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best diners/greasy spoons serving breakfast, 2012

My current top 5 are
Rosemary & Thyme on Vic Park north of Sheppard
The Fry Basket on Yonge near Steeles
Detroit Eatery on Danforth near Chester
Motorama on Danforth near Jones
Good Bite on Yonge north of Eglinton

Wouldn't mind trying a few others around town, to see how they compare. Would prefer to keep the breakfast dishes under $10 before tax and tip.

Thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. My 2 faves are the Ontario Bistro at Dundas and Ontario, and The Leslieville Diner at Queen and Jones. Both have excellent breakfasts (all day) and are well under your price.

    1. My 2 faves are the Ontario Bistro at Dundas and Ontario, and the Lesliville diner at Queen and Jones. They both have great all day breakfasts and fall well within your price limit. I love the pancakes at the Ontario, thin and slightly crispy and their fruit and yoghurt bowl is enormous and delicious.

      1. Anyone been to The Patrician Grill lately? I know they are not open Sundays, but are they open Saturdays?

        1 Reply
        1. re: CocoaChanel

          Yep, Patrician is open Saturdays. Haven't been for a while, but they usually have the owner's mom's apple pie as a special on Saturdays.

        2. For a legit diner breakfast, go to Open Kitchen on Camden (just west of Spadina, south of Richmond). Seriously old-school, zero irony.

          3 Replies
          1. re: meanmartin

            yeah the a-ok is definitely a fantastic spot for this. i think im gonna go tomorrow

            1. re: disgusti

              We love A-OK but I wouldn't call it a greasy spoon.

            2. re: meanmartin

              Open Kitchen is not open on Saturday. We ended up at Harry's in Parkdale on Springhurst south of King. Serviceable.

            3. When I feel diner-y, Goody's Diner next to the jail near Warden & Eglinton. When I feel spoon-y, Valley Fields on Lawrence west of Victoria Park.

              Hey prima, any idea how your Greek spoon compares with my Greek spoon?

              5 Replies
              1. re: Googs

                Not sure, Googs. I'll order my usual (Greek omelette or bacon+eggs+home fries) at your Greeky Spoon next time I do the breakfast thing with my breakfast pal, and let you know!

                1. re: prima

                  I love a Greek omelette for breakfast too! It's time for the omelette exchange!!!

                  One thing, you have to ask them to add oregano. I know, I know weird. It's probably a neighbourhood thing, not an owner thing.

                  1. re: Googs

                    Actually, haven't had any of my usual greasy spoons add oregano to my Greek omelettes, Googs. Usually it's just tomato and feta, sometimes also some onions and/or peppers. Will ask for some oregano next time.
                    Still haven't made it to Valleyfields, but I thought I'd add their breakfast menu to the thread. Nice to see so many of their breakfasts include the coffee.

                    1. re: prima

                      Oregano used after it's come off the heat is awesome. I apply it like pepper.

                2. re: Googs

                  Upvote for Goody's Diner ...... great food.

                  1. re: stephen

                    i love me some greasy breakfast.. the grille on queensway (e. of east mall) is my fave out in the west end by far.

                    1. re: chicapea

                      i second the grille. huge portions (like food for giants) and decent quality given the lower-than-expected price point.

                    2. re: stephen

                      Ari's Place on Roncesvalles! 2 eggs, bacon/ham/sausage, potatoes & toast runs about $7-8. I'm partial to the pancakes. It's not fancy but the service is friendly and the coffee is bottomless.

                      1. re: craisin

                        Ari's also gives a huge portion of peameal if that is your thing and their bacon and tomato or bacon and egg sandwiches are huge and very filling for only $4.95...

                        1. re: ingloriouseater

                          If you were heading south on the DVP how would you get there and where do you park on a Saturday or Sunday morning?

                          1. re: Herne

                            If you were heading south on the DVP, Motorama or Detroit Eatery would be much more convenient than Ari's (which is on Roncesvalles a few blocks north of Queen). Parking is much easier to find on the Danforth than on Roncesvalles, and I'm pretty sure the food and prices at Ari's on Roncesvalles would be similar to breakfasts at Motorama or Detroit.

                            Motorama is on Danforth at Jones, and there's usually lots of metered street parking available. And the meters are free until 1 pm on Sundays! Street parking near Detroit Eatery (at Chester) is slightly more difficult to find, but there is a Green P lot off of Chester, north of Danforth.

                            1. re: prima

                              Thanks Prima. I have brunch on the Danforth about 2 weekends out of 4. Usually at Ilfernello, the Old Nick or Bamboo. I was looking for some place new. Actually I am being encouraged to find someplace new:))

                              1. re: Herne

                                Ok, good luck with a new spot!


                                Just not sure I'd travel too far out of my way for Ari's.

                                For a non-greasy spoon brunch closer to the DVP than Ari's, I like the brunch at Simple Bistro on Mount Pleasant. Also, Lil Baci Taverna on Yonge near Davisville has been serving brunch. Lil Baci Taverna on Yonge and Hammersmith's on Gerrard at Logan are on my brunch wishlist.

                                1. re: prima

                                  Love, love love Hammersmith's. Scone plate and fresh grapefruit juice are must haves.

                                    1. re: TorontoJo

                                      :) and on a healthier note, their watercress salad is fabulous.

                                      Most mains come with a beautiful little green salad on the side. Something about their salad dressing though - it's fantastic.

                                      1. re: millygirl

                                        Yes, love the dressing. I asked about it, and he uses grapeseed oil and white balsamic.

                                        1. re: TorontoJo

                                          Yes I was told same but I keep teasing him that he's not telling the whole story cuz it tastes so good cant be that simple....or maybe it can.

                                          1. re: millygirl

                                            I just found out that there is a Sunset Restaurant at the Smart Centre near Eglinton and Laird. Anyone know what kind of brunch they have on the weekend?

                                            Tomorrow I plan to visit the new Longo's on Laird --assuming all goes well.

                                            1. re: Herne

                                              The Sunset there is fairly new. It seems a little more cramped than some of the other locations. Same menu. We went a few times but found the coffee to be really awful so stopped going. The service seems quite rushed. It's not a place to linger that's for sure. Felt very cafeteria-ish to me.

                                              I did not care for it and I am a fan of Sunset. I suppose though if I needed something in the area fast I'd go but otherwise - no

                                                1. re: Herne

                                                  If it were me, I'd probably grab something from Longo's hot counter over the Sunset.

                                                  1. re: millygirl

                                                    I'll take a ,look tomorrow --hopefully. Not sure a supermarket will be considered the right ambience. Maybe now there is someplace on Bayview but I assume an early arrival-- if there is such a place -- is the thing to do.

                                                    1. re: Herne

                                                      There's always Leonard's on Laird, as well as the local Golden Griddle on Laird. I've never been to Leonard's or that particular Golden Griddle, so I'm not sure if either would be better or worse than the nearby Sunset Grill.

                                                      1. re: prima

                                                        Unfortunately, I've been to both. Avoid. :P'

                                                        1. re: TorontoJo

                                                          ha ha. I knew someone on this board would have been to Leonard's at some point. ;-)

                                                          Ok, I'll suggest 3 breakfast spots I haven't tried:

                                                          Eggsmart (312 O'Connor at Donlands) , Donlands Restaurant (417 Donlands) and Ritz Restaurant (310 Donlands) - all located a short drive south of the new Longo's.

                                                          Also, La Cicogne on Bayview is relatively close to Eglinton & Laird, if Herne wants a midweek French-style brunch (quiche, etc).

                                                          1. re: prima

                                                            Try the brunch at L'Avenue on Bayview? Have not been for brunch, be we have been for dinner a few times. We really liked it a lot. We've tried an number of dishes (they change the menu) at dinner and have been pleased. I do recall wonderful mussels there (which don't seem to be on the menu) - anyway - perfectly cooked with crisp veggies in the broth.

                                                            Oh, sheet. It's not a greasy spoon. Sorry :S

                                                            Try it anyway? :)

                                                            1. re: prima

                                                              Leonard's is without a doubt - worse!

                                                              Eggsmart is cafeteria-ish. Huge portions and a funny after taste afterwards. Not my cuppa

                                                              Donlands Restaurant used to be our regular haunt. But the owner Peter retired and it just wasn't the same. The new owners were very unfriendly - not as much as a hello when you walked in - and did nothing to win over customers that had been going for years and years. It may sound strange but we decided to give our business elsewhere. We really miss Peter. It ocurred to us after that he was a big reason why we went there.

                                                              1. re: millygirl

                                                                Have you found a suitable substitute?

                                                                I have passed by Leonard's for about 40 years now and never felt the need to enter.

                                                                I wish there was a place on Millwood or McCrae. Perhaps the current people of Leaside prefer eating out on Bayview than getting take out from nearby.

                                                                I really miss the fish and chip take out place at the end of Sutherland at McCrae I believe it was. A weekly stop on my way home for many years.

                                                                1. re: Herne

                                                                  We like Old Yorke for fish and chips and as far as brekkie goes, we spread the love between Mocha Mocha, Hammersmiths, Green Eggplant to name a few.

                                                                  Detroit Eatery is pretty good also.

                                                                  1. re: millygirl

                                                                    Thanks. Have to try Hammersmiths. Was at Mocha Mocha a few years ago. I don't like plastic chairs in restaurants. Something which may no longer be an issue but haven't been back since. The world got in the way of my planned trip to Longo's and its upstairs eatery this afternoon. I've been told that the place maybe just what I'm looking for..

                                                                2. re: millygirl

                                                                  When did he retire? I've only been once and had a very nice experience. Food was good and the waitress very friendly. This was last August.

                                                                  1. re: mariecollins

                                                                    That's too bad that Peter retired. He always greeted my family like we were his own and doted on my kids. As long as Sharon the waitress with the long hair and glasses is there, there will be a friendly face. I hope for the sake of all the city workers who flock there in the morning that the new owners haven't removed the Bacon Platter. And for my sake, I hope they haven't taken the chopped steak special off the menu. Delicious and you can feed your whole block with one order

                                                                    1. re: air621

                                                                      Too bad for us but great for him. He deserved it. It's was around this time of year but having trouble with the years - either 1 year now but time flies so fast it could be two years!

                                                                      And yes we miss him terribly. He was great, even when he was crabby LOL. And Sharon knew how to keep him in line.

                                                                      Anyways even Sharon could not take the new owners. She left pretty soon after. Last we heard she was working across the street at that Eggspectation place. We went once but did not care for it. Although I suspect a lot of the regular customers have followed her over to there.

                                                                      Mariecollins - I suspect the friendly waitress you speak about was indeed Sharon. She always had a smile and joke of the day to share.

                                                              2. re: TorontoJo

                                                                I've also been to both - and second the 'avoid' recommendation!

                          2. Has anyone tried a place called Steakland at Highway 7 and Keele? I've past by this place a few times and was thinking about checking it out.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: C mac

                              Still looking for info on this place if anyone has tried it.

                              1. re: Kagemusha

                                Not a greasy spoon per se but we've been loving our breakfast from Mocha Mocha lately.
                                Their omelettes are great and Mr MG loves their BLT's.

                              2. Steve's - Baturst and Wilson. Great Sausage and Peameal.

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                  In Oakville there is the Dinasi Family restaurant on Dundas west of Neyagawa. Old school diner. Last weekend we had great breafasts at Over Easy on Bloor west of Avenue Road. Neither greasy spoon nor diner but great twists on breakfast fare.

                                  1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                    Is the food at Steve's at Bathurst and Wilson better or equivalent to the food at Steve's on Yonge north of Steeles?
                                    Anyone have any suggestions for a midweek breakfast place west of Bayview and east of the 400, that's convenient to the 401 (within a 10 minute drive) besides Steve's? Thanks for any ideas.

                                    1. re: prima


                                      I have only been to the "north" location once. Found it just OK and a bit pricey. The Bath/Wilson was my go to for many years. Alas, it has been awhile as The Stockyards usually gets my Breakfast/Brunch biz when I come in to T.O. (LOVE their bacon, biscuits and C & W)

                                      1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                        Thanks! We ended up going to Rosemary and Thyme this morning. Will get around to trying Steve's on Bathurst one of these days. I had breakfast at Steve's northern location last May. Found it to be ok.

                                        1. re: prima

                                          It's pretty much the same thing, steve's north vs steve's south. When you find a winning recipe (and a clientele with no standards) you keep it going!

                                          1. re: trane

                                            Thanks for your comment, trane.

                                            I didn't think Steve's North was bad. I'm pretty sure I had a BLT and it was fine. I've certainly had much worse elsewhere. I wouldn't be so hard on Steve's or Steve's customers!

                                            Guess I'll have to return to one of Steve's locations to try their Greek omelette and home fries, to see how their version compares to Good Bite,The Fry Basket and Rosemary & Thyme versions. ;-)

                                            1. re: prima

                                              Bad in this case is relative. People will throw around "good" and "bad" or more colorful terms in debates like Burgers' Priest vs Holy Chuck (for example), but at the end of the day, you're still getting a decent burger that's edible and tasty and above competitors.

                                              In this case, a BLT is less complicated than a hamburger and you'd have to try very hard to have a product that would objectively be bad (e.g. inedible, maybe something that comes in a container from 7-11) and at the same time you'd have to try very hard to make one that's really good (home baked bread, house smoked bacon, heritage variety lettuce & tomato, etc).

                                              I guess what I'm trying to say is that if a place bakes a bunch of toppings into an egg base like a fritatta and calls it an omlette, I'll call it bad. It's edible, the ingredients are pretty much the same as at places where I'd call their omlette good, but the way it's all put together makes me call it bad (or relatively bad).

                                              Can't remember the homefries, I believe they're "from fresh", which isn't to say they're great, but they're not instantly bad, like I would call frozen homefries.

                                              1. re: trane

                                                Greek diner-style omelettes are more closely related to a frittata than a folded French-style or American-style omelette. That's the way most of the greasy spoons in this thread prepare their omelettes . As far as I'm concerned, it's just another type of omelette, rather than a failed folded omelette. ;-)

                                                I'm not usually a fan of folded omelettes, which usually involve more egg than I like, and not enough filling. I would much rather order the Greek diner/greasy spoon-style or a frittata. If you like folded omelettes, you might want to try Jacques Bistro du Parc. ;-)

                                                1. re: trane

                                                  Again, it's been a while, but I have never had an omlette at Steve's so I can't comment on that specifically. Their eggs are fine, Peameal decent enough as I recall, and I agree this would be hard to get "bad". However they also serve(d?) a large sized breakfast sausage (as opposed to small links) butterflied and flat grilled. While it doesn't compare with Stockyards in-house smoked bacon, it does strike me as something you don't see at EVERY "greeky spoon" (love that, thanks, Prima) and yes, the homefries are fresh (not frozen)

                                                  More interesting to me, is the fact that you (Trane) even bothered with the Steve's - North after your experience at Steve's - South. Especially when the latter obviously didn't meet your "standards".

                                                  1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                                    Read whatever you want into it, but sometimes a meal is organized around where you're going and what you're doing that day and in some cases Steve's is the fastest and most convenient.

                                                    Having standards is the difference between being a real foodie and just a "wannabe".

                                                    1. re: trane

                                                      Anyone taking time out of their day to read or post on Chowhound has standards, even if they like eating at Steve's.

                                                      1. re: trane


                                                        Thanks for setting the record straight.

                                                        I thought having standards was about eating good food, not convenience.

                                                        Then again, I'm just a wannabe. LOL.

                                      2. 3 Coins in Richmond Hill! An icon!! Good food by greasy spoon standard.
                                        Breakfast of 2 over-easy eggs, 4 strips of bacon, 2 'thick' slices of peameal bacon, House fries ( like hash brown ) and rye toast for $11. Not cheap but worth it! Love those potatoes and still amazed by the size of the Peameal bacon

                                        1. Mingo's! North side of Lakeshore between Cawthra and Dixie in Mississauga. Two eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, bottomless coffee and you can substitute sliced tomato which I prefer instead of the potatoes for $4.95. You go once and he remembers you and your order. Great spot.

                                          1. I'll add my two Cabbage/Corktown spots.

                                            Figs on Parliament just north of Queen is small, unlicensed (desirable at that intersection), and very clean. Simple breakfasts with a fair amount of healthy choices for those who don't want to double-starch at breakfast. I still drop in every couple of months. Wish they moved with me when I moved out of the neighbourhood. It's the sort of breakfast place you want near your home, but please don't make a special trip for it.

                                            On the opposite end of the spectrum, I find myself at Chew Chew's Diner fairly regularly these days. HUGE portions with a tiny nod to fancy schmancy. Mainly just my favourite type of diner. A Greek run diner. This is way up there for worst restaurant website ever:

                                            So I'll give you this too:

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Googs

                                              Just back from Chew Chews - thank you for recommendation! The potatoes are very good, nice marble rye toast with lots of butter, spinach and feta omelette was good, my husband said the coffee was just OK, my son said the chocolate milk was great. I didn't have the eggs benedict but the next table was raving about the hollandaise. And very friendly staff. It will be added to our breakfast rotation with Ok Ok Diner, Easy, Senator, Detroit, Motorama and the New York Diner.

                                              1. re: crawfish

                                                Glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, the coffee is *just* okay. Might help if they got a thermal carafe style coffee pot.

                                                Carlton & Sherbourne is a tough intersection when you're looking for a meal. Glad Chew Chew's is there.

                                              2. re: Googs

                                                Also on your recommendation, Googs, 3 of us went to Chew Chews last week. We really liked the atmosphere, the friendliness of the waiter, and the food. Coffee was quite good, too. Everything was great until the bill arrived. Now, this is a minor point, but it left a bad taste in our mouths. It's about the coffee pricing.
                                                Coffee is free with breakfast before 11:00 am and the menu clearly states that 1 refill is free, $0.99 for the next one. He brought me the first refill and that was fine. I finished my 2nd cup and he came (unsolicited) and offered me another refill. I thought, "That's nice of him," thinking that he was offering me a free one. Nope, he charged me for it. Now, you could argue that it was printed clearly on the menu (which it is), but the feeling was that he was freely offering a refill. Small, but meaningful thing.
                                                We had enjoyed the eggs, smokey bacon etc., but felt deflated by the coffee incident.

                                              3. Avenue Kitchen is open again on Saturdays.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: lister

                                                  I haven't been to Avenue Open Kitchen before. How busy is it around 9:30 on a Saturday? Do some tables seat 4, or are they mostly 2 tops?

                                                  1. re: prima

                                                    Right now it's not that busy. They stopped Saturday breakfasts for about a year and have restarted them recently. There are three booths that can fit four. There's one table of two and a whole bunch of single seats.

                                                  2. re: lister

                                                    Now Avenue is closed again on Saturdays. :-(

                                                    1. re: lister

                                                      thanks lister.

                                                      Noticed the 713 College Street location of Easy Restaurant is now open from 9-5 daily. Looking fwd to having their huevos divorciados in the near future. http://easyrestaurant.ca/

                                                  3. I can't believe no one mentioned The Goof in the Beaches. I hate their renovation but in spite of it they are still serving great breaky's and the best of old fashioned Cantonese Chinese. Bacon, Eggs and Toast with Egg Foo Yung on the side. Yummy!!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Chef Wendy B


                                                      Stumbled upon this place once years ago.The last time I was in the area, specifically searched this place out since I couldn't remember anything about it other than being able to put maple syrup on my chow mein.

                                                      Wish I had a reason to go into that area of town more often!

                                                    2. Other than Avenue Open Kitchen, Karine's in the Grange, the Senator on Victoria and chains like Cora's/Eggspectations/Over Easy, can anyone recommend a breakfast place open by 9:30 am on a Sat, that's within a 20 minute walk of the AGO? Thanks for any ideas!

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: prima

                                                        Maybe the Daybreak at Carlton and Church? If you walk at a steady clip.

                                                        1. re: piccola

                                                          Thanks, piccola ;-)

                                                          We went to the Senator- I hadn't been since the change in ownership a few years ago. Seemed to be a better food value than before.

                                                          Their Senator breakfast is a pretty good deal- 2 eggs, bacon, beans, home fries, challah toast and coffee for $7.95 before 11:30 am. Some friends had the Senator breakfast, I had the Huevos Rancheros (3 eggs, salsa,black beans, avocado and corn bread- not traditional, but good corn bread, for $10.95,not including coffee), and another friend had the challah french toast with maple syrup ($10.95 not including coffee). I'd go back.

                                                        2. re: prima

                                                          Do Chinatown diners count? There's House of Gourmet that would do breakfast.. definitely under $10.

                                                        3. The Ritz on Donlands certainly hits your price point. Not too greasy either, old school decor with a Filipino flair. The typical diner breakfast is about $6, but I like the novelty of the Filipino breakfast. Friendly service and great prices. Parking can usually be found nearby.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: dory

                                                            You know I've always meant to try that place. The "you'll love our steaks" sign with the line drawn chef making the okay sign just says "eat here" to me every time I go by. In your opinion, do these reviews sum up the place?

                                                            1. re: Googs

                                                              Oh no not The Ritz!! I so wanted to like that place and be able to support these people but just couldn't find it in me.

                                                              We left vowing to start having more breakfasts at home. The place is DEPRESSING!! Christmas decorations in July? Dusty, dirty and just yuk AND the food was mediocore at best.

                                                              I found no reason to eat there ever again. Sorry RITZ!!!

                                                              Don't do it Googs.

                                                              1. re: Googs

                                                                I haven't been in a while and can admit they always had a bare minimum interior (old
                                                                diner never updated, so quaint, but worn). I also suspect Dad had to get a second job after all because I never saw him and the Mom seemed to spend time in kitchen as orders were being made. But the food was always good to great for me, especially at the price. I went for lunch or dinner generally.
                                                                The woman is super-nice but it's a small place, I think they found a niche of regulars and menu items and just stuck with that,, without making a lot of upgrades or changes thereafter. They stopped having soup and the specials menu seemed always the same. Still dream about the potato rosti. The comments about steamed fresh veg and fluffy rice totally accurate. Never liked the fries which were flour-coated I believe.

                                                            2. '3 Coins'
                                                              Just ate at this 50's Richmond Hill icon last week. Cool place and pretty decent breakfast. The hash brown was good!!!

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                Nice looking breakfast plate, but I would call those, 'home fries' rather than hash browns.

                                                                1. I quite like Kotsy's on Hwy 7 east of Keele in Vaughan. I love that they still have booths.