Winter can be an exceptionally magical time in Toronto. The Distillery District looks like a postcard with its cobblestone streets blanketed with snow, Nathan Phillips Square pulses with energy from skaters who happily glide past the illuminated Toronto sign and our parks become urban winter wonderlands perfect for rejuvenating walks or family adventures (High Park is a personal fave). With the chilly season also comes longer nights – which I’m convinced is nature’s way of giving us more time to enjoy food and drink at cozy spots around the city. Ah yes, a great excuse to warm up by a fire, check out a winterized patio or indulge in a decadent treat. Each neighborhood has its own gems but here are five I recommend visiting this winter.
Inspired by Algonquin Park, this hidden gem in the Annex is rustic, cozy and serves up some stellar BBQ. The winterized patio is lined with communal picnic tables, banquettes wrapped in cowhide and benches cushioned with warm blankets. Head here for a lively ambiance, good eats and a virtual escape to camp! (176 Dupont Street / 647-748-3287.)
Three words: adult hot chocolate. Now run, don’t walk to this Bloordale Village spot and warm up by indulging in this rich and delish bevvie made with organic whole milk, chocolate, Branca Menta, aged rum, balsamic vinegar, stout whipped cream and topped with a toasted marshmallow. Open during the day until 7 pm as a café and in the evenings as a bar, this is the kind of place you could spend hours in. (1190 Bloor Street West / 647-925-3310.)
Located in the cellar of a historic 19th century building, this brewpub and resto in Old Town (aka St. Lawrence District) is a casual place to gather with friends around a fire. While you’re there, make sure to nibble on some comfort food and try out one of 42 Canadian craft brews on tap or the all-Ontario wine list. (67 Front Street East / 416-867-9499.)
Certainly one of the city’s most unique watering holes, this literary-themed cocktail bar in the Junction is a bibliophile’s dream come true. Cozy up by the fireplace with a book and order yourself a clever, well-crafted cocktail. These guys are serious about their books: they host book launches, book clubs and even lend out a Kobo to those who wish to read at the bar (which is meticulously made from Scrabble pieces). (392 Pacific Avenue / 416-792-5200.)
As if Yorkville wasn’t charming enough during the winter months, Bar Reyna has stepped it up a notch by launching a secret garden. Yup, tucked behind the popular snack and cocktail bar you’ll find an enchanting winterized patio where you can escape the cold and share some Mediterranean nibbles with friends while sipping on specialty cocktails. The entire space has a warm glow that will brighten up any long winter’s night. (158 Cumberland Street / 647-748-4464.)
About the Author
Solmaz, also known as The Curious Creature, is a full-time food and travel blogger based in Toronto. She has travelled to more than 35 countries and is a firm believer that food plays an essential role in exploring a new destination. Follow her adventures at The Curious Creature.