TIFF 2013 Survival Guide: Where to Eat on the Cheap
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TIFF 2013 Survival Guide: Where to Eat on the Cheap

Think you can't eat for $10 on King Street West? Think again.

Burrito Bandidos, where one meal feels like three  Oliver Plante/Torontoist Flickr Pool

Burrito Bandidos, where one meal feels like three. Photo by Oliver Plante, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Sure, you could spend all your discretionary TIFF money eating at fancy places, hoping you see Mila Kunis getting sauce on her dress or Benedict Cumberbatch sending back his appetizer, but let’s be really honest: you probably can’t afford it. And even if you could, wouldn’t you rather spend that money paying people to wait in rush lines on your behalf or bribing bellhops to sneak you into Liam Neeson’s room?

Here are five places within shouting distance of TIFF Central where you can get a decent spread for around $10.

Zupa’s
(342 Adelaide Street West)

How this weird, dingy hole-in-the-wall deli and diner—which opened in the ’60s to serve labourers in what were then garment warehouses—has managed to survive so many rounds of gentrification is completely beyond us. That said, it’s still here, serving up wonderfully greasy all-day breakfasts and one of the better Montreal smoked meat sandwiches Toronto has to offer.

Z-Teca
(327 King Street West)

It’s not surprising that the area around King Street West seems to have more burrito places per square kilometre than anywhere else in the city. At night, it’s full of drunk clubbers. During the day, it’s filled with office drones who just want to eat something that makes them feel alive before returning to their cubicles. Local mini-chain Z-Teca has one key advantage: eating its food doesn’t make you feel like you’ve just consumed a bowling ball. The MO is more fresh ingredients and less cheese, sour cream, and mysterious burrito sauce. Here’s a pro tip: get them to put all three salsas on your burrito, then convince them to crush a nacho chip in there. Heaven.

Burrito Banditos
(120 Peter Street)

Burrito Bandidos is the result of the Great Burrito Boyz Split of 2008, and it rests firmly on the other end of the burrito spectrum from Z-Teca. It’s basically all cheese and sauce. Each individual burrito weighs the better part of a pound. They let you mix and match fillings here. (Our favourite is chicken and shrimp.) It’s enough food for two meals, and perfect if you’re going to spend the day camping out in a rush line. Stoners really dig this place, so James Franco take note.

Ultimate Cafe
(293 King Street West)

We’re really not sure how this weird Thai/Italian hybrid manages to keep its prices so reasonable given that it’s right on King Street. Its pad Thai has an online fanbase, and I ate it once a week for three years and never got sick of it. That’s something.

The hot dog vendor at the corner of King and John
(King Street West and John Street)

These guys are basically the thought leaders when it comes to on-street sausage. We’re pretty sure they were the first to put hot dogs in Styrofoam clamshells, and they have more sausage varieties than your average wiener vendor.

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