It's S.A.D. season, baby! But the long days of darkness (dramatic much?) or our dry lizard skin won't stop us from going out to eat and indulge at Toronto's best new restaurants and bars. 

This new crop of amazing restaurants and bars is one of the most exciting things to happen to Toronto's food scene since the ol' Michelin Guide came to town. We've got a Golden Peacock in Roncy, show-stopping dishes towering over the city from the 51st floor, and an east-side chicken joint that could turn any average day into a cluckin' good one. 

Whether you're going vegan for a month or looking for the city's best burger, this list has got you covered and then some. If that's not enough to get you excited, Winterlicious is back this year with more than 200 participating Toronto restaurants. But for now, we're crossing these new Toronto restaurants and bars off our list. 

17 hot new Toronto restaurants and bars you need to add to your list

1. Golden Peacock

2102 Dundas St. W.

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Our dear friends at Donna's have come up with a fun new cocktail and snack bar in Roncy, and we're so there. The menu, like the cozy space, is small, but every element is thoughtful. It's snug in here, not smug. It's also pretty dark, with the exception of a few gold-plated hanging lamps and candles flickering on the tables.

We'd be mortified if our phone's flash went off while taking a picture of the grilled beef hearts with punchy chimichurri or the expertly-braised octopus. But then we'd get over it and order everything off the menu.  

thegoldenpeacock.ca

2. AP

55 Bloor St. W. (Manulife Centre's 51st floor)

Set on the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre, AP restaurant’s atmosphere alone could draw crowds. The sultry space is outfitted with black marble tables and cushy, floral-patterned banquettes, while dim lighting allows guests to fully appreciate the large windows that provide a sparkling view of the city from above. AP is a collaboration between celebrated Montreal chef Antonio Park and restaurant heavyweight Scale Hospitality (Toronto Beach Club, Byblos, Shook, Lapinou, Pink Sky) — and the expertise that went into creating this venture shows.

The menu here is a reflection of chef Park’s international background and his culinary training. Dishes range from familiar favourites like gyoza and maki rolls to show-stopping mains like lemongrass lamb chops and wagyu steak. Wine and beer make an appearance on the menu, but you’d be remiss not to try some sake from their delightfully extensive list. Cocktails here are as complex as the dishes, full of layers and intricacy. 

aprestaurants.com

3. Café Zuzu

555 Dundas St. E.

East-end fans of Gusto 54 will be happy to hear that the restaurant group (Gusto 101, Gusto 501, Chubby’s) is expanding with its second location east of Yonge. A nostalgic nod to 1950s Italy, the new Café Zuzu in Regent Park is a restaurant, café, bottle shop and commissary kitchen all rolled into one.

In the mornings, settle into a co-working space with Italian pastries and coffee. In the evenings, the space morphs into a neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar. Café Zuzu is also home base for Gusto 54 Catering, and supplies Gusto 54’s other restaurants with prepared food, fresh bread, pasta and sauces. Keep your eyes peeled for the café’s special events to support the community, as part of the group’s charitable arm, Gusto Gives Back.

cafezuzu.com

4. Simpl Things

269 Dunn Ave.

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After opening event space Ahma last year, beverage expert Evelyn Chick is back with a new addition to her cocktail empire. Moving into Parkdale, Simpl Things is a fun spot for craft cocktails, wine and beer. As for food, the restaurant houses two concepts under one roof. In the day, patrons can savour chef Cody Wilkes's Italian comfort food, and evening visitors can delight in chef Betty Chia’s Taiwanese street food.

simplthings.ca

5. Danny's Pizza Tavern

611 College St.

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Smash burgers have been the burger for the past few years, but we've been missing a thick and juicy patty you can really sink your teeth into. Despite its moniker, one of the highlights at College Street's Danny's Pizza Tavern is an epic half-chuck, half-brisket burger with all the classic toppings. Their pizzas are pretty great, too. Tavern Pies are thin-crust style, so they're nice and crispy. If you dig pineapples on pizza, they do one of the best Hawaiian pizzas with pickled onions and three types of cheese.

dannyspizzatavern.com

6. Daddy's Chicken

1276 Queen St. E.

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East enders are cheering the reopening of the space at 1276 Queen Street East since it closed abruptly. Little AAA, the predecessor, served stiff drinks and good times, but the menu item people loved the most? Chicken. Owners Racquel Youtzy and Tiz Pivetta pivoted to a menu of tender and magnificently crisp chicken — order the classic sammie, seize the day with the sizzling Hot Hot or go rogue with the Sugar Daddy, which cradles your bird between two doughnuts. Bonus: Local beer is on tap as well.

daddyschicken.ca

7. Parquet

97 Harbord St.

Does Toronto need another French bistro? Is butter a carb? Yes and... yes? The city may have its fair share of French restaurants, but Parquet's contemporary charm is a (very) welcome addition. Don't be surprised when you're met with a bunch of wood flooring businesses when you Google 'Parquet Toronto' — the Harbord Street gem is named after the chic, geometric parquet floors that are oh-so-French. 

Tuck into a cushy, rust-coloured banquette beneath the glow of warm brass lights and indulge in executive chef Jeremy Dennis's (Woodlot, Montgomery’s) wonders. The menu beautifully showcases the classics (gruyère tartine) alongside unconventional concoctions like glazed maitake mushrooms in calvados (a French brandy) with wild rice and black walnut compound butter.

restaurantparquet.com

8. Bitter Melon 

431 Spadina Ave.

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Follow the glowing red lanterns on Spadina, just south of College, and you'll be transported to Bitter Melon's fantasy world with a little bit of Hong Kong, a little bit of Japan and a Korean corn dog. Sink into a sleek wood booth mounted with curved (working) abacus frames and get ready for a feast.  

Bitter Melon is dark, sexy and seamlessly incorporates modern takes on ancient Chinese elements, like a luminous brass carving of a dragon and phoenix. The food does the same with small plates that bring a variety of East Asian flavours together with European ingredients, like a beef tartare with gochujang and taro, and a toast with miso butter and foie gras.

bittermelonrestaurant.com

9. Evangeline

51 Camden St.

This rooftop bar, inside Ace Hotel Toronto, is bookended by two oversized fireplaces for optimal coziness. The floor-to-ceiling windows face west with an unobstructed view, so if you're up there before 5 p.m. in the winter, you can catch the sunset.

Sink into the leather couches with a sundowner in hand like the Meiji Restoration, a manhattan riff with Japanese whisky, Cocchi Rosa vermouth, plum wine and yuzu bitters. It's a saucy little minx of a cocktail and the perfect end to a day well spent.

acehotel.com

10. Paradise Chalet

218 Geary Ave.

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We were thrilled when Paradise Grapevine, one of our fave places for vino and small bites, opened up their own winery on Geary Avenue last summer. So now we're basically foaming at the mouth over the announcement of their new restaurant inside the winery location. 

Open for dinner seven nights a week, Paradise Chalet is where you'll catch us this winter for food that hits the spot and the soul. They've got a full rotisserie section with half or full birds, and a messy chicken sandwich. Their veggie section, with dishes like creamed corn with sumac and pickled onion, could convert any skeptic. 

paradisegrapevine.com

11. Afrobeat Kitchen

1510 Queen St. W.

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This popular Bloordale pop-up has recently made its own home in Parkdale. Stop by the intimate, welcoming space for Nigerian and West African food that is sure to take the chill out of winter. Our faves are the goat pepper soup, sticky suya wings, rich buka beef stew... OK, fine, the whole menu.

@afrobeatkitchen

12. Union Station Foodie Aisle

65 Front St. W.

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Union Station’s market-style food hall is back with a brand new look after a big renovation. Located along the route to Scotiabank Arena, Foodie Aisle is a quick stopover for commuters and event-goers. Grab bao buns, curries and tacos — all in one place.

torontounion.ca

13. Ditta Artigianale

612 Richmond St. W.

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A trip to Italy not in the budget? Fly over to Richmond Street instead to visit the first-ever North American location of specialty Italian coffee roaster Ditta Artigianale. Founded by award-winning barista Francesco Sanapo, the café is a love letter to Italy and brews an authentic Italian experience. Expect high-quality coffee Italian cocktails too. Andiamo!

dittaartigianale.com

14. Black Pearl

184 Pearl St.

Who would have guessed that one of the city's best slices of pizza is at a bar/live music venue on Pearl Street? Yet, here we are. Black Pearl's in-house New York-style pizzas, crisp along the edge yet soft enough to fold in half, are absolutely divine.

This sprawling space has an intimate feel with sleek, living-room-style couches and chairs; a glowing, brick-lined bar; and elegant pool tables to hit up with your pals. So wipe that pizza grease off your fingers and grab a pool cue. 

From Monday to Saturday, drinks start at $5 from 5 p.m., $6 from 6 p.m., and $7 from 7–8 p.m. Hello, happy hours! 

blackpearlto.com

15. Deer Lady 

642 King St. W.

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Every Friday and Saturday, a mysterious new event space welcomes guests into a loft party above The Parlour restaurant. Take a quick elevator ride up from King Street, walk down the dark hallway and enter Deer Lady, a sleek spot for handheld eats before 11 p.m. and cocktails ‘til late. Hazy purple lighting makes for an epic squad pic, and DJs bump club beats all night long.

deerlady.com

16. Offworld

739 Queen St. W.

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Looking for an out-of-this-world cocktail experience? The team behind Storm Crow Manor, Toronto’s coolest nerd bar, has launched a space-themed spot on Queen West. Gaze through the digital “windows” at far-off alien worlds as you tuck into Offworld’s snack plates and craft cocktails, ranging from "Nanotonic" shots to "old Earth" classic bevvies.

offworldbar.com

17. % Arabica

Yorkdale Shopping Centre

Turns out the giant line next to alo at Yorkdale Shopping Centre isn't for yoga pants, it's for coffee. The first Canadian outpost of the popular Kyoto coffee brand, known for their drip coffees and specialty lattés, has touched down, and Torontonians can't get enough of it. The shop looks more like an Apple Store than a café, with its glass walls and futuristic cylinder coffee bar — perfect for a quick cup on-the-go.

arabica.coffee