You Gotta Eat Here host John Catucci has sampled food across Canada, so when he offers his suggestions for our nation’s best spots to grab a holiday meal, we just have one question: Where?
John is full of recommendations, so put on your stretchy pants and get your Santa bellies ready, Canada, because there’s plenty of homegrown deliciousness to enjoy this holiday season.
Scandilicious (Vancouver, BC)
Mother-daughter team Anita and Kristina offer a menu of traditional Norwegian family recipes at this Vancouver hotspot, including gluten-free options. John’s favourite is the ‘Applepieffle,’ a liege waffle topped with spiced poached apples and a gingerbread cookie spread. “It took me a while to be able to say ‘applepieffle’ without getting tongue tied,” says John, but it was worth the effort. “Apple pie + waffle = SO GOOD!”
That Little Place By The Lights (Huntsville, ON)
Lasagna is a must-try at this cottage country favourite. Chef Annie’s masterpiece features of layers of succulent homemade pasta, laced with her signature Bolognese sauce and stuffed with a cheese and béchamel filling. John says it’s the best lasagna you’ll ever taste. “Please don’t tell my Zia Felicetta, or she won’t ever make me lasagna again.”
Saturday Dinette (Toronto, ON)
Grab a seat at the counter, enjoy the rocking tunes and tuck into chef Suzanne’s massive soy-braised beef ribs, served with a hearty walnut dip. Then get back out there and finish your shopping! “Suzanne is an incredible chef and an amazing woman,” says John. “When you walk into her place, she makes you feel like you’re part of the family.”
Yellowbelly Brewery (St. John’s, NFLD)
Can’t decide between cheese pizza and chicken Caesar salad? Then just order John’s favourite, the four-cheese and chicken Caesar pizza, and you won’t have to. “I love being able to pick up my salad, in case I need to go somewhere,” says John. “I’m not going anywhere, I’m just saying it’s a nice option.”
The Satay Brothers (Montreal, QC)
Add some Singaporean spice to your season with the street food favourites at this Montreal establishment. John especially loves the pork belly buns, two steamed buns stuffed with braised pork belly, hoisin sauce, fresh cucumber, and cilantro; they’re the perfect combination of soft and crunchy textures and sweet and salty flavours. “If you’ve never had a steamed bun, do it,” says John. “Chewy, soft clouds of deliciousness stuffed with the most succulent pork belly. Leave one out for Santa. I’m sure he’s getting tired of all those cookies”
Still hungry? Check out the You Gotta Eat Here! map for more delicious options.