Cost of Eating Out in Canada



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Now and then, there is always a need to eat out. It could be as a form of celebration, a hangout with friends, family dinner, a date, a special treat or just basic routine for people who do not have the time to make or eat home-made food. The cost of eating out in Canada can be expensive depending on the restaurant, province and order.

Eating Out in Canada

The eating-out culture is practised all over the world with ethnic restaurants, fast food restaurants, casual dining restaurants, premium casual restaurants, bistros, cafes, pizzeria and the likes. Premium casual restaurants originate from Western Canada with features like a dining room section and a lounge section with multiple screens. 

These kinds of restaurants can be found in shopping centres or downtown Canada. They offer a wide variety of menu options like burgers, steaks, seafood, pizza, pasta and Asian foods.

If you live in a large city in Canada, you can find any type of cuisine in restaurants. In Canada, eating out is quite common with the presence of over 97,500 restaurants, bars and cafes. Although due to the ongoing global pandemic, about 10% of these restaurants have closed permanently. 

According to Stats Canada, about 54% of Canadians eat out at least once or more weekly, while 39% eat out less than once a week. Most people eat out in Canada because of the following reasons:

  • It is convenience
  • Networking
  • Do not like cooking
  • Socializing 
  • Treating themselves
  • No time to cook
  • Do not know how to cook

It is noteworthy that most Canadians who eat out most times change their order based on nutrition information on the menu.

Special Cuisine per Province in Canada

Food in Canadian restaurant menus contains almost the same items as American restaurants. However, each province in Canada serves its unique specialities. In Quebec, the best-known signature dishes are tourtière meat pies and poutine, French fries with gravy and cheese curd. 

Nova Scotia is famous for its blueberries, rappie pie and the Annapolis Valley apple pie. New Brunswick is known for its fiddleheads and edible seaweed. Ontario is best known for fish. Alberta is reputable for its beef. Vancouver in British Columbia is one of the best places for Chinese and Japanese cuisine. In Prince Edward Island, you will get a mountain of seafood for as low as CA$30.

Restaurants in Canada

Sit-in restaurants and fast-food restaurants are the most common eating out spots in Canada. Below are the top 10 restaurants in Canada in descending order:

  1. Alo (Toronto, Ontario)
  2. Joe Beef (West Montreal, Quebec)
  3. Toqué! (Montreal, Quebec)
  4. Langdon Hall (Cambridge, Ontario)
  5. St. Lawrence (Vancouver, British Columbia)
  6. Le Mousso (Montreal, Quebec)
  7. Buca Osteria and Bar (Toronto, Ontario)
  8. Montreal Plaza (Montreal, Quebec)
  9. Giulietta (Toronto, Ontario)
  10. Edulis (Toronto, Ontario)

Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are currently standing out for their choice of international restaurants. While Ontario is the province with the greatest number of fast-food locations with about 5,766 stores. 

Below are some of the top fast-food chains in Canada:

  • Tim Hortons 
  • Subway
  • Starbucks 
  • McDonald’s 
  • Dairy Queen
  • KFC
  • Dominoes 
  • Pizza Hut
  • Wendy’s 
  • Burger King

Tim Hortons is the biggest fast-food chain in Canada with about 4,268 stores and is followed by Subway although McDonald’s and Starbucks have higher sales than Subway.

Cost of Eating Out in Canada

An average cost of eating out in Canada is about CA$15 per person. Breakfast is generally cheaper than lunch and dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Canada are often-times more expensive than fast food prices or street food prices.

  • Breakfast

Breakfast in Canada is taken very seriously. It is often the best value and most filling meal of the day. In Canadian restaurants, breakfast is usually on till around 11 AM. Breakfast options range from eggs (however you want them), ham or bacon, English muffins, waffles or pancakes, sandwiches, tea and coffee. Prices for breakfast range between CA$7 – CA$15.

  • Lunch

Restaurants in Canada serve lunch between 11.30 AM and 2.30 PM. They offer set menus that are generally of great value. In Chinese restaurants, you will find rice and noodles or buffets for CA$10 – CA$15. Japanese restaurants serve sushi for under CA$20. Generally, the price for lunch in Canada varies from CA$10 – CA$25.

  • Dinner

In Canada, whether you are in a large city or a small town, your choice of restaurant for dinner depends on whatever you fancy and if you can afford it. In small towns, you will find small, family-owned restaurants, cafes or bistros with cheaper prices with great quality of food. 

Most restaurants in Canada offer dinner services starting from 5-7 PM and end around 10-11 PM. Main dishes range between CA$12 – CA$40 but you can be sure to pay more at fancier restaurants. 

A bottle of wine may cost between CA$25 – CA$30. If it is a dinner for two with wine, the price is between CA$60 – CA$80 and can be up to CA$100 in a fancy establishment. 

Traditional Canadian dishes without wine cost between CA$40 – CA$50 for two. With wine, they can cost up to CA$75 – CA$80. Street foods are quite popular too. Hot dogs and hamburgers cost between CA$2 and CA$5. A Mexican burrito costs about CA$8.

If you are eating out in a typical Italian restaurant in Canada, expect to get a menu that includes;

  • Pasta with seafood – this cost about CA$18
  • Beer – CA$10
  • A glass of wine – CA$8

Eating out in Canada can be cheap or expensive depending on your choice and your budget. In selecting a restaurant, you may want to consider other factors besides money and taste, such as:

  • How healthy the food is
  • The hygiene conditions of where the food is prepared
  • Your religion – some meals are not permitted in some religion

Canada offers a wide range of restaurants and cuisine, so you do not have to limit yourself to one place. Explore as many dishes as you want but be sure you can afford it.

Tips on Eating Out on A Budget

You can save some money if you plan or make a budget and eat out at your favourite restaurants for less. Below are some tips you save more and spend less while eating out in Canada.

  • Budget for it

If eating out is a must for you, then it will be wise to budget for it. By putting it into your budget, you will be able to make room for some restaurants within the week or month.

  • Become a member

You can become a member by subscribing to the mailing list of the restaurant. There are usually special offers just for creating an account and for your birthday. You can always unsubscribe if you don’t want to be in-the-know about the restaurant.

  • Ask for a discount

Some restaurants give discounts based on who you are, e.g. Children, seniors, students and military personnel are usually the most common candidates for discounts. You can check the restaurant discount requirement online or ask before your server brings your bill.

Other ways to save cost on eating out in Canada include:

  • Take a survey – freebies are usually attached to this
  • Buy gift cards below face value
  • Be conscious about your menu
  • Eat out on National days

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Kareena Maya

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.