From coast to coast we explore what’s new in Canada’s major cities from Vancouver and Calgary to Toronto and Montréal. Discover the country’s best new restaurants, new hotels and spas, new activities and new travel experiences.
Note: Some spots featured in this article may be temporarily closed or offering a modified experience due to COVID-19. Check the website links included here for more details.
Modern Mexican fare has arrived in Olympic Village in the former WildTale space, accompanied by wood carvings, masks and strikingly colourful murals by Mexican artist Saicker. Named after chef Francisco Higareda’s mother, Ophelia is serving up eats like tacos, tostadas and ceviche with tequila, mezcal and hand-crafted cocktails.
Five Sails restaurant
This Vancouver fine dining landmark reopened in June with a fresh interior face and the same breathtaking views of the waterfront. The Four-Diamond west coast cuisine is perfect for a celebratory evening, something we all deserve at the moment! Make sure to take a wine recommendation from sommelier Ramon Fresneda who’s been with the restaurant for 20 years.
Many of Vancouver’s boarded up storefronts and empty streetscapes were transformed by colourful murals of hope when the pandemic hit. Several by local and Indigenous artists in anticipation of Vancouver’s 5th annual Mural Festival, a growing celebration of the city’s colourful year-round art exhibits. Visit vanmuralfest.ca/app to download the app and plan your most Instagram-worthy route. Pictured: Where You Will Find Me by Caitlin McDonagh captures “looking or reaching for something amidst chaos and time, finding familiarity with each other”.
NUPO and EIGHT restaurants
Renowned Canadian celebrity chef Darren MacLean (of Netflix’s The Final Table fame) is at the helm of two new restaurants inside the new Alt Hotel Calgary. NUPO is a Japanese-inspired fish and plant-based restaurant with a not-to-miss omakase experience. EIGHT is an intimate eight-person interactive chef’s bar with a series of tasting menus that showcase true Canadian cuisine, as well as some high-profile Michelin Star chef collaborations. At both you can expect to find the same zest, creativity and vibrance that have made MacLean’s beloved Shokunin restaurant such a success.
Eau Claire Distillery’s Speakeasy Experience
Travel back to the days of prohibition in Turner Valley and Southern Alberta with a visit to a secret bar to hear tales of the illicit booze trade, clandestine operations and audacious drinkers. Enjoy prohibition-themed cocktails and bites and sample Eau Claire’s award-winning spirits and whisky while reliving the furtive speakeasy days.
Collab is a new collective just opened in July at Southcentre Mall that is now home to 40+ local and Canadian vendors. Wife and husband partners Jaclyn and Cameron Daw opened Collab in response to the ongoing pandemic and its effect on local artisans and makers. Here they have a collective space to thrive and Canadians have a new favourite place to shop local from jewellery to fashion to home decor.
DOVA is destined to become a local favourite as one of Toronto’s best new restaurants. A calming aesthetic of pastels with some minimal mid-century nods lets an exceptionally well-thought-out Sicilian-Mediterranean menu shine. Artistic dishes focus on tradition and quality of individual ingredients. Think bright and peppery EVOO, perfectly al dente pasta (try Ricotta & Pepe), light and creamy Burrata with wine-preserved peaches, and satisfying seafood both fresh (Polpo) and smoked (Sardina). Superbly crafted cocktails like the convention-defying Dova Caesar vy for the spotlight, made with pomodoro water and housemade worcester sauce balanced in a clam shell on top. Plus, there’s a charming and cozy patio space out back that’s perfect for fresh-air social distancing.
Iridium Spa at The St. Regis Toronto
On the 31st floor of the new St. Regis Hotel in Toronto, the Iridium Spa has been completely redesigned and reopened with a new lounge area featuring floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city. An indulgent spa menu is designed to embrace mind, body and soul. Draw out the luxurious pampering with a dip in the infinity salt water pool one floor above.
Terra Lumina at the Toronto Zoo
Head to the zoo after nightfall for an immersive 1.5km walking experience called Terra Lumina by creative studio Moment Factory that takes you into the future, 2099 to be exact, “a time when humans and nature have learned to live in harmony”. Lighting, multimedia projections and an original score guide you through an enchanted world of possibility.
French bistro, cocktail and wine bar Gabrielle just opened in Old Montréal serving breakfast, lunch and dinner no matter what time of day you find yourself there. In the morning, grab a coffee from Quebec roaster Julius and pastries from much-loved Montréal bakery Hof Kelsten. At lunch, enjoy fresh, seasonal dishes like beetroot and halloumi salad. For dinner, the tortellini with braised lamb is a must. The all-day food destination isn’t just convenient. It also happens to be perfect for limiting your exposure and ideally situated for exploring the old town.
Noma-trained chef Patrick Marion helms the new Italian-leaning 212 restaurant that promises to become a bucket-list destination. Cocktails with names like Godfather Part Deux perfectly suit the heavy-hitting culinary and creative talent behind this sumptuous fine dining spot. With lighting, art and design by creatives that have worked for Drake, Beyoncé and Madonna, both the food and the space at 212 is made to impress.
The radically redesigned Biodôme opened in August with a totally reimagined visitor experience and some truly impressive architecture. New walkways and vantage points allow you to get closer to the animals, like watching birds from treetop level or entering a beaver lodge. With completely immersive ecosystems, you can get the experience of travelling to the arctic or exploring a rainforest even if we can’t travel far from home right now.
Did we miss something off our list? If you’ve got new restaurants, hotels, spas, arts and culture, activities and travel experiences you think we should cover, send us a note! Email Digital Editor Nicola Brown at email@example.com.
Thinking of booking a trip to a Canadian destination next year? Find out how to plan the ultimate staycation in cities across Canada:
Calgary Staycation [VIDEO]: Escape to Kananaskis Mountain Lodge near Banff + go horseback riding and kayak glacier lakes
Toronto Staycation [VIDEO]: Look inside the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel + take a scenic flight over Toronto
Montreal Staycation [VIDEO]: Travel the world without leaving home at Le Germain Hotel + pamper yourself at Bota Bota spa on the water
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