A Guide to the Best Lunch Spots in Toronto

Toronto has some of the best and cheapest lunch spots
Toronto has some of the best and cheapest lunch spots | Courtesy of Gusto
Photo of Megan Honan
17 January 2020

For cheap eats and good grub, these lunch spots have got you covered, regardless of what you’ve got a hankering for. With plenty of choice across the city, these are Toronto’s best restaurants for lunch.

Sometimes you just need a break from your go-to lunch haunt. Whether you’re craving a spicy curry, flavourful tacos or a good old-fashioned pizza, Toronto has some of the best and cheapest lunch spots. These restaurants are guaranteed to hit the spot every time.

Blaze Pizza

Restaurant, Pizzeria, Italian
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This California chain has finally made its way to Toronto and in a prime location: Yonge-Dundas Square. Right in the heart of Downtown, stop here for a quick lunch of artisanal pizzas, made from fresh dough and unlimited toppings. You can grab and go if you’re really on a time crunch, or settle into one of the tables and enjoy the large selection of spices and cheeses on offer. They also offer cauliflower and keto crust pizzas if you’re looking for gluten-free options (though it should be noted, all pizzas share the same oven).

Gordo EX Café

Restaurant, Venezuelan, $$$
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This authentic Venezuelan restaurant is tucked away on the newly gentrified Bathurst and Dupont strip. While it may be a little out of the way, the trip is always worth it. For an affordable lunch, indulge in the hearty comfort food on the menu, like tequeños (cheese sticks) and the shredded beef arepas (Venezuelan sandwich). They also offer veggie versions with their signature ingredient: plantains, adding just the right hint of sweetness.

Mi Taco Taqueria

Restaurant, Mexican
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This colorful eatery will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a portal to Mexico. With a mishmash of shapes and patterned wallpaper, along with bright papel picado (decorative paper banners) strung from one end of the room to another, it’s almost impossible to not leave Mi Taco in a festive mood. While their burrito bowls are delicious, their beef brisket tacos are legendary. Loaded with grilled and raw onions, queso fresco and cilantro, you’ll want to order at least three to make it a proper meal. While drink options include beer, try their refreshing Mexican Coca-Cola.

Gyubee Japanese Grill

Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
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For a fun and interactive lunch experience, Gyubee offers an all-you-can-eat Japanese BBQ. Settle into a comfy booth with seating options for up to six, and the host will turn on a smokeless gas grill. From there, choose your ingredients for grilling – from beef, chicken, pork and multiple veggie options. To make the most of the maximum sit-down time of two hours, come with a stretchy waistband and an extended lunch hour.

Saffron Spice Kitchen

Restaurant, Sri Lankan
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This little Indian takeout joint is perfect for those on a tight schedule. On Queen Street West near Chinatown, Saffron Spice Kitchen serves up arguably the most popular roti in the city – the kothu roti. Made fresh and mixed into a spicy stir-fry with a choice of protein, it’s a must-try. Since it has a bit of a kick, grab the mango lassi for a sweet drink that curbs the burn. And if you’re still not satisfied, the perfectly crisped samosa ought to do the trick.

Fresh on Front

Restaurant, Healthy, $$$
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Fresh on Front set out to challenge the idea that vegetarian food had to be bland, and they delivered. Housed in a historic Front Street mansion, guests are greeted by pastel pink barstools, geometric tiled floors and pretty pot plants. While Fresh has a few locations across Toronto, this is the first with a full cocktail bar. Start off your meatless meal with crispy quinoa onion rings and for the entrée, sample the barbecue burger consisting of a house-made grain burger, barbecue sauce, garlic mayo, banana chilies and more flavorful veggie toppings.

Momofuku Noodle Bar, University Avenue

Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
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TTC Pork Ramen - Nadia Alam 2
Momofuku Noodle Bar has arguably the best ramen in town | © Nadia Alam for Momofuku

Restaurateur David Chang has become a Torontonian household name, beloved for his sleek NYC-based empire that has made its way across the border. Popular for his ramen and steamed buns, Momofuku Noodle Bar will make a believer out of any Japanese, Korean and Chinese-fusion naysayer. For a signature dish, try the Hong Kong egg, a folded omelet served over a bed of rice with a sweet dipping sauce tare (soy sauce with sugar and ginger), bird’s-eye chilies and savory chicken skin. Plus, everything is sourced locally and changes with the seasons. For a lunchtime meeting, choose from the all-Ontario wine and beer list to discover a potential new local favorite.

Gusto 101, Toronto

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Gusto Toronto Canada
Gusto 101 is famous for lamb meatballs and pasta dishes inspired by southern Italy | Courtesy of Gusto

Gusto (pronounced Goo-sto) means ‘taste’ in Italian and that’s exactly what you’re going to get at this upscale lunch spot. Located close to King Street West, this high-quality restaurant serves Torontonians in the city’s Entertainment District. While a little more on the expensive side, it’s quietest at lunch, making midday the best time to visit this popular spot. For a little taste of Italy, grab the polpette di carne (meatballs), made of lamb, tomato sauce and stracciatella grilled Tuscan bread.

Drake One Fifty

Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
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Pop into this trendy restaurant for a leisurely lunch with co-workers. Drake One Fifty hosts an ongoing exhibit of graphic design, meaning the decor is eye-catching, colourful and bold. For an entrée, order the beef dip sandwich served with Kozlik’s sweet Russian mustard and mushrooms, for a savory experience. For a discount on drinks, the restaurant opens up their entire wine list to the public once a week at half-price, including top-shelf vintages. So if you want to sample a glass without committing to the price of a full bottle, there’s never been a better time to grab a tipple at lunch.

These recommendations were updated on January 17, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.