Ada and Joe Zhou’s dinner for two feeds at least four at Harbord Fish & Chips.
Harbord Fish & Chips
147 Harbord, at Borden, 416-925-2225.
Haddock Dinner for Two ($24.92)
The posted menu at this tiny Annex bunker might claim that it's $25 takeout special is geared to feed two, but we say this exceptional all-in-one spread can easily feed a hungry family of four. Or a frat house, for that matter.
Authentically wrapped in yesterday's Globe - who says daily newspapers have no future? - this steal of a meal deal includes three fillets of meaty Atlantic haddock in relatively grease-free batter, two tubs of creamy coleslaw, a half-dozen packets of commercial tartar sauce and enough hand-cut chunky Yukon Gold fries to feed a varsity hockey team, malt vinegar and ketchup optional.
That leftovers are guaranteed goes without saying.
Monday to Saturday 11:30 am to 8 pm. Closed Sunday (winter hours). Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, no washrooms.
268 Augusta, at College, 416-840-0501, supermarkettoronto.com.
The Supermarket Special ($18)
Next to the $2.50 hamburger with tzatziki and pickled hot peppers at the soon-to-close European Meats' lunch counter, the biggest meal deal in Kensington has always been this pioneering resto-lounge's spectacular southeast $15 Asian four-course prix fixe. Sadly, it was quietly discontinued late last year.
Penny-pinching epicures will be heartened to learn that Greg Bottrell and crew have just brought the super Special back, although its price has now crept up to a mighty 18 dineros. Ex-Lava chef Manh Nguyen still starts with his rustic soup du jour and wedges of house-baked focaccia or a tart Thai green mango salad but now follows with the choice of steamed Chinese dim-sum buns stuffed with tofu and meaty king mushrooms or shrimp 'n' avocado wonton tacos.
For mains, go with either tacos of crispy battered whitefish or grilled hanger steak 'n' Segovia chorizo, both dressed with crumbly queso and roasted salsa or one of the tastiest versions of vegetarian pad thai out there. Finish with skewers of grilled pineapple drizzled with dulce de leche and sided with a scoop of vanilla ice cream before shaking a tail feather on the dancefloor.
Sunday to Friday 5:30 to 11 pm. Licensed. Access: three steps at door, washrooms on same floor.
309 King W, at John, 416-740-6622, dhaba.ca.
All-You-Can-Eat Indian Lunch Buffet ($11.95/$12.95 weekends)
When charismatic owner/chef P.K. Singh Ahluwalia first opened this unusually polished Indo resto in a grungy strip mall in the wilds of Rob Ford's Etobicoke, it became an instant culinary cause célèbre, eventually earning the honour of NOW's Restaurant of the Year for 2003. A subsequent move to a second-storey space in downtown's theatre district may have lowered his profile, but the sensational 50-item lunch buffet still steals the spotlight.
Yes, you'll find the same chafing dishes of creamy butter chicken, saag paneer and biryani rice served at every other Subcontinental spread in town, but you also get unlimited access to the best salad bar in the GTA. And where else do you see hollowed-out pineapples brimming with butterflied shrimp in dilled yogurt, brown rice strewn with a confetti of diced sweet peppers, and raw leaves of spinach finished in cashew cream? Perfectly flaky fired-to-order naan and house-made pistachio kulfi more than warrant return trips.
Weekdays noon to 2:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. Licensed. Access: 20 steps at door, washrooms on same floor.
243 Avenue Rd, at Roxborough, 416-922-5415, toronto.iskcon.ca.
All-You-Can-Eat Indian Vegetarian Buffet ($8 donation/$5 students)
f it weren't for that Rama Lama Ding Dong song in an infinite loop and the faint smell of incense off in the distance, tucking into a meal at the Iskon Centre isn't that different from a potluck supper in the Presbyterian church basement it once was, albeit a somewhat more incendiary one.
Get the fire started with organic greens in French citrus dressing before moving on to cauliflower pakoras, soupy lentil dahl spiked with cinnamon bark, and vibrant okra and spinach subzis sided with brown basmati rice, freshly baked whole-wheat chapatis and a bottomless glass of honeydew melon juice.
And what says "Hare Krishna" better than several good ol' Canadian cinnamon buns for dessert?
Monday to Saturday noon to 3 pm and 6 to 8 pm. Closed Sunday, some holidays. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: 10 steps at door, washrooms in basement.
681 St Clair W, at Christie, 416-658-5687, mezzettarestaurant.com.
Loonie Monday/Toonie Tuesday
Now in its 21st year, Safa Nematy's intimate Middle Eastern café hasn't been one of Hogtown's hottest boîtes in some time, but it's certainly one of the most value-minded.
Never much more so than on Mondays, when every second tapas-like mezze - mixed organic greens with walnuts in barely there vinaigrette, smoky baba ghanoush, skewered lamb leg kebabs - will set you back $1.22 each instead of the regular $3.50 ($32 for 10). Tuesdays, everything on the menu is $2.22, with a maximum order of 25 plates.
And while the prices go back to normal on Wednesdays, $7 cover gets you a front-row seat for some of the best jazz musicians in the country, something you won't see at the local Slop 'n' Bucket.
Lunch Monday to Friday noon to 2:30 pm, for dinner Monday to Thursday 5 to 10:30 pm, Friday and Saturday 5 to 11 pm, Sunday 5 to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: four steps at door, washrooms in basement.
70 Fraser, at Liberty, 416-588-0005, schooltoronto.com.
Brunch has proven so popular at ex-Xacutti chef Brad Moore's Liberty Village café, it's now served every day of the week. Strangely, dinner service has yet to catch on with the eggs Benedict with hollandaise set.
That's about to change with the introduction of Schoolicious - clever name, that - a weekly event running through the end of March that sees any starter, main and dessert on the 75-seat resto's Indo-inspired card go for a double sawbuck and a fin. Little wonder the likes of beefy sliders dressed with horseradish-beet relish followed by cumin-kissed tranches of pink Atlantic salmon sided with buttery lentils in tomato cream and sticky toffee carrotcake to finish ($44 total any other night) cause regular sell-outs.
Wednesdays 5 to 10 pm. Reservations essential. Licensed. Access: barrier-free.