Your paper's due, you haven't read the book - or been to class in days, for that matter - and you're starving. And did we mention cash-strapped, too?
It's times like these that size really does matter. But when it comes down to pigging out at the trough, the words "all you can eat" don't necessarily guarantee you'll be dining high off the hog. Here's an educated insider's guide to the best of Toronto's most student-friendly restaurants and inexpensive nosheries.
Though not as adventurous as owner/chef P.K. Singh 's often stellar dinner card, Dhaba 's (309 King West, at John, 416-740-6622) daily $10.95 50-item north Indian lunch buffet is one of the most luxe around. At the other end of the dining scale, Govinda 's (243 Avenue Road, at Roxborough, 416-922-5415) in the Hare Krishna Temple offers an elaborate and generously curried Indian vegetarian lunch and dinner spread for a donation of only seven bucks.
For some unfathomable reason, the Annex's Nataraj (394 Bloor West, at Brunswick, 416-928-2925) has been packing in the penny-pinching Birkenstock set for its subpar $7.95 subcontinent lunch buffet for years. Tweedy academics in sensible shoes could do a helluva lot better by spending an additional loonie at Trimurti (265 Queen West, at Duncan, 416-645-0286), where one-time Nataraj server Danny Chin and chef Pradeep Japdap replicate their former employer's spread with considerably more skill.
Across town, Wandee Young 's groundbreaking Young Thailand (81 Church, at Adelaide, 416-368-1368) may be down to one location (its branch on John has been shuttered permanently due to condo construction), but its weekday $10.95 buffet continues to be one of downtown's tastiest bargains.
Despite these stellar exceptions, most all-you-can-eat restos unfortunately feature steam tables laden with virtually inedible stodge. And so-called salad! At Korean Grill House (214 Queen West, at Duncan, 416-263-9850; 754 Yonge, at Bloor, 416-922-3328; and about-to-open 371 Yonge, at Gerrard, 416-596-9206), customers cook as many strips of tenderized pork, beef, chicken and salmon sided with as much kimchee, veggies and rice as they can stomach for as little as $8.95 at weekday lunch. Ditto on Queen on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 pm to 2:30 am close.
Monday to Thursday, the $8.95 lunch buffet at Katsu (572 Danforth, at Carlaw, 416-466-3388) gets you as much terrific beef teriyaki and made-to-order maki as it's possible to eat.
Feeling homesick for a bellyful of Bubbie's blintzes Become instant family at the long-running Sunday Bella! Did Ya Eat? klezmer brunch buffet at Free Times Café (320 College, at Major, 416-967-1078), where $17.95 - half-price for those under 12 - entitles you to enough latkes, lox and gefilte fish to keep you sated till Tuesday.