How to Eat Cheap (But Well) at TIFF
The best places for frugal festival-goers to grab a quick bite between screenings.
There’s a point at which the hardcore TIFF-goer’s regular diet of coffee and Clif bars just doesn’t cut it anymore. Sure, the toughest might make it to their 13th movie in four days running on that kind of fuel, but eventually even they’ll need to spend the extra 10 minutes and find some actual food between screenings.
Proximity is a major concern when time is so precious, and sadly many longtime TIFF patrons have been forced to abandon long-cherished food options due to the festival’s shift southward from its original Yorkville nexus to King West. To help improve the nutritive prospects for bleary, hungry movie-watchers, we consulted TIFF vets—including Royal programmers Katarina Gligorijevic and Colin Geddes, who maintain a handy list of options for Midnight Madness patrons from out of town—who offered these tips for finding cheap and decent nourishment in areas with the most frenzied festival activity.
Near TIFF Bell Lightbox and Scotiabank Theatre
C.J. Lunch Box (409 Richmond Street West): This reliable spot for tasty and cheap Japanese box lunches attracts a steady stream of festival-goers throughout the day. Perfect for enjoying on the steps of 401 Richmond.
Khao San Road (326 Adelaide St. W.): Best Thai in the zone and $9 gets you the curry of the day.
Ravi Soups (322 Adelaide Street West): There’s nothing more nourishing than one of their soup-and-wrap combos at the tail end of a long day at TIFF. Only catch: the Adelaide location is not scheduled to reopen until September 8.
Fresh on Spadina (147 Spadina Avenue): “Best lunch option for the vegetarians and smoothie lovers,” say Gligorijevic and Geddes. “And hippies.”
It’s a Wrap (7 Mercer Street): This Liberty Village standby has a location close to the festival’s epicentre, too. It’s a favourite for Toronto After Dark programmer Peter Kuplowsky.
Near the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Sky Blue Sky (506 Bloor Street West): Still the city’s only Wilco-themed sandwich shop, this is another go-to for Kuplowsky.
Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu (691 Bloor Street West): Rendezvous With Madness programmer Jeff Wright swears by the soon tofu soup.
Tacos el Asador (690 Bloor Street West): Barrio Correano has been a great addition to the range of options in Koreatown but Tacos el Asador’s fish and chorizo tacos remain essentials. “Their hearty chicken soup is also amazing,” say Gligorijevic and Geddes.
Insomnia (663 Bloor Street West): Super-late kitchen, right across from the cinema—an elementary pick, really. And according to Gligorijevic and Geddes, it’s got great cocktails, too.
Near Ryerson Theatre and Elgin and Winter Garden theatres
The Big Slice (385 Yonge Street): The Yonge St. institution commands fierce loyalty among Midnight Madness lineup dwellers. That it’s open way, way, way late is one reason why.
Bahn Mi Boys (399 Yonge St.): The Vietnamese sandwich kings’ two locations couldn’t be better placed for TIFF—the new spot at Yonge St. and Gerrard Street East is perfect for daytime-screening breaks if the line isn’t nuts.
Paramount Fine Foods (253 Yonge St.): It’s so worth skipping the fast-food chain places just north of the Elgin to get here for the strip’s best Middle Eastern takeout.
Ritz Caribbean (211 and 450 Yonge St.): Because everyone wants to sit next to the person who smells like jerk sauce and Ting
Five Guys (329 Yonge St.): A man-sized order of a bacon cheeseburger and Cajun fries may cause you to sleep through your next three screenings but, hey, you’ve earned it.
This post originally listed an incorrect address for Khao San Road. We regret the error.