The 7 Best Restaurants In Toronto For Cheap Eats, Picked By The City's Top Chefs
Plan a cute date night without breaking the bank!
Trying to eat at a hot restaurant in Toronto can cost a pretty penny, but it doesn't always have to break the bank. Narcity spoke to six renowned chefs and restaurateurs from all over the city, who shared their top cheap eats in the 6ix.
From slurping on scrumptious ramen bowls to enjoying an incredible Indian lunch combo, there is a wide variety of cheap eats for you to check out that won't burn a hole through your wallet.
Mermaid Fish & Grill House
Price: 💸- 💸💸
Address: 44 St Clair Ave. E., Toronto, ON
Why You Need To Go: Chef Anthony Rose (behind Schmaltz Appetizing, Fat Pasha, Big Crow BBQ Rose And Sons, and Fet Zun) told Narcity he is loving this place right now and deems it a place of "deliciousness of grilled fish and shrimp and squid."
"Best place for a fourth date in the city. Maybe fifth," Rose continued.
At the Mermaid Fish & Grill House, you get to choose your fish from the restaurant's catch of the day, say exactly how you want it cooked, and choose two side orders of either fries, salad, or seasoned rice.
Seafood platters range from $16 to $25, and their fish and chips start at $14. You can also order calamari or shrimp as an appetizer for $8.
"So unassuming and always hits the spot," Rose said of it.
Why You Need To Go: "This is one of the best-kept secrets in the city for high-quality sushi and authentic Japanese cuisine without the fancy price tag," Suzanne Barr, chef, author, and judge on Food Network Canada's Wall of Chefs, told Narcity. "Chef Young Son's menu always has a great balance of simple and sophisticated options."
According to the restaurant's website, owner Seigo Nakamura hails from Miyazaki, Japan, and created a traditional-style sushi restaurant (known as Kaiten) in Toronto with Aburi TORA. The restaurant also happens to be a sister restaurant to Miku, the well-renowned sushi spot in the 6ix's financial district.
"You can get everything from their signature oshi sushi and uni to udon noodles and yam fries," Barr added. "I love going there with my family — they have a great kid's menu and it feels like we've been transported into a futuristic sci-fi movie with all the high-tech laneways and gadgets."
The priciest item on the menu is a plate of chu-toro sashimi — a fine cut of tuna that comes from its fatty underbelly, but not the fattiest part — which comes out to $18, and prices for plates start at just $2.25.
Why You Need To Go: Executive Chef of Aburi Hana Ryusuke Nakagawa chose Kanto as his top pick for cheap eats, calling it "Filipino street food at its finest."
"The Lechon Kawali (deep-fried pork) is my go-to every time...it's super crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and perfectly seasoned, all on a bed of simple garlic rice," Nakagawa told Narcity.
"On the sweeter side of things, I like the cassava cake for something light and in the summer, you have to get the Halo Halo," Nakagawa continued.
Kanto describes Halo Halo as a blend of tropical fruits, coconut jellies and beans, filled with creamy condensed milk and shaved ice. It's then topped with purple yams, crispy rice, and Kanto's homemade leche flan.
Banjara Indian Cuisine
The Shahi Shrimp comes with giant tiger prawns cooked in creamy coconut milk and onion gravy with spices, and it'll cost you $17.99.
"It's a huge tray of food, and you get a large medley of everything you could want," Wong told Narcity.
Banjara's menus are extensive, and they even come stocked with lunch and dinner combos at a decent price. Their seafood combo lunch, for example, comes with rice, naan, daal, veggie pakora, aloo gobi, rice pudding, and a seafood dish of your choice — all for the price of $15.50!
Banh Mi Boys
Why You Need To Go: "Banh Mi Boys has to be my favourite non-Italian sandwich in the city," Massimo Capra told Narcity. Capra is a restaurateur and author, a judge on Chopped Canada, and a chef host on Food Network's Restaurant Makeover.
"[T]he right amount of well-seasoned sweetmeat (pork belly), the right amount of pickles, and a well-made bun are extremely satisfying to me," Capra added.
Banh Mi Boys offers up steamed baos, tacos, banh mi and iconic kimchi fries, ranging in prices from $4.25 to $9.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
Price: 💸- 💸💸
Why You Need To Go: Founder of The Food Dudes, chef Adrian Niman chose this drool-worthy ramen spot as his top choice. It also happens to be one of Massimo Capra's picks, so it's doubly chef-approved.
"...[T]he ramen [is] crunchy, the broth is rich and unctuous and the service is fast, serves me well when I visit Cityline," Capra told Narcity.
Coming straight from Japan and opening up shop at multiple locations across the 6ix, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka serves up some delectable soups.
The Dundas St. Santouka offers seven different kinds of ramen plus a salad version, ranging in prices between $14.50 to $20.95. For a few dollars more, you can opt for one of their combos, which serves up a rice bowl on the side.
Price: 💸- 💸💸
Why You Need To Go: "I love to go to Pai for a very tasty Thai dinner," Capra shared with Narcity. "I love this place for the young driven atmosphere, the great cocktails and the food is extremely pleasing, Chef Nuit and her husband Jeff are an awesome couple and most gracious hosts all the time."
This Northern Thai kitchen offers a variety of staples from Pad Gra Prow — a holy basil stirfry served on a bed of jasmine rice and topped with a fried egg — to Khao Soi Noodles, which is a golden coconut-milk-based curry with fresh egg noodles and your choice of protein, from short rib to tofu and veggies.
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