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Insider tips: Where to eat during TIFF

If you’re in the city for the Toronto International Film Festival but not really sure where to eat, drink, be merry and look for celebrities, this guide should point you in the right direction.

That magical time when Toronto is transformed into the hotbed of celebrity action is almost upon us. Are you prepared? You’ll need extra batteries, canned food, a windup radio, a first-aid kit… We’re kidding — kind of.

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For those of you planning to attend the Toronto International Film Festival or simply scheming to stalk your favourite star (no judgment) but who are unfamiliar with the layout of the city, we can help. Toronto happens to be a very vibrant urban centre with something for everyone, but it can be difficult to navigate during the busiest time of the year. Fear not! We’ve figured out the crème de la crème of establishments in Hogtown, where you can grab a bite, sip some coffee, party up or just stargaze. Let’s go exploring!

The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W.

The Drake Hotel
Photo courtesy of George Whitewide and The Drake Hotel

The Drake Hotel is a wondrous place full of amazing things. It’s like a fantasyland filled with art and culture wrapped in love. The company actually owns several properties, but we’re referring you to the coolest one — duh. The Drake Hotel can provide you with a place to sleep, eat and listen to incredible music. What more do you need? Bonus: The Drake is actually hosting a kickoff TIFF bash on Sept. 4 with the musical talents of X Ambassadors and Brendan Philip. So, definitely check out this joint.

Future Bakery, 483 Bloor St. W.

Future Bakery

No one can hate Future Bakery. This joint is tucked away from the main venues (but still downtown), which is perfect for anyone trying to steer clear of the big tourist crowds. Future’s is famous for its desserts, and it’s open late. So if you’re exhausted from all the walking between theatres and exploring Toronto, then drop by this place for a honkin’ slice of chocolate-banana cake. You will not regret it.

Sassafraz, 100 Cumberland St.


If you’re looking to drop your eyes on some famous faces, Sassafraz is the place to do that. This restaurant serves some of the best food in town and is host to many a celebrity during the film festival. So you can either drop in for a meal or camp out in Yorkville with your camera, but definitely scope it out.

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Hibiscus, 238 Augusta Ave.


Where can you get the best vegetarian or vegan cuisine in Toronto? Hibiscus, of course. This tiny restaurant, located in the heart of Kensington Market, is a great place to explore great food away from big crowds. Plus, Toronto local Rachel McAdams is no stranger to the joint. You don’t have to be a vegan to love this place — trust us.

BQM Burger, 354 Queen St. W.

BQM Burger

BQM Burger is a tiny joint that’s close enough to all the venues and celebrity action without getting too overcrowded during TIFF. You can grab yourself a fantastic burger and bask in the glory of the city whilst crowd-watching on Queen Street West. Fantastic food and close to the TTC. Hit it up!

Jimmy’s Coffee, 191 Baldwin St.

Jimmy's Coffee

If you want to grab a great cup of coffee in peace or need to energize for a day of movie-watching, then Jimmy’s Coffee is your place. Located in Kensington Market, this café is gorgeous and boasts a huge patio you will want to marry. Plus, it’s close to the TTC, so you can just hop onto the streetcar and shimmy your way down to the action-packed midst of King Street.

There you have it! You don’t have to be a Toronto local to roam the city like one, so don’t be shy — go off and explore this amazing city during one of the biggest film festivals in the entire world. TIFF runs from Sept. 4-14.

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