Midtown eateries in midst of Winterlicious boom

Winterlicious comes at the perfect time every year — just when dining out would otherwise take a dip, midtown’s participating restaurants say.

The two-week food festival that features fine dining on a fixed price menu draws new customers to some of Toronto’s most popular eateries in mid-winter when they have trouble enticing their regular diners to venture out for lunch or dinner.

“We get 500 to 700 people during Winterlicious, about 30 per cent more than usual for two weeks — and in a usually slow period,” says Vito Rizzuto, owner of Five Doors North which has been in business on Yonge Street for 22 years, the last 14 of them participating in Winterlicious.

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Nearly every neighbourhood in the city has local dining rooms, bars and bistros taking part in Winterlicious this year. More than 200 establishments are participating in the event, including at least 25 in the midtown area, including North Toronto, Forest Hill and Leaside.

The restaurants are chosen by the City of Toronto from among thousands that apply each year.

Winterlicious food
FINISHING TOUCHES on a dish at Marigold on Mt. Pleasant Road.

“We pay a lot for this event to the city,” says Ritu Khatri, owner of Marigold Indian Bistro on Mt. Pleasant Road, which is marking its fourth year as Winterlicious destination. “But it’s worth it.”

The restaurant that specializes in North Indian food draws customers in the two weeks from a much larger range than usual, Khatri says, listing downtown, Scarborough, Markham and North York as origins for some recent Winterlicious patrons.

They include both foodies and casual diners exploring new experiences, and Marigold adds some new and experimental dishes to its menu for their enjoyment.

Five Doors North, which calls its fare “fine dining with a bit of funkiness,” is also changing its menu up a bit for Winterlicious, Rizzuto says.

Participating restaurants are presenting three-course prix fixe lunch menus in their choice of $23, $28 or $33 categories and dinner menus priced at $33, $43 or $53.

Here are some midtown-area places to call for Winterlicious reservations right now:


Winterlicious food
READY TO EAT: Winterlicious dinners are served at Five Doors North on Yonge Street.

Yonge Street

Alleycatz Restaurant Jazz Bar, 2409 Yonge St., 416-481-6865
$33 dinner, Mediterranean

Auberge du Pommier, 4150 Yonge St., 416-222-2220
$33 lunch, $53 dinner, Contemporary and French

Barnsteiner’s, 1 Balmoral Ave. (at Yonge), 416-515-0551
$28 lunch, $43 dinner, Contemporary, Continental and European

Brownes Bistro, 1251 Yonge St, Unit 101, 416-924-8132
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, French

Capocaccia Trattoria, 1366 Yonge St, 416-921-3141
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Italian

Cibo Wine Bar Yonge, 2472 Yonge St., 416-925-0016
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Italian

Coppi Ristorante, 3363 Yonge St., 416-484-4464
$28 lunch, $43 dinner, Italian

Five Doors North, 2088 Yonge St., 416-480-6234
$33 dinner, Contemporary and Italian

The Monkey Bar, 3353 Yonge St., 416-486-2288
$43 dinner, Bistro, Canadian and Contemporary


St. Clair Avenue

AVIV Restaurant, 779 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-922-2433
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, International and Mediterranean

Arthur’s Restaurant, 12 St. Clair Ave. E., 647-348-7000
$28 lunch, $43 dinner, American

Pukka, 778 St Clair Ave. W., 416-342-1906
$33 dinner, Indian

Queen of Persia, 672 St Clair Ave. W., 416-651-5500
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Middle Eastern and Persian


Mt. Pleasant Road

Boland’s Open Kitchen, 575 Mt. Pleasant Rd., 416-482-2424
$23 lunch,  $33 dinner, Bistro, Canadian and Steakhouse

Florentia Ristorante, 579 Mt. Pleasant Rd., 416-545-1220
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Italian and Seafood

Marigold Indian Bistro, 552 Mt. Pleasant Rd., 647-748-0220
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Indian


Other Midtown

Amsterdam Barrel House, 87 Laird Dr., 416-504-1060
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Canadian

Bar Buca Eglinton, 101 Eglinton Ave. E., 416-599-2822
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Italian

EDO-ko, 425 Spadina Rd., 416-482-8973
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Japanese

Figures, 137 Avenue Rd., 416-900-1022
$53 dinner, Contemporary

Flor De Sal Restaurant, 501 Davenport Rd., 416-923-2604
$33 lunch, $53 dinner, Mediterranean

Granite Brewery and Restaurant, 245 Eglinton Ave. E., 416-322-0723
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Beer Cuisine and Canadian

Indian Street Food Co., 1701 Bayview Ave., 416-322-3270
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Indian

Kamasutra Indian Restaurant & Wine Bar, 1522 Bayview Ave., 416-489-4899
$23 lunch, $33 dinner, Asian, Indian and International

Nord Bistro, 406 Dupont St., 416-925-6673
$43 dinner, Contemporary, French and Seafood


For restaurants in Toronto and East York’s east end, see the article and list here.

For more information about culinary event details and tickets, see the Winterlicious website.