The glitz and glam of TIFF never disappoints in Toronto. And having worked in the magazine biz—at fashion and celeb magazines, plus scoping out the city’s hottest spots for travel site Travel & Style—for years, Jennifer Weatherhead Harrington knows all the best go-to spots for spotting the A-list. Thankfully, she gave FLARE all the intel. Here are your best bets for a chance to bump into one of the famous faces—like Jennifer Lawrence, Nicole Kidman or Emma Stone!—who’ll be attending TIFF 2017 when it rolls into town September 7 to 17.
Find it: 633 King St. W, oretta.to
The scene: Toronto’s new Instagram darling restaurant has a swish King West location, plus a gorgeous interior suited perfectly for private post-premiere parties (and snapping the requisite Insta-pics, of course).
What they’re known for: Traditional Italian dishes, a cafe for quick bites and an art deco-style space that’s taken over social media.
Who you might see there: Can’t you just picture beauty Jessica Chastain posing for pics next to their gorgeous pink wall?
Find it: 455 King St. W, fringsrestaurant.com
The scene: This upscale, dimly lit eatery co-owned by Drake and one of the city’s top chefs, Susur Lee, draws in droves of hip, young society members and celebs come TIFF time.
What they’re known for: Calling a prime spot near King and Spadina home, Fring’s is in TIFF central, and you can’t beat the fried chicken with a Hong Kong-style waffle or freshly shucked oysters.
Who you might see there: Rihanna and Jada Pinkett Smith have already graced the dining room at Fring’s, and we’re expecting to see stars like Shia LeBeouf, Jake Gyllenhaal and Kevin Hart, or Toronto local Rachel McAdams popping by.
Find it: 299 Adelaide St. W, montecitorestaurant.ca
The scene: A star fave thanks to its owner, big-time movie director Ivan Reitman.
What they’re known for: California-esque farm-to-table fare that celebs love just around the corner from the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Who you might see there: George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet, Idris Elba… basically any A-lister who is pals with Reitman.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Find it: 190 University Ave., noodlebar-toronto.momofuku.com
The scene: AT&T is taking over Momofuku and hosting daily lunches for celebs and tastemakers, plus premiere parties and cast dinners for most of TIFF. In other words: make this place your new home from September 9 to 12, because it’s going to be swarming. with. celebs.
What they’re known for: A hip NYC export that dishes up ramen, steamed buns, rice cakes and, of course, it’s also home to Milk Bar, which makes some of the best sweets in the city.
Who you might see here: Premiere parties and cast dinners mean you can expect the all-star casts from Downsizing (Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris) to Battle of the Sexes (Steve Carell and Emma Stone) and Disobedience (Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz). Past celeb sightings include: Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Tina Fey, Justin Theroux and Lupita Nyong’o.
The Drake Hotel
Find it: 1150 Queen St. W, thedrakehotel.ca
The scene: Hipster hotel in trendy Queen West.
What they’re known for: Being artsy, funky and having some pretty amazing brunch, it makes sense to find celebrities here grabbing some breakfast and coffee.
Who you might see there: Margot Robbie and Canadian director Xavier Dolan.
Find it: 849 Dundas St. W, lapalma.ca
The scene: Italian food and café nibbles, in a funky SoCal setting on Dundas Street.
What they’re known for: Since opening its door this summer, La Palma is known for its lattes and lunch items, plus perfect lighting for Instagram pics.
Who you might see there: This pretty spot, tucked away from the main buzz, is perfect for low-key stars like Dakota Fanning, Kristen Wiig or Rachel McAdams.
Find it: 89 Harbord St., cafecancan.ca
The scene: French, pink, fresh and Toronto’s newest social-media worthy spot.
What they’re known for: Occupying the space that the celeb-fave Harbord Room used to be in, Café Cancan now serves up eclairs, croissants, lattes and a classic croque madame.
Who you might see there: We can see Alicia Vikander, Jessica Chastain and Emma Stone posted up at the gorgeous bar.
Find it: 158 Cumberland St., barreyna.com
The scene: The latest chilled out hotspot to hit Yorkville opened in the spring of last year.
What they’re known for: A hidden, cozy back patio and selection of high-end cocktails.
Who you might see there: Celebs looking for a hip cocktail before heading out to a premiere, especially those staying at the Four Seasons or One Hazelton hotels right around the corner. Look out for Matt Damon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shia LaBeouf and Alicia Vikander who have been known to frequent this area during TIFF.
Find it: 627 King St. W, chezlavelle.com
The scene: Rooftop pool, DJs and an ice cream bar. Yes, an ice cream bar.
What they’re known for: Since opening its doors last year, Lavelle has been a spot to see and be seen in the city thanks to that coveted view of the skyline.
Who you might see there: No doubt there will be at least one happening TIFF party at this location. Last year Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone celebrated the premiere of La La Land here. This year you could spy the likes of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Brie Larson and Kit Harington.
Find it: 192 Adelaide St. W, Bishop’s Building, sohohousetoronto.com
The scene: Exclusive, members-only, v. v. chic space with incredible food and mixologist-made cocktails.
What they’re known for: You’re going to need to either have an in at this bar, be a member or just lucky to get access because it’s a private, members-only club. A quick peek on social media during TIFF and you’ll find J-Law and her pals snapping pics in the photobooth.
Who you might see there: Expect to see Jennifer Lawrence make an appearance here again. Rachel McAdams, Margot Robbie and Alicia Vikander might also swung through.
The Shangri-La Toronto
Find it: 188 University Ave., shangri-la.com
The scene: Extended bar hours during TIFF, live entertainment and plenty of opportunity to mingle with industry types—need we say more?
What they’re known for: The restaurants attached to the hotel, Momofuko and BOSK, already draw the A-list for parties and a bite to eat, but those luxe suites with incredible views of the CN Tower seal the deal. Did we also mention that the Miraj Hammam Spa in the hotel has the hammam and gommage treatment for glowing skin (a TIFF red carpet essential)?
Who you might see there: Jessica Chastain and Dakota Johnson made this hotel their home base last year.
The Thompson Toronto
Find it: 550 Wellington St. W, thompsonhotels.com
The scene: A celebrity fave, the Thompson Toronto continues to bring the stars, whether it’s to sleep off last night’s party, or to sip cocktails in the swanky lounge or exclusive rooftop.
What they’re known for: A signature cocktail, a hotel spa with the best massage and a killer view of the city.
Who you might see there: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Kate Hudson and Meryl Streep are among many A-listers who couldn’t resist this hotel’s signature cocktail in years past, and this year it’s likely that the same big names will be coming back for seconds!
The Ritz-Carlton Toronto
Find it: 181 Wellington St. W, ritzcarlton.com
The scene: The crème-de-la-crème of celebs stay here, so expect to see a lineup of sleek black cars with tinted windows rolling in and out of the main entrance. Since it’s also just a few steps away from TIFF’s headquarters, there’s a general buzz here during the entire festival.
What they’re known for: The mojito on the DEQ Terrace Lounge is the best in the city IMHO, plus it’s one of the few spots open to the public during the fest—just get there early enough in the evening to nab a good seat on the terrace!
Who you might see there: George Clooney frequents this hotel when in town and it’s posh suites would be perfect for fellow mega star, Angelina Jolie.
The Bisha Hotel
Find it: 80 Blue Jays Way., bishatoronto.com
The scene: Everyone in the city is anticipating this hotel opening just in time for the festival. Super luxe and perfectly located, the rooftop pool and gorgeous suites will keep the needs of the rich and famous satisfied.
What they’re known for: Once they open their doors, there’s no doubt this hotel will be known for the celeb names it’ll bring in.
Who you might see there: You might find the likes of Emma Stone staying at this hotel, or it might be the hotspot for the season’s biggest film after-party. Stay tuned!
Find it: 50 Bloor St. W, holtrenfrew.com
The scene: All the top designers, personalized service and private shopping have made this a staple in Toronto for the stars.
What they’re known for: Not just a destination for red carpet gowns and swishy party outfits, Holt Renfrew also hosts many TIFF soirees.
Who you might see there: Expect celebs like Julianne Moore, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence to roll through and drop some cash.
Find it: 119 Yorkville Ave., 119corbo.com
The scene: An extensive collection of only the highest-end designers and the most sought-after shoes—perfect for ladies with a love of labels.
What they’re known for: The ultimate women’s specialty boutique that brought Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik shoes to the city (before Sex and the City made them household names), it’s a one-stop shop for trendsetters looking for labels like Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester, Miu Miu, Balenciaga, Givenchy and more.
Who you might see there: Kimye caused quite a stir when the duo was spotted shopping here last year during Kanye’s tour stop in Toronto. This year, expect the same swarm of crowds for A-listers like Angelina Jolie, Emma Stone and Margot Robbie.
Find it: 231 Avenue Rd., milli.ca
The scene: A gorgeous European lifestyle boutique in Yorkville and destination for elegant, creative and distinctive pieces from all over the globe complete with a 20-foot art wall. Literally everything in the store—from the rug on the floor, to the books on the table—is for sale.
What they’re known for: Founder Milli Gould, a former model now known for styling the likes of Joan Collins and Linda Evans, was one of the first boutique owners to bring high fashion retail to Ontario over five decades ago when she opened her first boutique in Hamilton. Fifty plus years later and Milli still houses the best of luxury fashion—Erdem, Lanvin, Versace, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Alberta Ferretti and Peter Pilotto are just a few of the brand names you’ll find here.
Who you might see there: A classy and sophisticated set of women looking for their next red carpet gown—think Jessica Chastain and Julianne Moore.