The holidays are so close we can taste it. No literally… we can taste it because we are busy baking, cooking and eating all things holiday all month long. From Taylor Swift-Inspired Chai Sugar Cookies to Biscoff Hot Chocolate, we can’t get enough of those new and classic holiday flavours. One place in Toronto that is full of holiday flavour and cheer is the Distillery District’s Winter Village. As Santa walks through the village with his elves, you can Christmas shop ’til you drop and work up an appetite (trust us, you’ll need it). Read on for everything to know about the Distillery District Christmas market, plus our top 10 food stands to try.
Do you need tickets for the Toronto Christmas market?
Tickets are required on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays after 4PM and December 18-31 after 4PM. Entry is free any other time.
Is the Distillery Christmas Market free?
Tickets range in from $15 to $45.
What time is the Distillery District open?
The Distillery Winter Village is open daily until January 7 from 10AM to 9PM on Sunday to Thursday and 10AM to 10PM on Friday and Saturday.
El Catrin Tacos
El Catrin is a staple and must-visit when in the Distillery District. So it’s no surprise that the taco stand right near the Feliz Navidad bar is a must-visit when at the Winter Village. Al Pastor Tacos, chips and salsa, and chips and guac are the only things on the menu, and it’s all you need. The pork for the al pastor tacos is marinated in a chili guajillo (a type of Mexican chili) sauce and then spit-roasted with pineapple on a trompo (a vertical rotisserie, similar to what shawarma is cooked on). Topped off with some fresh pineapple, red onion, hot sauce and cilantro — these tacos will warm you up on a cold winter’s night (and not just because of the hot sauce). You can get two tacos for $12.
I Love Churros
You can’t have El Catrin tacos without having a churro for dessert, and luckily there is a churro stand right next to the El Catrin stand. With churros from Pancho’s Bakery, these fried cinnamon dough sticks are pipped full with chocolate or caramel filling. The churros have the perfect crunch when you bite in but are nice and soft as well, and full of cinnamon sugar goodness. We loved the chocolate filling, but we have to say the caramel filling stole the show. We also recommend picking up a coffee from somewhere in like market (like Balzacs, Arvo or Arena Coffee Bar) and dipping your churro in the hot bevy. That way you’ll continue to taste this delicious treat as you sip your coffee throughout the Winter Village. You can get two churros for $8.
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Balzac’s Hot Cocoa and Cider
If coffee is not your hot beverage of choice to keep warm while walking around the Winter Village, there are plenty more options. Throughout the market, stands are serving hot toddys, mulled wine and more, but we think everyone should stop by the Balzac’s Hot Cocoa and Cider stand, located just outside their storefront. Featuring festive hot chocolate flavours such as fireside s’more, peppermint bliss and chocolate orange, you might have a tough time choosing which hot chocolate to sip on. We went for the gingerbread gumdrop hot chocolate and we were shocked at how delicious it was. Topped with whipped cream, gum drops and yes, a gingerbread cookie, this hot chocolate was surprisingly fruity and full of spice. It came out at the perfect temperature to sip on as we strolled and we even got a surprise of more gum drops at the bottom of the cup as we got to the end of the sweet drink. These hot chocolates are beautiful when they are presented to you, so make sure you take a picture or two before getting that first sip. The hot chocolates retail for about $10 each.
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We ate so much good food when visiting the Distillery Christmas market, but these pierogis were our favourite. In Eastern Europe, pierogis are a Christmas eve staple and after trying Pierogi Miska, we might make it a tradition of ours as well. You can get a variety of different pierogi flavours and toppings like classic cheese, chicken, and mushrooms but we went for the popular smoked bacon pierogis. Loaded with crispy bacon, three different types of onions (crispy, sauteed and green onions) and sour cream, every bite was a different flavour sensation. The pierogis were soft, warm and full of delicious potato filling. Pierogi prices vary from $13 to $16 based on your toppings.
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Dreamland Cotton Candy
Cotton candy may not be the first thing you think of when you think of holiday treats; however, cotton candy in the shape of Santa, the Grinch and a reindeer screams holiday cheer. Featuring flavours like birthday cake, cherry, and apple based on your design, these fluffy sweet treats are almost too beautiful to eat. They make for the perfect photo op next to the 56-foot Christmas tree decked out with Dior decorations. If you want something unique, you have to get this festive treat, which retails for $13.
Pretzels are a classic fan favourite at the Distilery Winter Market year after year. Giant pretzels with sweet and savoury toppings are a quick and tasty treat that hits every time. Pretzel Haus — located right near the beautiful Christmas tree — has flavours like salted, sunflower seed and Lindt chocolate. Warm, salty and absolutely delicious, you can get a pretzel for $10.
Mac n’ Cheese
There is no shortage of cheese at the Winter Village — you can find poutine, raclette and grilled cheese huts all next to each other in an area Christmas market goers are affectionately calling “cheese lane”. Right next to them is a hut featuring another cheesy favourite — macaroni and cheese. There are three varieties: classic four cheese (their most popular), smoked chicken and chorizo and a chef’s special which is a rotating flavour. We tried the classic four cheese with asiago, cheddar, Parmigiano and pecorino cheese and it was full of cheesy goodness and crunchy bread crumbs on top. It makes for an Insta-worthy cheese pull and your taste buds will be thanking you, too. The macaroni and cheese varies in price from $11 to $15.
Crepes de Paris
Sweet and savoury crepes are available at this food stand and you get to watch them make the crepes right in front of you. The smell of these delicious French-style pancakes is enough to make your mouth water. Flavours include lemon curd and strawberry and ham and gruyere cheese. We went for the banana and Nutella crepe and loved every bite of it. The Nutella provided a perfect chocolatey hit and the banana added a delicious sweet softness along with the crepe. It was topped with icing sugar which reminded us of freshly fallen snow, perfect for the wintertime. Crepes range in price form $12 to $14.
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More Natas Please
More Natas Please serves authentic Portuguese pastéis de nata (egg custard tarts). More Natas Please started as a hut in the Distillery Winter Village last year and has now opened a storefront location at 762 Yonge Street in Toronto. The pastry has a satisfying crunch and the custard centre is creamy and oh-so delicious! Flavours include original, almond, Nutella and raspberry, so we don’t blame you if you want to try more than one. You can get three tarts for $12 — the perfect thing to bring to your next holiday party!
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There are two poutine stands in the Distillery Winter Village; but Wildly Delicious’s Christmas poutine has our vote. This dish features French fries, pulled turkey, cheese curds, and stuffing which is then topped with gravy and cranberry sauce. This poutine was so good, we want to recreate it with our Christmas dinner leftovers on December 26! The cheese pull from the curds looks as good as it tastes, and the cranberry sauce adds a sweet flavour we didn’t know we needed in poutine. This is one dish we will definitely be going back for. The Christmas poutine at Wildly Delicious is $14.