9 Toronto Restaurants You Need to Try During Winterlicious 2017

Not much gets Torontonians out of hibernation before spring, but we’ll make an exception for Winterlicious — the annual food festival that gives foodies a chance to sample some of the city’s coolest and most exclusive menus (without the wallet-breaking prices). More than 220 restaurants are participating in this year’s edition, which runs from today through February 9th, so we thought we’d do you a favour and narrow the list down to nine must-eat spots for every palate.

The Meat Lover

Loka, 620 Queen St. W.


A Kickstarter-funded newcomer to Toronto’s Queen West, chef Dave Mottershall’s Loka explores a mix of whole-animal, zero-waste carnivorous fare and local vegetarian dishes. Its daily menu is constantly shifting, but you can catch a smattering of local vegetables, chicharron and maple-glazed pork belly on this year’s $38 Winterlicious dinner menu.

The Burger Guy

Parts & Labour, 1566 Queen St. W.


This Parkdale pub features dressed-down fine dining in a casual (some would say eclectic) atmosphere. Chef Matty Matheson’s simply named P&L burger — elevated with bacon onion jam, monterey jack and coarsely ground, seasoned beef — appears alongside tender grilled calamari on the $48 dinner menu.

The Beer Snob

The Craft Brasserie and Grille, 107 Atlantic Ave.


Nestled in the millennial milieu of Liberty Village, The Craft boasts hundreds of beers — craft, draught and otherwise — alongside a handful of ciders and barrel-aged cocktails. The food’s worth a mention, too — the $18 lunch menu’s beet goat cheese salad is one worth sinking your teeth into, and the Craft Burger on the $28 dinner menu pairs best with drinks ending in “eer.”

The Boozehound

East Thirty-Six, 36 Wellington St. E.


Famous for its craft cocktails—we’re partial to the Nutcracker’s blend of rye, house-spiced rum and black walnut bitters—Chef Brent Maxwell’s East Thirty-Six . The $23 lunch and $38 dinner menus feature a heavy focus on locally sourced ingredients.

The First Date

7 Numbers, 307 Danforth Ave.


Unpretentious Italian comfort food in a lively and intimate setting is 7 Numbers’ calling card. Look no further than the joint’s famous polpette—meatballs stuffed with mozzarella finished in Mama Rosa’s red sauce—when you dive into the $28 dinner menu.

The Veg

Hawker Bar, 164 Ossington Ave.


The intimate Hawker Bar offers some of this year’s most anticipated vegan and vegetarian choices, all to the irreverent tune of Southeast Asian street food. Chef Alec Martin’s $28 dinner menu features a vegan laksa (spicy noodle soup) and chickpea lentil curry replete with crispy pappadum. The ice kacang, a Malaysian favourite, comes topped with pandan palm syrup and raspberry coulis.

The Soul Man

Harlem, 745 Queen St. W.


Harlem brings the soul-food renaissance to Toronto with a laid-back atmosphere that sparks with creative energy. The $18 lunch and $28 dinner menus feature modern takes on Southern fried chicken and waffles, cornbread, jerk sandwiches and other barbecue favourites. You can’t leave without trying the candied plantain for dessert.

The Out-of-Towner

Fring’s Restaurant, 445 King St. W.


You’ve climbed the CN Tower, now bask in the light of The Six’s arguably more famous institution — Drake. Inspired by the city’s hometown hero, Chef Susur Lee opened this comfort-food eatery in late 2015. Standouts on the joint’s $48 dinner menu include Mediterranean grilled octopus and a cardamom dark chocolate mousse.

The Seafood Addict

Adega Restaurant, 33 Elm St.


Heavily influenced by Iberian cuisine, Adega’s menu features fresh fish and seafood against a rustic backdrop. Depending when the mood hits you, both the $23 lunch and $38 dinner menu offer up a seafood bisque with dungeness crab aioli and a chipotle-pepper tiger shrimp entree. Finish with a glass of wine from the restaurant’s port room.