Yes, 2020 has been a tough year for people and businesses from all walks of life, and that certainly holds true for Toronto’s restaurant industry. Our top food stories of 2020 were full of sad goodbyes, inspiring pivots and a whole lot of takeout.
Unfortunately, closings were a reoccurring theme of Toronto dining in 2020 as restaurants struggled to adapt to on-and-off dining room shutdowns amid the pandemic. Our top food post this year highlighted several much-loved restaurants that permanently closed their doors in August 2020, including Queen West Argentinian eatery AMA, Bloor West locale White Brick Kitchen and cheerful cafe Elvy and Flo. Here’s hoping we’ll see new projects from these chefs and culinary teams in 2021.
From restaurant-made meal kits to dining rooms transformed into grocery stores, restaurants across Toronto fundamentally changed the way they feed diners as a result of the ongoing indoor dining closures. Among the many notable restaurant pivots we saw this year was Sushi Masaki Saito, which swapped its $500 per person dine-in menu for a beautifully-executed takeout menu featuring dishes priced for as little as $58.
Patio season took on a whole new meaning this year, as Toronto diners continued to eat on patios well after the summer heat had subsided. With indoor dining restrictions stretching into the fall, scores of restaurants erected heaters and covered patios so they could continue to serve sit-down diners as the temperatures dropped.
The wave of restaurant closures this year has tugged on the heartstrings of many Torontonians, but the closure of Montecito struck a particular chord with our readers. Owned by Hollywood director Ivan Reitman and chef Jonathan Waxman, Montecito was an Entertainment District staple and had been a popular TIFF hotspot in years past.
2020 was truly the year of takeout, with restaurants across the city expanding their to-go programs or offering takeout for the first time as they strived to continue serving customers while dining rooms were closed. We rounded up some of our favourite restaurants offering takeout across the city, from upscale spots like Edulis and Alo to comfort food classics like Brando’s Fried Chicken and Allen’s.