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Eat Around the World; Toronto, Canada

Toronto practically oozes good food.

It’s unquestionably the best city in Canada for eating and easily transitions from chic high-end restaurants to cheap local eateries.

Regardless of price, the best restaurants incorporate Toronto’s local ingredients – such as fish and wild animal meat – into each dish.

But despite Toronto’s abundant natural resources and vibrant culinary scene there isn’t really a local specialty. It’s quite literally a hodge-podge collection of delicious food from around the world.

Fair enough?

So without further ado, here is a list of some of Toronto’s best cheap restaurants:

Top Cheap Eats in Toronto

Kom Jug Yuen (371 Spadina Avenue)

BBQ? Pork? You had us at hello… and no one… no onedoes it better than Kom Jug Yuen.

True, the restaurant ain’t much to look at – and the service is lackluster to say the least – but this BBQ pork house follows the age-old tradition of the best Asian restaurants: make the best food possible, and damn the rest. Get yourself a bowl of goodness stacked atop steamed rice for just a few bucks.

Terroni (720 Queen Street West)

I’m especially picky when it comes to Italian food. My grandmother’s ravioli with bolognese sauce (always served before Thanksgiving turkey) remains one of my all-time favorite dishes. And when I eat out, I rarely go for Italian… instead, we opt for restaurants that cook food which we, well, can’t.

So imagine my surprise when this delicious Southern Italian came along with heaping piles of pasta making my grandmother proud. It’s fast, it’s cheap and it’s really, really good.

Credit: Allerina & Glen MacLarty

Tacos El Assador (690 Bloor Street West)

For those who’ve been to El Salvador, you’ll know what I mean: Salvadorans know how to cook. Sure, they‘ve got pupusas – delicious, hand-rolled tortillas stuffed with meat, cheese and/or beans – but that’s nothing compared to El Assador’s Pork Taco. You can either get it soft or crispy (I like it crispy, and seriously, who doesn’t like fried?). Like other cheap eats listed here, the ambiance leaves something to be desired… but at less than $3 you can’t complain.

California Sandwich (244 Claremont Street)

If you’re at all squeamish about eating veal… try this chain’s veal sandwich. It will assuage you of your fears and firmly plant you among the “chosen” people: meat eaters. Check out their website for proof: their veal sandwich is absolutely killing the competition.

Sababa (390 Steeles Avenue West)

There is a special place in my heart for restaurants who bake their own bread. Sabba is a traditional Middle Eastern restaurant who bakes their own pita, make their own chickpea patties and their own tahini sauce.

Credit: Prince Roy

In truth, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more incredible restaurants sprinkled downtown, in Koreatown, delicious Cantonese in Agincourt or Indian food in Bendale. The joy in culinary adventures is the same as travel itself: it’s the journey that counts.

Happy hunting. And eating.

When To Go

Toronto can be visited year round, but in the spring and autumn the weather is comfortable for exploring.  In May and June the flowers are in bloom and September and October the trees are turning colors to shed their leaves.

Climate

In May and June, the average high temperatures range from 56.1 to 74.5°F (18.4 to 23.6°C), low temperatures range from 43 to 52°F (6.1 to 11.1°C), and precipitations range from 2.7 to 2.8 inches (66 to 68.9mm) each month.

In September and October, the average high temperatures range from 6.96 to 57.4°F (14.1 to 20.9°C), low temperatures range from 38.5 to 48.9°F (3.6 to 9.4°C), and precipitation ranges from 2.6 to 3 inches (63 to 70.3 mm) each month.

Getting There & Around

Toronto is located on the north shores of Lake Ontario.

The majority of visitors fly into Toronto Person International Airport is located just 15 miles (25km) northwest of downtown.

The best way to get around to see local sites (including Niagara Falls) is to rent a car.

Average Costs

  • Mid-range accommodations: $100-150
  • Meals: $20-25
  • Bottle of beer: $3

Do’s

  • Be spontaneous and ask the locals for the best place to eat in the area and let your waiter order for you.
  • Order fish or meat, the delicacies that Canada is known for.
  • Take the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) that offers a network of subways, buses and streetcars just around town.  Single tickets cost roughly $2.75 for one-way. In town, the majority of sites are within walking distance.

Don’ts

  • Miss the Toronto International Film Festival held over 10 days in September.
  • Forget to familiarize yourself with the neighborhoods which are divided by ethnicity to find authentic restaurants.
  • Miss a drink at a bar, many of which feel like local beer halls to get to know the locals.

Fun Facts

  • Nearly one-fourth of all Canadian residents live within a 100 mile (160km) radius of Toronto.
  • The Guinness Book of World Records longest street in the world is Yonge Street that spans for 1,178 miles (1,896km) from the lakeshore in Toronto to Rainy River, Ontario.
  • Toronto is home to several famous comedians including Jim Carrey, Mike Myers and Eugene Levy.

Feature Image Credit: Tom Purves

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