Toronto restaurants with serious holiday spirit

Now Donna! Now Dashiell! Now Pauline and Veronica! The holiday season is upon you Toronto – it’s time to gather friends and family dear for some comfy cocktails and cozy dinners, and these chummy diners, trendy bistros, and historical spots are sure to fit the bill. Read on as we take you for a carriage ride through the frosty streets of Toronto and some of the city’s most charming venues to gather during the holidays.

Cluny Bistro and Boulangerie

1
35 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4

There’s no more festive a locale in Toronto than the Distillery District Christmas Market. When your feet are starting to ache, step out of the cold and the crowds and warm yourself with the scents of melting cheese, baking bread, braising lamb, and caramelizing brûlée at this sprawling, French-salon-inspired spot that’s right in the thick of the action. Trust us, after a meal at Cluny, you’ll feel richer than a hundred Jacob Marleys.

The Lakeview

2
1132 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X2

This Dundas West diner loves the holidays, so settle in, and let their Christmas tree twinkle in the background while you sip coffee in a comfy booth and watch the snowflakes collect in the window frame. They’re open 24/7 and Toronto locals know well that this spot is equally suitable for late night pints and snacks with pals, or a mid-day holiday brunch – the pulled pork or pancakes are sure to settle a stomach full of eggnog.

C'est What

3
67 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1B5

If you’re looking to get cozy outside the homestead, grab a seat on one of the mid-century-modern sofas at this east end brewpub – after all, what could be more charming during Toronto’s bleak winter than watching a blazing fireplace while you enjoy an aromatic microbrew and enumerate your holiday wish list? A long time favourite around the St Lawrence Market, C’est What offers the perfect combination of malt and mood and will get those visions of Steve’s Dreaded Chocolate stout dancing in your head.

Fonda Lola

4
942 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G8

In Mexico, Christmas is a multi-day, family-oriented celebration. And we’ve got a lot to learn from our friends down south about how to spend the holidays. The first lesson: hot and boozy apple cider, a basil-and-mint twist on a yuletide staple – and this cozy Queen West bistro of fine Mexican fare is exactly where to go to get a taste. The second lesson? Staying warm in December, of course.

Hemingway's Restaurant

5
142 Cumberland St, Toronto, ON M5R 1A8

The kiwis at Yorkville’s beloved watering hole really know how to celebrate the holidays. With turkey dinners, seasonal drink specials, and a love for groups of happy people, the folks at Hemingway’s will put you in the mood to celebrate the fraternity of all men and women. If you’re not a regular already, you will be before the season is over. Shopping bonus: since the two-storey storey spot is in the thick of Yorkville’s many stellar boutiques, it’s an ideal resting spot for your bag-laden hands.

Kalendar Restaurant & Bistro

6
546 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1B1

Since it’s one of the most romantic restaurants in the city, you can consider an evening at Kalendar a prize in your advent calendar. Start with the mulled wine and the warm apple walnut salad, and finish with the Monks Tonic and some Belgian chocolate truffles. In between, enjoy dinner fare that ranges from traditional French to modern eclectic – and let the twinkling lights in your loved one’s eyes guide your culinary celebration.

Rose And Sons

7
176 Dupont St, Toronto, ON M5R 2E6

If indulgence is the theme of the season, there’s no better place to do it than Rose and Sons. Get your Kris Kringle belly on with the Happy Pork plate or a fried chicken dinner. Follow-up with the Bourbon on Bourbon on Bourbon milkshake and your chilly cheeks will be warm and rosy in no time. And, just when you think the season is over, the restaurant will be offering ten days of brunch starting on the 26th as their gift to you.

Barque Smoke House

8
299 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2M3

Barbecue brings family together, and Barque is the perfect spot to take the whole gang, kids included. With colouring books, an attentive staff, and a great children’s menu, you’ll be able to focus on what’s most important to the kids in your life: presents. For the big kids, Barque offers gift baskets for grill masters, the perfect offering for a work party or family gift exchange.

Coffee and booze, perhaps the fluids most essential for getting through life in the 6. There’s plenty of hybrid cafés in Toronto offering both of civilization’s most coveted elixirs. After perusing the best licenced cafés to find the two together, they will be inseparable for any connoisseur, prompting the use of either a hip flask or a hip thermos. [Image credit: iStock.com/SrdjanPav]
Have you been hunting for the best guacamole in Toronto? Look no further. Whether you’re after citrus flavours, chunky texture or spice, you’ll find the guacamole to suit your needs right here. This list is guaranteed to make you long for Mexico then assuage you with the best local alternatives. Salud! [Photo of El Catrin by Parisima Baha]
Born to the streets of urban Japan, the izakaya is traditionally understood as a place to stay and drink. Whether it’s a divey hole where a stomach is quelled with copious deep-fried edibles, or a refined eatery delivering a superb culinary and social experience, the city is rich with unique takes on Japanese food and atmosphere. Itadakimasu! [Image credit: iStock.com/PamelaJoeMcFarlane]
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