taste ($11.25 for quite possibly the best, authentic pad thai in Toronto!)

Ibrahim's Shawarma, Middle Eastern, Scarborough
Comments - Two decently sized shawarmas for only $7.99. Where else can you find that? I also tried the meat plate and lamb shank plate for ~$10 and they were GOOD.

Aroma Fine Indian Cuisine, Indian, Downtown (Dhaba (next door) honorary mention)
Comments - It was a tough choice between Aroma and Dhaba but I find the food at Aroma tastes much better while Dhaba has more selection. At $12 for a LUNCH buffet, when some food court joints already charge $8-$10 for a kids sized meal, it's really impossible to complain! Have not tried their night menu, but surely it will be $20+.

I have many more places (mainly Asian places) but don't know if I want to post.....

What do you guys think???

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Messini
445 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P1, CA

Aroma Fine Indian Cuisine
287 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1J5, CA

Sukhothai
274 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

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  1. Folia Grill on Pape. Same like Messini.

    Rose Cafe (now on Gerard I hear) for banh mi.

    DT

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    Messini
    445 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P1, CA

    Folia Grill
    1031 Pape Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 3V9, CA

    1. As for Ibrahims, I do like that place, but you can find a better deal if you drive west along Lawrence to Shawarma Empire, they have 2 Shawarma for $5.99 I believe, and although they are smaller in size then Ibrahims, I find the quality is better and 2 Shawama from Empire are just right. One thing Ill say about Ibrahims, I went there at around 12am and ordered a Shawarma plate and the thing was stuffed to the top with Chicken and everything else.

      Ill also recommend Nasibs, in the same plaza as Shawarma Empire. Ibrahims is one of the weaker Shawarma places in that area.

      Ill agree with Messini, but im not sure what your idea of Good and Cheap are, what are your perameters. To me, $10 Tax in sounds about right, and you can get 2 Gyros for that.

      Ill also recommend Street Meat. I happen to think Toronto has some of the best Street Hot Dogs/sausages you can get, and really for $2.50 a dog, $3-$3.50 for a sausage, you really cant go wrong. For under $5 tax in, you get a satisfying meal and a drink, Its cheap, Its good, Its effective. Theres been a few times Ive had a craving for some in the middle of the night so I drive to Yonge and Eglinton or even down to Queen. Gotta love em!

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      Messini
      445 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P1, CA

      Nasib's
      1867 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

      Shawarma Empire
      1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

      8 Replies
      1. re: jmarcroyal

        I'm iffy about Street Meat. I love it but it's just so...meh..so plain if you will. It's more of a convenience food than anything...yah sure, it'd be great after clubbing but I mean, I wouldn't spend an evening outside, or bus 30 minutes somewhere just for street meat. I don't mean to knock on it but there's gotta be some time and effort involved in making food.

        1. re: mtx

          I figure the time and effort goes into making the buns and the sausages themselves, and the vendors just heat them up nicely. Id take our dogs/sausages over Nathans boiled stuff in NY anytime. I just wish they would relax the health laws a bit so the vendors can bring back cheese sauce. I just love getting a dog and loading it up with hot peppers, pickles, olives, bacon bits, ketchup/mustard/mayo and some hot sauce. Its just a lotta bang for your buck.

          1. re: jmarcroyal

            I just tried out Marianne's Snack Shack. They have a new menu out - bison dogs, elk dogs, wild boar dogs, barberian steak, pulled pork, etc. I tried a bison dog on a sweet potato!

        2. re: jmarcroyal

          I really think Ibrahim is the best value, even though its $7.99 now for 2, you get almost double the meat you get at other places. Also Ibrahim has its own butcher next door, so quality isn't a problem. Shawarma empire is good but I'm a big guy and 2 of those are not quite enuf.

          for a quality beef shawarma, Armenian kitchen is my favorite, but I usually end up at Ibrahim cuz its closer and cheaper.

          1. re: jayzen25

            My problem with Ibrahim is the quality. Yes the food is good, but there have been way too many times that Ive bit into my Shawarma and gotten bone fragments or grizzle, and for me, If I get one little bone in the mouthful, the whole mouthful is wasted. I never had that problem at Shawarma Empire or Nasibs. Also, Id recommend trying Nasib's. they give bigger shawarma's then Empire and the quality is still good.

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            Nasib's
            1867 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

            Shawarma Empire
            1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

          2. re: jmarcroyal

            Jmac.
            I've tried SE and Nasib's for the first time each over the last week and you really can't go wrong with either IMHO. I'll take Nasib's though. I liked the beef especially and their garlic sauce was better. The larger pita made for a bit more topping and a better balance.
            I also prefer the "wrapped" style of pita as opposed to the clam style that SE does. I still prefer Ibrahim over SE. SE sits 3rd in my ranking of the shawarma places along Lawrence there.

            So far, Nasib, Ibrahim, Shawarma Empire. Still a couple more to go. Then a big post and blog report will follow.

            DT

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            Nasib's
            1867 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

            Shawarma Empire
            1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

            1. re: Davwud

              My problem with Ibrahim is Ive had many times where I get grissle or bone bits in with the chicken shawarma, and thats one of my biggest food related pet peeves. That said, its still decent enough, and the fact that its open til atleast 1am on the weekend is a bonus. I actually had a quiet night this past new years and decided to get a Shawarma plate from them that night(maybe it was a day before, cant remember) but the guy there LOADED the container full to the top, it was packed with tons of shawarma Chicken, rice, potato's and salad, with plenty of garlic sauce and that spicy stuff, this could have fed 3 adult males no problem. That was a pleasant surprise.

              Shawarma Empire, for me anyway, had the best chicken, and I like their pita's, but Nasibs is always great. Personally I can eat 2 SE Shawama's when im hungry, but Nasibs are bigger so the 2 For $6.99 is a bit much, and I think SE is 2 for $5.99 and just right. Ill agree that neither is way better then the other, if you are at either place you are getting good eats.

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              Nasib's
              1867 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

              Shawarma Empire
              1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

              1. re: jmarcroyal

                I'd probably be put off with the problems you've had at Ibrahims too. If it had ever happened to me. So I can't deduct points for it. I'll also agree that 2 SE are the perfect amount. I had to stuff myself with 2 N. 1 I is enough. 2 is way too much.

                I've had the chicken dinner from Ibrahim's as well and it's fantastic. Same deal as you, loaded with stuff. The only problem was a 25 minute drive until I ate it made the salad pretty much inedible.

                DT

          3. Europe Restaurant and Bar - Hungarian spot on Bathurst, south of Lawrence. HUGE portions for a very reasonable price (if memory serves me correctly, about $10-12 will get you a giant main course that could easily serve two moderate eaters), and it's delicious.

            4 Replies
            1. re: torontofoodiegirl

              I like Burrito Boyz too although their quality is hit and miss now....

              I just had one 2 hours ago and $5.97 for a "small" burrito (I can't tell the weight difference between a large) is no small deal. It's a great deal compared to the other fast-food burrito chains in downtown (i.e. Zteca, Mucho) who DARE charge $7+ and $1.50 for guac on top......!

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

              1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                Looking at their menu right now - http://www.europebarandrestaurant.com... - and looks like they raised the prices to $13.50+ for a main course. Will still have to try it one day though because I love ethnic foods!

                1. re: mtx

                  Oh...maybe they didn't even raise the prices; my memory could have failed me. It's still pretty cheap for such a big (and delicious) meal, but admittedly not as cheap as what you're after.

                  1. re: mtx

                    I believe that the menu states that taxes are included.

                2. Gandhi for Indian curry-filled rotis at Queen and Bathurst.

                  Buk Chang Tofu for tofu stews in hot pots (and the accompanying hot stone bowls full of rice) in Korea Town.

                  Ritz Carribean for their channa rotis (at least two locations on Yonge, downtown).

                  Golden Turtle for Vietnamese pho, also love their pancake appetizer, at Ossington north of Queen.

                  Maroli for Indian/Malabari food in Korea Town. Their roti is freshly steamed and perfectly chewy.

                  Caffe la Gaffe in Baldwin Village for awesome brunches, huge portions.

                  Korean Village in Korea Town. Love their seafood pancake appetizer.

                  El Gordo empanadas in Kensington Market for kimchi empanadas.

                  Lick's (various locations). I know, I know, a chain, and CH-er's love to bash this place. But despite the annoying singing I love their veggie burger and onion rings.

                  Cafe 668 at Dundas and Bathurst for vegetarian Chinese food.

                  St. Lawrence Market for eggplant parmigiana sandwich at that basement counter.

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                  Cafe 668
                  885 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J1V9, CA

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

                  Korean Village
                  628 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

                  Maroli
                  630 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

                  El Gordo
                  214 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON , CA

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: looosia

                    Ritz is okay, I had a bad experience there one time so I will not be returning.

                    el Gordo - I went there yesterday (in 40 C heat gawdddddddddddddd) but didn't try the empanadas...it looked like no one was there making empanadas...so I had the other sandwich thingy in between two handmade, homemade, fried tortillas. Does anyone know the name of that particular Spanish sandwich? Anyhow, it tasted good, but it's EXPENSIVE.....$7+tax when it should really be $4 taxes in :X!

                    St. Lawrence Market - I try to go there twice a week. Probably the BEST place for lunch if you work downtown like me. I love the variety there. Sure beats the repetitive food court chains. I love the sandwiches, but my fave place is the POLISH joint. Cabbage rolls + 12 perogies are my fave order!

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

                    1. re: mtx

                      If it's at El Gordo's, I think those are Pupusas you had. The other stand makes Arepas (http://instagr.am/p/FAL9D/ ).

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                      Arepa Cafe
                      490 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

                      El Gordo
                      214 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON , CA

                      1. re: jlunar

                        What's the difference? Pics of pupusa and arepas look the same. But I think I had the arepas yesterday. It was good, but so damn small and expensive!

                        1. re: mtx

                          Lots of downtown spots mentioned here, some of which I've been in to - and enjoyed. But the OP also requested names of spots uptown, so I'll add Steeles Deli, a good diner near Yonge St. and Steeles Ave. Huge menu, and - surprisingly - it seems to do everything well. Good soups, liver and onions, Cobb salad and such. A good feed for $10-$12 per person at dinner, even less if you find a coupon in a freebie advertising magazine. Locally popular, with good reason.

                          A solid, family-run Thai joint on St. Ave. W., west of Oakwood Ave.: that's Kymer Thai, where most dishes are $10, including rice. That's $2-$3 less than most Thai spots around town. And delicious, though the dining room is pretty basic. But then, the OP doesn't seem to care much about decor, giving it just 10% of the equation. It's clean, though. Two could easily get out of there for $30 or so, all in. Was just there last night. Substantial portions. The spicy shrimp with garlic appetizer is a winner. And the soups ($10) are enough for a half dozen feeders. Two could make a meal of one of those soups.

                          Agree about Europe, mentioned above. Good schnitzels, but kind of a depressing place. Almost always empty when I've been there. (Maybe the regulars heard I was coming.) Don't know how the place stays in business.

                          1. re: mtx

                            The arepas are around 7$ and are at the front of the top part, on the left. The pupusas are at the back on the left, and 4$. The pupusas are almost a full plate, and I have on occasion shared them with another and found them just fine.

                        2. re: mtx

                          Yeah, that Polish place is awesome! I love the chicken fingers when they have it fresh and the stuffed chicken is awesome (altho they sometimes put a little too much salt on it).

                        3. re: looosia

                          i find maroli not as good as all the hype they get. it's good to okay. GOOOOOD are my fave indian places (both nearby): banjara (north indian) and madras masala (south indian).

                        4. Carribean Bistro - rotis, doubles, Yonge & Erskine.
                          Fresh Ginger - vietnamese subs, mango salad, salad rolls - Eglinton, just east of Yonge.
                          Sultan Shwarma & Falafel - Danforth & Main.
                          Danforth Roti - Main & Dawes
                          Quattro 4 Ragazze - Danforth & Coxwell - Paninis

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                          Danforth Roti Shop
                          2844 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C1M1, CA

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: mariecollins

                            Bamiyan Kabob - Overlea (http://www.bamiyankabob.com/) Afghan food
                            Bravo Pizza - Millwood
                            Jim Chai Kee - won ton soup if you don't mind huge ones

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                            Bamiyan Kabob
                            62 Overlea Blvd, Toronto, ON M4H1C4, CA

                            Bravo Pizza
                            901 Millwood Rd, Toronto, ON M4G1X2, CA

                            1. re: wano

                              I vote for "Very Fair Seafood", on Finch just east of Kennedy. GREAT dim sum, really cheap, and really fresh. The food is delicious, and the prices are so low, I often feel stunned when I get the bill (in a good way).

                              1. re: wano

                                Bamiyan Kabab is very good.

                                DT

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                                Bamiyan Kabab
                                5120 Dixie Rd, Mississauga, ON L4W4J7, CA