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Need a foodie friendly "lux dive"

I need to treat a couple of friends to dinner out, but they've specified cheap, but amazing food. Think luxury dive! Ideally more suited to pairings with beer, and must have good seating so no take out dominant places. I'm thinking a step up from wings, but not too far up. Ack, am I explaining myself ok? Any ideas??

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  1. Goody's Diner in Scarborough. But they only open until 7pm, so I don't know if that works for you.


    1. Copper Chimney? Economical + tasty, and they serve beer
      Folia Grill- does have a few tables, and beer, but not sure if that qualifies as good seating. http://www.foliagrill.com/drinks.html Asteria and Zorba's might have better seating.
      Jerusalem. Economical + tasty.

      1. I think County General fits this profile rather perfectly... only the seating is a bit short - but I think you can make a reso depending on which day you're planning to go.


        Close to the heart of the city, good for doing some bar hopping after your meal.

        1. I think you'll get better, more specific responses if you outline your budget. I don't consider County General cheap for example. One person's cheap can be another's splurge.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

            You're right, I apologize for the missing information. Mains on or below $20 please!

            1. re: Suburban Gourmand

              Allen's on the Danforth has a good burger for your budget and a decent beer selection.

              1. re: Suburban Gourmand

                County General still fits perfectly, Suburban. You'd be hard pressed to find a better happy medium than CG.. it's hip, too.

                What's the age bracket?

                1. re: justxpete

                  I'm w/ sws on this one, county general isn't cheap if you order enough to fill your stomach. It's like most new restaurants, menu prices are deceptive low, but portion sizes are appetizer esque.

                  Prima mentioned a good one in Copper Chimney. "Cheap, but amazing food" screams ethnic for me. Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, indian, etc......

                  Do you care about decor or hipster appeal? Does it have to be in a trendy area? Does the restaurant have to use "reclaimed wood"?

                  Beer Bistro is another decent choice taking beer into the equation.

                  1. re: aser

                    I disagree about it being cheap, given the value of the food, and in general. The price/quality ratio is very high. Also - I'm not sure how many times youve been there, but it seems like an odd statement (re: small portions!?!), given that my so and I get take-out quite frequently (as its on our way home) and we never require more than a main to fill our appetites (and I have a large appetite, she usually does not finish her meal). The burgers w/ fries), both beef and chicken, are very filling, along with all their other mains - which change frequently.

                    1. re: justxpete

                      I'm with you on this one. I think it is good value for money and I've left full after each visit. We've always had a few drinks each and never paid more than $100 for two people.

                      1. re: JennaBean

                        We usually have less drinks and get out of there for around $40-60.

                        1. re: justxpete

                          What are you trying to say? ;-) My friends are lushes. We can't go anywhere without a two drink min per person.

                          1. re: JennaBean

                            hehehe... Wasn't implying anything! :) Just trying to say that your two-person tab appeared a little on the ... "indulged" side. ha.

                      2. re: justxpete

                        My gf and I can usually walk out of county general satisfied without ordering multiple menu items. I think it fits the bill.

                        Might also want to look at Grand Electric

              2. Hmmm at $20 or less for a plate, Marben would be a good choice.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Wil

                  Carl, Ryan and now even Sasha have left Marben. I'm not sure who's steering the ship anymore. I'm a bit worried, because it was my fav brunch spot for a long time.

                2. 4 of us did Folia grill about a year ago. The food was excellent, we had more than we could eat, two of us had a beer each, and the bill was about $15 pp. it feels like a take out spot, but one can still sit and enjoy.

                  1. Bistro Camino.

                    The ambience is 70's dive. But the food is excellent. Well reviewed on this board.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pakmode

                      Totally agree re. Bistro Camino! Old-school Continental menu, well-executed.

                      Was there last Saturday for the $28 prix fixe. Their first course is the hors d'oeuvres plate of the day. On Saturday the selection was: soup in a tiny, tiny cup (choice of cream of mushroom or shrimp bisque), beef carpaccio, smoked salmon, potato salad rolled up in ham, and fish escabeche.

                      I had beef stroganoff for my main course - tasty and tender! Avoid the shrimp gratin - heavy and greasy.

                      The dessert selection varies every day. On Saturday: creme caramel, ile flottante, banana spring roll, profiterole with ice cream.

                      The decor is frozen in the 1970s, but not in a fun/kitschy, Ron Burgundy way. It's just old. The chef's repertoire seems frozen in that era too, except he does it so well at such wallet-friendly prices that I will return several times a year. I won't find any reclaimed barn boards or loud music or obscure tequilas there, but that's not the point of Bistro Camino.

                    2. I'd recommend Auld Spot Pub. I've only ever been to the location on Danforth, but apparently there's one on College too. Good beer selection, good food and big portions. Most mains are under $20.


                          1. i'm in the camp that County General is a bit expensive/small portions. i've had to order multiple things per person to get full... but most of all i've just had dismal experiences. low flavour, dry overdone burgers, really bizarre hostess.

                            i'd like other people to chime in, but i did a short stop at bellwoods brewery and really enjoyed the little that we had. they brew 8 different styles of beer themselves, have a belgian dominated bottle list and an interesting selection of ont wines. the things on sticks menu is great, but i can't speak for the plates. it's all small portions so it will eventually add up, but it's tasty stuff by guy rawlings. so think of this as a half recco, hoping others will say something.

                            the gabardine slightly falls out of the range of what you want... they do have mains that go up to mid 20s but a huge selection of their options are under $20. it's in the same price range as CG for me but MUCH better. style is what i consider "toronto bistro"... specials lately have been playing on some asian flavours, but base menu is pure comfort.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                              Enjoyed the sticks at Bellwoods a lot; pig's heart, duck heart, lamb's tongue - all great flavours and well executed. Also, the pork rinds were airy porky goodness.

                              Beers were all surprisingly good. So many for a tiny brewery!! Enjoyed my porter best.

                              1. re: jlunar

                                I would suggest the citizen as my choice for a "lux dive" - well executed diner/comfort food with places to sit. fits your budget.

                              2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                Thanks so much for everyone's thoughtful replies.

                                Based on the glowing reviews, we decided to go for County General...but as they don't take reservations my dining partners didn't want to risk hanging out for an unforseen amount of time.

                                Copper Chimney and Harbord House also looked great to me, but my friends overruled and chose Barque Smokehouse instead. The choose your own plates looked great to them, so cross your fingers for me that it all works out!

                                1. re: Suburban Gourmand

                                  Not even on a slow night?

                                  Don't be worried. I thought you would want something a little more central. Barque is a great place too. I think it has the best BBQ in the city... and they also have a patio!

                                  1. re: justxpete

                                    I know, crazy right? CG was very non-commital on the phone about seating us, even though there are only three people. I totally understand that things change and large groups or high volume can throw off the timing, but at least a vague indication of an average wait on a Monday night would have been awesome.

                                  2. re: Suburban Gourmand

                                    CG gets upset if you show up with more than 4 ppl. they prefer not to serve that many.

                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                      I don't think that's true. I've been twice with groups over four (six once and eight another time) and had no problems at all. As long as you're willing to wait, I don't think they care.

                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                        I agree.. I don't know what you're talking about, Pinstripe.. been there a few times with more than 6. No issues. Just a bit of a wait. Ps, they also don't have any hostess(es) there - so maybe that's why you were partially confused with the service. They only have servers and bartenders.

                                        1. re: justxpete

                                          i walked in with a group of 6, there were plenty of tables but they were cut up by groups of two. the woman working there was definitely acting as hostess while the place was fairly empty. she directly said to me that they do not like groups of larger than 4 and begrudingly had us wait.

                                          after that a couple of guys heard our conversation and even offered to change tables to give us space. she refused them and dealt with something else. she eventually sat 4 of us while 1 other person went to the bar, we were waiting for 1 person. the table beside us was nearly done and we told them not to rush, it was fine. once they left, they gave us the table. the "hostess" did not look happy.

                                          i've heard of large groups going... i have no idea why she gave us such a problem. this was the only bizarre service, everything else was normal though very very casual.

                                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                            That *is* totally bizarre. Yikes. Maybe the server/hostess was new and taking things too literally?

                                            1. re: justxpete

                                              Weird - I went with a group of 5 and had no issues at all, other than a wait you would expect in a place that size.