Travelling the world gave me an appreciation for food with flavour, spice, and creativity. Gone where the days of roast beef or roast chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, a staple in my house when I was growing up. While I can appreciate those family dinners, I crave flavour.
When I’m on the road, I lean towards fresh foods, street foods. I guess, in a way, it feels as though I am eating delicious home cooking. Plus there is the fact that street food is more budget friendly.
Since my first trip in Asia I have been on the look out for cheap and delicious eats in Canada. Expedia Canada asked me to share the best, on-a-budget meals across Canada.
These are the best meals I’ve had, for under $15.
Bonavista Social Club, Upper Amherst Cove, Newfoundland
Run by a husband and wife, Katie and Shane Hayes, the Bonavista Social Club is one of the hottest restaurants in Newfoundland. A recommendation from a local in the tiny hamlet of Duntara, I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the Bonavista Social Club, and found the place completely packed. I chose to sit on a stool at the bar, which had a view of the kitchen, and ordered braised lamb and watermelon lemonade, feeling intoxicated by the smell of freshly baked bread, and watching chef Katie make a pizza using her brick wood-fired oven.
At the Bonavista Social Club everything is handmade using fresh ingredients. A welcome contrast to many of the restaurants in Newfoundland that serve fried foods.
The Shack Oyster Bar, Halifax, Nova Scotia
I am still moaning with delight over my last meal at The Shack Oster Bar in Halifax. As I stood on Queen’s Wharf, looking at the colourful food shacks, I had one thing on my mind, lobster rolls. I was in Halifax. One cannot visit the Maritimes and not eat seafood, especially lobster.
I waited in line at one shack, and my hunger told me to leave the line and go to the Shack oyster Bar instead, and holy wow I am glad I did. I bought a Snow Crab & Lobster Roll for $12, walked to the nearest picnic table, sat down, and devoured it in seconds. The flavour was perfect, lobster and snow crab with a hint of citrus. I asked the girl what time they opened, and the next morning I practically ran from the train station to the wharf to buy two rolls, race back to the train, and ate them on my journey to Québec City.
Nina Pizza Napolitaine, Québec City, Québec
New to the Québec City food scene (summer 2014), Nina Pizza Napolitaine is one of the best pizza places in the city. Located in the neighbourhood of Saint-Roch, Nina Pizza Napolitaine serves up wood-fired pizzas from their Sicilian pizza oven (Yes, it was shipped over from Sicily!) that will leave you begging for more. This hotspot is quite busy, so reservations are suggested, unless you’re like me and prefer to get takeaway and devour your pizza in a park.
My mouth is now watering. Pardon me as I go search for travel deals to Québec City.
Holy Chuck Burgers, Toronto, Ontario
There are a lot of yummy burger joints in Toronto. Hell, there are a lot of yummy burger joints across Canada, but not many of them have insane burger combinations like Holy Chuck Burgers in Toronto.
The restaurant itself is bare bones; white walls, small tables, and slightly uncomfortable chairs, but one does not go to Holy Chuck for comfy seats, you go for burgers – like The Farmers Threesome; one lamb patty, one beef patty, one all bacon patty, triple cheese, bacon, and caramelized onions.
Warning, you may need a cholesterol test the next day, but it is totally worth it!
Wilbur Mexicana, Toronto, Ontario
Cheap eats in Toronto? A relatively new restaurant in Toronto, Wilbur Mexicana is all about fabulous food, casual dining, and affordable prices. Located on King Street West, Wilbur Mexicana is one of my favourite places in the city. I love that everything is made fresh, daily, and their hot sauce collection is out of this world!
Visiting me in Toronto? There is a pretty good chance I will suggest we go to Wilbur Mexicana. It’s partially because I want you to try it, but it’s mostly because I want to order tortillas with homemade guacamole and queso. A gourmet taco. Possibly some Mexican corn as well.
Fergies Fish’n Chips & Seafood Market, Winnipeg, Manitoba
The Forks Market in Winnipeg is filled with foodie options, but my favourite is Fergies Fish’n Chips & Seafood Market. Sure, I can eat fish and chips in any city in Canada, but not many of those restaurants serve up Walleye (Pickerel) – a fish native to the lakes in Manitoba. I love the moist and slight sweetness of Pickerel, whether it is breaded and fried by the lake, or dipped in homemade batter and fried. Alas, I go on very few fishing trips in Manitoba, so eating deep fried pickerel at Fergies is one of my favourite dining options whenever I’m in the city.
Tip: If you’re up to it, also try Pickerel cheeks. Eating fish cheeks sounds weird, but holy wow, they are freaking delicious!
Soho Road Food Truck, Vancouver, British Columbia
I am IN LOVE with Vancouver’s food truck scene, and there are many that are serving up delicious eats. I also love Indian food, namely Butter Chicken. I fell in love with Butter Chicken while travelling in Penang, Malaysia, and I am always on the look out for places with Butter Chicken that is both spicy, and doesn’t have massive chunks of chicken. I prefer smaller pieces and lots of sauce.
Okay, breathe Pam…
Imagine my delight when I spotted the Soho Road food truck, and a sandwich board with the words “Butter Chicken Wrap” written on them. Of course I ordered one immediately, asked for lots of fresh Indian chillies and sauce. Sitting near by, I opened the foil wrapper; bit into my naan wrap (which was made fresh in the truck), moaned, rolled my eyes, and devoured the rest in minutes. Yes, minutes. I now tell everyone who has a trip to Vancouver to swing by Georgia & Granville and grab a Butter Chicken wrap from Soho Road. One of my favourite cheap eats in Canada.
Written in conjunction with Expedia Canada, this post is by no means a complete list of the best cheap eats in Canada; it is merely the beginning. Many of my foodie experiences going forward will be posted on my new website, www.pamelamacnaughtan.com, and of course I will be posting photos on instagram at @pamelamacnaughtan and using the hashtag #BestEatsCanada.