It’s that time of year again. Yep. It happened. I’m not sure how or when the office parties, holiday get-togethers, and Christmas party invites started to pour in, but the time is here. Whether it be meeting friends for drinks and appies, or noshing with co-workers over casual lunches, or nibbling over dinner, there are plenty of places to go in Toronto. With so many choices, where’s a great casual spot to hang out with friends and family over the holidays? Below is a list of places you’ll likely find me lingering over drinks or filling our bellies with good food!
1. Love Me Sweet – Ok. Not a sit-down restaurant, but if you’re needing to bring a dessert to your shindig, then you’ll be everyone’s best friend carrying in bags of these Japanese style cheesecakes and cheese tarts. I did a write up on Love Me Sweet and since then the owner has opened another location at Scarborough Town Centre in the Sweet Market that also features Sweet Jesus soft serve ice cream and Squish Candy. To ensure you’re not disappointed because your favourite flavour is sold out, you can now pre-order your cakes online (www.lovemesweet.ca). 7181 Yonge Street, Suite 16, Thornhill and 300 Borough Drive, Suite 226, Scarborough 2nd floor next to Guest Services.
2. The Boiling Harbour – Seems like seafood boil restaurants are popping up everywhere in Toronto and beyond and the Boiling Harbour is a nice addition to the 905. I happily gorged on their loaded lobster fries where they boil a whole lobster, flash fry, tossed in garlic butter sauce and served with Cajun fries and garlic aioli. If you’re not familiar with seafood boils, you pick your seafood protein (crab, lobster, shrimp, mussels, crawfish) or vegetable and seasoning. It can be messy but they provide bibs and gloves! It’s definitely a fun and interactive way of communal eating. Located across from Vaughan Mills at 3175 Rutherford Road, Suite 17, Vaughan (www.theboilingharbour.com)
3. Kiu Japanese Restaurant – I can’t pass up on Kiu Japanese Restaurant located in Downtown Markham. I love their Isshin ramen and their buttery melt-in-your-mouth beef tatami. There’s a VIP room if you’re wanting to have more of an intimate setting. 169 Enterprise Blvd., 2nd floor, Markham (www.ki-u.com)
4. Luckee – Now opened weekdays for dim sum lunch in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District at Wellington and Blue Jay Way, famed chef Susur Lee offers nouvelle chinois dim sum offerings like their super cute Marble Dungeness Crab dumpling filled with crab, shrimp and enoki. Their prix fixe menu is a no-brainer that includes Luckee Dim Sum Basket, choice of a lunch bowl and dessert, (which by the way is the best sesame ball I’ve ever had)! 328 Wellington St. West (www.luckeerestaurant.com)
5. Cluny’s Bistro and Boulangerie – My favourite weekend brunch spot at the Distillery District and a perfect way to spend some time at the Christmas Market right now. Don’t forget to look up at the stunning ceiling medallions and look down at the gorgeous floor tiles before staring at the mouthwatering French dishes. My kids loved their meals and desserts here. There’s a harvest table of freshly baked breads to satiate your carb cravings. Best part is that you can pop into their patisserie and grab a few croissants to take home. 35 Tank House Lane, The Distillery District (www.clunybistro.com)
6. Pukka Toronto – If you are following me on Instagram, I’ve been inundating my feed with my recent visit to Pukka. I can honestly say that I loved every dish I ate, which was a lot! Some of the highlights were the Chaat salad, Gunpowder King Prawns and Butter Chicken. Serious delicious Indian food! 776 St. Clair Avenue West (www.pukka.ca)
7. KABOOM Chicken – Korean Street Style Food including their famous Korean Fried Chicken (KFC). Ace wrote about their pop-up shop awhile back, but now they have their brand new brick and mortar shop. Other menu items include taro chips (yum), Kalbi beef over fries and pork belly tacos. 722 Queen Street East (www.kaboomchicken.com)
8. Lobster Monster – Owners Marianne and Steve are the kindest people you can ever meet and they make each guest feel at home. This casual family friendly restaurant is located right at Yonge and Lawrence area. Their Lobster Monster Nachos makes me crazy happy and their Neptune’s Delight Seafood Linguine is so mouthwatering! If you and your crew aren’t rolling out of this restaurant by the end of your meal, steps away are Papabubble for candy, Rolling Pin for donuts, Bobbette and Belle for coffee and cake and of course Butter Avenue for macarons. 3249 Yonge Street (www.lobstermonster.ca)
Where’s your favourite hangout place? I’d love to know! Send me some recommendations in the comments below or fire off a message to me on Twitter or Instagram!
~ Carol (aka. @Bakingzen)