Perched partway between New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, the next few weeks were once tough times in the restaurant biz.

Along came Winterlicious as a reduced-price promotion and for nearly two decades the crowds have clambered.

At over 200 participating restaurants – each one does lunch ($23, $28, $33) and/or dinner ($33, $43, $53) at one of the three price tiers – deciding where to book can be tricky. That's why we've rounded up our faves.

Café Boulud

60 Yorkville Ave

From chicken leg roulade to a dulcey crémeux verrine for dessert, the lunch ($33) and dinner ($53) menus at this Yorkville favourite are stuffed with options you’ll never make at home.

Count on Daniel Boulud’s team to deliver a polished-yet-comfortable experience. Dessert – their triple chocolate dome and pistachio mousse appear alongside the verrine – is far from an afterthought here.

cafeboulud.com

Café Cancan

89 Harbord St

More bistro than bougie, Victor Barry’s Harbord spot – decorated like a basket of Easter eggs – practically shouts “joie de vivre”.

When else are you going to try skate wing meunière or opera cake with hazelnut mousse? To make deciding easier, the same dishes appear on the lunch ($28) and dinner ($43) menus.

cafecancan.com

Jump

18 Wellington St W

The O&B group delivers a solid ‘licious experience year-in-and-year-out but Jump sometimes gets overlooked for Canoe (not in this year) and Auberge du Pommier. Its sleek style and uncomplicated food earns its own reputation.

From the mushroom ricotta tart to the Jump reuben sandwich ($28 lunch) or the grilled lemon chicken ($43 dinner) local ingredients feature prominently in many of their menu items.

jumprestaurant.com

Montgomery's Restaurant

996 Queen St W

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The key to enjoying Montgomery’s is to have an open mind and prepare to have your expectations surpassed. Experience Guy Rawlings local-first, fermentation-forward cuisine with options like duck liver pâté with smoked mustard and pickles or rainbow trout with grits and sunflower. It’s great to see this critics’ favourite come in as part of the $43 (dinner only) tier.

montgomerysrestaurant.com

Grand Cru

304 Richmond St W

Given this freshman restaurant’s success, it’s safe to say wine lovers are, at least, open to the idea of pairing pastrami rather than duck a la press with their 2006 Pierre Paillard vintage champagne. With options like seasonal country pâté, trout amandine and their crowd-favourite muffaletta, this is an outstanding gem from the $23-lunch-$33-dinner tier.

grandcrudeli.com

The Shozan Room

164 Ossington Ave

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For whatever reason, restaurants with a European emphasis dominate the ‘licious list, but Shozan Room is an exception with its unconventional Japanese fare. Make a lunch ($23) of grilled clams on the shell and hearty ishikari salmon hot pot or grab tuna tartare nori tacos and the new wave sushi and sashimi tasting at dinner ($33). This newcomer is another great value pick.

theshozanroom.com

To see the full Winterlicious menus, visit toronto.ca