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Dodgiest looking restaurant you've been to but turned out to be a winner (or least better than expected)

For me, the much talked about <Gale's Snack Bar> on Eastern Avenue. It was CH that got me in the door of this place. I had the hot hamburger with fries. Good, but not great. Much better than one would imagine by looking at the exterior of this place. With a can of pop, I think it was less than $6.00 taxes included.

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    1. Try the turkey sandwich at Gale's, if you ever stop back in. They roast an entire turkey every day and carve from that to make their turkey sandwiches. Real milk shakes, too.

      For me, it's probably Zen in Scarborough. Had it not been for chowhounds, I would never have ended up in that rather scruffy looking plaza.

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. Ha, ha.

          Years ago, a couple of us visited a friend in the hospital with a serious digestive issue and he picked out a restaurant from a magazine and asked us to go where he couldn't.

          After a drive by, I was elected to go down the poorly signed dodgy basement stairway at 109 Adelaide Str E, before the others would come in. It turned out to be an oasis known as Rodney's Oyster House (far far better than the current version IMHO).

          Motto : Don't judge a book by it's cover.

          PS - many months later we returned to Rodney's along with our friend.

          11 Replies
          1. re: PoppiYYZ

            Didn't know these guys had a grungy past!

            Off the top of my head, the seedy-turn-winner place is probably UFO, a convenience store (Niagara/King). I stopped there for Moltrin and gum, but ended up having a scrumptious burger + fried egg, and fresh salad.

            Another big surprise was Ravi Soup on Adelaide. I was there the second day they opened. It felt like bad news because it was dodgy-too-clean-to-be-good. To this day, I enjoy their veggie wrap and corn/crab soup. Always consistently good.

            1. re: happycamper

              I'm not sure grungy was the word for it, out of the way, in a basement and the decor was supposed to be east coast fish shack, mostly unpainted chipboard. It was also tiny. But it was clean and neat.

              1. re: happycamper

                Please don't blow up the UFO spot anymore than it already is haha. That and the AOK are the only greasy spoons I can even come up with downtown at this point

                  1. re: disgusti

                    ¥ou consider AOK a greasy spoon?

                    1. re: MissBingBing

                      That's the oddest thing I've ever read.

                      1. re: justxpete

                        disgusti is talking about Avenue Open Kitchen (also abbreviated to AOK and A-OK by some posters http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8608...), which some people would consider a greasy spoon http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863282

                        Not to be confused with A-OK Foods http://www.aokfoods.ca/

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/879729

                        1. re: prima

                          Ah. Makes sense now. Thanks Prima!

                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                  i'm with ya, poppi... the old rodney's was fabulous.

                  1. re: the_beezelet

                    Hey Boozelet,

                    I turned a lot of people on to "Rodney's of Old", and sadly I've only been to the new one twice (second visit was just to confirm my first impression).

                    PS - If you REALLY want to fly, try a pre-dinner Kawartha Martini !

                  2. re: PoppiYYZ

                    Don't forget the Rodney's wall of shame in the back!

                  3. The original Mother's Dumplings on Huron was quite dodgy looking.

                    Then there's Caplansky's when it was at the Monarch. The bar itself was okay, but the tiny cooking area didn't immediately inspire confidence.

                    The place that started out as El Gordo in Kensington market has always looked ramshackle. Even as it has continued to evolve into a mini foodcourt, it hasn't improved much visually, despite having great vendors like Agave y Aquate and more recently Seven Lives.