These are 15 of Toronto's must-visit restaurants this winter

Jan 11 2019, 9:29 pm

It’s been a long week but (Lemon) it’s only Wednesday.

It’s 4:30 pm and it’s dark outside. Your beret looks cute but it doesn’t actually cover your ears, so you’re freezing.

Sometimes, the only thing getting you through winter in this city is the promise of a comforting and cozy meal beyond the realm of what you would even attempt to make at home.

And that’s exactly what these restaurants are serving. Call your friends to catch up, or let your date know you’ve already chosen the resto.

These spots will keep you warm on the coldest night.

Pai

 

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Step off of Duncan Street and into this restaurant to experience the smells, flavours and colours of Northern Thailand. Devour curry out of a coconut, twist thick, spicy noodles around your fork, and let yourself be transported to a much warmer environment. The heat of the dishes, combined with the heat of the spices in them, will make you feel cozy from the inside out.

Address: 18 Duncan Street
Phone: 416-901-4724

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Actinolite

 

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Cold-weather birthday? Winter anniversary? Want to celebrate the passing of the first official three-and-a-half weeks of winter? All your needs will be met here. Seasonal, Canadian plants and meats are prepared and plated like art to appeal to your taste buds… and all your other senses, too. Come with someone you love and plan to stay a while, this space is one where you’ll want to snack away and sip wine for hours.

Address: 971 Ossington Avenue
Phone: 416-962-8943

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Ramen Isshin

 

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This statement is bold, but we’re going to make it anyway: if you haven’t tasted Ramen Isshin, you haven’t tasted ramen in Toronto. Every spoonful of broth is exploding with flavour. The noodles are the perfect texture, the meats are magically seasoned. Tucking into this spot for a steamy bowl is the ideal escape from the snowy intersection of College and Bathurst. Expect a wait. But don’t fret; you can pop into Toby’s Pub in the meantime.

Address: 421 College Street
Phone: 416-367-4013

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Cafe Boulud

 

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Is there anything more warming and romantic than French food? Start with house-made dry pork sausage and gherkins. Then warm your soul with French onion soup, and savour squid-ink pasta with lobster to follow. Finish with flourless chocolate cake, and then try to convince us that you aren’t feeling much, much cozier than you were before.

Address: 60 Yorkville Avenue
Phone: 416-963-6000

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Quetzal

 

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Traditional culinary methods from Mexico combine with Canadian produce, meats and seafood to bring a twist to classic dishes. Seafood cocktail, chorizo with chimichurri and butter-fried fish on the grill offer you the tastes of summer in the middle of winter, while still honouring what’s seasonally available.

Address: 419 College Street
Phone: 647-347-3663

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Annabelle

 

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As above, so below. Just like you haven’t had ramen in Toronto if you haven’t been to Ramen Isshin, you haven’t had pasta in Toronto if you haven’t been to Annabelle. With a rotating menu of three pastas made fresh daily, unreal burrata, beautiful bread and a down-to-earth attitude, this little Davenport treasure is hard to beat. When you’re craving carbs, cocktails and wine, but not craving a hefty bill, get here. Pasta dishes are $11. You’re welcome.

Address: 909 Davenport Road

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Momofuku

 

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Pork chops upstairs, noodles downstairs… and so much more. Momofuku’s menu may be ever-changing, but it’s always delicious. Slurp up hot and spicy noodles with chicken katsu, rice cakes and steamed buns at Noodle Bar, or head up to Kojin to try local meats and produce prepared with the Momofuku-touch. Finish with a sweet treat from Milk Bar. Hint: Warming a Compost Cookie in the microwave is always a good idea.

Address: 190 University Avenue
Phone: 647-253-6225

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Dandylion

 

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The tiny menu at this little spot is constantly in flux, changing in alignment with what’s in season. What you can count on consistently: there’s always delicious fresh bread to start, there’s always a vegan option, and no matter what you choose, it will always be delicious. The space is cozy by nature, and the vibe encourages closeness and warm conversation. There’s something special about Dandylion. Just show up, you’ll be sure to feel it.

Address: 1198 Queen Street West
Phone: 647-464-9100

Le Swan

 

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Sometimes you just need steak frites. Or jambon and raclette on a baguette. Or an omelette. Sometimes. All the time. Whatever. Whenever. These dishes can be yours at this little French diner, by none other than Jen Agg. Hurry in and close the door — don’t let the cold wind follow. And then get comfortable with a glass of wine and the bold, robust flavours of meat, butter and Hellman’s, (“the Heinz ketchup of mayonnaise.”)

Address: 892 Queen Street West
Phone: 416-536-4440

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Bar Isabel

 

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Fresh bread, bone marrow, octopus, mussels, basque cake with sherry cream… this is your midwinter night’s dream. Ideal for an after-work bite, stopping into Bar Isabel will help you feel that little bit closer to the weekend, which is much-needed on Wednesdays that feel like they should be Friday.

Address: 797 College Street
Phone: 416-532-2222

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See also

Labora

 

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Another bright and beautiful spot that is bringing warm weather to you, Labora is offering sunshine in the form of Spanish tapas. Cured meats, cheeses, seafood and veggies are served on colourful plates in an environment that will remind you that summer exists. And it will be returning to us, eventually.

Address: 433 King Street West
Phone: 416-260-9993

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Rudy

 

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You’re leaving work after a long day and you’re so beat, you can’t imagine cooking up a meal. But you’re so hungry. What do you need? A dirty burg, that’s what. And there’s nobody doing quick and dirty burgers like Rudy. Juicy patty, American cheese, thick tomato, crispy lettuce, soft bun, happy camper.

Address: 619 College Street
Address: 69 Duncan Street

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Parallel

 

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Bringing the flavours of the Middle East to you, modernized, is Parallel Brothers. Geary Avenue may be an unassuming little street, but it’s worth the venture for the bright colours and fresh flavours you’ll find on your plate when you stop by this spot. Munching on these dishes, you’re probably going to forget it’s winter.

Address: 217 Geary Avenue
Phone: 416-516-7765

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Ku-Kum

 

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Chef Joseph Shawana was raised on Wiikwemkoong Unceded Reserve located on Lake Huron’s Manitoulin Island. He would forage in the island’s fields and forests, gathering mushrooms, wild herbs and cedar tree sap. From his experiences on the island came the philosophy he holds for his ingredients: each one is carefully selected and entirely respected. And the flavours that method brings to the plate… you’ve got to taste these dishes to understand.

Address: 581 Mount Pleasant Road
Phone: 416-519-2638

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Antler

 

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Ebbing and flowing with the seasons and using regional ingredients, this is the spot for a mouthwatering, meat-heavy meal. Count on juicy, protein-rich plates that are sure to satisfy your elevated comfort-food cravings. Even the desserts are cozy: Try the poached pears or smoked chocolate mousse.

Address: 1454 Dundas Street West
Phone: 647-345-8300

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