×

Toronto Festival Offers Gastronomic Feast

Toronto festivalgoers’ plates overflow with screenings, meetings and splashy post-premiere events, while its dining scene entices as well: it’s a delicious cornucopia representing the city’s multi-cultural diversity. There’s ample local sourcing for a true regional flavor providing a tasty match for any food preference. Here are some ideas on where to drink, dine out and check out Toronto’s culinary riches.

Theater Adjacent
Canteen

Canteen at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and its patio (open in fine weather) is the go-to spot for convenient eats and conversation. The seasonally updated menu features smoothies, lean proteins and more indulgent options like the classic burger with cheddar cheese. Load up on Yukon gold potato fries, or Canada’s signature poutine — cheese curds topped with gravy. Lighter fare includes an array of salads, grain bowls and fresh salmon. A full bar, daily drink specials and creative non-alcoholic mocktails await those celebrating their TIFF deals.

330 King St. W., obcanteen.com

Popular on Variety

Vegan Mexican
Rosalinda

Opened in late May, this light and bright plant-filled Mexican spot is a collaboration between top restaurateurs Grant van Gameren, Jamie Cook and Max Rimaldi. Vegetables, grains and nuts are the prime ingredients: find them in the coconut ceviche, ribbon-like roasted carrots, wild grain chicharrones and cashew crema, and throughout the restaurant’s veggie-centric takes on Mexican classics. Whenever possible, the restaurant sources from nearby Ontario farms. Jared Leto has stopped by to savor the herbivore-only experience.

133 Richmond St. W., rosalindarestaurant.com

Stylish Imbibing
Drake Mini Bar

Cool, teal banquettes, vibrant original art and an eclectic of-the-moment menu of small plates and craft cocktails await festgoers at the Drake Hotel Properties’ newest and most compact venue, set across from Drake One-Fifty, in a Financial District tower. Drake Mini Bar has two patios for people-watching: an 80-seat outdoor expanse and one within the tower’s lobby, set behind a modern picket fence. Day-to-night bites from Drake Commissary include bagels topped with house-cured dill salmon gravlax and smoked brisket pie. Cocktails come from The Drake’s esteemed barkeeps and are notably potent and colorful; non-boozy options receive equal attention.

150 York at Adelaide, thedrake.ca/drakeminibar

Spanish Realm
Labora at Campo Food Hall

Drop in for an authentic Spanish vibe and cuisine at Labora Restaurant and Bar at the rear of the Campo Food Hall. Tapas are on order: start with the Iberico meatballs, move on to the boquerones (lemon-cured white anchovies with peppers and olives) or crispy patatas bravas (fried potatoes topped with spicy tomato sauce and finished with a chive aioli). Pair them all with a red or white house sangria; daily during TIFF (11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.), there’s a $20 special featuring three tapas with beer, vermouth or sangria.

433 King St. W., campofoodhall.to

Peak Ambiance
D|bar at Four Seasons Toronto

The refined streetside d|bar at the Four Seasons Toronto is getting a chic freshening up in advance of the fest. LED-display art screens and an updated décor with rose quartz tables and olive green seating complement the revised menu of bar bites by chef Daniel Boulud. Now in the mix are options such as a creamy buffalo burrata and seasoned sugar-cane-skewered shrimp plus industry faves such as the charcuterie boards and lobster rolls. The cocktail menu comes from Manhattan’s Darryl Chan of Bar Pleiades (another Boulud enterprise); ingeniously named drinks are his hallmark — “Teach Me How to Forget” has layers of exotic spices, while the flowery “Yorkville Affair” blends rose infused gin, rose petals and Elderflower liqueur.

60 Yorkville Ave., dbartoronto.com

Gastronomic Food Court
Assembly Chef’s Hall

There’s something for everyone at Assembly Chef’s Hall, a consortium of 17 chefs and vendors in an 18,000-square-foot food hall. Coffee bars (Tokyo Smoke), Thai street food (Little Khao), ramen (Ramen Isshin) are among the upscale, fast-casual choices. Canadian and organic ingredients are at the forefront: at Bluenose Lobster, menu items are direct from Nova Scotia, nutrient-rich superfoods are showcased at Nutbar (also satisfying craves for turmeric or matcha lattes) and handcrafted, upmarket desserts are found at Short & Sweet Bakeshop. Assembly is a 10-15 minutes from the Scotiabank Theatre, the TIFF Bell Lightbox and other festival venues. There’s free wi-fi throughout.
111 Richmond St. West at York St., assemblychefshall.com

Italian Darling
Buca Osteria & Enoteca

Buca (there’s now all-day Italian-cafe Bar Buca, too, at 75 Portland) is a TIFF staple, although Terroni (a go-to for Meghan Markle during her “Suits” production days) is also booked early and often by TIFF regulars. Buca’s dishes can be adventurous and follow nose-to-nail precepts. However, the offal dishes can accompany rustic crowdpleasers like warm garlic bread knots and Tuscan-style lard dumplings. The menu overall melds Italian tradition with Canadian ingredients (British Columbia Dungeness crab, for instance). House-made pastas and pizzas by chef Rob Gentile modify with the seasons. A recent flood resulted in a short closure and renovations, but expect the kitchen back in high gear for TIFF.
604 King St. W., buca.ca

VARIETY PORTRAIT STUDIO AT TIFF

More Film

  • Better-Days

    Macao: Hot Bets, Short Odds And Sure Things in the 2019 IFFAM Program

    Macao may be renowned for gambling, but the 4th International Film Festival & Awards of Macao (IFFAM) features more than a few sure bets. Oscar-watchers should look out for Taika Waititi’s opening film “Jojo Rabbit”; Rupert Goold’s biopic of Judy Garland, “Judy,” which looks likely to land Renée Zellweger a best actress nomination; and Terrence [...]

  • Yao Chen in “Send Me to

    'Clouds' Director Teng Congcong on Being a Conservative Chinese Feminist

    As hot money flees the China film market and financing dries up, the romantic film genre will actually become more attractive for investors, assesses Teng Congcong, director of the recent Chinese romantic drama “Send Me To the Clouds.” “Things used to be moving in the direction of big budget blockbusters, but the financing that’s leftover [...]

  • I'm Livin' It

    Films From Macau and China Take the IFFAM Spotlight

    The fourth edition of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM), which opened last night (December 5) at the Macao Cultural Center, is positioned as one of the key events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the handover of the former Portuguese colony to the People’s Republic of China. Five Macanese features are among the [...]

  • Grand Isle

    Film Review: 'Grand Isle'

    A sub-Tennessee Williams potboiler triangle between restless sexpot, impotent husband, and hunky handyman ever-so-slowly congeals into a lumpy gumbo of thriller elements in “Grand Isle.” This third directorial big-screen feature for veteran Steadicam operator Stephen S. Campanelli has plenty of potential guilty-pleasure signifiers — not least being top-billed Nicolas Cage’s sixth vehicle this year — [...]

  • Nour-Eddine Lakhmari on Documentary 'Turn the

    Moroccan Director Nour-Eddine Lakhmari on Documentary 'Turn the Light On,' and New Feature

    Moroccan director Nour-Eddine Lakhmari – whose trilogy of films, “Casanegra,” “Zero” and “Burnout,” were major local hits – is completing a documentary for the Marrakech Film Festival Foundation, entitled “Turn the Light On,” about the Foundation’s medical-social campaign, that provides free cataract surgery treatment. The campaign is organized in partnership with the Ministry of Health [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content