Winterlicious has kicked off again this year for the period of Jan 27th to Feb 9th, what started off as a series of curious advertisements on the TTC (at least for some of us) has now turned into an event we look forward to twice a year. Here are a few of my recommendations for 2023!
For anyone who is new to Winterlicious, it is an amazing event/food festival (in a way) that takes place over the course of two weeks. I believe they are run by a special department in the City of Toronto, and non-chain restaurants are invited to participate. The event/food festival itself allows people to book a seat for a three-course prix fixe (fixed price) menu at certain restaurants within 6 price points for both lunch and dinner. The main draw for this event is being able to try a variety of restaurants within a fixed price range.
If I’m not mistaken, this is the first year I’ve ever mentioned Winterlicious on the blog. I’ve known about it since I was in high school but without any personal income coming in, it was something that was so far out of reach. But now things are so much different than before, I’m actually very excited about Winterlicious this year! I personally don’t know if I will be able to visit any of these restaurants during Winterlicious, but here are some of my recommendations.
These recommendations will be based on a few things; my personal experience with the restaurant themselves or the surrounding hype for them/recommendations from others. You can see the full list of restaurants here: Winterlicious 2023.
I also just wanted to say that these restaurants are in no particular order, I just started listing them from the ones that were closest to furthest from where I lived. Oh, and bookings usually happen through the restaurant!
Yu Seafood (Yorkdale Mall)
Yu Seafood is located inside Yorkdale Mall and is on the high-end side of the mall. The theme of the restaurant is kind of Chinese Cuisine + Dim Sum but elevated. The first time I had dim sum from this restaurant, it was shortly after I had mostly recovered from my wisdom teeth removals. The Har Gow were pretty large portions, and I really loved it. If I could go to only one restaurant for Winterlicious, it would be this one.
Union Social Eatery (North York)
Union social eatery seems to have multiple branches but I’ve heard that this is a great place to visit for the food and atmosphere. They seem to specialize in elevated and innovative “bar food” style food, and I think this would make for a great get-together place with a group of friends. Especially for Winterlicious.
360 Restaurant (CN Tower)
The 360 restaurant is the restaurant that is inside/at the top of the CN Tower, and I don’t know about you guys but this place is said to be a little on the pricey side. Despite being born and raised in Toronto, I don’t actually remember going up the CN Tower before. It’s a bucket list of mine to try and do so but I’m not so sure about it because of my acrophobia (fear of heights). But Winterlicious is probably one of the best times to try out the restaurant and the CN Tower itself.
Miku is kind of like a modern interpretation of Japanese Cuisine/Sushi, and I’ve gotten takeout from this restaurant once or twice when I was working at the Waterfront area. It generally is mid-range/on the pricier side of things but there are a variety of dishes that you get to try out during Winterlicious that sound amazing. This would be another restaurant I’d like to try during Winterlicious if I have the time.
Azure Restaurant & Bar (InterContinental)
Azure is a Restaurant and Bar inside the InterContinental Toronto Centre, and I’ve passed by it a few times going to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC). This restaurant serves Canadian and European cuisines, but I think they’re best known for being a very visually pleasing restaurant as well. Very modern looking and with what sounds to be delicious food, hence why it’s on my recommended list.
Aria Ristorannte (Scotiabank Arena)
Aria is a restaurant located close to the Scotiabank Arena in the Financial District of Toronto, and also another restaurant I’ve passed by walking to Union Station, to and from work. They specialize in authentic Italian cuisine and also have a very aesthetic design. I added this to my recommended list because I have a soft spot for Italian cuisine and pasta (all types, literally), and while they are on the pricier side for the Winterlicious pricing, what they offer looks and sounds too good to pass up.
Boku (Distillery District)
Boku is a Japanese cuisine restaurant located in the Distillery District, AKA the Christmas Market area. I first came across this in high school when planning an outing to the first Christmas market I attended, and though the place is a little bit on the pricier end of Japanese cuisine in the city, they have very appetizing options.
Le Papillon on Front (St Lawrence Market Area)
This French restaurant is another one that I’ve passed by occasionally whenever I visit the St. Lawrence market, and I promised myself that I’ll visit one day. The food on their menu honestly looks so good, but they do seem to open later in the day because for Winterlicious they only have a dinner menu. However, priced at $45 pp, that’s looking like a great place to visit this time around!
Blu Ristorante (Yorkville)
Blu is an Italian restaurant that I found using the map feature on the Winterlicious page, and it was the name that caught my attention first. Honestly, I wouldn’t have known it was there but their menu for Winterlicious looks so good. Great way to also add a trip to the Yorkville area too.
Nami (Adelaide, Old Toronto)
Nami is a Japanese restaurant that looks like it will transport you to Kyoto, this is another case of “the name caught my eye” and I’m glad it did. Although it looks to be on the pricier side for Lunch and Dinner Winterlicious options, it also looks like you get a good bit of variety as well. Adding this to my “to visit” list in general too.
And there you have it, my recs for Winterlicious 2023. I tried to keep this short but I guarantee there are a lot of other great restaurants out there that are partaking in Winterlicious that you could visit as well. If you don’t have time during Winterlicious, you can probably partake in Summerlicious this summer! The events have been on a hold for the past two years due to the recent pandemic, but there’s a lot to look forward to this time around.