Food is often an afterthought for TIFF-goers with jam-packed schedules, but humankind cannot survive on culture (and movie popcorn) alone. Whether you're looking to cram in a quick meal between screenings, linger with pals in a lively environment, eat on a dime or throw your own miniature $100-a-plate gala, here's where to refuel between films.
FAST You won’t find a more convenient meal on the Rye High campus than a burrito from Z-Teca (66 Gerrard East, at Church, 416-977-5665, z-teca.com), just across the street.
CHEAP Luckily for both TIFF-goers and Ryerson students, Banh Mi Boys (399 Yonge, at Gerrard, 416-977-0303, banhmiboys.com) offers $6-and-under Viet subs a stone’s throw from Yonge and Gerrard.
FANCY Your nicer options run toward corporate-ish Italian or steak house fare from Reds Midtown Tavern (382 Yonge, at Gerrard, 416-598-3535, redsmidtowntavern.com) or Scaddabush (382 Yonge, at Gerrard, 416-597-8838, scaddabush.com). Head an extra couple of blocks for well-priced Italian in a stunning atmosphere at Via Vai (832 Bay, at Grosvenor, 416-362-0123, viavai.ca).
FUN Guu Izakaya (398 Church, at McGill, 416-977-0999, guu-izakaya.com) brings the party with shareable Japanese plates and plenty of shouting. To actually hear yourself discuss the film you just saw, go for twisted Thai at Sabai Sabai (225 Church, at Dundas East, 647-748-4225, sabaisabaito.ca).
FAST Concession-stand pizza not good enough for you? Dash down the escalator and across the street for a grilled cheese at Melt (300 Richmond West, at Peter, 647-346-7699, meltwich.ca).
CHEAP The Queen strip just east of John contains a row of inexpensive eats, including puffy laffa wraps at Me Va Me (240 Queen West, at John, 416-546-3770, mevamekitchenexpress.com) and excellent $2 samosas at Kal and Mooy (238 Queen West, at John, 647-463-4626, kalandmooy.com).
FANCY Newly opened high above Queen and Spadina: Alo (163 Spadina, at Queen, 416-260-2222, alorestaurant.com), a new spot from ex-Arcadia chef Patrick Kriss that offers elegant bar snacks, plus otherworldly five-course tasting menus priced at $89 per person.
FUN Splash out on all-you-can-eat Brazilian meats with a side of aerial acrobatics at Copacabana (230 Adelaide West, at Duncan, 647-748-3211, thecopa.ca), or dig into some of Toronto’s favourite Thai at Khao San Road (326 Adelaide West, at Peter, 647-352-5773, khaosanroad.ca).
FAST Stave off those audience-disturbing belly grumbles with a stuffed focaccia or coconut blondie from Caffiends (91 Charles, at Queen’s Park, 416-585-4524, caffiendsvictoria.com) in Victoria College.
CHEAP Inexpensive food on a college campus? No kidding! Veda’s (10 King’s College, at Galbraith, 416-961-9797, vedatakeout.com), tucked into the Sanford Fleming Building, does light-on-the-grease and light-on-the-wallet Indian takeout.
FANCY You are just south of Yorkville, where you can spend unlimited dollars on a single dinner. Take this opportunity to check out the newly revamped Café Boulud (60 Yorkville, at Bay, 416-963-6000, cafeboulud.com) or the rebuilt Sotto Sotto (120 Avenue Road, at Bernard, 416-962-0011, sottosotto.ca). Will Drake be there? Probably.
FUN The Gallery Grill (Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle, at Wellesley, 416-978-2445, harthouse.ca) is U of T’s own fancy lunch and brunch spot, complete with stained glass windows, Persian bison meatballs and duck confit crepes.
FAST Sumac Kebab Kitchen (287 Dundas West, at McCaul, 416-627-8400, sumacgrill.com) is just down the block, serving quick plates of Persian eats like kebabs and eggplant stew.
CHEAP The Village by the Grange cafeteria is your source for eats on an OCAD student’s budget: try stuffed buns at Mean Bao (275 Dundas West, at St. Patrick, 416-850-5616, meanbaotoronto.com) or eastern European food by way of Korea at Helena’s Magic Kitchen (109 McCaul, at Dundas West, 647-348-2348).
FANCY In Baldwin Village, Bodega (30 Baldwin, at Henry, 416-977-1287, bodegarestaurant.com) has quietly been going strong for a decade on its French-with-a-twist menu: alongside duck confit, cassoulet or steak frites, there’s brandy-mushroom poutine and burgers topped with ancho mayo.
FUN Ramyun (1 Baldwin, at McCaul, 647-345-5765, ramyun.ca), known as McRamyun before the cease-and-desist letters, brings lighthearted Asian fusion to Baldwin Village in the form of ramen-crusted chicken fingers and a ramen-poutine hybrid. Top off your night with Asian gelato at Kekou (13 Baldwin, at McCaul, 416-792-8858, kekou.ca).
FAST Head up Peter and duck into Burrito Bandidos (120 Peter, at Richmond, 416-593-9191, burritobandidos.com) or Ali Baba’s (126 Peter, at Richmond, 416-596-9997, alibabas.ca) for a wrap before sprinting to your next flick.
CHEAP 309 Dhaba (309 King West, at John, 416-740-6622, dhaba.ca) does all-you-can-eat Indian at lunch for $12.95, while the subs at Belly Buster (389 King West, at Blue Jays, 647-748-1588, bellybustersub.com) do exactly what the name says for well under a tenner.
FANCY In addition to its usual modern Chinese menu, Susur Lee’s Luckee (328 Wellington West, at Peter, 416-935-0400, luckeerestaurant.com) will be transforming the corner of Blue Jays Way and Wellington into a pop-up dim sum bar.
FUN The upscale Mexican at Los Colibris (220 King West, at Simcoe, 416-979-7717, loscolibris.ca) is said to be some of the city’s best, while upstairs, sister bar El Caballito keeps the tequila moving and gives everyone a free taco at midnight. Or head to Mascot Brewery (31 Mercer, at Peter, 416-979-0131, mascotbrewery.com) where you can get beer-garden-style eats like pretzels and brats.
FAST You don’t even have to travel half a block to grab a jerk chicken combo at Ritz Caribbean Foods (211 Yonge, at Shuter, 647-351-7489, ritzcaribbeanfoods.ca).
CHEAP Pop up Yonge and down Elm to find student-friendly cheap eats like under-$2 Jamaican patties at Patties Express (4 Elm, at Yonge, 647-350-0111, pattiesexpress.com) or Chinese pineapple buns, soups and sandwiches at Lucullus (31 Elm, at Yonge, 416-792-1886, lucullusbakery.com).
FANCY Note for those in from out of town: Richmond Station (1 Richmond West, at Yonge, 647-748-1444, richmondstation.ca) is not part of the subway, but you can go there to enjoy beef carpaccio, grilled swordfish and a hell of a burger.
FUN Go east for seasonal locavore cuisine at Hawthorne (60 Richmond East, at Church, 647-930-9517, hawthorneto.ca) or west for Canadian comfort food at Bannock (401 Bay, at Queen West, 416-834-6996, bannockrestaurant.ca).
FAST There is only one answer here – the Ghazale (504 Bloor West, at Bathurst, 416-537-4417) location built right into the front of the theatre.
CHEAP As a student stronghold, the Annex is packed with inexpensive options like veggie Caribbean at One Love (854 Bathurst, at London, 416-535-5683, oneloveveg.tel) or cheap sushi at New Generation (493 Bloor West, at Brunswick, 416-963-8861, newgenerationsushi.com).
FANCY Conversely, you’re not going to find much to splurge on here. Best head north to Dupont to sample Anthony Rose’s take on Middle Eastern classics at Fat Pasha (414 Dupont, at Howland, 647-342-0356, fatpasha.com) or south to Harbord experience the artful mix-and-match global menu at Rasa (196 Robert, at Harbord, 647-350-8221, rasabar.ca).
FUN The northern stretches of the Annex are home to Playa Cabana (111 Dupont, at Davenport, 416-929-3911, playacabana.ca) and Playa Cabana Hacienda (14 Dupont, at Avenue, 647-352-6030, playacabana.ca), both ready and waiting to ply you with tacos and freshly shaken margaritas. If the weather’s nice, head out to the patio behind Hacienda to find La Libre.