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Jul 15, 2011 03:54 PM

Downtown Toronto Dinner Suggestions

I am going to be in Toronto with my husband and three other friends for about a week starting next Saturday the 23rd. We are staying at the Sheraton Centre. We're in Toronto mostly for the National Bridge Tournament that is being held there so we'll be playing a lot of bridge. We'd like to find some good ethnic restaurants -- Greek, Italian, French, Spanish whatever -- on the more inexpensive side in fairly close proximity to our hotel. We're also hoping to go out to at least one very nice dinner on the first Saturday night since we have more time. We have fairly eclectic tastes though one of our party is on the Atkins diet and so he is bent on high protein. The nice dinner could go to $75-100 a person if it were great. We're willing to travel a bit but prefer public transportation once we've arrived rather than trying to navigate an unfamiliar city.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

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  1. My favourite cheap eats in the area (if you are able to walk up to Dundas) are Manpuku and Kenzo's (both are non-sushi Japanese- I love Manpuku's udon soup). I also like Big Fat Burrito (there is a new location on Dundas).

    Not super cheap options, but great food and closer:

    For Japanese, I suggest Ematei.
    Nota Bene is also a classy choice.

    For lunch, try Osgoode Hall:

    For high-end classy: Canoe

    30 Saint Patrick St, Toronto, ON M5T3A3, CA

    Osgoode Hall
    130 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N6, CA

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

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

    105 McCaul St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: blinknoodle

      Queen Mother Cafe

      The Gabardine

      Lots of inexpensive options on Baldwin Village about a 15 minute walk north. Chinatown's another 5 minute walk west. About the same if you were to take the streetcar or drive — traffic in the downtown core is nuts - lots of road construction and closings for film shoots.

      The only way to do Canoe for $100 is without wine.

      Don't be tempted by Shopsy's in your hotel. It was a historic deli back in the 70s in its original location but was sold and franchised and now a pale shadow of its former self. Your meat eater might like it if he sticks to the smoked meat and pickles.

      More cheap California-style burritos at Big Burrito Boyz at Adelaide & Simcoe and artery-clogging poutine at Smoke's Poutinerie upstairs

      Queen Mother
      206 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V1Z2, CA

      The Gabardine
      372 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H 3W1, CA

    2. Do a google map search: plot your hotel address and then search "restaurants" and the nearest will pop up, then cross reference to reviews on chowhound.

      For my money, the one big dinner is less than a 4 minute walk from Sheraton Centre: Nota Bene at the corner of Queen and University Ave. Hands down some of the best food in the city with mains under $32 with good service.

      Walk a bit further to Khao San Road on Adelaide Street for excellent Thai.

      Your idea of ethnic seems to be "western/European" -- is that accurate? If so, you might like Jules, Torito, Mercatto (the one at the Eaton Centre mall is my favourite), Terroni and its many incarnations, Buca, Campagnolo, etc.

      If, however, you're open to trying "other" ethnic such as Latin American, Asian (Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc.), East African, etc. then you will find affordable, cheap eats somewhat close to you especially in Kensington Market (a bit of a longer walk past Spadina Ave.) and Chinatown. One straight short ride on a streetcar will get you there faster than walking if you're tight on time. Baldwin Street restaurants aren't as cheap as Kensington/Chinatown but are still affordable.

      276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

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

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

      832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

      Khao San Road
      326 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1P7, CA

      1. Also check out this thread another Bridge Tournament attendee started:

        I plan to take a bridge-playing friend to Khao San Road (they offer reservations for maybe 12 of the 52 spots, might want to try to get a reservation if you have a limited dinner break- recommend the squash fritters if they're available )and Yuzu, as well as to one or 2 of the old standards in Chinatown ( Swatow, Rol San, Taste of China), and maybe Chinese Traditional Buns or Mother's Dumplings for xiao long bao/soup dumplings.

        Hope to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario at some point, and probably will dine at Frank in the AGO, or at the small cafe in the lower level.

        Ravisoups is fairly close to the Sheraton, if you'd like interesting and healthy soups. Casual spot that's good for lunch.

        I also enjoy the seafood dishes and seasonal vegetable dishes and salads at Nota Bene, which is less than 2 blocks west of the Sheraton. Nota Bene is an upscale, safe bet serving contemporary continental cuisine using locally and/or nationally sourced ingredients, which has some dishes which will probably appeal to those with conservative palates, as well as some interesting/innovative dishes that more adventurous palates would be likely to enjoy. Nota Bene would be a good option for the friend who follows an Atkins plan. Most of the mains include relatively generous servings of protein, and are relatively light on carbs. Fairly generous side dishes of seasonal vegetables and starches are available a la carte, if some of you like your carbs and veggies.

        Mercatto is a reasonably priced, decent Italian option, with two couple locations (inside the Eaton Centre located at 220 Yonge, and at 330 Bay south of Queen, that are within walking distance of the Sheraton,

        If you like seafood, I'd recommend Rodney's by Bay.

        Rol San
        323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

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

        322 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

        Rodney's By Bay
        56 Temperance Street, Toronto, ON M5H 3V5, CA

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

        Mercatto On Bay
        330 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5H 2S8, CA

        Taste of China
        338 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G2, CA

        1128 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

        236 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H1W7, CA

        Khao San Road
        326 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1P7, CA

        2 Replies
        1. re: prima

          Really great suggestions everyone. Thanks! It's true on the ethnic end that we tend to W. Europe but that's largely because one of our number does not like Chinese food (I'm heading for Toronto dim sum no matter what!), no great love for Turkish or Greek food for a couple of the people, and I've never had Ethiopian food. I think I'm the most adventurous of the group. Thanks for the Japanese suggestions as well as the less expensive ones and the soup options. I definitely want to get to the markets, I hear they are wonderful.

          Is it going to be crazy in Toronto at the end of the month for the Caribbean festival? I get the sense it will be right outside our door.

          Keep those suggestions coming. I haven't been to Toronto for about ten years so thiat is going to be fun on all sides! I'm definitely making time to explore the museums, shops, neighborhoods etc.

          1. re: KingsKetz

            Caribana used to be quite close when the parade ran down University Ave but a few years ago they moved it to the Exhibition Grounds so it has less impact on the city core than it used to.

        2. For Italian, I recommend Buca - very fresh and delicious dishes. My favourite is the bigoli (duck noodles with a duck ragu) and the eggplant parmesan (best I've ever had!)

          Japanese: Guu Izakaya - tapas style, great atmosphere. Lines can be pretty long (so try to get there early), but the food is always enjoyable and reasonably priced.

          Thai: As others have mentioned, Khao San Road has amazing food. I don't think you can go too wrong with any of their dishes. Last time I went, we ordered 6 or 7 dishes, and everything was delicious.

          French: Le Select Bistro - reasonably priced, consistently good food, great French-bistro atmosphere. The Gabardine also serves up some pretty tasty food at reasonable prices.

          Cheap eats: I think someone also mentioned Ravisoups - a great little spot to grab lunch. Amazing soups and surprisingly delicious wraps. I recommend the curry lamb wrap.

          Le Select
          432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

          322 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

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

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

          Khao San Road
          326 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1P7, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: wherejessate

            My group of 7 (this evening) all want to thank you for the recommendation of Le Select Bistrot. It was our arrival night so we had the luxury of a more relaxed dinner. We called last minute but they were able to accommodate us at 6 but left us be to have a very leisurely dinner of close to three hours. Everyone in the group was very pleased but none more than me to find marrow on the menu - something I only get to have it seems on the rare occasions I am in Paris. It was heaven. Unctuous, delicious heaven. My bouillabaise (Isp) was also very good and the iles flottante for dessert. THe 1/2 liter of the house red rhone fit the bill for two of us. I tried many other things at the meal -- the duck confit, the cheese plate, the tarte au citron, the frisee with poached egg. Everyone from the 17 year told to the 77 year old found something to enjoy and be happy about. The waitstaff was excellent. There was one short glitch when they began to remove finished appetizer plates while I was still eating but that was swiftly rectified. The best moment was going to the washroom before leaving and getting that awesome view of the kitchen. I definitely would enjoy having this restaurant in MY backyard!

            Looking forward to some other excellent meals while I'm here in Toronto. Thanks again for all of the recommendations.

            Le Select
            432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

          2. For Italian, I recommend Terroni.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Rio_Rio

              I respectfully disagree with your recommendation of Terroni. NOT worth the line-up. NOT worth any hype.

              1. re: ingloriouseater

                Too many far better Italian places to wait for Terroni's IMHO. Buca, Noce, Libretto, Tutti Matti, on and on and on....

                1. re: JennaBean

                  Terroni has great pasta, salad and pizza. I've had far more poor pizza at Libretto than Terroni.

                  1. re: tjr

                    And terroni has much more attitude, line ups and self-importance

                    1. re: ingloriouseater

                      I've honestly never seen the dreaded "Terroni attitude," and don't understand how people can hate them because of a no substitutions policy. I find their pizza to be much better than Libretto's, and Libretto used to have a far longer wait than any Terroni restaurant.

                      Can you maybe explain why Terroni's food is bad? Or do you just hate it because you perceive (the restaurant?) to be self-important?

                      1. re: tjr

                        I think the food is fine but nothing better than that and do I actually prefer the style of pizza at Libretto.

                        I hate the attitude. If I want some balsamic for my olive oil at, what to me is one step up from a fast food place (so is Libretto) just give me the balsamic and if I 'wreck' the olive oil b\c I like it that way so be it.

                        If this were fine dinning I may be more understanding of their policy however it is not even close!