TIFF: where to eat during the Toronto International Film Festival

by Jennifer D’Agostino

Every year for 11 days in September, Toronto welcomes movie lovers, actors, directors, screenwriters and more for the Toronto International Film Festival. While you’re making your way through the festival, attending red carpets and movie screenings, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Here are some of your best bets for TIFF eats and hopefully you’ll spot some celebrities along the way! [Photo courtesy of Montecito]

TIFF: where to eat during the Toronto International Film Festival

TIFF’s Festival Street
For the past four years, TIFF has celebrated with a street festival! Located on King West between Peter Street and University Avenue there will be art installations and live music alongside some of Toronto’s best food trucks! Participating food trucks include feasTO, The Arepa Republic, Urban Smoke, Koi Gourmet, Lindor Chocolate Mobile, Sushitto and more!

TOCA
The Italian eatery, located in the Ritz-Carleton, is hosting a special brunch just for TIFF. The Cristal champagne brunch includes antipasti, a seafood bar, handmade pasta and an assortment of desserts. The luxe restaurant is perfect for star gazing, with reports that George Clooney and Richard Gere dine here when they're in town. The special brunch takes place on September 10 and 17.

Momofuku Noodle Bar
Some celebs want a little taste of NYC and Momofuku can provide that. Originally from New York City, Toronto is home to Momofuku's only location in Canada. In previous years celebrity patrons included Al Pacino, Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones. Please note Momofuku will be closed for private events from September 9 to 12.

Montecito
Right around the corner from TIFF Bell Lightbox, Montecito brings a little bit of California dreamin’ to Toronto. Hollywood director Ivan Reitman, who has been known to pop-by during festival season, owns the farm-to-table restaurant. The hot spot has become a sort of meeting place for celebrity festival goers which have included Sandra Bullock, Bill Murray and Robert Downey Jr.

Byblos
Byblos is a Middle Eastern eatery that marries traditional ingredients with the local ingredients Ontario has to offer. Matt Damon, Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams visited the restaurant last year after the premiere of the Academy Award winning film Manchester by the Sea.

La Palma
Recently opened, La Palma is an all-day eatery, meaning that it's open from breakfast to late night cocktails. La Palma has a menu offering fresh Italian cuisine that stays true the Mediterranean traditions. The trendy restaurant is sure to be a celebrity hot spot and a go-to for movie-goers to grab a bite to eat before a screening.

Lavelle
The main draw of Lavelle is the rooftop patio which offers a stunning view of the Toronto skyline. The menu of contemporary French dishes is what makes people stay and the cocktail menu is what makes the celebrities come out and play. Last year Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zachary Quinto and Shailene Woodley stopped by before the premiere of Snowden.

SoHo House
SoHo House has been known to throw many parties during TIFF, and last year its party attracted some big names, including Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio. The exclusive restaurant is known for classic cocktails and Canadian cuisine with European flare.

ORO
ORO should hit the spot after attending screenings at Ryerson. The Italian eatery is known for pushing the boundaries on authentic Italian dishes and for an award- winning wine list. The restaurant has a romantic and Mediterranean atmosphere. Past celeb sightings include Andrew Garfield and Ford Coppola.

PROVO Food Bar
PROVO Food Bar is a casual eatery that serves up food from around the world. The menu includes arancini, Asian crab and shrimp cakes, orzo jambalaya and more. A great spot to pre-eat before a screening due to the lighter options – after all, you have to save room for popcorn!

Thoroughbred Food & Drink
Serving contemporary Canadian cuisine, Thoroughbred has been a popular spot for TIFF-goers for years. The three-story restaurant has become known for making Canadian cuisine chic and modern, due to Chef Ariel Coplan’s whimsical menu. It’s perfect for a place to eat and discuss the latest films at TIFF!

Sassafraz
Sassafraz has built a reputation for being a celebrity hot spot throughout the year, but during festival time it seems as though celebrity sightings double! Everyone from Colin Firth to Susan Sarandon have been spotted here. Not only does the elegant décor draw the crowds, but the gourmet contemporary cuisine keeps everyone, including the celebrities, coming back for more.

Fring’s
Susur Lee and Drake’s restaurant has celebrity spottings throughout the year, but during TIFF that number increases. This is due to the celebrity names attached to the restaurant, it’s proximity to the TIFF epi-centre or the draw of the trendy ambiance. You may just spot previous diners like Rachel McAdams, Jada Pinkett Smith or Jake Gyllenhaal.

The Chase
For some great seafood that’s down the street from all the TIFF festivities, it’s best to head to The Chase. The nautical ambiance feeds into the vast seafood selection on the menus. There is a rooftop patio, where last year Ryan Gosling took a sweet Instagram pic!

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