Toronto festivalgoers can mix and match between the familiar and novel between screenings and meetings as the city has a dining spot to fit every mood, budget and schedule. From quick bites to late-night revelry to of-the-moment deliciousness, it’s all happening close to TIFF venues.
Wine bar with a twist
Per locals, Grand Cru Deli is a hidden gem. Plus, it’s steps from TIFF’s Scotiabank Theatre. The upscale wine bar meets deli features a finely tuned selection of Canadian and European wines. There are Canadian beers on tap plus a full spirits list providing a buzzy stop before or after screenings. A special TIFF menu is in the offing, but typically there are deli faves like matzo ball soup and lox and bagels plus wine-friendly noshes such as charcuterie, artisan cheese and caviar.
304 Richmond St. W
Newly seafood centric
Festival standby Luma (on the second floor of the TIFF Bell Lightbox) now features seasonally changing, sustainably sourced Canadian shellfish and seafood served in all their possible incarnations. There’s a daily oyster selection and sumptuous seafood platter, a Nova Scotia lobster roll, cod tacos and native Haddock fish-and-chips. The daily savory soup is always vegetarian and non-fish mains veer from roast chicken to a beef burger presented “paleo” style (no bun). Expect TIFF-themed cocktails too. A tasty menu of small bites is available in the lounge after 3 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W
Lunch to late night
MARBL’s green and shaded patio is a welcoming spot for lunch close to the TIFF Bell Lightbox; the modern eatery recently updated its lunch menu. Crowd-pleasers include the spinach and artichoke dip with grilled pita, Daffy wings (crispy salt and pepper seasoned duck wings), mussels and fries and the loaded turkey club. On two floors, the downstairs has a champagne lounge for celebratory occasions. During TIFF, the restaurant will be open until 4 a.m.
455 King St. W
Cooking with hearth
One of the trio of Momofuku’s Toronto concepts, the conceit of Kojin is elementary: meats (and more) are cooked on an open flame within view of diners. The menu reflects executive chef Paula Navarrete’s emphasis on culinary skills and seasonality. The griddled corn flatbread and daily selection of sausages are among the items made in-house. Steaks and chops are the hits: the pasture-raised beef comes directly from the Ontario countryside. The wine and beer lists emphasize selections from Canadian winemakers and breweries. Desserts are elevated comfort food classics from the fruit cobbler to the rich chocolate soufflé.
Third Floor, 190 University Ave.
Post screening romp
On weekend nights, craft beer brewpub Northern Maverick Brewing Co. transforms into a sultry nightclub complete with bottle service, caviar and towers of Canada-sourced cheese, endless oysters and a DJ-led dance party. There is also an ample supply of fresh drafts made in-house by the King West brewery from sours to the signature lager.
115 Bathurst St.
Victor Restaurant, within Le Germain Mercer hotel, expands its service during TIFF. The continental breakfast buffet is still available along with a-la-carte indulgences like the mascarpone-stuffed French toast. However, during the festival, lunch is also on the menu from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Settle into a comfortable teal leather booth or secluded corner; ample natural light infuses the stylish space. A new private dining room, called the Sullivan Room, seats 50. Executive chef Lanny MacLeod’s Concession Stand Brownie is his refined and very sweet homage to movie theater snacks.
30 Mercer St.
After more than 20 years, Sassafraz remains a go-to spot for TIFF attendees. Notable for its fresh take on Canadian ingredients, in-demand dishes include the Quebec wild boar chop, tuna and shrimp ceviche and the Fogo Island cod and chips. Late-night partygoers opt for the fish tacos, says Sassafraz’s Zoran Kocovski.
100 Cumberland St.