Where to find the best meals for $10 or less in Kensington Market
We’re scouring the city—neighbourhood by neighbourhood—to find the best budget-friendly, belly-filling meals at independently run kitchens. In this edition, we bring you our top picks from Kensington Market, a neighbourhood popular with tourists and locals alike for its small shops and restaurants. Here, 10 of our favourite places in the neighbourhood where you can find affordable, filling meals.
The prices at Julio Campos’s taqueria are low enough to mix and match menu items to make a full meal. Pair a chicken tamale ($5) and a perfectly pineapple-y al pastor taco ($5) for a DIY $10 combo.
More budget bites: A birria taco, two corn tortillas—one on top of the other, for stability—stuffed with slowed-cooked beef stew and garnished with onion and cilantro, plus a cup of consommé on the side for dipping ($6 each).
This 100 per cent plant-based spot fuses Egyptian flavours with Canadian ingredients. Everything on the menu is under $10, but the Mama Shawarma pita, stuffed with soy-based “chicken,” pickled veggies, garlic sauce and tahini, is the thing to get ($9).
More budget bites: The Egyptian falafel, rice and lentil bowl ($10).
This Kensington Market chicken kitchen has been churning out crunchy, juicy fried fowl for seven years. Menu must-haves include the half-pound boneless bites with fries ($9.50) or the OG Chicken Sandwich, perfectly crispy boneless thighs and pickles dressed with house aioli on a potato bun ($9.50).
More budget bites: The Dirty Fries, hand-cut taters covered in cheddar cheese, fried onions, special sauce and house aioli ($9.50).
Just across College Street, on the market’s northernmost edge, are some of the city’s best New York–style slices. For $5, you can get a saucy, cheesy piece of heaven—large, floppy and begging to be folded in half. Some squiggles of Fresca’s famous garlic-herb sauce add an indulgent layer of flavour.
More budget bites: A margherita calzone ($7.50).
This Kensington Market classic really stretches the limits when it comes to how much food can be crammed into a takeout container. Even a small order of chef-owner Magnus Patterson’s Jamaican Mi Crazy Chicken—his signature jerk chicken meal, served with rice and veggies—is gut-busting in the best way ($10).
More budget bites: The Sicilian, a sandwich stuffed with jerk meatballs in spicy tomato sauce ($10), is Rasta Pasta’s culinary philosophy in panini form.
There’s nothing better at this breakfast counter than the namesake sandwich, a house-made bun layered with soft scrambled eggs, chives, Muenster cheese, slow-cooked onions and special sauce ($8).
More budget bites: The Bae-Sic, a heftier sandwich that stacks fried egg, pork belly sausage, tomato jam, slow-cooked onions, cheese and Bae Sauce on a house-made bun ($10).
Chef-owner Pierre St. Rose’s standard patties, filled with beef or curry chicken, ring in at $4.50 each. But, for a more substantial meal, there are the Upgraded Remixed versions, patties crammed with a slice of cheese and stuffed into coco bread ($6.50). It’s carbs on carbs (on beef on cheese) and we’re here for it.
More budget bites: The Crumbs Pizza Pouch, a beef or curry chicken patty layered with mozzarella cheese and topped with pepperoni ($7).
This fully halal burger joint turns out a lot of over-the-top creations (topped with things like onion rings and chicken tenders), but the cheeseburger, a six-ounce beef patty topped with cheddar, caramelized onions, lettuce, pickles and house sauce, is a classic for a reason ($8).
More budget bites: The house poutine, hand-cut fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy ($8).
If regular-size empanadas are great, it follows that jumbo empanadas would be even better, right? This Chilean kitchen’s calzone-size empanadas—giant golden-brown pastry pockets filled with beef, chicken or veggies—are a snack and a half ($6.50).
More budget bites: The Chilean humitas, mashed sweet corn, onion and basil wrapped in corn husks and steamed to perfection ($6).
For just $7, this vegan Vietnamese Thai spot turns out plant-based banh mi on house-made baguettes. We like the sweet and savoury one stacked with caramel seitan and all the pickled fixings.
More budget bites: The spicy, crispy vegan chicken banh mi ($7).