Toronto’s mix of cultures, multiple ethnic enclaves and a buzzing downtown — where the new focus of the fest has moved — mean a lively urban backdrop for the festgoers. Meanwhile, Yorkville industry faves — like the Four Seasons Bar and latenight hangout Bistro 990 — appeal to those creatures of habit.
330 King St. West
On the ground floor of the Bell Lightbox, O&B Canteen serves breakfast, lunch and brunch weekends. Get a coffee fix or stop by for salads, pastries, pizzas, wine and Canadian craft beer. Vegetarian options and artisan-made bread and baked goods distinguish this casual eatery.
330 King St. West
Emphasizing Canada-sourced, seasonal ingredients and sporting a talented executive chef, Jason Bangerter, Luma at the Bell Lightbox serves an eclectic fine dining menu at lunch and dinner. The adjacent BlackBerry lounge has smaller plates and cross-cultural tastes from Asia (steamed pork buns) to North America (beef sliders). Weather permitting, book the patio for the most coveted seats.
The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
181 Wellington St. West
Strategically close to festival venues, the newly opened hotel is set to welcome industryites from its outdoor bar and terrace Deq to its private dining rooms at Toca where chef Tom Brodi presides. Fully exploring the locavore trend, Toca sources most ingredients from Canada. At Toca Bar there’s a seafood raw bar and sweet-and-savory cocktails.
KING + JOHN
600 King St. West
(416) 862 1175
Casual, boisterous and with more than 100 kinds of beer, Bier Markt specializes in Belgian-influenced gastropub fare: mussels by the kilo and fondue-for-two are specialties. The patio is pleasant for people watching and informal meetings.
461 King St. West
A cafe and lounge, Brassaii is open lunch to late night. The party vibe and DJs complement the Mediterranean-influenced menu and mixologist made cocktails.
Crush Wine Bar
455 King St. West
A TIFF film themed tasting menu — there’s “A Dangerous Method” ravioli and a “Moneyball” lobster — joins Crush Wine Bar’s usual fare of charcuterie, cheese plates and 50 wines by the glass with an emphasis on Canadian wines.
KING WEST VILLAGE
550 Wellington St. West
Three restaurants, an exclusive boite called 1812 and a 16th floor rooftop pool bar and lounge should entice festgoers to Thompson’s Toronto outpost. On site is the Counter: a 24/7 American-style diner with full bar. Scarpetta Toronto offers chef Scott Conant’s take on Italian, and will play host to the Fox Searchlight/Vanity Fair party during the fest. There’s a communal table for walk-ins, a private dining room for eight and expert wine service. For those that need to chill and stretch, 889 Yoga has a schedule of 30 weekly classes.
Le Select Bistro
432 Wellington St. West
A wine cellar with 15,000 bottles, conventional French bistro fare and an inviting Parisian atmosphere give Le Select Bistro a European air. Design details are reminiscent of Paris too: the zinc bar, vintage French posters, sidewalk terrace out front and enclosed garden out back.
The Drake Hotel’s Sky Yard
1150 Queen St. West
Year-round, the Drake Hotel’s rooftop patio and lounge gets a lot of action. Situated in the arts district, the hotel cultivates an indie film vibe and is frequented by younger creative types. Expect the Drake to be an ever-changing scene during TIFF as nightly sessions feature name DJs.
990 Bay St.
Close to the Sutton Place Hotel, an industry fave for quiet lunches, dinners, latenight gatherings and private parties on the second floor.
Four Seasons Avenue Bar
21 Avenue Road
The favored industry watering hole welcomes insiders to its posh lobby level bar. Most likely, this will be the final TIFF for the storied haunt as a new, ultra-modern and expanded Four Seasons Hotel is under construction one block east, and is scheduled to open next summer.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Parts & Labour, Parkdale
1566 Queen St. West
Canadian design team Cantor remade a former hardware store into this expansive bar, restaurant and music venue. A rustic urban look — recycled lighting and communal tables — belies the sophisticated comfort food that changes seasonally. The rooftop vegetable garden supplies some ingredients like the salad greens.
The Distillery Historic District
55 Mill St.
A unique adaptive re-use project, brick-lined paths lead around the property — a former Victorian-era distillery now housing a quasi-village of shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafes — which is closed to traffic and dotted with patio. The Mill Street Brewery creates small-batch craft beers and ales. Also within the complex: the Ontario Water Sake Company rewards visitors with tastes of fresh-brewed sake — an opportunity rarely found outside Japan.
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