TIFF is upon us. The annual ritual of sleep deprivation and stealth star stalking (say that five times fast) is back, and with only ten days to take it all in, we’ve devised a little path to make sure you make the most out of this moment. With stars like Ryan Gosling, Claire Danes, Javier Bardem, Kate Beckinsale, Gael García Bernal, Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart (just to name a few…) gallivanting around our fair city, here’s a list of local haunts that are star favourites, no red carpet required.
The Neighbourhood Lounge at SoHo
Grab and go is a concept close to the heart during TIFF’s mad-dashery, so sometimes refueling on the road (or red carpet) is your key to survival. The Neighbourhood Lounge at SoHo Hotel has got you covered, with TIFF inspired smoothies, juice blends and bites from the lounge just in case you have more than one hot minute. Open daily from 7am-9pm.
This brand spanking new bar has taken over Blowfish at King and Bathurst just in time for TIFF. Created by brothers and owners of Figures (see below), this new concept will usher in the ‘golden age of Hollywood’, with a unique Toronto spin. Look for dishes by Chef Ron Stratton to tempt and tease, and out-of-this-world cocktails to keep you anything but parched.
Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of your day, and with late nights weaving into groggy mornings, a basket is so much more presentable than a plate of eggs. Susur Lee is shining a light on Dim Sum, offering his delectable bites during TIFF, starting off at 10am in the Luckee Bar.
Alo Bar Yorkville
The newest diamond to sparkle in Yorkville belongs none other than to Alo Bar. The highest rated restaurant in Canada is back with a new concept, this time, a bar tucked into Cumberland, safe from darting eyes of the paps.
It takes one to know one, and with a beefcake like Mark Wahlburg helming the franchise, and even make a guest appearance now and again, this burger joint is a perfect perch to decompress and grab a bite. This year they’re offering the Beverly Hills Blitz Burger in honour of TIFF, a biggie beef burger dressed to impress with red onion bacon jam.
Ladies who lunch know a good thing when they see it, and Sofia has it in spades. Dripping in art, stars will love the glamorous surroundings of a bonafide art gallery, with dreamy cocktails to match by the city’s best bar keep, Nishan Nepulangoda. Two private patios offer ample seating for those looking to squeeze the last sunshine out of summer.
Known for unique cocktails and unexpected flourishes, both food, drink and decor wise, Figures in Yorkville is a mecca for movie lovers, making it a prime spot to scope out the stars.
Housed on the second floor of the Bisha Hotel, Michelin-Star Chef Akira Back is holding court at this sought-after restaurant with a focus on Japenese cuisine with nods to other cultures, like the heart-thumping Tuna Pizza.
The Alley Behind Oddseoul
Chef Grant Soto and @rurubaked are teaming up this weekend to turn TIFF on it’s tail, with nutty flavour profiles for their cone inspired pop-up, in an alley on Ossington. I’m Drake’s cousin (Kosher Salted Caramel Swirl), I’m a creative director/stylist/multi-hyphenate (Fresh Mint & Chocolate Chip) and He’s not my sugar daddy he’s just helping me start my business (Vegan Mango) are just a few of the offerings by this dream team. Only from 1-6pm Saturday, September 8th.
King Street will always reign supreme for TIFF. Claudio Aprile’s hotspot just east of Yonge is a natural contender for your star stalking. The Masterchef brings the heat, with a beautiful bar greeting guests, and a Chef’s counter to catch all the action. A corner patio is practically a backdrop for the countless movies filmed just outside. Movies are great, but real life is just so much better.
Lead photo of Sofia. All images by Libby Roach.