For Torontonians with champagne taste on a beer budget, you’re in luck – another round of Winterlicious, put on by the City of Toronto and presented by YP Dine, is on its way. The two-week-long foodie festival kicks off on January 27th with prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus at top notch TO restaurants. Here’s our shortlist of high-quality restos that will give you the most bang for your buck.
$18 lunch; $28 dinner. Espresso and artisanal pastries by day, wine and Italian snack bar by night: Bar Buca offers an all-day Italian experience. Chef Rob Gentile earned his stripes at King West’s Buca restaurant, later opening its spinoff Bar Buca in 2014. But make no mistake this isn’t your traditional spaghetti and red-sauce Italian fare. Prepare to scratch your head at some obscure – but surely delicious – Winterlicious menu items: crispy pig’s head, dandelion with anchovy vinaigrette and salty baked beets (just to name a few).
$28 lunch; $48 dinner. Hailing as one of Canada’s top dining destinations, Nota Bene continues to stay on trend with their contemporary décor and approachable menu. A staunch believer in seasonality, it’s no surprise that chef David Lee has designed a Winterlicious menu stacked with gourmet Canadian comfort foods. On a chilly afternoon warm up with their Nova Scotia lobster bisque made with Thai herbs and coconut milk. And since there’s always room for dessert (especially in the winter months) top it off with their Bruce Peninsula spy apple crumble.
$23 lunch; $38 dinner. While we can’t all afford a trip to Mexico this winter, Los Colibris on King West is within reach. Chef Elia Herrera’s authentic family recipes continue to make waves in #the6 all the way from her beachy hometown of Veracruz, Mexico. For an extra-meaty Winterlicious dish, try their Pollo Zapata (chicken breast, chorizo, bacon, bean sauce, green beans and of course, cheese). On the lighter side, their roasted seasonal vegetables in tlatonile and mole sauces are “muy delicioso.”
$28 lunch; $48 dinner. Sassafraz is just as fun to experience as it is to say aloud. This long-standing Yorkville restaurant is known for serving creative French inspired cuisine – and their Winterlicious menu is no exception. We recommend starting off with the pumpkin spiced chicken liver pâté on a charred baguette with ginger fig compote and pumpkin gel. For the main attraction, go big with ancho chili braised Ontario lamb shanks. Bon appetit!
Brassaii Restaurant and Lounge
$48 dinner. In the mood for a night out on the town? Brassaii offers a mouthwatering Winterlicious menu and post-meal ambiance for you to linger well into the night. We suggest starting off with homemade bread salad, followed by roasted pumpkin soup, and then dive into a hearty serving of braised beef short ribs. Afterward, cozy up fireside in their dimly lit lounge and sip on a Fifth Street Oldie made with cacao nib infused angostura bitters and vanilla syrup.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
$18 lunch; $28 dinner. Nothing hits the spot like a hot bowl of soup on a cold Toronto day. Internationally celebrated for their ramen, Momofuku Noodle Bar is a must-try this Winterlicious. Our top lunch picks are their pork buns (trust us, these live up to the hype), pumpkin ramen with coconut chili, and spiced chocolate mousse for dessert with cocoa crumble. If you’re headed there for dinner, rinse and repeat, but swap the smoked chicken ramen in for your main.
$18 lunch; $28 dinner. Located above the Hudson Bay flagship store on Queen and Bay, Bannock offers the quintessential Canadiana experience. Since opening in 2010, shoppers, tourists, foodies and local chefs have been flocking to take a bite out of their Canadian comfort foods. This Winterlicious, you can sample their Saskatchewan lentil and ancient grain salad, potted Matane shrimp, Fogo Island cod and more.