TIFF Turf: mapping out this year’s festival

The Entertainment District will be in TIFF beast-mode from September 6 to 16. The influential festival is an Oscar launchpad, premiering award season darlings like American Beauty, The King’s Speech and The Shape of Water. TIFF screens films and hosts events year-round, but when the annual festival hits the Toronto Entertainment District, the brightness of Festival Street pulls in adoring fans to King St. The influx of visitors mean patios are extended, bustling and offering the very best bites. Whether you’re spotting celebrities or wanting to play it cool – we have rounded up the best joints for whatever strikes your mood in between screenings. King St. will have scattered activations, performances and movie screenings from September 7-10. These are the best TIFF times where people-watching along Restaurant Row is at its prime! If you’re caught wandering north on Duncan from King St. between films, consider popping into Byblos for an Eastern Mediterranean dinner. This cool, stylish space prepares family-style dishes perfumed with aromatic spices and perfectly complements an evening at the festival.

Housed in the Bisha Hotel, Michelin Star Chef Akira Back’s namesake Toronto restaurant is constantly drawing influence from his Korean heritage,  combined with modern Japanese technique. The joint is one of the newest additions to the Entertainment District and is creating a buzz with unique dishes like wagyu tacos, differentiating its menu from the rest.

A well-known spot for visiting celebrities staying in Toronto during the festival is the Ritz Carlton. Located only steps from the TIFF Bell Lightbox, this hotel often accommodates Hollywood’s biggest stars and does it in style by curating TIFF-themed tasting menus and Toronto-inspired cocktails. If learning TIFF’s history is of interest, take a complimentary walking tour beginning at the TIFF Bell Lightbox front doors. Volunteer Docents will be holding yellow tour signs and be making stops at Roy Thomson Hall, Princess of Wales Theatre and the TIFF Industry Centre at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. For die-hard festival goers who know all too well the fatigued feeling of bouncing from film to film all day long, head to Ricarda’s for a mid-day boost. The casual café has grab-and-go options for those on the run but also has a sizeable dining room, making it easier to snag a table.

No stranger to hosting private events, The Shore Club boasts an extravagant menu of fresh seafood, steak and cocktails. Its proximity to the David Pecaut Square Fan Zone and the Roy Thompson Hall Red Carpet make it an ideal spot for celebrating this year’s festival without straying too far from TIFF turf!

Tucked away on Richmond St. east of Simcoe is a modern hideaway called JaBistro. The restaurant offers a whole new sushi experience, combining the traditional Oshizushi technique with a contemporary spin. For those visiting the district looking for a special dinner to celebrate TIFF, this is the place; not only does JaBistro feel like the set of a Quentin Tarantino movie, it elevates the fresh seafood game.

Regardless of what plans you’re making for this year’s festival – it is best to book reservations and buy your tickets early! With celebrities like Ryan Gosling, Susan Sarandon and Joaquin Phoenix premiering movies in the Toronto Entertainment District, our streets and restaurants are set to be busy and its best to beat the rush!

Left the theatre full on popcorn but not ready to head home? Take a breather and wander down Lower Simcoe St. to Roundhouse Park and the Toronto Railway Museum. Spotted throughout the park are different generations of CN rail and GO train carts to meander through before walking back onto Festival Street where a free screening of Sleepless in Seattle is happening Sunday, September 9 at 8:30 p.m.

Watch our Instagram stories @EntertainmentDistrictTO to see what happens at TIFF this year!