Don’t let your frozen brain convince you that chicken soup and mashed potatoes are the only options in this weather. These five cozy favourites will see you through any polar vortex.
1. Green curry at Golden Thai
A bowl of this basil-tinged curry comes loaded with pieces of chicken breast, bell peppers, bamboo, and that delicious freak of nature: baby corn. Fresh Thai chilies lend sinus-clearing heat, but creamy coconut milk lessens the blow. It’s not surprising that after 23 years in business, this dish is still the restaurant’s top seller. Order a side of fluffy white rice, or, better yet, go during lunch when the curry comes with rice and a refreshing mango salad for only $11.45.
$11.95. 105 Church St., 416-868-6668, #DTN
2. Beef stew at Bach Yen
The banh mi bo kho at this east end Viet-Thai restaurant is on the soupy side of stew, but it’s still loaded with chunks of tender beef and sweet carrot coins. The broth is rich and soothing, punctuated with Chinese five-spice and fragrant lemongrass. Though the dish is traditionally served with a baguette for dipping, owner Kah Xey often switches it up and pours everything over rice noodles. It’s like stew and pho got together to make the ultimate cold-fighting warrior. Watch your back, chicken soup.
$7.50. 738 Gerrard St. E., 647-347-8160, #RIV
3. Roti at Roti Lady
At this Parkdale hole-in-the-wall, Neesha Rha presides over a whiteboard of roti options, some as cheap as $3.50. The squash and spinach will both satisfy and provide a dose of your daily-recommended vitamins. Swaddled in a super soft and perfectly chewy shell, the shredded spinach and vibrant pumpkin filling is sweet, salty, and spicy all at once. There’s only one table inside this small shop, so chances are you’ll have to take your dinner to go. Keep it (and yourself) warm by cradling that roti inside your coat.
$5. 269 Dunn Ave., 416-535-0090, #PRK
4. Savoury pies at The Bristol Yard
During the week, this British noshery serves up a daily pie from noon until three (or whenever they sell out—which is usually before three). The pies are a surprise, even for owner Davy Love, who usually improvises what goes in the oven. One recent afternoon, the pie was a double smoked–bacon-and-potato number, its buttery and flaky short crust stuffed with thinly sliced roasted taters and cubes of smoky pork (from a top-secret source), all in a mellow cream sauce. Have one of Love’s pies for lunch and you’re halfway to hibernation.
$5. 146 Christie St., 647-716-6583, #CHP
5. Mac + cheese at Cheesewerks
There are plenty of options at this temple to fromage, but you might do best with the original mac-and-cheese recipe, which owner Kevin Durkee describes as “me in a bowl.” House-made Béchemel sauce, along with a blend of aged and double-smoked cheddar, coats cavatappi macaroni noodles (known by their way cooler name, scoobi doo noodles). The mac gets gooey in the oven before being topped with breadcrumbs for crunch—and because a few extra carbs never hurt.
$9.95. 56 Bathurst St., 416-243-3327, #KGW