Finding a good place to eat without breaking the bank is no easy task, especially in a new city. Thankfully in Toronto you don’t have to choose between quality and price. Delicious budget-friendly restaurants and eateries can be found all over the city – if you know where to look.
Cheap Eats Downtown
Salad King (340 Yonge Street) in Downtown Yonge has been serving mouth-watering and affordable Thai food for the past 20 years. Located across the street from Ryerson University, the restaurant is a hot spot for students on a budget. It’s one of the best places downtown to get quality Thai food for under $10.
A local Toronto institution, Burrito Boyz (Many locations including 74 Dundas Street East) is always lined up during lunchtime – and with eight burrito options ranging from about $5-10 (including all the fixings), it’s easy to understand why. You’d be hard pressed to find a better burrito anywhere.
In terms of price, quality and diversity, Ritz Caribbean (211 Yonge Street and 450 Yonge Street) has arguably the best Jamaican food around. With a large selection of Caribbean-style meat and veggie dishes for under $10, you can’t go wrong. The daily lunch special typically comes with a meat dish and two sides.
Cheap Eats in Queen West
New York Subs & Burritos (520 Queen Street West) specializes in home-made, fresh cuisine with influences from both American and Indian cuisine. Its menu includes a variety of subs, quesadillas and kabobs for extremely reasonable prices. If you find yourself wandering along Queen West during lunchtime, it’s definitely worth a drop-in.
416 Snack Bar (181 Bathurst Street) at the intersection of Queen and Bathurst is a cozy tapas-style restaurant and bar with some seriously amazing food. With an ever-changing menu of bite-sized morsels like sliders, empanadas and sushi pizza, this is a place that brings “snacks” to a whole other level.
If you’ve never had Vietnamese banh mi, you’re missing out. Banh Mi Boys (392 Queen Street West) serves up some of the best banh mi in the city. A meat-filled baguette served with cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon – this is so much more than the average sandwich.
Cheap Eats on King Street West and Liberty Village
For delicious, fast and affordable Chinese food in King West, Bamboo Buddha is a sure bet. Its full menu includes everything you would expect from a Western-style Chinese restaurant, including chop suey, egg foo young, lo mein and fried rice dishes, with an average price of around $7-8.
If your stomach is growling while exploring Liberty Village, check out Liberty Village Rotisserie and grab a Greek-inspired meal with delicious chicken for around $10. Or, if you’re in a rush, grab a pulled chicken souvlaki pita for $7.
Cheap Eats in Kensington Market
Craving fresh Caribbean food in Kensington Market? Head to Rasta Pasta (61 Kensington Avenue). Known mainly for their jerk chicken, this Jamaican joint is almost always lined up at lunchtime. The smell of meat on the grill will have your mouth watering before you even place your order.
Jumbo Empanadas (245 Augusta Avenue) is renowned for its tasty and cheap Latin American fare. This tiny, unassuming Chilean restaurant features several varieties of empanadas for less than $5, served with homemade salsa so good it will make you never want to eat the store-bought variety again.
Any restaurant that specializes in something as “simple” as grilled cheese sandwiches better be good – and OM Grilled Cheese (66 Nassau Street) most certainly is. This low-key counter-serve staple of the market turns a classic into a masterpiece, with thick-sliced bread, warm gooey cheese and a variety of flavours to choose from.
Cheap Eats in the Annex
The Annex is one of Toronto’s funkiest neighbourhoods – and since it’s close to the University of Toronto, it’s another hotspot for places catering to hungry, bargain-hunting students. The Annex Hodgepodge (258 Dupont Street) is one of its most beloved hidden gems. Tucked away at Dupont and Spadina, this trendy mom and pop style bistro provides fresh soup, salad and sandwiches with vegetarian and vegan options to boot.
If you’re in the mood for sushi and don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it, you can’t do much better than Sushi on Bloor (515 Bloor Street West). The daily lunch special is a total steal.
Roti Cuisine of India (308 Dupont Street) dishes out authentic South Asian cuisine. While the restaurant specializes in roti, it also serves favourites like butter chicken and lamb biryani. Its reasonable prices mean you’ll leave with a full stomach and a (mostly) full wallet.
Cheap Eats in Greektown
Danforth Avenue in Greektown has no shortage of restaurants. For a budget-friendly option, try Messini Authentic Gyros (445 Danforth Avenue), purveyor of Toronto’s most famed gyro sandwich. Savoury meat wrapped in a pita and topped with tzatziki and freshly cut French fries – it’s quite possibly the best $5 you’ll spend.
Don’t be put off by the somewhat confusing name. Square Boy Drive-In (875 Danforth Avenue) is a great spot for cheap eats. In addition to serving typical diner fare like a burger and fries, Square Boy is renowned for its souvlaki. You might find better burgers in the city, but you’ll look long and hard to find better souvlaki. Cash only!
There’s more than just Greek food in Greektown. Len Duckworth’s Fish & Chips (2638 Danforth Avenue) has been satisfying east-enders with its title dish since 1930. Eighty+ years is a long time to perfect your recipe and, unsurprisingly, Len Duckworth’s has gained a reputation as having some of the best fish & chips in the city.