Sipping the bubble tea: Toronto’s best spots

By Ashley Alagurajah

Calling all bubble tea lovers! Toronto is one of the most diverse places in the world. That means getting to enjoy delicacies from all over the globe in this evolving Canadian city.

Bubble tea, a drink straight from Taiwan, finds its popularity in the city due to the increasing number of cultures making their way to Canada, one of the largest groups being those of Asian heritage. Bubble tea has stolen the hearts of many, both those from Taiwan and those who aren’t.

It is a drink usually served cold that consists of tea and milk of various flavours – topped with most commonly tapioca pearls. There are countless variations of the drink, some made with purely tea, others topped with custard and aloe vera. No matter what your preference is, the infinite combinations will allow for you to find a drink just right for you.

With the growing number of shops popping up in the city, CanCulture did some digging to find out where the best bubble tea is served in downtown Toronto. For now, Real Fruit Bubble Tea, Chatime, CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice, and Bubble Republic Tea House go neck and neck to see who does the original - black milk tea with tapioca - best.

Seven Lives: Bringing rare Californian-Mexican fusion cuisine to Toronto

By Nicole Colozza

Seven Lives’ signature taco, the “Gobernador,” in front of their store window, paired nicely with the Baja fish taco. (CanCulture/Nicole Colozza)

Seven Lives’ signature taco, the “Gobernador,” in front of their store window, paired nicely with the Baja fish taco. (CanCulture/Nicole Colozza)

A bright red awning, eye-catching bubble letters and the muffled sound of music accompanied by boisterous singing are what calls customers to line up out the door at the Californian-Mexican fusion taco shop, Seven Lives, located in the middle of Kensington Market.

Sean Riehl, an American-born, self-taught chef, moved to Toronto from California in 2010 and created Seven Lives three years later, originally just as a pop-up.

He opened up a permanent shop in one of Toronto’s most popular markets a year later, and his tacos have been a hit ever since.

The menu is inspired by both the California-style tacos Riehl enjoyed growing up and his trips to Tijuana for authentic Mexican tacos.

“It’s a mix of Tex-Mex,” said Seven Lives manager Omar Joel Soria. “Our tacos have fish and meat in them and he tried to mix Californian style with a Mexican style and put it all together.”

The Seven Lives menu features eight different tacos, each for only six dollars, that switch occasionally on a yearly basis.

You can enjoy your tacos with their selection of sides from classic guacamole and freshly made tortilla chips to colourful seafood ceviche.

Their signature taco is called the “Gobernador” and is packed with flavour from a steamy pile-up of smoked marlin, grilled shrimp and cheese. It’s a Seven Lives specialty and the only taco that never gets taken off the menu, according to Soria.

Another crowd favourite is the Baja fish taco that features a golden slab of fried haddock smothered in pico de gallo and cabbage.

The monstrous fried haddock in the Baja fish taco is encased by its two corn tortillas. You can enjoy your tacos in their quaint shop or take them to go for a delicious on-the-run meal. (CanCulture/Nicole Colozza)

The monstrous fried haddock in the Baja fish taco is encased by its two corn tortillas. You can enjoy your tacos in their quaint shop or take them to go for a delicious on-the-run meal. (CanCulture/Nicole Colozza)

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, Seven Lives has provided an enviable roasted mushroom taco option which is available at their second location in the Annex Hotel.

Photo courtesy of vegetarian.nyc via sevenlivesto on Instagram

Part of the fun is watching your delicious taco being put together in their open-concept kitchen. Everything is made in-house, except for the tortillas as per Riehl’s wishes, and some of their fish and seafood comes straight from Kensington Market shops to “support the market businesses.”

The Seven Lives Family

Over the years, Toronto has made itself known as a diverse cultural hub with a wide range of cuisine options for all of your gastronomical needs. However, with the high number of new food spots opening every month, shops need a certain element that stands out to the hungry masses.

Soria explained how the Seven Lives team, or family as they refer to themselves on Instagram, is what sets them apart from other shops. Along with their fusion cuisine, Seven Lives’ friendly atmosphere is what keeps customers coming back for more.

“The lineup, people love it. You can see in reviews that people think our lineup is amazing. They say, ‘The people are so friendly.’ We are more open-minded so we are not just working, we are also having fun,” said Soria.

When you walk through the door, the bright colours and fast-paced music is not the only thing that gives vibrancy to the small shop. Everyone is laughing and singing behind the counter and second to the sight of one of their mouth-watering tacos, watching the Seven Lives family in action is the fastest way to bring a smile to your face.

Seven Lives is located at 69 Kensington Avenue and is open seven days a week from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Coming this summer, Seven Lives’ third location will be opening on 72 Kensington Avenue, just across the market.

Opinion: Being in Toronto has made me more aware of my allergies

By Nuha Khan

When I first heard I was heading to Ryerson University for my undergrad, I couldn’t have been happier. For someone who lives more than an hour away from downtown Toronto, I don’t get many opportunities to familiarize myself with the city. I finally got the chance to immerse myself in everything Toronto had to offer: the people, vintage stores, art galleries, but most importantly, the food.

I’ve accepted the fact that Toronto is not the most ideal city for a person living with allergies. Like many members of my immediate family, I’m allergic to many things - sesame seeds, nuts, oats, just to name a few. I know that these items may not seem like common ingredients used in most meals, however, coming to school in a food-centric city has made me so much more aware of my allergies.

Constantly being in Toronto, it’s almost impossible not to want to eat out at least once a week. At every corner and intersection, I see a food stand or restaurant popping up out of the blue and it’s always something I could never find anywhere else.

There’s been instances within the past year or so where I’ve ordered food that I would never assume to have items containing the things I’m allergic to, but once I’ve eaten it, I get a reaction.

Just last month, I went to a restaurant which shall remain anonymous. I browsed through the menu thoroughly, looking for what to order and came upon a meal I thought I would enjoy. Due to my many allergies, I always tend to be precautious about what I’m getting. Since my meal contained bread, I needed to ask the waiter if it contained sesame seeds, as breads do in some cases.

Now, here comes the most annoying part of my day. Whenever you ask a sever about the ingredients in your meal, they always seem to assume that you’re asking about it because you have an allergy. They tend to make it a bigger deal than it actually is and put you in an awkward situation which almost makes you feel like an outcast. Socially, it’s hard to be that one person who takes too long to order or can’t go to many restaurants because of cross-contamination issues.

The waiter did ask about my allergies that day and offered to prepare a meal that would be allergy-friendly, meaning they would use fresh utensils, pots and stay away from all things I couldn’t eat. This sounded all too good to be true and unfortunately, it was. On the way home, I felt very nauseous and ended up vomiting most of what I had.

In this situation, I was lucky. Everyone who has an allergy experiences different reactions, some of which can be more severe than others. Another person may have had a harsher experience, ultimately placing their lives at risk.

It was indeed a scary experience, but something that does happen often. According to Food Allergy Canada, over 2.6 million Canadians have at least one food allergy and more than 40 per cent of Canadians have to read food labels searching for allergy information.

Since so many Canadians are affected by allergies, it should become a priority for Toronto’s food vendors to be more allergy-safe, as well as more aware of the ingredients they are using to prepare food. When restaurants become more transparent with their ingredients and meal preparation, it will become safer for people like myself and others who also have food restrictions.

It only takes a simple fix. Toronto restaurants should have all employees learn more about allergies themselves and not make it a bigger deal than it is.

Toronto’s allergy safe food spaces

Although some restaurants may be tough to eat at when you have a lot of allergies, there are thankfully a couple of local places that are devoted to being an allergy-safe space.

Toronto’s Hype Food Co. has a ‘make your own’ meal option, all of which is gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. (Courtesy hype.food.co via Instagram)

Hype Food Co. is a bakery and restaurant located in Leslieville on 1060 Gerrard Street East. It is known to be Toronto’s most known allergy-free fast casual restaurant. Owner Pauline Osena wanted to open this business due to her children having many allergies.

Hype Food Co.’s kitchen is free of ingredients such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, sesame seeds and seafood. In terms of their restaurant menu, they offer many “build your own” meals options, including a selection of items like brown rice, zucchini, noodles, beans, Canadian brisket and much more. Giving customers the opportunity to create their own meal allows them to have full control of what they’re eating.

Sorelle and Co.’s berry smoothie bowl contains raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, lemon zest, pumpkin seeds, coconut yogurt and goji berry. (Courtesy nu.nectar via sorelleandco on Instagram)

Another spot Torontonians can go to for allergy-friendly food is Sorelle and Co.This is a vegan-centered café which is free of all tree nuts, gluten, dairy, egg, soy, mustard, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.

The name Sorelle translates to “sister” in Italian, as the café was inspired by a mother struggling with five daughters who have many allergies. Their main store can be found on 161 Yorkville Avenue, but they have other spots in Vaughan, Saks Food Hall, and Etobicoke. They serve many unique dishes, from berry smoothie bowls to mushroom grilled cheeses to coconut macaroons.

As someone living with allergies, places like Hype Food Co. and Sorelle and Co. are helpful but rare. Toronto should work towards finding a middle ground, making sure that one by one, each food place will have a transparent ingredient list for every meal and understand ways in which cross contamination can be eliminated.

First annual Toronto Black Vegan Festival brings community together

By Severina Chu

The first annual Toronto Black Vegan Festival was a chance for the black Canadian vegan community to connect. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

The first annual Toronto Black Vegan Festival was a chance for the black Canadian vegan community to connect. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

The black Canadian vegan community came together to feast in celebration at the first ever Toronto Black Vegan Festival on Sunday at Artscape Wychwood Barns.

Hosted by the Black Vegans of Toronto, a support group for black Canadians looking to make the switch to a plant-based diet, the festival featured various black vendors selling vegan products, including food, clothes, and cosmetics.

“The idea came to me to present vegan options to traditional African and Caribbean foods in an exciting cultural setting,” said festival manager Joe Thomas in an email statement. The festival aimed to not only bring together the black vegan community, but to also expose others to a new lifestyle.

“When people like us are already educated in the vegan world, festivals like this help to enlighten people who are not in this world,” said Jacqueline Taffe, vegan chef and creator of Natures Butter.

Vegan chef Jacqueline Taffe created a vegan and gluten-free butter that she hopes she’ll be able to get into stores in the future. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

Vegan chef Jacqueline Taffe created a vegan and gluten-free butter that she hopes she’ll be able to get into stores in the future. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

Taffe believes that a better awareness about food can help some make the switch to a plant-based lifestyle, especially with so many Caribbean diets being so dependent on meat.

“We were never actually supposed to be eating this much meat. So when people like us say that we’re vegan, we can teach others the same thing,” she said.

Creating a Cultural Connection

Melissa James, founder of Eastend Vegan, echoed the sentiment and emphasized the importance of being open to a healthier diet, especially within the black community. She said she hopes that more people will broaden their tastes and try to have a better understanding of the connections they have with food.

The Eastend Vegan’s almond cheese came as a result of founder Melissa James’ lactose sensitivity. She said that it is a light and healthy alternative to regular cheese. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

The Eastend Vegan’s almond cheese came as a result of founder Melissa James’ lactose sensitivity. She said that it is a light and healthy alternative to regular cheese. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

“What people don’t realize is that the impact of not just slavery, but just leaving home takes away a lot of connections,” said James.

According to James, many immigrants try to recreate tastes of home with what they have.

“You start to adopt a new culture and you no longer have the connection the way you would back at home,” she said.

In order to maintain these connections, people like Owyna Alexander, founder of Caribbubble, wanted to create a product that managed to tie a part of their culture into a vegan diet.

“I love bubble tea and I was looking for more relatable flavours to my culture,” she said. Alexander offers the popular drink in various traditional Caribbean flavours, including sorrel and ginger beer.

Owyna Alexander wanted to create her own version of bubble tea that included flavours from her culture. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

Owyna Alexander wanted to create her own version of bubble tea that included flavours from her culture. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

She said she aims to provide a more accessible version of the drink, in terms of both flavours and dietary needs.

“I wanted to be able to provide it to everyone, and I didn’t want the vegans to be left out,” said Alexander.

Fighting the Misconceptions

With the variety of innovative and flavourful products available at the festival, many vendors wanted to combat the stereotypes and misconceptions about vegan food, such as the supposed lack of flavour and food options.

“Flavour’s the biggest [misconception], just because people are so used to eating a certain way,” said James. While it is possible for people to emulate their favourite foods while eating vegan, she said that people need to realize that there will have to be some adjustments made to a recipe and that a change in flavour doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of flavour.

“It’s a first step towards health, so you have to understand that there will naturally be less salt and it’s going to change the flavour because you’re not putting in the same things you used before,” she said.

With this being the first event of its kind in Toronto, many vendors hope that this will encourage more black Canadians to become more open to a vegan lifestyle and prove that it is doable for people in all communities.

“A misconception is that veganism is mainly for white people because that’s what you see in the media,” said Shaleena McGregor, owner of The Sweet Tooth Vegan.

In order to make healthier versions of normal baked goods, Shaleena McGregor swaps out sugar for ingredients like coconut sugar and maple syrup. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

In order to make healthier versions of normal baked goods, Shaleena McGregor swaps out sugar for ingredients like coconut sugar and maple syrup. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

McGregor personally went vegan after doing research into the dairy industry and finding out the impact it had on animals. She now strives to provide healthier alternatives to normal baked goods and reach out to more of the black vegan community on her podcast.

“You don’t really see much diversity, so I’m glad that this event is showing that veganism goes across all races,” she said.

Hopes for the Future

With the event’s success, the Black Vegans of Toronto are planning for more events, starting with a Fall Harvest Festival in September. The hope is that these kind of events will educate more black Canadians on a vegan lifestyle and encourage them to make the changes to their diet.

“In all communities, and especially the black community, we’ll start to see that we actually have a connection to this food,” said James.

“We can create it, we can make something new from it, and we can grow from it and become healthier. The black community is really coming together.”

Don't Forget the Food Stands

By Keisha Balatbat

Crumbs Patties, Choco Churros, and La Marquesita along Gould Street. (CanCulture/Keisha Balatbat)

Crumbs Patties, Choco Churros, and La Marquesita along Gould Street. (CanCulture/Keisha Balatbat)

The endless food options surrounding the Ryerson University campus can be seen as either an advantage or a daunting task. With so many choices, it can be difficult to narrow down exactly what you want to eat.

While most students opt for big name fast food chains, some head over to the often overlooked food stands, located across from the Student Learning Centre, for a delicious meal or dessert.

Among the cluster of food stands and trucks, you’ll find Crumbs Patties, Choco Churros, and La Marquesita.

Crumbs Patties is a stand that sells patties, which are pastries that contain different kinds of fillings, most commonly beef.

“What makes us different is the options,” said Pierre St. Rose, founder of Crumbs.

Customers at Crumbs Patties love ordering the beef, curry chicken, or their signature beef and cheese patty. Apart from these, Crumbs also offers vegetarian options.

“We do a stuffed patty and a deluxe patty so it’s not just your standard patty shop. We have modernized it,” said St. Rose.

He believes in giving each customer great service. He enjoys talking to customers, asking how they’re doing and ending each interaction with a ‘pound’, also known as a fist bump.

“A thank you is one thing but also giving the pound is saying much respect, just from a culture standpoint,” said St. Rose, who is Jamaican and Trinidadian.

“Yes, in reality I’m a business and you’re a customer, but it should be more than just that.”

He typically runs the stand with his cousin and a few other employees. They were once located just across the street, but after a big restaurant bought the building, they decided to temporarily move over to the stand that they have now.

“It’s working but it’s small for the operation we have,” he said. He is currently working on opportunities to expand Crumbs.

This sentiment is something that is shared between the stands in this area. At Choco Churros, they are also hoping to expand the business. Sergio Herrera, one of the employees, said that they want to have a place with an actual cafeteria and provide more places for people to sit in.

The stand opened up in downtown Toronto in October of last year, but the business was actually started by Herrera’s cousin in the 80s in New York.

“What makes us special around this area is that no one else is selling this kind of dessert,” said Herrera.

Churros are fried sticks of dough covered in cinnamon sugar. This stand also offers different sauces on top, the most popular being caramel and chocolate.

Making sure their churros are affordable is one of the philosophies of the business. “You can get three big churros for less than $10,” said Herrera.

Their other philosophies include providing good customer service and ensuring that the food is always fresh.

“I come one hour before opening so I can make fresh dough for you guys. They’re actually the freshest churros in town and what’s a churro if it’s not fresh?” said Herrera.

Sergio Herrera making fresh churros inside of the Choco Churros stand. (CanCulture/Keisha Balatbat)

Sergio Herrera making fresh churros inside of the Choco Churros stand. (CanCulture/Keisha Balatbat)

Like Choco Churros, La Marquesita, the newest food stand to open up, also values fresh food.

Making authentic Mexican food is something that La Marquesita believes in. As many other places downtown lean towards Tex-Mex, Pablo Morales, one of La Marquesita’s employees, said they aim to “make everything fresh and create authentic Mexican street food.”

La Marquesita’s most popular dish are the taquitos, which are a tortilla rolled up around fillings like beef or cheese. Rather than the hard shell tacos that people are used to buying, the use of 100 per cent corn tortillas indicate that the food is authentically Mexican and not Tex-Mex, the Americanized version of Mexican food.

“In Mexico, we eat taquitos all the time - in the morning, brunch, dinner, every time - and we wanted to bring that to Toronto,” said Morales.

Their visible corner spot is an asset according to Morales, but like Crumbs and Choco Churros, La Marquesita also struggles with the small space.

“Sometimes many people come to eat but we don’t have too much space to get more people in,” said Morales.

Pablo Morales greeting customers at La Marquesita. La Marquesita hopes to become a franchise and open more stores downtown. (CanCulture/Keisha Balatbat)

Pablo Morales greeting customers at La Marquesita. La Marquesita hopes to become a franchise and open more stores downtown. (CanCulture/Keisha Balatbat)

Apart from the small space, the cold weather is also something that causes some difficulty for these food stands as people do not want to spend too much time outside during the winter.

This forces vendors to get creative with their stands. “We don’t have an indoor spot so sometimes I put the heater out here so people can get warm,” said Herrera, referring to a small heater that attaches to the counter of the stand.

“Being around a school, yes you have the traffic, but at the same time when there’s weather issues like the cold, you don’t have the opportunity to have people funnel into somewhere like a mall,” said St. Rose.

Food vendors and their relationship with Ryerson students

The Choco Churros stand which is open on weekdays from 12 to 8 p.m. (CanCulture/Keisha Balatbat)

The Choco Churros stand which is open on weekdays from 12 to 8 p.m. (CanCulture/Keisha Balatbat)

The convenience and closeness of the location brings a lot of Ryerson students to these businesses.

“I love this business because everyone is happy when they come get churros,” said Herrera.

He says students love sweets and the quickness of the service. “It helps them have better performances in their classes because of all the sweets,” he jokes.

“This is our first spot and you’ll be part of our story if you get churros from here,” said Herrera.

Despite the convenience of the location, bringing in new customers can be a challenge for these businesses.

“You just have to find ways to interact with the student body as far as just marketing from the same old spot or with social media,” said St. Rose. He said marketing on social media can be difficult.

“You have to be very constant, and how many times can I really say patties?”

However, he encourages students to try new things. “We offer a modernized food item that’s been around for so long and provide an option that has been remixed, along with other creations,” said St. Rose.

Students get 10 per cent off at La Marquesita, but they’re working on expanding the menu and creating new discounts that will be exclusive to Ryerson students.

“Many students have a budget for food and they don’t want to spend more money than that, so that’s why we want to do many specials for students,” said Morales.

The next time you need to satisfy a food craving, consider supporting these local businesses as they offer a great variety of food options for affordable prices.  

Winterlicious at Fonda Lola

By Sophie Chong

General Manager Rafael Bastidas said they tried to incorporate things inside Fonda Lola that referenced Mexico. Included in the decorations are also memorabilia of the owner’s late grandmother, whom the name of the restaurant was inspired from. (CanCulture/Sophie Chong)

General Manager Rafael Bastidas said they tried to incorporate things inside Fonda Lola that referenced Mexico. Included in the decorations are also memorabilia of the owner’s late grandmother, whom the name of the restaurant was inspired from. (CanCulture/Sophie Chong)

Nestled along the edge of Little Portugal in Toronto, Fonda Lola has brought traditional Mexican cuisine to the west end of Toronto for the past five years.

This year, Fonda Lola is participating in one of Toronto’s most anticipated food events, Winterlicious.

Rafael Bastidas, general manager of the restaurant, said Winterlicious has given them the opportunity to explore with their menu based on what their chef has available at the time.

“We want to experiment with our menu in Winterlicious to see how people are reacting to our food and if we have to promote some dishes more than others,” he said.

Rafael Bastidas, who immigrated to Canada from Venezuela, currently works as the general manager of Fonda Lola. He is in charge of the front of house operations, and is also the in-house mixologist. (CanCulture/Sophie Chong)

Rafael Bastidas, who immigrated to Canada from Venezuela, currently works as the general manager of Fonda Lola. He is in charge of the front of house operations, and is also the in-house mixologist. (CanCulture/Sophie Chong)

Fonda Lola serves a plethora of mexican-style alcoholic beverages including fusion cocktails, margaritas, tequila, mojitos, and beers. (CanCulture/Sophie Chong)

Fonda Lola serves a plethora of mexican-style alcoholic beverages including fusion cocktails, margaritas, tequila, mojitos, and beers. (CanCulture/Sophie Chong)

For a fixed price of $33 plus tax and gratuities, Fonda Lola offers a prix fixe menu of a select number of appetizers, entrées, and desserts.

Fonda Lola offers the staple dish of chips and salsa as an appetizer (usually $12), made with house-made corn tortilla chips, and pico de gallo that is seasoned with red onion, lime, and cilantro. The tomato salsa is tangy but not overly sweet like many store-bought salsas. The tortilla chips are light, not too salty, and adds a great crunch to the house-made salsa.

Fonda Lola boasts house-made and handcrafted ingredients in all of their drinks and food that they serve. All ingredients used in dishes are locally sourced within the Toronto area, and they offer vegan and vegetarian options. (CanCulture/Sophie Chong)

Fonda Lola boasts house-made and handcrafted ingredients in all of their drinks and food that they serve. All ingredients used in dishes are locally sourced within the Toronto area, and they offer vegan and vegetarian options. (CanCulture/Sophie Chong)

For the main course, they have Carnitas Tacos (usually $16), which contains Mexican pork confit topped with red onion and cilantro. The pork is tender and moist and pairs nicely with red onion and cilantro. Fonda Lola also sources their pork meat from a local Portuguese supermarket in Toronto.

However, if customers are looking for vegan or vegetarian options, they also serve Cauliflower Tacos (usually $16). The dish includes cauliflower sautéed with garlic and guajillo pepper, topped with cilantro, red onion, and house chipotle and aioli.

Bastidas recommended the Cauliflower Tacos, made with sautéed cauliflower with garlic and guajillo sauce, topped with cilantro, red onion, and house chipotle aioli. (CanCulture/Sophie Chong)

Bastidas recommended the Cauliflower Tacos, made with sautéed cauliflower with garlic and guajillo sauce, topped with cilantro, red onion, and house chipotle aioli. (CanCulture/Sophie Chong)

Desserts at Fonda Lola typically range from $8-$15. On their Winterlicious menu, they featured the Tequila Flan (vegetarian), which is not a regular item on their menu. It’s made up of a sweet custard infused with tequila and cream cheese, baked with a layer of house-made caramel. It has a smooth, creamy, light texture with a slight taste of alcohol, the sweetness of the caramel adding depth to the tangy tequila and the cream cheese.

What is Winterlicious?

Winterlicious has made its 16th annual appearance in Toronto this year, with reportedly over 200 participating restaurants. From January 25 to February 7, Torontonians are encouraged to explore the city’s diverse culture through the food scene.

“They showcase diverse cuisine, they’re talented chefs. This is an opportunity for people to dine out and explore Toronto’s food culture,” said Eirine Papaioannou, event support supervisor at the Toronto Office of Partnerships.

Hosted by the city, customers and avid food lovers get a chance to grab a taste of Toronto’s ever-changing restaurant industry. The event allows both newcomers and native Torontonians to expand their taste buds at cuisines for a reasonable price. Fixed prices for three course meals vary from restaurant to restaurant. There are three fixed prices for both lunch and dinner includes: lunch for $23, $28, $33, and dinner for $33, $43, $53.

“The event is open to everyone who lives here, or is visiting here, and because of the price points it is accessible at different levels,” said Papaioannou.

At toronto.ca, interested customers can customize their search for the type of cuisines, neighbourhood, and price point in order to find exactly what they’re looking for. The search engine also allows for visitors to easily find information on which restaurants offer vegan, vegetarian, and accessibility options.

“Toronto has one of the best culinary scenes, such as diversity of food types...this is a way for people to explore the world in their hometown,” she said.

Is it worth it?

Winterlicous can be a way to narrow down possible food options for customers who have a hard time deciding on what to order from a new restaurant. Prix fixe menus give them a taste of the restaurant, and a new culinary experience that can seemingly be five to eight dollars cheaper than ordering from the regular prices. They may also be pleasantly surprised by great hospitality, the atmosphere of the restaurant, and other aspects that could drive them to visit again.

Some customers may be disappointed that even with the set prices, their bill can almost amount to the same price as if customers had ordered from the regular menu. This is because the prix fixe does not cover alcohol, taxes and gratuity.

For students on a budget, Winterlicious would be a great option if they're willing to; spend some money to try something new, go out for a date night, a special family function, or a night out with friends. However, students should be wary that even with the fixed prices, their overall meal can still cost four times more than your everyday Big Mac combo at McDonald’s.