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Favourite Frugal Fodder

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Following up my review of the best all-you-can-eat places in Toronto, I thought I’d show my thriftier side. Want a good meal at a cheap price? Here are my recommendations (but don’t believe Bill — none if it is actually ‘fast food’).

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Mutual Street Deli – 152 Dundas St. E. (East of Church)

This place does not belong in Toronto. First of all, it’s family run, and when I say family run I mean “pops” is cooking, “sonny” is taking your money, and “mama” is hugging you and encouraging you to eat your vegetables. Seriously. And that was only my first visit. So, ambience and an overall sense of well being – this place takes top awards. But now for the food . . . I recommend any of their daily specials. For you vegetarians, this place probably isn’t for you. They feature a quarter chicken special with two sides for about 6 bucks. Get dark meat and it also comes with a pop. Your choices of sides include Greek, house or Caesar salad, rice, fries, or Greek style potatoes. They also have deli-style roast beef or corned beef sandwiches. Go for the Kaiser instead of bread, because no loaf of bread ever baked can handle the meat they pile on these sandwiches. I’m talking a good six inches of meat. As well you can order an extra large sandwich, just in case that’s not enough for you. “Spear of pickle” comes with. Bonus for smokers – This is one of the few restaurants with a smokers room where you can still eat, drink coffee and smoke all at once.

Yay! – They make really good rice pudding. And they nuke it so that it’s sort of warm in the middle but cold around the outside, which incidentally is how I like it.

Boo-urns – They close at 7:00 most days, so not really a dinner place unless you plan things right. Not open on Sundays.

Ginger – 695 Yonge St. (also Church/Wellesley and Parliament/Carlton)

Economical Vietnamese, open 11 am -11 pm, 7 days a week. I should have eaten before I started writing this. Last time I checked, nothing on the menu was over $6.95. But for a really tightwad option, go for the Vietnamese subs. Beef, chicken or tofu with cucumber and grated carrot, ginger, coriander and other spices on a home-made bun. Really filling and 2 bucks. You must try them. I also recommend the rare beef soup – if that sounds weird, ask for your beef to be cooked more. It’s a coriander soup with tender beef and noodles. Perfect when it’s cold out.
This is one of those kinds of restaurants where you order and pay, get a little number and then wait for your food to come to your table. I’m never sure about the tipping etiquette when it comes to this kind of establishment. Anyone who has any tips (har-har) let me know. I either tip well or not at all and that’s been working for me so far.

Yay! – Lots of vegetarian options. Menu is mostly pictures of the meals on the walls for easy selection, which I really like.

Boo-urns – Once I saw this guy bring a huge steaming pile of noodles up from the back kitchen. It was in a big plastic bucket. But I’m sure it was clean . . .

Lee Town – 370 Yonge St.

Great Chinese lunch spot. Lunch special is $3.95 + tax; dinner is $5.25 + tax and both include a spring roll, choice of corn or hot-and-sour soup, and choice of your usual Chinese food entrées. The portions are big and very delicious. They do the specials for take-out too, which is nice, but I recommend eating in at the weird bar thing they have going on, to check out the big goldfish in the small tank. Apparently his name is Johnny. Very interesting lunch companion. I maintain that he’ll live forever, but he may be dead by the time you try this place out — let me know. The booths are wooden and unpadded, which can get uncomfortable if you plan on killing some time with your meal.

Yay! – The price. You could actually split the lunch special with a friend and be fulfilled (hunger wise) if you’re particularly short of cash.

Boo-urns – The service can be kind of slow. And if you ask for things like, say, no onions in your noodles, they may not pay any attention to that at all.

Ruchi Indian Cuisine – 649 Yonge St.

Ruchi is a great Indian spot, sort of hidden under the Duke of Gloucester. The cheap feature is a daily chicken lunch special from noon to 3:30 for $5.99. Vegetarian special is $5.25. You get rice, curry of the day (butter chicken on Thursdays and Fridays), veggie curry, daal, raita, salad, papadum and dessert. That sounds like a lot, but it’s a lot of small portions that make up a great meal. Ruchi also has a chicken dinner special where for $10.99 you get your choice of chicken dish plus rice and naan. Generous portions. I recommend Cheetah beer to go with it, not economical at $4.99 a bottle, but has “the smoothest taste to guarantee your true satisfaction and enjoyment.” That’s worth five dollars to me. Check out Cheetahbeer.com – by the way, apparently you must be legal drinking age to view this website.

Yay! – No matter what time or day I visit this restaurant, me and my party are the only ones there. I enjoy my privacy, but let’s hope they stay in business.

Boo-urns – The lunch special doesn’t come with naan, but you can order a side if necessary.

Street Meat – Everywhere (but I recommend the corner of Church/Wellesley)

I am a big supporter of hot-dog stands everywhere. Of course, I grew up eating hot dogs and KD 5 times a week. Beans and wieners and toast anyone? But my strange childhood malnutrition aside, I still love street meat, despite the low-standard associations some people might have with that. My combo: mayo, honey mustard, bacon bits, corn relish, and green olives. Mmmm.

Yay! – Generally $2 buys you a hot dog anywhere in the city, but there are two battling stands down at Queen/Spadina that are offering dollar dogs, if you want some half-price action.

Boo-urns – The hot dog stand outside my place closed for the winter. ydennekaynat

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sunday, February 4, 2007 8:36 pm

    I hear Queen and Church is another good area to get street meat.

  2. Frenchie permalink
    Thursday, February 8, 2007 2:05 pm

    I agree that Ginger is awesome. But I don’t like Ruchi.

  3. tanya permalink
    Friday, February 9, 2007 5:38 pm

    Well frenchie, you’re wrong. Although ginger is great, so you’re also right.

  4. Frenchie permalink
    Wednesday, February 14, 2007 10:48 am

    OK Tanya, I’ll admit it, one of the times I went to Ruchi, it was quite good, the other two times, not so much. But as far as indian goes, Kama on King Street is my pick, however, it’s not cheap.

  5. James17930 permalink
    Wednesday, February 14, 2007 11:00 am

    Kama is okay, but nothing beats Little India on Queen.

    Oh man, I’m so hungry!

    Just kidding.

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