Eat, drink and be merry in Toronto, where our cultural diversity — and global restaurant scene — ensure there’s almost always a holiday to celebrate with food.
Toronto is known for its cultural diversity and illustrious food scene. With over 250 ethnicities and 170 languages represented within our city limits, it’s no surprise that we are renowned for our international dining options.
Whether you’re hungry to celebrate the holidays with friends and family — or to appreciate another culture’s culinary traditions — look no further. Here are five multicultural holidays you can explore through the menus of 15 exciting Toronto restaurants.
November 28 to December 6, 2021
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and the rededication of the Second Temple. It’s also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication. Jewish families celebrate this holiday by eating fried foods such as latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (fried jelly doughnuts) to remember the ancient oil miracle.
Taverne Bernhardt’s is a rustic west-end French bistro that sometimes provides Jewish comfort food. Last holiday season, they offered a Hanukkah “appetizing box” with potato latkes, cold smoked salmon and other classics.
Milk ‘n Honey
Milk ‘n Honey is a North Toronto kosher restaurant and catering spot that offers Jewish comfort food, pizza and an array of sandwiches in a casual setting.
Feast on modern Mediterranean Israeli cuisine at Forest Hill’s Bistro Grande. From the seafood tartare tower to the truffle-ricotta gnocchi, it’s all good and all kosher.
December 25, 2021
For Christians, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. But it’s also a winter celebration of togetherness and good cheer. A typical Canadian feast may include roast turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, with puddings and pie for dessert (don’t forget the Yule log!), although regional tweaks abound, from mac and cheese (an African American tradition) to carp (Poland).
Old Mill Toronto
This historic Bloor West Village inn is known for its annual holiday buffet. Although the buffet may be on pause at Old Mill Toronto, holiday dining is on for 2021. Past menus have included roast beef, lamb and chilled seafood.
December 16 to 24, 2021
Las Posadas is celebrated in Latin America, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba and Spain, as well as by America’s Latino community. The holiday symbolizes the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph as they sought shelter in Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus. Traditional fare includes tamales, buñuelos (fried dough fritters) and atole (a hot masa-harina-based beverage).
Maiz Latin Food
Maiz has two locations: one uptown and one in the west end. This fave has topped local best-of lists for tacos, Latin food and Mexican food.
A mini-chain with Roncesvalles Village, Ossington Village and Leslieville outposts, La Cubana serves meticulously prepared Cuban comfort food with house-baked bread and home-brewed craft beer.
Como en Casa
Downtown Yonge Street’s Como en Casa offers budget-friendly Mexican classics, including chicken mole and pork-tomatillo tamales.
December 26, 2021 to January 1, 2022
Kwanzaa is a seven-day African American celebration of community, family, culture and heritage. The holiday also nods to harvest celebrations in Africa that honour crops and labourers. A typical Kwanzaa-style meal could include eclectic menu items like Cajun catfish, West African groundnut stew and Caribbean mainstays like beans and rice.
African Village Bar & Grill
Head to the west end’s African Village Bar & Grill for fresh and delicious foods like jollof rice, bobolo and pounded yam.
Upper Beaches Bourbon House
Lunar New Year
February 1, 2022
A major holiday in China, South Korea, Vietnam and other East Asian cultures, Lunar New Year signals the beginning of spring (though it won’t feel like it in Toronto). It’s a two-week-long festival with New Year’s Day falling on February 1, 2022. Celebrate the Year of the Tiger with whole fish and chicken, jiaozi (dumplings) and noodles (which symbolize longevity).
Another Chinatown fave, Spadina Avenue’s R&D offers a fresh, fusion take on modern Chinese, with a slick cocktail menu (Szechuan Sazerac, anyone?) and dishes like whole roasted duck and XO spicy wontons.
Lai Wah Heen
Home to Toronto’s most celebrated dim sum menu, Lai Wah Heen offers a holiday menu that has in past years featured delicacies like braised abalone, roasted squab and lobster casserole.