The best restaurants and bars to go celebrity spotting during TIFF

Chasing celebrities as they filter through town during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a popular local pastime. But before plunking down a camera-toting keister at just any hotel bar hoping to win the fan photo lottery, some advance research can certainly up the odds of success and Instagram fame.

Of course, celebrity spotting will be even more of a hunt this year with the SAG-AFTRA strike still ongoing. But that doesn’t mean Toronto will be star-less this TIFF season — Dakota Johnson, Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard and Jessica Chastain are among some of the celebrities still reported to be attending TIFF thanks to interim agreements. From Sept. 7-17, these are some of the best restaurants and bars you’ll want to visit for a celebrity-approved TIFF experience (and maybe a glimpse of your favourite star).

Much of the action at TIFF has moved south from Yorkville to King West at the Bell Lightbox and the surrounding area. Here is where the best opportunities lie for red carpet shots.

A VIP hot spot is popping up at Marbl restaurant on King West, and the exclusive pop-up is hosting all the A-list celebrities that have been granted waivers to attend. Called the Cinema Center, this spot will host parties, networking events, and press junkets for industry professionals, talent  and media VIPs throughout the event.


Bisha Hotel is a well-known celebrity hot spot during TIFF, and during normal years where celebrities are guaranteed to attend, this is where many of the events and premiere parties are hosted. Try Mister C, the hotel’s swanky lobby bar, to spot some of your favourite actors – past sightings here include  Julianne Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal and Daniel Kaluuya.

New to Toronto this year, Japanese-inspired listening lounge Kissa has already hosted a few celebrities including Lebron James and Shai Alexander, and as one of TIFF’s newest hospitality partners, it will surely host a few more before this festival is over! 


American film stars tend to look to the familiar — the Shangri-La Hotel for example. Head to the lobby lounge and bar for a Film Collection cocktail menu courtesy of this TIFF hospitality partner.

Another is the 1 Hotel in Toronto – it may be new to Toronto, but with its close proximity to some major TIFF venues, the likelihood of spotting a celebrity being shuttled from the lobby here is high. Located in the hotel, Mexican restaurant Casa Madera is already a major celebrity hotspot, so it might be worth a visit this time of year. Get dressed up, enjoy some fancy cocktails and maybe someone will mistake you for a celebrity!

Minami Toronto interior

A popular spot all year round, Minami happens to be in the ideal location for this festival — right across from TIFF Bell Lightbox. Grab a bite to eat here before catching a premiere, and this year you can enjoy some special menu items and a themed cocktail to get you in the mood for cinematic excellence.

And we can’t forget the St. Regis Toronto which, this year, is going big at Louix Louis, the restaurant located on the 31st floor of the hotel. Enjoy a two- or three-course themed menu with a side of a $1,000 specialty cocktail. Named The Pink Life, this twist on the old-fashioned comes served in a golden frame box — hopefully real gold to match the price tag!

In its second year as a TIFF hospitality partner, Queen West favourite Soluna will guarantee an exciting and celebrity-approved experience. Get ready for dancers who play with fire, a dress code that will give you a reason to go fancy, and a menu with a raw bar, Mediterranean-inspired tapas and a $300 rack of lamb.

Adrak Yorkville
Image courtesy NKPR

Yorkville is still a thing with its unique boutiques, high-end hotels and landmark restaurants such as Sotto Sotto and Sassafraz. But this year, the main event is likely to be Adrak Yorkville – this Indian restaurant is worth a visit. With a team of chefs with Michelin training, you won’t be disappointed dining here even if you don’t get to spot a star or two.

For a luxury experience that will give you the full celebrity experience, Yorkville’s AP is also an ideal spot. Located on the 51st floor, you’ll step into a private elevator and emerge on top with views of the city all around you. Antonio Park’s Korean-influenced menu really shines here, and you can always try the tasting menu if you’re wanting a more unique night out.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO