It’s officially cold. Here’s where to head with your empty stomach and leave full of hearty goodness.
Home of the Brave | 589 King St. W.
Mexican street food joint La Carnita’s sister restaurant on King West points the spotlight a little further north for a gourmet menu inspired by the comfort food of the American south. Think chicken and waffles, steak and collard greens, baby back ribs, and burger dishes that are all so much more. In warmer months, head to Sweet Jesus for relief in gourmet soft serve and Mexican popsicles from the same orbit of casual gastronomic genius.
Rose and Sons | 176 Dupont St.
Toronto chef Anthony Rose is responsible for local comfort food fixtures like Fat Pasha, Big Crow, Schmaltz Appertizing and others, but fresh out of the Drake Hotel kitchen, in 2012 he started it all with Rose and Sons. There you can expect to find hearty dishes like beer and cranberry bean stew next to fried chicken dinners, but not year round. Like other Rose-owned facilities, it’s a seasonally affected affair that swaps up the menu frequently to accommodate available ingredients and new inspirations.
OM Grilled Cheese | 66 ½ Nassau St.
When The Grilled Cheese closed earlier this year amidst allegations of unpaid wages and Kensington Market seemed fated to lose an outpost for gooey salvation, but out of its ashes rose a grilled cheese shack under new management, OM Grilled Cheese. We recommend taking a cue from their name and meditating over their Dawgwood sandwich. It’s a towering creation that stacks shaved turkey and roast beef deli meats, oozing with three cheddars and basil pesto.
Cardinal Rule | 5 Roncesvalles Ave.
This quirky Roncesvalles diner from chef Marta Kusel is a softly sung brunch retreat and a reliable go-to for groups of mixed dietary needs (many of the dishes are available with adjustments for vegetarians, vegans, and the gluten-intolerant), but more generally, it’s a place of hearty comfort dishes built on care. Any dish with latkes is a safe bet, and if you’re there for dinner, the Volcano is a particularly effective mountain of them built around seasonal veggies, your choice of steak chunks or meatless meatballs, spinach, and red wine gravy that will defeat the most penetrating of colds and send you home with a full stomach.
Poutini’s House of Poutine | 1112 Queen St. W.
This Queen West poutinerie has received international acclaim – on an episode of his program The Layover, Anthony Bourdain even implied it might be better than Montreal poutine – and it’s a time trusted local favourite. Also worth noting: nearby, co-owners Nicholas and Frederic Laliberté opened Bobbie Sue’s, a new business specializing in specialty mac and cheese, on Ossington this fall.
Caplansky’s Delicatessen | 356 College St.
We’ve sung the praises of Zane Caplansky’s deli before, and with good reason: it’s an institution for traditional Jewish comforts. Take, for instance, the old-fashioned matzoh ball chicken soup or the heaping folds of house-smoked meat piled into their sandwiches. They’re what make this College Street shop, its satellite location at Pearson International, and food trucks trusted sanctuaries for the soul soured.
Wanda’s Pie in the Sky | 287 Augusta Ave.
Dessert’s not usually at the top of everyone’s list when they think about comfort food, but who can really find time to make a pie, let alone mouths to feed the whole thing to? You’re better off sating your craving with Wanda’s.
(Main image: Rose and Sons)