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Restaurants

Java House Serves Up Eclectic Cheap Eats Menu

Posted by Tanja / Reviewed on March 26, 2008 / review policy

Chicken Pad Thai at Java House Cafe on Queen West
Sitting on the corner of Queen West and Augusta, Java house is a ragged-yet-lovable little cafe/resto hang-out with a big patio, tiny kitchen and cheap eats menu that sees no borders.

The international mish mash line-up of entrees offers up favourites like pad thai, shanghai noodles, omelets, pierogies and more, including all-day breakfast specials like sausage & eggs and french toast. No meal is more than $10. Most barely scrape the $6 mark. If you're familiar with the Red Room on Spadina, this menu is going to look very familiar.

Pitcher of Sangria
If that wasn't easy enough on your wallet, there are even greater deals to be had with daily specials every day of the week. I usually drop by on Saturdays when you can score a pitcher of sangria or imported beer + 2 entrees for $21.

The sangria is unreliable, sometimes strong, sometimes just sweet -- depending on who's pouring -- but always pretty tasty. It makes for a great patio drink, or in my case, an I-wish-it-was-warm-enough-for-the-patio kind of treat.

Veggie Stir-Fry
This evening, the order is one Chicken Pad Thai (pictured at the top) and a Veggie Stir-fry (with extra veggies in place of the standard chicken/shrimp/tofu option).

Both are huge portions, prepared quickly and just as we asked. I'm not about to hand out any fine-dining awards here, but most offerings are pretty good for the price.

Pad Thai is spicy and actually pretty fresh for something whipped up in a few minutes. The Veg Stir-Fry features lots of crisp fresh veggies (no freezer bag platefuls) aside steamed white rice. The whole dish is actually more steamed than fried, making it one of the healthier menu choices... something you might consider if planning on enjoying a pitcher or two.

Java House on Queen St West in Toronto

Discussion

39 Comments

Andrea / March 26, 2008 at 11:38 am
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It pains me to go to Java House, like, literally. Two out of three times I've been there, I've become ill shortly aftewards. It's unfortunate because I also like its chill vibe and affordable appeal. It's just not worth the pain...
B / March 26, 2008 at 01:58 pm
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I got served raw chicken there once, they didn't even offer me a discount or money back.

Gross
Ben / March 26, 2008 at 02:05 pm
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Andrea, my mileage may vary. I've been there hundreds of times and I've never had a problem. I am a vegetarian though; that goes a long way toward not eating spoiled meat.

I like their beer selection. I know it's not rare, but it's nice to have Creemore and Upper Canada on tap.
MattAlexander / March 26, 2008 at 09:49 pm
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I hate to be the guy that keeps pointing out pests but: I trapped a cockroach under my coke can as it scurried across the table the last time I was at Java House. Keep your eyes open.
john / March 26, 2008 at 10:56 pm
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I won't eat at any place where the filthy washrooms are still cleaner than the kitchen.
krystyn / March 26, 2008 at 11:24 pm
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I agree john... plus to get to the bathrooms you have to walk through the kitchen! How gross is that?? I do like their cheap sangria and the avocado & brie sandwiches. The breakfast fare is hella greasy.
VonYa / March 27, 2008 at 01:46 am
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I've seen the women sitting on milk crates, on the floor, peeling potatoes....no counter. The floor is black and not by design, just decades of filth. I fear going to the washrooms because I believe that one day I WILL see a giant rat mosey on past me while I run back upstairs screaming uncontrollably. The washrooms are horrible, dirty, flooded half the time, no toilet paper but there's always soap...thank goodness. The clientele has gotten better over the last couple of years because they've closed off the entrance to the patio from the outside. The patio used to be open for all from the outside and that attracted some real "weirdos" who just wanted to sit on a patio without buying anything. I once witnessed a woman peeing on a patio chair, when she was done she just got up and left....ewwwww.

Would I eat there? Hell no!
Would I sit there for a couple of beers (not draft) or maybe a coffee? Sure. Despite all the negatives, it does have an appeal and neat atmosphere, especially on the patio but I have to be sure to launder everything I wore that day/night and resist the temptation to put my fingers anywhere near my mouth..lol.
AL FATAH / March 27, 2008 at 10:05 am
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Thats not kosher !
Daryl / April 2, 2008 at 10:54 am
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Located right smack dad in the middle of the strip between "Queen West" and "Queen west west", the Java Hut is a colorful little hole in the wall catering to those with an appetite for almost anything but a pocket book geared towards fast food. One of the FEW places on Queen where you can get a REAL meal for the cost of a trip to a Mc-type FF joint. I will agree that the cleanliness probably leaves a bit to be desired, but having worked in a restaurant for years I have a fair idea about what to worry and not worry about. ALL the food is good. I am a big fan of the tofu appetizer. AND the avacado and Brie sandwich - add on bacon!!! There is a food god!! When you can have 4 people dine out in T.O. and walk away with a bill under $30 AND everyone is satiated, it was worth the trip.
Anitabot / July 3, 2008 at 11:24 am
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I've eaten at the Java House many, many times and have never had a problem with uncooked food. I've eaten meat on many occasions there without problems! It's too bad some of you have gotten sick!

I would recommend this place to anyone
Lydia / October 7, 2008 at 08:51 pm
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Love Java House! I too have eaten there many times and usually enjoyed the food. I have never had anything bad.

The actual wash room (women's) is as clean as it can be given the age of the building. Yes, it could look better but only if it was pulled down and rebuilt. The stalls and seats are clean and I suppose that has more to do with who was in there previously.

It is cheap and cheerful - c'mon, enjoy and don't expect champagne on a beer budget.
Sarah / December 31, 2008 at 11:57 am
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I get the breakfasts and find they're good...their pasta sucks..same with their salads..but the service is pretty good and it's pretty clean...except when u have to go use the bathroom..lol
Bob / March 13, 2009 at 05:29 am
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Great coffee,best price. much better and cheaper than starbucks on the same corner augusta and queen west. big patio, good,. relaxed, atmosphere.
log / April 4, 2009 at 01:16 am
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Love the Java. Excellent prices. Amazing summer patio.
Clarissa / April 12, 2009 at 03:03 pm
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I just want to add that I went there this past Good Friday and ordered an all day breakfast and I requested white bread, it wasn't an option as they only had whole wheat bread. Hmmm...well, what about those who have whole wheat intolerance, what do you suggest? Anyway, long story short, I asked if they had white bagels. They did and when I got the bill they had charged me an extra .75 cents. No biggy, but it was the principal of the situation. Due to the fact I have whole wheat intolerance, I had to pay the price of a bagel as "they are going health conscious".

Anyway, needless to say that I will not be going back.
Benjamin Rivers / April 23, 2009 at 05:28 pm
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I've been going to Java for almost ten years now; I literally began my career on their patio (er, I'm not a server). The service wavers in and out, and there was a sweet time when I knew everyone by name and they were good to me, but as the staff changes, so does the restaurant. Not in all this time have I ever gotten ill or received bad food, though.

This place is still my home away from home, and I can't think of a better place to get hangover brunch in the summer. Patio season doesn't officially begun until one is sitting at Java.

I like the place so much, I even wrote a comic that takes place almost entirely in the joint (though I don't think they know that): http://www.emptywords.ca .

I hope those who had bad experiences give it another shot.
Shari / June 16, 2009 at 02:19 pm
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Java house may be a little grungy/dirty
but the food and cheap deals are amazing
a few summers ago i spent 2-3 days there a week
Love it...and everything about it
Gnome / March 30, 2010 at 11:38 am
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i love the java house. cheap beer, great daily specials, lots of veggie options, and delicioussssssss fried tofu.

i reccomend the curry pad thai, or anything with fried tofu. they'll also let you sub in tofu for eggs or meat in the all day breakfast if you're real sweet.

i have had a few not-so-delicious meals but never gotten sick and never regretted forking over a max of $6.
T / July 11, 2010 at 12:19 pm
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I had been loyal to Java House for a long time, although, I went last weekend and their waitstaff was SO incredibly rude. They messed up 3 out of our 5 orders and I had to wait an extra 40 minutes for a RAW vermicilli noodle dish. The waitress had the balls to BLAME ME for her stupid mistakes and didn't even apologize. I asked to speak to management and nobody would even get management for me. When we paid the bill, we didn't tip and they asked up for the .37 cents we neglected to pay. Bullshit. Don't go back. There are so many other buisnesses in Toronto worthy of buisness. Go to HoSu at Queen and John. I'd rather pay an extra 10 buck on my bill to have a comfortable, and non-humiliating eating experience.
george / December 25, 2010 at 09:52 am
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i have lived down the street for 15 years wich is longer than this shthole has been open it's dirty and the staff sucks really poached eggs means poached eggs not broken eggs in a pool of water any other waitress wouldn't allow that out of the kitchen let alone give you a dirty look for being honest not professional at all 2 out of 10 and thats cuse i'm nice
Mike / January 7, 2011 at 05:50 pm
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I have eaten at Java House many times, I particularly enjoy the 2 entrées & sangria.
Never had a problem with undercooked meat or seen any pests, but this is downtown Toronto. I've seen cockroaches at the the Best Western.
It's by no means the cleanest place, but that's part of the charm for me. I would definitely go back for the dim, laid back setting.
Reza / February 7, 2011 at 07:49 am
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Thank you for the comment because I'm from java thank a lot of the comment
Isie / June 21, 2011 at 09:43 pm
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If you're looking for a chill place to have a beer, then head to Java House. If you're looking for anything else, say good food, good service and washrooms you don't have to walk through the kitchen to get through, then you're better off going elsewhere.

My friends and I went over once for a taste of their Tuesday special and it was anything but special. The "pound" of wings were alright, that is, once someone finally brought them out to our table.

We never once got served by the same person, which meant a whole lot of miscommunication with our order and a whole lot of waiting for practically everything--even a glass of water with a slice of lemon.(By the way, the lemon slice never came. But slices of lime did).

Take away thought: if you're in the Queen W & Augusta area and you happen to be stricken with pangs of hunger, keep walking. Any direction will do. Your wallet and your taste buds will thank you for it.
Tonathyu Perez / July 5, 2011 at 05:41 pm
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the real queen west people have pre drinks and winter dinners at Java.
Love the spicy chicken and the avocado salad !!!!
H.H. / September 30, 2011 at 07:54 pm
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Sangria was okay, not the best (not much booze or fruit in it), not the worst. Everything else about my experience at Java House was horrible. I'm not one to complain, I would usually rather 'take one for the team' and deal with a situation quietly... But, serving someone leftover stir-fry veggies (carrots, broccoli, bamboo shoots) in a stale wrap with teriyaki chicken with orange cheese on top, and a side of SALSA and GUACAMOLE... Is just disgusting. The description on the menu was misleading: they called it a 'Chicken fajita', leading me to believe I'd be served a chicken fajita. I tried to eat it, it was awful. Someone in our group ordered the same thing, and they were also disgusted. They took one bite and gave up. I could only stomach the chicken from my plate. The server told us that since we sampled the food, there was nothing they could do. She explicitly told us, "There's nothing we can do unless there is a fly in your food." She also said that the Vietnamese kitchen staff put their own twist on the dishes. I love Vietnamese food - this was anything but.

It's one thing to be up front about serving 'fusion' cuisine, it's quite another to serve people something that tastes like a bunch of leftover crap a college student scraped out of their fridge and put together to make a 'meal'. I like crap food - I like fast food on occasion, I'm not too picky. This, was just nasty.


This place had been recommended to me by several people, and I now think they are just plain fools, or perhaps all they do there is drink. Will never go back, and will be sure to let anyone I know who is thinking of going there to just go to frickin' McDonald's, instead. I've had better food there than I did at Java House, paid a lot less, and didn't feel sick to my stomach after taking a few bites.


Great job!


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gary / December 12, 2011 at 08:27 pm
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the food is good, the staff are fantastic (tip well, they deserve it!) a nice place to hang out no matter your generation, budget, preclutivities.
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Sal / September 5, 2012 at 12:03 am
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So lets just cut to the chase
PROS: Cheap pitchers. Like 11 dollars on tap really can't beat that

CONS: NEVER ORDER THE BREAKFAST. Got real sick one time, also super greasy. Food is not worth it even though its superrrrr cheap.
No Debit machine
Servers are rude
Place is never clean
Service is horrible
bob / October 22, 2012 at 03:07 pm
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I worked here some 10 years ago and it was a shithole back then. Seems nothing has changed.
Andjulin / March 29, 2013 at 08:21 pm
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First off I must say that I live in that hood so Java house is and will always be part of my routine. With that said the service consistantly sucks. I've seen a number of different servers come and go in the past few years. I've never expected good service, just super decent and cheap food. This morning after breakfast I dropped a townie under the table and while I was down there looking for it, I stumbled across a used needle. I tell the waitress expecting her to do something immediately seeing how this is fucking dangerous and it's uncapped, she rolls her eyes and exhales an annoyed ugh after taking my money. I waited a minute to see if she would tell her boss but no, she kept serving tables. Now I see why they keep hiring beautiful model type women, because I guess they can get away with being really rude.
Luna / June 3, 2013 at 08:57 pm
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It's sketchy but that's just part of the whole experience. I like walking through the kitchen to the bathroom and feeling like I'm having an interesting cultural experience. Cockroaches? appreciate their beauty. Bask in the interestingness of the whole scene. Enjoy. Order another beer, it's the cheapest you'll find in the city. Enjoy the wallpaper and dark warm atmosphere. If that's not your thing, try the patio. Try the sangria. Try to enjoy life and stop worrying about silly little things like sanitation and cleanliness (who careeees, you'll be fine) Just relax and let go.
John / June 18, 2013 at 11:55 am
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Lol @luna
Tish / August 1, 2014 at 11:10 am
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I've been putting off going to Java House for so long but last week I finally went! I really don't know what took me so long it's amazing. If your'e a Uni student or just don't have that much money go no further Java House rules. Cheap pitchers and good food, laid back atmosphere, AMAZING PATIO?!!! what more do you really want?? So what if the bathrooms aren't perfect what are you expecting 5 star dining? Java House is a nice place to get drunk during the summer.

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