When the TIFF film schedule was revealed on August 21, festival fever began. Now that this year’s list of confirmed A-list attendees has started to roll in—Julia Roberts, Ryan Gosling, Nicole Kidman, and Bradley Cooper among them—the excitement is escalating toward that familiar fever pitch. And at the end of a long day working the press circuit, Hollywood’s luminaries are (mostly) just like us: they want to check out new restaurants, sip cocktails at chic bars, and feast on exquisite food. Here’s where to find them drinking and dining the night away. If you go to rub shoulders, dress to impress—sometimes when you look the part, the crowds have a way of parting.
IN THE THICK OF IT
At the festival’s beating heart is the TIFF Bell Lightbox and, naturally, the surrounding areas are rife with celebrity haunts such as steadfast favourites like the discreet Soho House, the historic Windsor Arms Hotel, the Ritz Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, and Montecito, Ivan Reitman’s restaurant (if the step-and-repeat walls are outside, the stars are in). But a rash of refreshing venues around town include celebrity chef David Rocco’s Oretta, with its Instagrammable pink-white-and-gold room and discreet upstairs private dining area (think: VIP film parties). The two-in-one hot spot Lavelle, beloved by Drake—he’s also confirmed to attend this year’s festival—is home to a fine dining restaurant as well as Le Jardin, the swish pool deck/nightlife venue outside. Even if you go for the starry view and 13,000-square-foot rooftop, you may stay late for the cocktails; stop by on a weekend for the highly summer-appropriate watermelon frosé.
Speaking of spirits, the Bar at Shangri-La is a well-trodden thespian hub—many actors book into the hotel for the festival’s run, so also swing by their Bosk restaurant and the see-and-be-seen Lobby Lounge. Mediterranean restaurant Byblos, which will be opening a new location on Yonge Street this winter, is also known for its star-studded clientele (Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, and Michelle Williams have all dined here) and boasts an eye-catching cocktail menu (drinks are given names like Artichokie Dokie and A Time for Drunken Horses) developed by Wes Galloway. Keep an eye out for the Maison Moët pop-up around town as well. This year’s location has yet to be determined, but last year it was pouring flutes of Moët & Chandon out of La Macquette during the opening weekend.
Stars aren’t afraid of a little drive for a talk-of-the-town establishment. La Palma and La Banane are two such sizzling spots to see incognito-cool diners feasting on house-made gnocchi and sea bass en croute, respectively. Planta, too, may hit the mark for vegan stars like Natalie Portman or Joaquin Phoenix (both will be in town), and the Broadview Hotel on Queen Street East has been positively buzzing since its renovation last summer. The garden-style outdoor seating fills up fast and offers, well, beautiful broad views of the city. In swanky Yorkville, long-standing notable the Thompson Toronto hosts a few major film afterparties along with annual A-list soirees such as Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List” event. The large lobby bar and famous rooftop lounge are popular year-round perches for star-spotting; during TIFF, the heat turns up. The same goes for Dbar at the Four Seasons a few blocks away and its upstairs French brasserie, Café Boulud. Sidle up to the bar at ONE Restaurant at the Hazelton Hotel to sample its late-night TIFF cocktail and food menu, developed by celebrity chef Mark McEwan and ONE’s chef de cuisine Darby Piquette. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt were spotted there in past years; Pierce Brosnan has been known to drop by too. This year? You’ll have to go to find out.
The Toronto International Film Festival 2018 runs from September 6 to 16. Find the film schedule, here.
Read our profile on TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey, here.
This story was originally published August 2017, and was updated on August 31, 2018.
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