By Gloria Hong

Toronto has bloomed into a city that loves food. With tacos and ramen and food trucks to satisfy the thrifty foodie in town, the original prix fixe fest is back. From January 25 – February 7, the City of Toronto hosts Winterlicious. This annual festival (put on twice a year as Winterlicious and Summerlicious) is something I always look forward to. While the sheer number of restaurants and events may seem overwhelming, all it takes is a good plan and a little organization to get the reservations you want for meals you’ll remember. Here are some of my top tips for getting that Licious reservation.

  1. Do your research. Take a look at the Winterlicious website and write down all the restaurants you might be interested in. Check out the menus they are offering and see what dishes make you pause and ponder. If you’re interested, keep them on a short list. Read professional reviews of your shortlist restos (Toronto Life is a no brainer). I always keep my eyes and ears open for Licious recos (or avoids) provided by many of the city’s respected restaurant critics. I generally end up with 5 – 8 restaurants on my final shortlist.
  2. Coordinate who you’d like to go with and what price points are comfortable. I like to organize restaurants into cuisine and price sub-categories (the website provides tools to help you with that). Then, I pick dates that work for me and send an e-mail to my culinary companions. I pick the restaurants and dates that work for the majority with 2 back up dates for each restaurant choice to have on hand for the reservation call.
  3. Call in your reservation. Call on January 10 (first day of reservations) as soon as the restaurant is open. It is much easier to speak directly to a host/hostess as they will be able to offer you alternatives if your selected time is already booked. This is where your alternate dates come in handy! Feel free to leave a message if prompted. I’ve never had an issue with lost messages while making Licious resos.
  4. When it’s all said and done, I usually end up with 3 – 5 reservations. I send out confirmations to my friends and all we have to do is wait for the dinner date.

Now that you have the “how” down, here are some other considerations to make this your best Licious ever:

  • This is a fantastic time to try something new without too much risk. Restaurants pick dishes they do well and offer menu’s at very reasonable costs. Is there a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try? Now’s the time!
  • Don’t be intimidated by the $45 dinner restaurants. These are some of the best restaurants in the city. They will offer you the same amazing service and food that they offer all their other customers. They want you to enjoy your experience and will pull out all the stops. Guaranteed.
  • Be prepared to eat at off hours at the more popular restaurants. A dinner reservation at 5:30 might feel odd, but it might be your only choice so be prepared to take it. I always take the early reservation and eat a light lunch.
  • Don’t forget about lunch. Lisious lunches are a fast way to enjoy gourmet offerings since the choices are limited. Quick and delicious!

Tomorrow, I will post my Winterlicious picks for your consideration. Stay tuned!