Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cheap Eats Under $15 in Toronto

Photo Credit
Trying to live large on a post-holiday budget? We love eating out, but we can't splurge on a $50 meal every time we go out. We're bringing this handy list back again this year to help get you on budget for 2013. So here are a few places in Toronto where you can eat-in at dinner time for under $15 (before taxes).

Khao San Road - Order the street-style Pad Thai with chicken, beef or tofu. It's a steal for what I think is the BEST Pad Thai in the city ($14). Most dishes on the menu are under $15 and there's always a line-up out the door. The secret's out.

Cheesewerks - Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches for under $10 'nuff said.

Tacos El Asador - Who woulda thunk that some of the most delicious tacos in Toronto would be found in Koreatown? Crispy tacos are $3.25 each and soft tacos $2.75 - three usually makes it a meal for me. The pork al pastor taco is a must-order. Wash it all down with a Mexican coke made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup.

Arepa Cafe - An arepa is a Venezuelan cornbread sandwich that is grilled and stuffed with all sorts of delicious things. Very filling and around $9-11/each. Try the Llanera with beef tenderloin, avocado, fresco cheese and a tomato.
HoSu Bistro - I'm personally a big fan of their Bi Bim Bap. A hearty hot stone bowl of beef bulgogi, rice, glass noodles and vegetables ($9.95). The sushi is fresh and cheap, bento boxes, noodle soups and Japanese entrees are under $15.

Photo courtesy of Salad King
Salad King - Every Ryerson student knows about the big bowls of golden yellow curry, pineapple fried rice and the Phud Thai. The portions are generous, the menu is under $10 and the modern space is always full and noisy. Students and alumni can't seem to get enough.

Messini's - The authentic gyro here is the sandwich of champions. Chicken, pork or both are shaved off a spit and stuffed into a pita along with crispy french fries, onions, tomatoes and spread with a layer of tzaziki. It's the hamburger of Greece and you can get it until 4 AM on Fridays and Saturdays when there's a drunken line-up out the door. $5 for a gyro here people!

Photo Credit - Metro News
Ravi Soups - When you just don't have the time to make a soup from scratch, let Ravi do it for you. His soups are five-start restaurant quality full of flavour detail and care. I always order the Chicken Hot Pot Broth with big juicy chunks of chicken in a coconut milk and Kaffir lime broth, sprinkled with fried onions on top ($9). Soups are served with a homemade biscuit with red pepper jelly and eats like a meal. Soup and half wrap combo at lunch for $10. Try the beef wrap with roasted yams and mango pineapple salsa - you won't regret it.

Whole Foods Market - The secret is not to go crazy scooping up a full plate of heavy mac & cheese. Balance your plate at this salad bar by weight by adding lots of veggies and a salad. Usually around $15 and incredible when you want to eat a healthy variety. The buffet spread is a great pick especially if you're a vegetarian.

Piola Pizza - Most pizzas here are under $15 and there's a three-course prix-fixe for the same price at lunch. Really hungry? show up on the 29th of each month for all-you-can-eat gnocchi ($14.99).

Siddhartha - Delicious Indian food and a wide selection from their all-you-can-eat dinner buffet ($14.95). We love the butter chicken, aloo ghobi and paneer dishes here. Sop it all up with a hot piece of naan bread. Nothing is burn-your-tongue spicy and the service is friendly at this Little India gem.

MORE Suggestions from our Twitter feed @hipurbangirl:

@christineestima- Try Grapefruit Moon

@sexytypewriter - House of Soon Tofu. Delicious!

@KevinSeto - Khmer Thai

@SITAMAA - Moti Mahal on Gerard St. #trueindianfood. Great price.

@kurchenko - The Lakeview on Dundas!

@SeptembreA - Swatow at 309 Spadina St. Delicious Chinese food. I've been eating there for over a decade!

@randymatheson - I like Z-teca on King West... tasty burrito & drink for $11-12.

@andreakw my picks are Ahn Dao on Spadina, African Palace on Bloor and Roti Palace on Dupont.

@erikajacobs_The prix fixe lunch at Pizzaria Libretto is always a fave.

@drysdaleandco Bread & Greens at Broadview/Danforth. Healthy, delicious and great people

@blarkness Reggie's Sandwiches? The deep fried Mac and Cheese is delish!

@Shes_Baking The County General, sushi couture, chitos pizza....

@debgee a burger and fries @thestockyards, all brunch items @thedrakehotel and lots of pizzas from @PiolaToronto are $15 or under!

@cheriewhiteman Sushi & Salad at Dundas and Centre Street

@geofferson Have you tried the tasty/healthy $9 sandwiches at Urban Herbivore in Kensington Market?

Do you have a favourite spot in Toronto that serves great food for under $15?


  1. Nice collection... working on a similar article too. I'd also be sure to add Banh Mi Boys on that list (they are new though) but great vietnamese sandwiches for around $6!

  2. This is great! I LOVE the Whole Foods Salad bar :)

    Love the bulgogi dinner for just under $10. But you get fries, rice, salad, pasta salad, and coleslaw!

  4. Thanks for the suggestions! Graham - I can't wait to see your list.

  5. Great post! You're so right, Salad King is an institution. And Arepa Cafe is gold I tells ya, GOLD! #nomnom

  6. Will let you know when it's done, I've gotten a lot of feedback so far so need to start visiting a lot of places!

    Off the top of my head some other good ones are:

    - Belly Busters (Submarine Sandwiches at Yonge / South of York Mills)
    - New York Subway (Queen / Bathurst)
    - Jerk Pork on Coco Bread Sandwich at Negril (Markham/Scarborough though)
    - Porchetta & Co. Sandwich

    I posted on Yelp & Chowhound and here are what others said:

  7. Nice! My very loose criteria was to include places more in the downtown core. The next were restaurant that did have some sort of comfortable seating vs. a takout joint with a few stools (that would be a sepearte post). There are so many, so it's tough to really narrow it down.

    Agree with you on Porchetta!

  8. I feel like I can't let this misinformation be on your website as I think he might be joking:
    @randymatheson - I like Z-teca on King West... tasty burrito & drink for $11-12.

    If he's talking about the location at King and Widmer it's terrible.
    Both me and my boyfriend had the same experience:
    - the burrito didn't have a consistent temperature (it was cold in the centre. Not warm, cold)
    - the ingredients weren't fresh
    - they skimp on the quantity of everything

    My reco would be to go to another burrito shop just a block north and a few blocks's cheaper, consistent, and better quality.

  9. great post! I have a few but I'm going to write a post on it. You got a few of my faves though, including KSR.

  10. I also hated my experience at z-teca. Really really unimpressed... I'm burrito boyz all the way.

  11. Reggie's sandwiches is gone now :(