OK! I stumbled upon this video by Toronto Eats about the cheapest 💵 restaurant in the city. So, I followed Toronto Eats to Gale's Snack Bar in Leslieville.
Gale's Snack Bar is a humble little corner shop at the intersection of Eastern and Carlaw Avenue - the dilapidated outside made me wondered for a moment if it was still open. In a quiet section of Leslieville east of the city centre, it takes about 10 minutes by car to get here.
But, I walked lah. I always prefer to walk than sit in a car when I travel. I want to smell, hear, touch, stop to chat than to just view the place fleetingly through a window (which would be little different from watching a muted TV).
Took me over an hour, stopping whenever a vintage street car rumbled by and taking pictures of interesting restaurants, marking them down for future visits.
Gale's Snack Bar is a laid back little space where regulars saunter in and out, linger and hangout over greasy grub and coffee, tea or soda. There're 3 booths and 8 bar stools along a formica top counter greyed with age cramped into some 500 square feet of space. But, it is bright inside with windows on two sides. Tempo is leisurely, almost sleepy. Customers linger to banter with Eda, the friendly lady boss like
Eda's family bought the diner in 1965 from Gale, the previous owner who started the business in the 1950s (that's well over half a century ago). They kept everything pretty much as it was, even keeping the name Gale's Snack Bar. Eda now runs the diner with her dad David who does the cooking in the kitchen.
Well worn throwbacks from the 60s dotted the diner, here and there (like a dusty curio shop on moving out sale). The place wears a grimy patina from decades of fried meals served.
The menu has not changed since the 60s - basically sandwiches, fries, floats, coffee, tea and such sustenance. The prices are clearly a fraction of similar diners in town.
I had this fish and chips for CDN6 with tax and tip everything in.
At this price, I
It tasted like mom's "after school lunch" like Toronto Eats said. The batter was nicely golden brown and crisp. The fish inside was tender and moist, and even had a slight natural fish sweetness. Good enough that I am not sure if it came out frozen in a supermarket box or made from scratch by David.
The battered fish's savoury sweetness was well complemented by house made tartar sauce.
The fries were made with freshly cut potatoes (not frozen factory fries) and fried till golden brown. They went well with generic bottled ketchup.
Eda said their best seller is their club sandwich (CDN2.75) which I shall try next time. Their turkey sandwich should be good too as the bird is freshly roasted at the diner every day.
Information for you 👌 Over half century old Leslieville institution - loved and respected by locals like a family elder. Nice and cosy though well worn place for a cheap, simple yet satisfying bite. Take your time to experience small town warmth in Old Toronto. Probably not for people who are in a hurry.
More on my Toronto walkabouts 👈 click
Restaurant name: Gale's Snack Bar
Address: 539 Eastern Ave, Toronto, ON M4M 1C6, Canada
GPS: 43°39'29.9"N 79°20'20.5"W 🌐 43.658312, -79.339014
Hours: 10:00am - 6:00pm (Sunday off)
Date visited: 19 Jun 2019