December is here, whether you’re ready or not, it’s time to get festive and frolic with friends, family and get ready to face the end of an entire decade. 2020 is upon us, so channel that future energy to fuel you through this busy month.
Distillery District’s Christmas Market is back. The beautiful and nostalgic Christmas spirit is on full display, with Santa making appearances backed by a full euro-feel market. Weekends will be busy, and come at an extra admission price, so perhaps opt in for a midweek date night to soak up the all the lights and loveliness.
Hotel X will see the Second City comedy troupe takeover, with performances running through December, and into January in their in house theatre. It’s an all-ages event, so if you’re looking for a laugh to buck the holiday blues, or want to mix things up instead of hitting up the usual Ross Petty stuff, this new show will feature a bit of improv too, making no two shows alike. Get tickets through the website.

Hotel X


Ted Corrado will also be launching the first of byMINISTRY’s an exclusive dining experience dubbed The Enlightened Dining Club. Ted is one of the good ones, and this new event series will feature a monthly rotation of ‘immersive and educational dining experiences’, which will feature ‘elevated plant-forward gastronomy’. The locations will be top secret, which all but guarantees a good time.
And there’s a bumper crop of free skating (yay!) at the tried and true Nathan Phillips Square, but a little further south you’ll find Union Station offering skating lessons, helmet and skate rentals, all for free. They’re also offering a great gift shopping hub, with free gift wrapping and advice, and fun holiday activities daily until January 4th.
And our friends at The Bentway have a sleigh full of skating fun on deck, from the Corona Après Patio to the brave polar skaters that will wheel around the outdoor skating trail on December 29th. Free lessons are also on the menu, check their site for a list of all the events.
Fairweather enthusiasts won’t be left out of the lights show though, the TO Congress Centre will be getting the LED effect. GLOW will bring all the lights inside, with a holiday themed event that brings everything under one roof, so you can stay warm for those extended selfie sessions. Get tickets for GLOW and bask in the all the lights, no jacket necessary.
We’ll be dedicating a whole post to NYE activities, so stay tuned for all the amateur hour antics.
Now Open
Lapinou Bistro is now open on King Street West. The beautiful space is centered by a gorgeous bar, and flanked by banquettes and cozy corners meant for lingering over a bottle or two. With Niall McCotter running the show, it’s sure to be a hot spot for years to come.
Babel is open at Bayview and York Mills. The O&B project brings Middle Eastern cuisine to the old Movenpick spot, this time no passport required. Stay tuned for more on this new restaurant in January.
History was made with Hy’s opening on Bay Street, right by Richmond. The gleaming 18,000 sq ft space is a jewel in the crown for the Canadian treasure. The new space seems like its been there for a lifetime though, with all wood walls to complete the signature steakhouse look.
Manulife Centre saw queues around the corner for the first Canadian Eataly which opened on November 13th.

December Openings
Pōpa is ready to launch in Bayview Village. The Burmese restaurant will bring Trevor Lui’s skilled hands and Hemant Bhagwani’s extensive travels to the forefront, a marriage of two of Toronto’s spiciest Chefs, with Indian-style soups and flatbreads paired perfectly with Chinese-style noodles and stir-frys. We’ll have more on this new eatery in January.

Hemant Bhagwani

Hemant Bhagwani


Coming Soon
The secret was probably the worst kept in years, but the second location of Piano Piano is opening on Mount Pleasant. The giant pink mural blanketing the building was a sure sign, we’re excited to have this kid friendly concept welcome a sibling.


The long awaited east end project from Janet Zuccarini is inching closer to opening. Gusto 501, the long lost sibling to Portland’s first darling is Gusto 501 will feature similar nods to its big sis, the same rustic Italian food paired with exceptional wines that put Janet’s restaurant empire on a global stage.

Janet Zuccarini and her fellow Top Chef judges


Cactus Club Cafe is officially coming north. The newest location of the eponymous brand is setting up shop at the recently renovated Sheppard Centre at Yonge and Sheppard. We’re counting down to the fall launch of this clubhouse.
Good things come in pairs, earrings, shoes and Cafe Landwers. Two locations of the popular resto-cafe are coming, one to the former Baton Rouge on Yonge Street, north of Sheppard, and a second, on Avenue Road, north of Lawrence.
Queue De Cheval, the Quebecois restaurant celebrated for their steaks, classic cocktails and gluttonous sides is launching right on King Street West.
Serving up some of the best brisket in the city, and soon to explore a bit west, STACK is doubling down on their brand of smoked meats, bringing meat sweats to Oakville. Stay tuned for an official opening date.
Yonge Street’s darling snack bar Little Sister is opening soon on Portland, near Queen Street. The Indonesian eatery boasts a ‘order everything’ attitude, and quickly became Yonge and Eglinton’s go-to for smart cocktails and sharing plates.
Opening January, The Avenue Room is coming to Eglington and Avenue Road. Offering an event space for up to 100 people, the real draw will be the wood-burning pizza oven, a unique touch for events that will sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Terroni and Sud Forno are wrapping up the massive project set in a heritage house/condo concept at Yonge and Eglinton. This bustling neighbourhood is ready to devour this dream team, with morning to night eats and treats from this Italian heavyweight.
Smokeshow BBQ is opening on Mount Pleasant, just south of Eglinton. Look for this new joint to open in the coming months.
Buca is inching closer to completion for their St. Clair and Yonge property. If there’s anything better than more Buca, I don’t want to know. We’ll be watching for this one!

Buca Boss Rob Gentile

Closing
It’s not goodbye for L’Unita. While the popular Italian restaurant is closing, it’s to be replaced by new venture from Guiletta chef Rob Rossi.
La Société is closing after almost a decade on Bloor Street.
Got a food tip? Want a shout out for your new spot? Drop me a note- Libby@auburnlane.com