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Worst/Best Tourist Trap Food in TO

gilchrist hill May 4, 2003 10:29 PM

Hey, I've been lurking around and enjoy seeing all the places people recommend (starting to make up a little black book).

Since there are so many visitors here, including those out of town, it'd be interesting to see what folks think are the worst tourist traps in town...or coversely the best bang for places catering mostly to tourists.

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  1. g
    Goober RE: gilchrist hill May 4, 2003 11:54 PM

    i think chinatown-spadina is a tourist trap. i've never had good chinese food there.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Goober
      Linda RE: Goober May 5, 2003 12:15 AM

      I totally disagree. I enjoy the Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants in the Spadina-Dundas area, all for different reasons: Swatow, Pho Hung, Dai Nam, Golden Mile, Lee Garden, Bright Pearl, Cafe 668. It's simple enough to make those knee-jerk, "Richmond Hill and Markham are soooo much better" statements, and there are indeed some fabulous place up there in nosebleed country, but perhaps you haven't been eating at the right places in the downtown Chinatown?

      1. re: Linda
        gilchrist hill RE: Linda May 5, 2003 01:08 AM

        Yeah, I don't consider Spadina a "tourist trap" either...I enjoy going down there for a slurpy bowl of noodles, vietnamese subs and the wallet-friendly prices every so often.

        1. re: Linda
          goober RE: Linda May 5, 2003 08:16 AM

          Yeah...I probably haven't.

          1. re: Linda
            foxymoron RE: Linda Oct 2, 2008 11:09 AM

            I grew up in the 905 north area and also lived in Hong Kong for a while and agree that there are some good eateries in Chinatown. I've had good meals at Lee Garden, Mother's Dumplings and Pho Hung has my favourite bun dish. That said, I still don't understand what people see in Bright Pearl.

          2. re: Goober
            deelicious RE: Goober May 22, 2007 05:26 PM

            Totally disagree that Spadina Chinatown is tourist trap. Try telling that to the thousands of local asians who eat there...not to mention that I have had more than a few meals in Asia and know from experience there are some great finds in the vicinity!

            Shopsy's is the worst trap in my opinion because we need a good downtown deli and it certainly isn't shopsy's.

            1. re: Goober
              wordsworth RE: Goober May 25, 2007 05:15 AM

              Agree completely, at least with regard to Chinese food. The Vietnamese are better. The fact that Chinese eat there is meaningless. Some people just eat where it's convenient.

              1. re: Goober
                zed1984 RE: Goober Dec 11, 2007 07:29 AM

                Also totally Disagree!! being eurasian and growing up in HK, i've had the opportunity to have excellent chinese food in Asia, but i've had EXCELLeNT chinese food in the 416/905 as well. avoid New Ho King At all costs. My partner and i like the one with lobster neon sign in the window a bit south of college.

                1. re: zed1984
                  gps_shag RE: zed1984 Dec 11, 2007 09:07 AM

                  The one good thing about New Ho King is the price. I remember many a time trudging from U of T over to NHK for their $3.25 special - a lot of food for a broke student.

                  1. re: gps_shag
                    zed1984 RE: gps_shag Jan 12, 2008 09:41 AM

                    we're students 2, but for cheap we'd eat pho or the like. canto/szech cuisine must be savoured.

                  2. re: zed1984
                    lamaranthe RE: zed1984 Jan 12, 2008 01:10 PM

                    Would you know the name? Thanks

                  3. re: Goober
                    lamaranthe RE: Goober Sep 22, 2008 06:35 AM

                    I agree. I tried a couple of restaurants on East-Sth side of Queen : bad, bad and horrible service. Total rip-off. A couple of years ago, PHO (corner of Spadina and St. Andrews) was very good, though very shabby. It disappeared and I'd like to know where it went.

                  4. h
                    Heather RE: gilchrist hill May 5, 2003 10:43 AM

                    Worst tourist traps? Anything around the SkyDome: Planet Hollywood, Lone Star, the 360 (the revolving restaurant at the top of the CN Tower - I hear the food and wine selection is quite respectable, but at those prices wouldn't you rather dine at Avalon?).

                    The "best" tourist traps? Canoe, perhaps? You get the 54th floor view, and you get the Canadian cuisine.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Heather
                      julesrules RE: Heather May 6, 2003 05:48 PM

                      I have to say that 360 is jut NOT good food - even if it were half the price! Definitely a tourist trap. I have had friends ask if they should go because they'll get the elevator ride free, so why not spend an extra $70 and have dinner too? And I say, still not worth it! We even ordered raw oysters figuring that these are impossible to ruin - well somehow even they were flavourless and dull. The service is fine, but it's not a long leisurely meal either - food arrives at a fast pace (no doubt to keep the turn around time high). Spend the money on the elevator, maybe have a drink at the bar, and save the bulk of your cash for any other meal.

                      By the way we had a gift certificate worth $200, which got us two appetizers, two mains, one dessert and one of the cheaper bottles of wine, tax and tip.

                      1. re: julesrules
                        foodieinTO RE: julesrules Aug 20, 2007 12:42 PM

                        I agree, 360 is not worth it. The food was average and service was rushed.

                      2. re: Heather
                        galambo RE: Heather May 26, 2007 05:42 AM

                        anypone who goes to planet hollywood etc, should know they are going to a tourist trap. (a very bad one at that).

                        but some people just don't know/care about good food either

                      3. m
                        mikeb RE: gilchrist hill May 7, 2003 10:27 AM

                        For both visitors and locals alike, Skydome has got to be one of the worst sports venues for food in the stands. I'm not talking about the sitdown restaurants, of which I know very little, but what's availble to those sitting in the stands.

                        I've had the good fortune to visit various sports parks elsewhere. Believe it or not, Toronto, some actually have enjoyable food. Compare the stuff available at Skydome to the garlic fries at the Oakland Colliseum, tasty meat pies at an Australian rugby stadium and the unbelieveable morsels that one finds in hotdog buns at Wrigly Field. That's only the tip of the iceberg! I've never even been to a sporting event in NYC, Europe or Asia, but I am confident that they have much more interesting stuff to offer than what's available at Skydome.

                        The decision-makers at Skydome need to take a look around, recongize that they are indeed lacking and start improving the selection of food that they have available to the people sitting in the stands. Tasteless tubesteaks and greasy pizza just doesn't cut it any more. The best thing to eat for those marching into the stands are the sausages available outside the stadium. And then there's the prices!

                        The best thing that they have over other sports venues is a semi-decent selection of beer. I'm glad that this didn't change with Interbrew selling the Jays to Rogers.

                        1. Conductorchris RE: gilchrist hill May 21, 2007 11:31 PM

                          How about Captain John's Ship at the foot of Yonge or The Spaghetti Factory.
                          2 of my "never eat there again" choices.

                          21 Replies
                          1. re: Conductorchris
                            chrispa RE: Conductorchris May 22, 2007 07:07 AM

                            Whats interesting about the spaghetti factory is how it has been one of the worst tourist traps of every city that I have ever lived in (Calgary, Vancouver and Banff) It always attracts the same crowds and always offers the same absolutely awful food.

                            1. re: chrispa
                              Atahualpa RE: chrispa May 22, 2007 07:37 AM

                              You mean other cities suffer this same restaurant. I thought it was actually too bad to a chain!

                              1. re: Atahualpa
                                SusanB RE: Atahualpa May 22, 2007 07:57 AM

                                It's funny.... I just saw a sign for it the other day and my husband and I were both surprised it still existed. We talked about who would possibly go to it now. I remember it from decades ago in Calgary and Vancouver.

                                1. re: SusanB
                                  Snarf RE: SusanB May 22, 2007 10:10 AM

                                  Don't forget that the correct name is "Old Spaghetti Factory". Truth in advertising rules require that they be upfront about the fact that they are serving old spaghetti.

                                2. re: Atahualpa
                                  TexSquared RE: Atahualpa May 22, 2007 06:31 PM

                                  Actually there are two almost identical chains that plague North American cities. We got stuck with the "Old Spaghetti Factory" version of it, which is based in Portland, Oregon. The other one is called "Spaghetti Warehouse" out of Dallas, Texas. Same crap.

                                  My vote for worst tourist trap restaurant is anything found in shopping mall food courts. Especially that "Bourbon Street Grill"/"Kelly's Cajun Grill" garbage. Honorable mentions to Captain John's, Rainforest Cafe, and Memories of Japan. Ugh...

                                  1. re: TexSquared
                                    lamaranthe RE: TexSquared Jan 12, 2008 01:17 PM

                                    Rain Forest? You have to have been lost for over a month in a rain forest to eat such food !

                              2. re: Conductorchris
                                Teep RE: Conductorchris May 22, 2007 12:24 PM

                                Cptn John's - Yeah, I had 2 separate friends who got sucked in by the novelty of "dining on a ship". I was dragged there by one, and found the place and food to be disgusting. I am trying very hard to desuade the second friend not to go (I refuse to).

                                1. re: Teep
                                  balthazar RE: Teep Jan 12, 2008 02:11 PM

                                  Ha! I was waiting to see if someone had posted that! That would be my vote. Have never been there - and hope never to go...

                                2. re: Conductorchris
                                  ghetto_scarlem RE: Conductorchris Nov 30, 2007 10:45 AM

                                  I need help!

                                  People at work want to have an informal holiday dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Apparently they are one of the only restaurants near BCE place (other than Richtree) that will do separate cheques for a large(r) group.

                                  I remember going there as a kid, and HATING it. And I loved everything as a kid.

                                  So now......can someone tell me ONE thing that I can order there that I might marginally enjoy? Or should I just stick with water and a dinner roll.

                                  1. re: ghetto_scarlem
                                    xtal RE: ghetto_scarlem Nov 30, 2007 10:53 AM

                                    Spumoni ice cream and wine.

                                    LOTS of wine.

                                    1. re: ghetto_scarlem
                                      bluedog RE: ghetto_scarlem Nov 30, 2007 10:54 AM

                                      Hands down, the most disgusting meal I have ever had in Toronto was at the old spaghetti factory. Just order the cheapest thing on the menu and pray. but teh water and a dinner roll option may be your best bet.

                                      1. re: ghetto_scarlem
                                        Mila RE: ghetto_scarlem Nov 30, 2007 10:58 AM

                                        It's not so bad if you just take it for what it is...

                                        Warm bread with garlic butter (probably garlic margarine).
                                        I remember loving their blue cheese salad dressing.
                                        One of the few places that still sells bottles of Black Tower and Mateus.
                                        Manager's Special with spicy meat sauce and Mizithra cheese.
                                        And that italian ice cream for dessert.

                                        AND you could sit in the train if you're lucky.
                                        I have great childhood memories of this place. The Organ Grinder, not so much.

                                        1. re: Mila
                                          ciaociao RE: Mila Nov 30, 2007 06:19 PM

                                          The Organ Grinder! I have great childhood memories of that place. I remember getting the kids drink with grenadine syrup in it (blanking on the name....). Actually, that's my only memory but I remember it was the highlight of this little girls trips to Toronto =) Can anyone remind me what this place really was like?

                                          1. re: ciaociao
                                            JamieK RE: ciaociao Nov 30, 2007 08:40 PM


                                            1. re: ciaociao
                                              thenurse RE: ciaociao Jan 12, 2008 11:19 AM

                                              Shirley Temple.

                                              1. re: ciaociao
                                                philehohfish RE: ciaociao Sep 22, 2008 05:50 PM

                                                I remember eating there a long time back and after "the meal" several of my organs were grinding !

                                          2. re: Conductorchris
                                            gps_shag RE: Conductorchris Nov 30, 2007 07:50 PM

                                            Agree with Cap'n John's! Oy vey, what horrible food.

                                            I actually don't mind the Spaghetti Factory. It's just plain spaghetti! How can you screw that up?

                                            1. re: gps_shag
                                              bluedog RE: gps_shag Dec 16, 2007 06:12 AM

                                              That's what I thought, but the spaghetti was overcooked, the sauce was sickenly sweet, the meatballs were mealy and salty, and tasted primarily like thyme....WAY too much of it.

                                              1. re: gps_shag
                                                KevinB RE: gps_shag Jun 7, 2008 03:10 AM

                                                This reply is way late, but...

                                                At the SpagFag (as we in the resto biz called it), the pasta is all cooked ahead of time, drained, and then left to sit in large vats. When an order is placed, a serving is dredged out of the vat, and dumped into little colander-type cylinders, which are lowered into holes cut out of the counter. Underneath is a large tray of boiling water. Now you get two chances to get lucky:

                                                First, how long does your pasta sit in the water? If you're lucky, it's timed correctly, and you end up with hot (but overcooked) pasta. If not, the pasta is either not hot (still overcooked), or so overcooked, it's virtually mush.

                                                Second, how well does it get drained? If it's not too busy, and the prep people do drain it properly, there's a chance your choice of sauce might be acceptable. Alas, on busy nights, the draining process is often a few shakes, which means your pasta arrives with the sauce diluted and watery. Yum!

                                                How do I know all this? I worked there - briefly.

                                              2. re: Conductorchris
                                                jtamin RE: Conductorchris Jun 8, 2008 08:46 AM

                                                Oh man, I actually like the Spaghetti Factory. Their combo meal with appetizer and dessert is a pretty good price in my opinion. Then again, I don't know what real good spaghetti is supposed to taste like. Any suggestions?

                                                1. re: Conductorchris
                                                  cactusmush RE: Conductorchris Sep 30, 2008 07:14 PM

                                                  Good one. I cycle by Captain John's twice a weekend and I never see anyone go in there. It's so bad that it is a sparsely frequented tourist-trap at that.

                                                  Spaghetti Factory - got dragged there by an elderly friend of the family who's only mandate was to find the blandest food in Toronto at the cheapest price possible - he succeeded on the former.

                                                  For expense-account traps - "safe-bet" corporate restaurants that visiting businessmen go to when they have no awareness of local restaurants and are NOT spending their own money - try Baton Rouge.

                                                  Also – countless psuedo “diner” faux soda-fountain outfits dragging in the Days-Inn crowd. There should be a cop or city emissary directing the morning tourists pouring out of the Carleton Best Western and Days Inn away from Frans and Golden Griddle (Canada's noxious answer to Denny's) and towards DayBreak or Golden Family Restaurant at Carleton/Jarvis next to the Primrose Best Western (Golden is DayBreak at 3 bucks cheaper a plate and sans the limp orange slice with the eggs)

                                                2. j
                                                  jimmyb32 RE: gilchrist hill May 22, 2007 09:41 AM

                                                  Rainforest Cafe. They suck you in with their animatronic animals to distract the kids and then hit you with disgusting, way overpriced foods. How's $11 for a brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce sound? (though they do stick a sparkler and yell "Volcano!" as they bring it to your table.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: jimmyb32
                                                    hungryabbey RE: jimmyb32 May 22, 2007 10:06 AM

                                                    uhh.. and those "thunder storms" get SO annoying...

                                                    1. re: hungryabbey
                                                      wheresthafood RE: hungryabbey May 30, 2007 08:07 PM

                                                      Annoying?? Try TERRIFYING. All the distractions cannot hide sub-par food. (Those of you out there with small children think twice before bringing them to the Rainforest Cafe - the thunder noise made my toddler afraid to go to ANY restaurant for weeks).

                                                  2. Mike from Hamilton RE: gilchrist hill May 22, 2007 10:14 AM

                                                    Mr. Greenjeans at the Eaton Center. They used to be a decent place to go nosh while shopping, then they moved to the Eaton Center...overpriced, greasy food in a now sterile environment with rude waitstaff...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Mike from Hamilton
                                                      scrooge RE: Mike from Hamilton Jun 5, 2007 09:53 AM

                                                      I used to love popping into Mr. Greenjeans as well. Was just fun, decent eats. Won't return there now - even for a free meal. Last couple of times, service was rude and we were neglected. Food was undercooked and yes very greasy. The music was WAY TOO LOUD. Couldn't hear ourselves talking. Last visit was the topper - the bathroom was beyond belief. I have never seen one so ... filthy. It stunk! Floors were dirty, no soap, no towels, toilets overflowing. Oh yes this really added to our eating experience. We walked out of the bathroom, complained and got a blank "oh is it" response.
                                                      Never never never again

                                                    2. c
                                                      chephy RE: gilchrist hill May 22, 2007 08:45 PM

                                                      Rainforest Cafe? Yikes! The worst crab cakes I've ever had in my life. Spaghetti Factory is pretty awful too. But I can't say the 360 is so bad, especially when the free ride up is factored in. I'd say the food there was quite decent although the service, actually, on the slow side, contrary to another poster's experience. And you don't even have to have a dinner. The elevation is "complimentary with a purchase of an entree". So go to the restaurant and buy just an entree. Plus your elevator ride is much quicker since you don't have to stand in lines.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: chephy
                                                        icey RE: chephy May 25, 2007 07:17 AM

                                                        You know what? I have got to say that I went to 360 2 years ago as a graduation gift to my friend, and had a really nice meal. The food was quite good (we had the prix fixe menu)...no complaints, we had no problem with service at all, and the view was obviously spectacular. If someone invited me to eat there again, I would definetly have no qualms about it. Would I go back on my own accord? Im not sure, just bc there are so many other places that I have not tried yet, but it has nothing to do with my not enjoying myself.

                                                        1. re: icey
                                                          zoohort2 RE: icey Dec 1, 2007 01:51 PM

                                                          I will have to admit...I really liked it too!!!!! I guess it was a good night or we made good menu choices. It was Valentine's Day and the service and view were amazing!!! I would good back again for sure!!!

                                                      2. spades RE: gilchrist hill May 22, 2007 09:01 PM

                                                        Anything on Front St. between Untion Station and Roger's Centre/Skydome. If I HAD to eat somewhere on that strip, I'd probably go with Canyon Creek. How sad is that.

                                                        Another trap I would say is the Theatre District around the Princess of Wales theatre and Hummingbird Centre. That stretch of King West between John and Spadina is truly bad... I guess except for Fred's Not Here, which people on here seem to like.

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: spades
                                                          deelicious RE: spades May 22, 2007 09:34 PM

                                                          Problem is that Torontonians will seemingly eat anything - forget the tourists.

                                                          1. re: deelicious
                                                            TexSquared RE: deelicious May 24, 2007 09:55 PM

                                                            Actually I'd modify that. Torontonians will pay the lowest price, damn the quality. How else can all those horrible pizza chains survive?

                                                            Answering the other threads, Canyon Creek is OK, and personally I like it better than The Keg. Armadillo is horrible; the two times I was dragged there, the service was bad and the food was even worse. I'd never go back.

                                                            1. re: TexSquared
                                                              wordsworth RE: TexSquared May 25, 2007 05:17 AM

                                                              Agreed. When you ask for the the "best X" on this board, half the replies are the "cheapest X."

                                                              1. re: wordsworth
                                                                deelicious RE: wordsworth May 25, 2007 04:22 PM

                                                                Yep. Or largest quantities.

                                                          2. re: spades
                                                            lolo RE: spades May 22, 2007 09:34 PM

                                                            King's Garden near the Royal Alex/Hummingbird is good, especially for dim sum. I agree the rest of them especially west of John are not.

                                                            1. re: lolo
                                                              deelicious RE: lolo May 23, 2007 02:34 PM

                                                              I agree King's Garden is best tourist trap for dim sum!

                                                            2. re: spades
                                                              Wiley RE: spades May 23, 2007 08:09 PM

                                                              I found the Armadillo tolerable for a before- game-nosh...maybe I have low standards

                                                              1. re: spades
                                                                mary sand RE: spades May 29, 2007 12:18 PM

                                                                That King west stretch between John and Spadina is the worst touristy trap ever!
                                                                People on this site actually like Fred's Not Here?! I ate at the Red Tomato and it was horrible, probably the worst food I've ever had in 27 years living in Toronto! Apparently they share many things on the menu.

                                                                1. re: mary sand
                                                                  basileater RE: mary sand May 30, 2007 10:47 AM

                                                                  Tell me about it, I work in the neighbourhood. The area is largely a wasteland. I usually just brown bag it or if I have time walk out of the area to eat someplace else.

                                                                  If anyone can think of any exceptions, please share them!

                                                                  1. re: mary sand
                                                                    Crusty RE: mary sand Dec 8, 2007 10:43 PM

                                                                    The Red Tomato has the most annoying bartender.
                                                                    Every few minutes he yelps out:
                                                                    For no reason. miserable

                                                                2. t
                                                                  TexSquared RE: gilchrist hill May 23, 2007 07:15 PM

                                                                  I change my vote. The entire Food Building at the CNE wins this one hands down for worst tourist trap food. Overpriced crap. Anybody disagree?

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: TexSquared
                                                                    Bob Catt RE: TexSquared May 24, 2007 03:26 AM

                                                                    I agree! And every year it seems to get worse. It's especially tough if you can remember as a kid, eating at the Food Building with your buddies free on the samples handed out. And the food you paid for was good. There were displays worth seeing while you munched, like Elsie the Borden cow, her hubby Elmer and her son Beauregard in their lavish stalls just outside the Food Building.

                                                                    1. re: Bob Catt
                                                                      Snarf RE: Bob Catt May 24, 2007 06:07 AM

                                                                      One brief note of dissent. Island Foods does a booth there every year, with huge line-ups as everything else is so bad. Apparently, the rents are rising so rapidly that even they are considering bailing on the event.

                                                                      1. re: Bob Catt
                                                                        TexSquared RE: Bob Catt May 24, 2007 09:59 PM

                                                                        Now it's just a horrible clone of a mall food court... but double the prices and cut the portion sizes in half... Amazing how chains that have been dead for years somehow still live on in that place.. (Pizza Delight comes to mind here).

                                                                        1. re: TexSquared
                                                                          besweet RE: TexSquared May 25, 2007 12:36 PM

                                                                          Ah, Pizza Delight is still alive and kicking on the east cost (in Newfoundland, anyway). It's no good, though.

                                                                    2. dannyboy RE: gilchrist hill May 31, 2007 07:27 AM

                                                                      Jack Astors at front/uni is one of the better tourist traps imho, nice staff and the food can be suprisingly good

                                                                      1. m
                                                                        marckb RE: gilchrist hill Jun 5, 2007 05:02 PM

                                                                        Thought I'd nominate one for best, though I haven't been there yet: I hear the food at the new Toronto FC BMO Field is worldly and good. That has got to count as a tourist trap, no? Maybe it'll inspire the rest of the area.

                                                                        Anyone eaten there?

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: marckb
                                                                          Petor RE: marckb Aug 20, 2007 05:55 AM

                                                                          I'm going to the EX today, maybe I should see if they have anything going on and eat at BMO field. Seriously, I'm heading down with a few friends today, I'll report back with my findings on the stuff we happen to eat.

                                                                          1. re: Petor
                                                                            Petor RE: Petor Aug 21, 2007 02:33 PM

                                                                            Was at he Ex yesterday. Food was typical of all the other years. In the morning I had some Dim Sum in the Food Building south end. Forget the name of the restaurant but I think it was called Dim Sum. Only had the Shu Mai, 4 dumplings for $2. Not the worst but far from the best that I've had. Smoked meat sandwich in the afternoon was $5 north west corner of the food building. At Ontario place I had a Beaver Tail with apples and cinnamon just over $5. On the whole the food was ok for filling holes. Beer seemed to be quite expensive with bottles going between $6.25 and $7.25. Coolers were $7.50 and mixed drinks were about the same.

                                                                        2. l
                                                                          LemonLauren RE: gilchrist hill Aug 20, 2007 06:24 AM

                                                                          The food options in the Distillery (Soma, Balzac, Boiler House, Perigee, though pricey) might qualify as best among tourist traps...

                                                                          1. c
                                                                            C.Jackson RE: gilchrist hill Aug 20, 2007 11:05 AM

                                                                            360 at CN tower is the WORST place to eat in the tourist area, Chinatown is NOT a tourist trap it is where i eat all the time.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: C.Jackson
                                                                              deelicious RE: C.Jackson Aug 20, 2007 11:42 AM

                                                                              I agree that Chinatown is not even slightly a tourist trap. But 360 is far, far from the worst place and not because its 1,151 ft in the air.

                                                                              1. re: deelicious
                                                                                hungryhungryanne RE: deelicious Nov 30, 2007 10:58 AM

                                                                                Maybe the altitude is playing games with everyone's tastebuds, including the chef.

                                                                            2. g
                                                                              gps_shag RE: gilchrist hill Nov 30, 2007 07:56 PM

                                                                              How about Fisherman's Wharf on Richmond, between Bay and York? Absolutely the most disgusting meal my wife and I have ever had. (Well, maybe not the most. Pretty close.) Everything was deep-fried and tasted blech. Counts as a tourist trap - situated right in the downtown convention hotel area.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: gps_shag
                                                                                jtamin RE: gps_shag Jun 8, 2008 08:59 AM

                                                                                I went there with a few friends and the food was not good considering their prices. Oh, and watch out for the bread, not free but they make it sound like it is.

                                                                              2. Googs RE: gilchrist hill Dec 1, 2007 11:11 AM

                                                                                #1 on my list for worst tourist trap would definitely be Sassafraz.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Googs
                                                                                  gps_shag RE: Googs Dec 1, 2007 02:48 PM

                                                                                  hahaha - my wife said the same thing - Sassafraz is her vote for the worst.

                                                                                2. z
                                                                                  Zengarden RE: gilchrist hill Dec 9, 2007 03:15 AM

                                                                                  Captain John's boat, Rainforest Cafe, any of the spots on Front Street near the Dome, Richtree Markets, etc.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Zengarden
                                                                                    insideman RE: Zengarden Dec 11, 2007 09:53 AM

                                                                                    chinatown? no way! obviously someone hasn't had the joy of slurping down noodles at swatow, gulping down some soup at pho88 or even plopping out a toonie for a great vietnamese sandwich. not to mention the countless cheap fruit options on a nice stroll down the ave. plus you can pop into kennsington for wicked empanadas, papusas, goat patties and an endless amount of other tastie treats under 5 bones. whoever mentioned the resturant strip on king is on the money. those places just pathetic, menus are full of prehistoric and cliche entrees and most of the stuff in those kitchens is food service crap. nothing sourced locally, organically and the chefs ahem cooks are for the most part hacks. the prices aren't cheap either geesh, but i guess they do well cuz most of em are pretty busy on thur, fri and sat.

                                                                                    1. re: insideman
                                                                                      melissa245 RE: insideman Dec 11, 2007 11:38 AM

                                                                                      Pier 4 at the harbourfront. Go there during winter and you will have a HUGE place to urself. Its overpriced and full of tacky deep sea themed garbage. Perfect trap if you ask me. Gets them every time. the Harbourfront itself is toronto's largest tourist trap. I am embarrassed that people come from other countries to see it. Time to invest in our city torontonians.

                                                                                  2. b
                                                                                    biztrl RE: gilchrist hill Jun 6, 2008 06:50 PM

                                                                                    Don't be tempted by the nice views at Pier 4 Stonehouse restaurant on the Harbourfront. Horrible service, overpriced food, and dirty bathrooms. A true tourist trap!

                                                                                    1. s
                                                                                      sbug206 RE: gilchrist hill Jun 8, 2008 07:23 AM

                                                                                      I would definitely add Pearl chinese restaurant at Harbourfront. I got dragged there by a friend who was craving dimsum. I should have spotted the obvious signs. No chinese people eating there and tables set up with plates and forks. We got hosed over $95 for dimsum for 2!!! $11 for sticky rice!! The service was a bit over the top as well. Each dim sum dish they bring out they serve onto your plate using the fork and spoon tongs. Kind of kills the feel without having the dimsum containers on your table.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: sbug206
                                                                                        TasteBub08 RE: sbug206 Jun 8, 2008 01:36 PM

                                                                                        If poeple find themselves on the Esplanade and are wondering about options besides Old Spaghetti, I would recommend (of course) Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar on Church just north of Esplanade, but if you were looking for less expensive than that and want a patio, you could do worse than Fionn MacCool's. I would never have gone to spontaneously due to the chain-pub look of it, but when I did meet up with someone there by no choice of my own, I was pleasantly surprised. The Bier Market also had interesting food and an amazingly braod beer selection.

                                                                                      2. k
                                                                                        Kevi RE: gilchrist hill Jun 8, 2008 07:47 PM

                                                                                        I know in Burlington, Joe Dogs is the worst. Tastes like leftovers and good luck trying to talk to your partner, music is soooo LOUD!Not Recomended!

                                                                                        1. s
                                                                                          smr714 RE: gilchrist hill Jun 9, 2008 08:06 AM

                                                                                          The Old Spagetti Factory -- almost hands down for the worst.

                                                                                          1. abscissa RE: gilchrist hill Jun 9, 2008 08:20 AM

                                                                                            I always thought that Rainforest Cafe and Spaghetti Factory were intended for kids... those seem to be the two most hated restaurants in this thread. Who goes out for spaghetti? Is there an easier food to cook? But as a kid I want chicken fingers and spaghetti. -- spaghetti only with meatballs and no sauce, no other funny sounding names like "fettucini"!!

                                                                                            If I were a tourist who went straight to either of these places.... well. I don't know what I'd do. But it takes maybe a 10 minute MAX walk along Queen St. to find a decent place.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: abscissa
                                                                                              cactusmush RE: abscissa Sep 30, 2008 07:23 PM

                                                                                              Who goes out for spaghetti? - twas once a time (the 70's) when mom 'n pop and the kids would pile into the station wagon and go out for spaghetti or Shakey's Pizza or Ponderosa (Western Canada) and such. Spaghetti factory is terrible terrible food - but it is also a fossil trapped in a time when more people tolerated this kind of food for the family (obviously some still do).

                                                                                              1. re: cactusmush
                                                                                                Googs RE: cactusmush Oct 2, 2008 07:21 AM

                                                                                                Ponderosa existed in Ontario as well. By 1970's suburbia standards, that was an upscale family dinner out.

                                                                                            2. duckdown RE: gilchrist hill Jun 9, 2008 09:59 AM

                                                                                              If "The Spaghetti Factory" is the worst food you've ever had in Toronto, then I'm at a loss for words.

                                                                                              Sure, its East-Side-Mario-esque and nowhere near top quality but you can do far worse.. Sounds like we have some snobs aboard

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: duckdown
                                                                                                acd123 RE: duckdown Jun 9, 2008 10:36 AM

                                                                                                You're just figuring out that C'Hound is populated by food snobs? Actually, that's not really correct. We're not snobs, but we insist that things are done properly. It can be a super high-end meal or a grilled cheese sandwich at a diner, but it has to be good. If not, we 'rip them a new one' as they say.

                                                                                                1. re: duckdown
                                                                                                  abigllama RE: duckdown Oct 1, 2008 12:13 PM

                                                                                                  I agree with duck, if rubbery pasta and watery sauce is the worst meal you've consumed in the city of Toronto then count your blessings or give yourself a reality check. The Spaghetti Factory serves a purpose but fine dining isn't one of them. The huge bucket of crayons and claw machine you see when you walk in should be a clue.

                                                                                                2. syoung RE: gilchrist hill Sep 23, 2008 07:13 AM

                                                                                                  Not mentioned yet is the row of restaurants at the Theatre District on King between John & Spadina. You walk past and there are good looking waitresses/waitors try and lure you in and most of them have outside patios that are enticing on a warm summer day/evening. But... and there may be an exception or two, most of them are terrible QPRs.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: syoung
                                                                                                    soze RE: syoung Oct 7, 2008 01:31 PM

                                                                                                    Yorkville is a pretty bit tourist trap. I've only ever eaten at Molinaro's and it was pretty good. Large portions, fresh seafood and decent prices....Only problem is the ambeance...dark and dingy IMHO. That new retaurant 'ONE' looks FuFu. Anyone eaten there?

                                                                                                  2. t
                                                                                                    TexSquared RE: gilchrist hill Oct 8, 2008 07:17 AM

                                                                                                    This Toronto Star article lists a lot of those haunts we all dread:


                                                                                                    1. munchieHK RE: gilchrist hill Oct 2, 2009 08:45 PM

                                                                                                      This one has to be worthy of revival. One place everyone overlooked as far as tourist traps go is...Lester Pearson Airport! Aside from being an embarrassment to the fair city of Toronto due to its general crappiness, awful staff and dilapidation, it has the most miserable selection of overpriced 'food' joints in the civilised world. I have eaten there a couple of times out of desperation, but never again. The people of Toronto need to take a look at Vancouver airport and hang their heads in shame. When, oh when will they bulldoze the place and build something worthy of this great city instead of this insult to every visitor who passes through it? With a sushi bar, please.

                                                                                                      1. Finnegan RE: gilchrist hill Oct 5, 2009 11:14 AM


                                                                                                        Captain John's Seafood: Total tourist trap. I know there isn't much choice for anyone staying at a hotel alongs Queen's Quay, but give this place a pass. It smells. The food is overcooked and they basically don't care if you like it or not cuz a new batch of uninformed tourists will be arriving tomorrow to fill your seat.

                                                                                                        Hard Rock Cafe: Unfortunatey, many tourists think Yonge Street is the cool place to go in Toronto. It isn' and neither is this greasy spoon.

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