It wasn’t until I moved away from home and started to budget my own expenses that I understood how expensive going out for meals was. Suddenly, dropping $25 on a sub-par bowl of pasta didn’t seem very realistic, when I could make it at home for a fraction of the cost.
However, I have started to realize how much of my social life revolves around going out to eat, especially when I head home. My summer months and occasional weekends back in Toronto are filled with meeting up with friends over brunch, lunch, coffee, dinner, or drinks. It’s a never-ending cycle of consumption, and my wallet is not very happy about it.
But going out in Toronto doesn’t have to put you in a state of bankruptcy if you know the right places to eat. Here are the top seven restaurants to eat at in Toronto when you’re broke as sh*t.
7. Burger Shack
Don’t let the appearance fool you, this place is a total hole in the wall, but the food is UNREAL. The prices are reasonable, plus it’s open late on weekends for your drunk food cravings. From breakfast foods to salads to burgers, this place has something for everyone. I would personally recommend the chicken fingers and onion rings (they are straight fire).
There are a few locations throughout Toronto, making this restaurant pretty much local wherever you live. Make sure to order the tacos off the appetizer menu if you want a budget-friendly treat. The tacos are filling, come in two different styles (chicken or fish) and are only $5 each. You’ll leave Local with both your stomach and wallet feeling full.
5. Big Slice
If you’re in the mood for a big slice of pizza or a warm bowl of pasta, head to Big Slice. My family always orders the Jumbo pizza, which is 22 inches in diameter and only $19. The pizza is great and leaves leftovers for several meals, which is really saying something seeing as its shared amongst my family of five.
4. New Ho King
If you are looking for more bang for your buck, head down to New Ho King on Spadina. The menu is huge and so are the portion sizes. Just like Big Slice, you're sure to have leftovers for the week. Make sure to come here with a big group of friends and an even bigger appetite so you can try several things off the menu.
In the mood for Greek food? Check out Astoria on the Danforth. All entrées come with a large Greek salad and two additional sides, so be prepared to split meals amongst friends. The staff are friendly and the Danforth is a great neighbourhood to walk around after your meal. Start your meal off with saganaki, prepared fresh at your table, and be sure to take home an order of the tzatziki – a garlic lover’s dream!
If you are reading this, feel free to send me a message thanking me. This is the cheapest sushi I’ve ever ordered and it is insanely fresh. If you want to order a variety of rolls and don’t want to worry about the price, this is the place to go!
The majority of rolls range from $2-4, so leaving this restaurant stuffed for under $10 is completely doable. In fact, my meal was $6 last time I ate there–that’s even less than the cost of public transit to travel there and back!
If you're from Toronto and haven't heard of Warehouse, you must be living under a rock. Every food item on the menu is $4.95 and the portions are really generous. The food is so tasty. Don't believe me? Just ask some of the people lined up down the block waiting to get in. It's the perfect place for a cheap lunch, post-work drinks, or a night out with friends. The drinks are more expensive, but the food is worth the wait.
Now head on out to these hot spots without the fear of blowing your budget! And if none of these places are particularly your style, you can always grab a hot dog and 12-ounce drink combo at Costco for $1.50.