DINING ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE SPOON

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By Karon Liu

Welcome to Ryerson, soon-to-be fat asses and regretful alkies! You’re in Canada’s biggest city, so why restrict yourself to the cafeteria (known as the Hub) and the Eaton Centre’s food court when it comes to food and drink? This guide is just the thing you need to say “no thanks” to sobriety and portion control.

Fresh (326 Bloor St. W.)

The yuppie-friendly, all-vegetarian and vegan menu includes massive wraps (as thick as a half-used roll of toilet paper) and burgers that, although taste nothing like meat, are still delicious and filling. The place is often understaffed and crowded, but expect to spend only $10 for a meal, plus another $5 for one of their dozens of shakes, juices and fair-trade coffees. Yes, they have organic beer, too, and it’s Moby-licking good!

Future Bakery (483 Bloor St. W.)

Sorry Rye-High, but your neighbourhood restaurants suck more than a vacuum cleaner in a black whole. Hop on over to University of Toronto territory in the Annex because Future Bakery, open late and perfect for study groups, is famous for its 40 kinds of cake and all-day breakfasts. In addition, you’ll find big portions of pub fare, sandwiches and wraps at student-friendly prices. Make sure to pick up a “Buy 10 and get one free” cake/coffee punch card, and bring your U of T friends — they get a discount with student ID.

The Big Slice (385 Yonge St.)

Just at the corner of Yonge and Gerrard streets near the Jorgensen building, this pizza place is great for absorbing those seven beers, joints or whatever the hell you kids put in your body in the middle of the night. One slice costs $3.50 and is bigger than the one you’ll get at the Pizza Pizza across the street. Have your student card ready at the counter during the day; you’ll get a pop for only 50 cents more. Mind the drug dealers outside — they’re the ones wearing puffy winter coats in 30-degree C weather.

Pickle Barrel Grande (312 Yonge St.)

The large menu comes in handy when dining with a group that can’t decide on what to eat. But be sure to call ahead (416-977-6677) to make reservations (even if it’s just for four people) because there are always long lineups, thanks to nearby offices and droves of tourists. Expect to spend $10 to $15 for an entrée but their specialty is their giant Bellini cocktail that takes two people to finish. There’s nothing spectacular about this restaurant chain, but it’s a good place when you don’t want to venture too far from campus and need to forget writing that midterm immediately.

Ho Su Bistro (254 Queen St. W. and 2352 Yonge St.)

Granted, it’s not the best sushi in Toronto — that honour goes to Gonoe Sushi at 1260 Don Mills Rd., near the Science Centre — but it’ll satisfy a “For the love of Tyra Banks, if I eat another burger I’ll take a crap on your face” craving. Like many Japanese restaurants in Toronto, they also offer Korean fare. But if you want sushi, a 45-piece platter (good for two people) costs $39.95 and individual rolls, ranging from the standard California rolls to more exotic (and satisfying) red dragon rolls (tempura shrimp, avocado, flying fish eggs and cucumber maki roll wrapped in salmon), cost between $4-$10. Service is also fast, a rarity in downtown restaurants.

Schmooze (15 Mercer St.)

Don’t be a douchebag and show off your new stilettos or blazer in class (it happens one too many times, unfortunately). Save your dressier duds at this hidden nightclub (there’s no entrance sign) in the Entertainment District, where a smart casual dress code is in effect: no baggy or ripped clothing or athletic wear, and guys must wear a collared shirt. (Flip your collar up and the bouncer will bitch slap you back to high school.) The DJ spins a combination of Latin, hip-hop and old-school swing, but you can lounge on the big couches scattered around the four dimly-lit bars and VIP rooms (think Pottery Barn meets high-class ’70s porn) if you don’t want to dance or just want to make out with the 25-year-old, nouveau-riche stranger beside you. The Asian-inspired menu (Thai chicken pizza, spring rolls) is a reasonable $10-$15 and drinks are only $3.

It’s closed Sundays so you can repent about the night before.

Mounties (149 Dundas St. E.)

Ever wonder where your self esteem went when you were shot down by Schulich? It can be found beside the drooling locals at this bar, wondering where it all went wrong over $5 pitchers that taste like a mixture of all the beer that last night’s customers didn’t finish. It’s definitely a 30-plus, unshaven crowd that smells like adult apathy and calls this darkly lit and musty haunt home — and I don’t mean in a metaphorical sense. However, they jump for joy whenever young blood enters its iron-bar doors. Lucky for you, a lot of similar establishments are near Ryerson. As for food, there’s a crusty microwave behind the bar.

Oh yes, remember to drink responsibly so you won’t be that dillweed who passes out, face down on the bathroom floor — you know a photo of it will eventually surface on Facebook. Don’t like any of my recommendations? Visit Torontorestaurants.com for more listings, you picky bitch.

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