Toronto is a hybrid city with a strong financial heart mixed with plenty of Old Town charm. At the same time, it is a metropolitan and multicultural city and an easygoing, liberal town. But one thing that remains constant is its global culinary scene. And every year, the film industry descends on Toronto to attend screenings, talk shop, and hob knob at the Toronto International Film Festival. Lucky for them, and you, the more time you spend in Toronto, the more time you get to try the lip-smacking cuisine that abounds. Whether you’re going to see El Bulli: Cooking in Progress or to catch Brad Pitt’s latest, here are our picks for delicious eats during the Toronto Film Festival (and beyond).
Breakfast: For a quick coffee-and-pastry breakfast, Balluchon is a must-try. The small café sports exposed brick walls and light wooden tables indoor and out, and offers classic café fare — fair trade coffee, tea, croissants, bagels — done really well. Since the festival spans a weekend, though, brunch at Wish may be in order.
Any loyal brunch fan will appreciate the menu at Wish. The gang’s all there — steel cut oats, granola with yogurt, eggs benedict, challah French toast. Beyond that, a grilled Nutella sandwich with raspberry compote, an eggs Charlotte (poached eggs, smoked salmon, leek and Parmesan fondue), and a “Weekend Omelette” are sure to be new staples.
Lunch: Casual and familiar, Pizzeria Libretto serves Neapolitan-style pizzas to a bustling crowd of lunch-goers. It’s sleek with wooden and metal accents throughout and the menu is simple — an arugula and pear salad might precede the classic Margherita pizza or a grilled eggplant pizza with basil and ricotta, and any pizza topped with homemade sausages should find its way to your table, as well. It may get loud, but that vibrant energy adds to the experience of tucking into such popular pies. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Qinn)
Afternoon Snack: Poutine started as a Montreal thing. But before it made its way into New York’s culinary vernacular, poutine shot all the way across Canada. It’s a Canadian thing, now. For the uninitiated, poutine is a heap of French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. Eccentricities like duck confit, truffles, and bacon have found their way onto new versions, but a great classic version can be found at Craft Burger. (They serve much-loved burgers there, too if you’re still hungry after lunch.)
For sweet tooths in Toronto, go no further than The Boreal Gelato Company. An eco-friendly shop with super fresh ingredients, Boreal sells all homemade gelato in flavors like banana chocolate, pistachio, and salted caramel.
Dinner: Delux is somewhat of an anomaly. They serve a Cuban brunch, Cuban lunch, and a French dinner (with a Cubano sandwich). But whether you’re going for the achiote and lime chicken sandwich during the day or the steak frites at night, you’ll be pleased with the results. An impressive wine list washes it down, and buttermilk doughnuts with Chantilly cream finishes the meal. The vibe is decidedly laidback and cool with striped napkins, menus on clipboards, and industrial décor.
Drinks: What was once a bastion of nose-to-tail cooking in Toronto is now also home to a classic cocktail bar, putting to use the fabulously on-trend practice of freshly muddled and organic mixers.The Black Hoof underwent some recent renovations only to reopen as the same popular restaurant (worth going to for dinner as well) with a new cocktail bar serving drinks like a Kentucky vs. Morocco (currant/raisin bourbon, mint, lime juice, and Moroccan spice) and a serious Manhattan. Go for after-dinner drinks to start the night off on a mouth-watering hoof (er, foot). (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Sifu Renka)
Sleep: Book a room at the chic, new Thompson Toronto and take a dip in their rooftop pool. Or spring for the smaller, more laidback The Drake Hotel, where old leather arm chairs occupy cool rooms with dark green and wooden accents.