August 2, 2007

Good Eats

Last year at TIFF, Girish introduced me to his friend Andrew, a kind, soft-spoken Torontoan who's something of a fixture at the Cinematheque. When I become depressed by the sad state of film culture in the American South, I live vicariously through Andrew, who, over the last decade, has sat through complete retrospectives of Ozu, Imamura, Rivette, and who knows how many other great directors as their films have worked their way through Jackman Hall. After launching this site, I bothered Andrew for a local's perspective on favorite places to eat, and he kindly passed along the following:

Here are the ones that I've frequented over the years and a few more that I've recently discovered.

*Cheap (under 10 bucks); **Moderate (10 to 20 bucks)

Minutes from Cumberland 4, ROM and Isabel Bader.

*China Garden Restaurant
200 Bloor Street West (located on the north side across from the ROM, up a flight of stairs). Lunch special is $4.95 which includes a pop. Dinner for one is $7.99. Fast service. In and out in under 40 minutes. Order what you want and the way you want it. 11-10 on weekdays; 11:30-10 on weekends. Next door on the same level is Booster Juice for fruit juices and smoothies.
Subway Stop: Museum

Minutes from Varsity

**Eggstasy Diner & Grill
1255 Bay St. (between Cumberland St. & Yorkville Ave. on the east side) Newly opened. Thirteen different omelets, wraps, fajitas, twelve different sandwiches, freshly made burgers, grilled chicken, grilled steaks and home-cut fries. Average price of a meal with a tip: $11 to $12 bucks.
Subway Stop: Bay

*Flo's Diner
70 Yorkville Ave (on the north side near Bay & Yorkville). Located on the second floor you go up a spiral staircase from street level. They have 50's style booths inside or sit on the patio under large umbrellas. All day breakfast, burgers, salads & deserts. Two eggs with bacon, ham or sausage with home fries, bagel or toast: $6.95. Flo's feature specials range from mixed berry pancakes $8.50 to $12.95 for Spaghetti bolognese. Known for their ice cream sodas, shakes & floats. Open 7:30 am - 10:00 pm weekdays, 8:00 am - 10:00 pm Saturdays and 9:00 am - 8:00 pm Sundays. Takeout menu available.
Subway Stop: Bay

*Crepes A GoGo
18 Yorkville Avenue (at Yorkville & Yonge, across from the Toronto Reference Library) Newly opened at this location Crepes A GoGo is run by Veronique Perez, a Parisian born filmmaker. Forget that you're in Anglo Toronto. All of her staff speak French and Perez encourages her customers to practise their rusty Francais. During TIFF Veronique tells me they will have film projections from her side of the street onto a wall on the opposite side. Worth checking out! At the front she has a large outdoor area for seating. But lets not forget the food. Her crepes are the best quality for price that you can get anywhere in the city. They are stuffed with a wide range of fillings starting at $4.25. Open from 11:00 Monday to Friday and from 10:00 Saturday & Sunday. Not sure about closing times during the festival.
Subway Stop: Yonge & Bloor

*Zyng Asian Grill
730 Yonge Street (at Charles next to Second Cup) Create your own meal for $7.49 plus tax: 1 sauce + 1 protein (Beef, Shrimp, Grilled Chicken Breast, Tofu or Zoya) + 1 choice of noodle or rice + choice of vegetables includes a non-alcoholic beverage.
Subway Stop: Yonge & Bloor

*Oja Noodle House
689 Yonge Street (across the street from Zyng Asian Grill). Covers Korean, Japanese, Chinese & Thai cuisine. Large portions and fast service. Prices & quality make this one of the best kept secrets in Toronto. Open 11:30 - 11 everyday.
Subway Stop: Yonge & Bloor

Minutes from Ryerson Theatre

There are many cheap eats in the vicinity of the theatre on both Church St. and especially on Yonge St. but personally I would not risk them. However, there is a viable option. Prior to, that is, getting off at College St. Subway station, or immediately after a screening at Ryerson you can stroll over to College Park (Between Gerrard & College Streets on the West side) location of the Festival Box Office on the lower level next to the food court you will find Dominion Food Store. At the "Fresh 2 Go" counter they have sandwiches for $3.49, Wraps $3.99, salads starting at $3.69. Stone baked pizza is $2.49 a slice. Combos are as such: Soup, Sandwich & Beverage $5.99, Wrap, chips & beverage $5.49 & Baguette, chips & Beverage $5.29. Good value and truly fresh to go. You can eat in the food court or take it with you as you bolt for your next film.
Subway Stop: College

Further South
Minutes from Paramount/Scotiabank Centre, Elgin/Visa Screening Room

*Queen St. Patrick Market
238 Queen St. W. (east of John St. on the North Side) A number of vendors share these narrow confines. High round tables located up the centre isle to eat on while standing. LouLou's Shawarma & Falafel (right to the back) and the Gourmet Pizza are the best of the lot while Sandwich Box (at the front), Burrito Mexican Grill, and Greek Food are also good. LouLou's offers 2 falafel sandwiches for $6.99 while Gourmet Pizza offers two slices from $3.25 to $3.99. Good place to pop in when short of time between screenings. Most vendors are open quite late as they get a lot of traffic off of Queen St. at night.
Subway Stop: Osgoode

**Little India Restaurant
255 Queen St. W. (at Duncan & Queen). Recommended by Girish. Daily Lunch Buffet is from 11:30 -3:00 for $8.95. India Palace Restaurant next door offers the same deal.
Subway Stop: Osgoode

*Village by the Grange
575 Dundas St. W. (West entrance across from AGO & Jackman Hall on McCaul Street) This has always been Cinematheque Ontario members' refuelling station. Some very good choices here. My favourite is Helena's Magic Kitchen run by a Korean couple. Boy can they cook! Polish food never tasted so good and this is coming from a Pole. Helena's open early for lunch and close around 7:00 pm. My favorite on the menu is sweet potato pie with two side salads for $5.99. Another sure bet is Island Foods (West Indian Foods). The best rotis I've tasted any where in T.O. Open Mon-Fri 11-9. Closed on Weekends. Rotis range in price form $4 for potato to $6.25 for Shrimp. My favorite is the spinach for $4.25. I can also recommend Mary's Greek Souviaki Plate, Sakura 'Japanese', Pita Village 'Turkish' & Red Red Noodles 'Vietnamese'.
Subway Stop: St. Patrick

Now if you're with friends, have a few hours respite from the Festival and are looking for excellent food with a good atmosphere you owe it to yourself to check out Baldwin Street. Located two blocks north of the AGO, West off of McCaul:

**St. John's Italian Cafe is the most popular while Margaritas 'Mexican', Cafe la Gabbe & Bocca's are also well known. All stay open late.


Michael said...

Many thanks for this! One of the things I love about Toronto is the sheer number of good places to eat in nearly every direction, all within walking distance or a brief subway ride. It's so not L.A.

Maya said...

I love Eggstasy. My kind of breakfast. Holds me through the whole day. It will be my main rendezvous place for hooking up with folks.

BrooklynGirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

BrooklynGirl said...

I know this is not a "bargain" restaurant, but if you've ever eaten at Morton's in the past, you will know this is a great deal. Might be worth it for a one-night splurge:

Anonymous said...

Now that I'm back home, here are a few nifty places that I found:

- the Kensington Market area is an inexpensive dining wonderland for all 3 of the day's meals. Among other things, I enjoyed a tapas restaurant, a takeout cheese shop (next to a boulangerie, for a readymade lunch in the park), and an organic breakfast cafe

- not too far from the Jackman or Scotiabank Theatres, Baldwin St between Beverly and McCaul has many ethnic restaurants - I had a delicious dinner at Matahari's, a Malaysian restaurant.

- unless I'm mistaken, Crepes a Go Go has gone the way of the dodo. But just around the corner from its former digs - not far from the northern movie venues - is a tasty Thai/Vietnamese restaurant called Indochine (at 4 Collier St). However, I did find a speedy little crepes joint on Queen St, just a short hike from the Scotiabank Theaters (sorry, its name escapes me)

- I definitely share the love for Greg's Ice Cream at Bloor and Spadina - well worth the trip!

- Next time I'm in Toronto, I definitely want to try some of the restaurants along West Queen Street West (just a bit west of Bathurst St) - the menus for Little Tibet and the Red Tea Box were very enticing.

- Andrew

Toronto Airport Transportation said...

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