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Top 5 Lunches for Under $10 in Kingston

Hazem Mossa Breaks Down the Best Bang for your Buck Grub in K-Town

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If you’ve ever driven past Kingston on the 401, or know someone who knows someone that knew someone that visited Kingston, you have no doubt heard that Kingston has the most restaurant’s per capita in Canada. While I can’t verify the validity of that claim to foodie fame, I can say that Kingston’s selection of quality restaurants is greater than a town without an Ikea has any right to be.

Being surrounded by these restaurants can make eating out a tempting option, but a pricey habit. If you love your stomach but don’t quite hate your bank account, check out this list and ditch the McValue menu.

1.    Chicken Teriyaki Bento Box Lunch Special – Sushi Bar Da ($10)

When you’re one of a seemingly never ending number of sushi restaurants in downtown Kingston you need to stand out. Sushi Bar Da does that with their odd name and great lunch specials. The hallmark of any bento box is the variety that comes in its many compartments. This one includes a 6-piece California maki roll, edamame, white rice, vegetable tempura, salad and miso soup. The star of the show is the chicken teriyaki, which is served on a bed sprouts with a sweet and savoury sauce. Vegetarians can also get this great value at no extra charge by asking for tofu teriyaki and an avocado cucumber roll.

2.    Spinach & Eggplant Roti – Sally’s Roti Shop ($9.50)

This family run Caribbean style roti joint sells some of the best curry dishes in the city, and service always comes with a smile. Roti is a traditional Indian flatbread that they make in house, which wraps the mouthwatering curried spinach and eggplant filling. If roti isn’t your, you can upgrade to a meal which includes a side of rice and curried potatoes. The heat level can vary day to day but this dish is typically on the mild side.

3.    Falafel Student Special – Alli Baba Kebab ($6)

Fried chickpea patties are a mainstay of middle eastern cuisine. If you’re unsatisfied with the authenticity of Pita Pit’s spongy excuse for falafel, stop by Ali Baba’s. Their version includes pickles, tahini, tomato, cucumber and most importantly falafel that has a satisfying crunch. The special also comes with a canned soda and a side of garlic roasted potatoes which are seasoned with a traditional blend of spices and finished in a generous drizzle of oil. Be warned that the potatoes are a on the heavier side, and are best suited as an infrequent indulgence. There is also a kebab special for an extra couple of bucks if you’re looking to change it up.

4.    a.l.t. Bagel & Butternut Squash Soup – Common Grounds ($5.25 + $3.75)

Common Grounds (or CoGro) is a QL favorite, for there convenient ARC location and ‘exam sized’ coffees. There appropriately named a.l.t. is a play on the classic BLT. CoGro substitutes the traditional bacon for an avocado spread and broccoli sprouts, placed lovingly on a sesame whole wheat bagel. The best part is that these sandwiches are made to order, so you won’t find any unappetizing browned avocado bits.

If you can’t fight the CoGro itch but don’t have time for their infamous long lines, head over to their lesser known JDUC location. You won’t find any of their fresh made sandwiches, but the soup menu is a cold weather favorite. The soups change daily but the butternut squash is a regular feature. It’s a simple bisque prepared daily, highlighting the natural richness of the squash. The only downside is that they never give you enough saltines.

5.    Pho nam – Dang Nai ($8.75)

If you’re heading far enough west to exit the downtown bubble, make the trip to Dong Nai. Their menu features 9 different pho including a vegetarian option. The pho nam includes tender slices of beef brisket, along with mung beans, and chives served in a rice noodle soup. Bringing together a combination of umami flavours without any ingredient being overpowering, this dish achieves an excellent balance.

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult and expensive breaking away from the familiar comfort of the chain eateries, but you miss out on one of life’s simple pleasures when you’re stuck in the Domino’s/Starbucks cycle. Seeking out new foods makes for a great activity you can do any day of the week with groups of any size. Take advantage of all Kingston has to offer by exploring the area and the menus. Every time you dine out can be an experience.

Hazem Mossa is a 3L

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