How to Visit Toronto Like a Movie Star
Toronto is called Hollywood North for a reason, and we've got all the spots to see to make you feel like an A-lister.
In the entertainment industry, Toronto is often referred to as Hollywood North. With four seasons in which to film and a city that has played the filmic body double of Boston, Chicago, and the Big Apple, it's a directorial favorite. The city also hosts the Toronto International Film Festival every September, which nets loads of press, business people, and celebrities from around the globe. If you're planning a visit to Toronto, here are a few haunts where you can walk the walk of your most coveted A-lister. Torontonians, on the other hand, are known for being discreet, even in the face of a super star. Mostly.
1. The TIFF Hub
The TIFF Bell Light Box is the festival's hub where premieres, screenings, panel discussions, and interviews usually take place. The state-of-the-art space also has two on-site restaurants; the more casual O&B Canteen as well as an upscale bar and dining room, Luma. During festival season, both will be packed with industry types, onlookers, and actors grabbing a bottle of water, coffee, or snack. Nearby Montecito, owned by movie man Ivan Reitman and chef Jonathan Waxman, see their fair share of VIPs vying for a table at this spot serving California-style, market-fresh cuisine—Jennifer Garner, Denzel Washington, and Robert Pattinson all have enjoyed a meal in the dining room.
Around the corner, David Chang's sleek Momofuku Toronto (which includes a total of four eateries on-site), has seen the likes of Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones enjoy his take on Asian fare. Some celebs are likely to hang their hats at the nearby Ritz-Carlton, since it's in the heart of the action. Alexander Skarsgard, Ryan Gosling, and Olivia Wilde have been spotted at the hotel, along with a spate of other stars.
2. Downtown Core
Often you'll find celebrities choosing to dine or entertain in other parts of the city—some with the intent of staying under the radar, others because it's a see-and-be-seen kind of place. For authentic, regional Italian cuisine served in a modern industrial setting, Buca on King and Portland has hosted the likes of Jason Priestly and Penelope Cruz. Others, like Jennifer Lawrence, Colin Firth, and Keira Knightley, prefer the members-only vibe of the multi-leveled Soho House.
The upscale Yorkville neighborhood used to be the festival hub. It remains popular today among Hollywood royalty in part because it offers luxury shopping galore. Chances are good you'll find celebrities browsing in high-end department store Holt Renfrew and other five-carat boutiques along Bloor Street. The neighborhood's Four Seasons Hotel's dbar, created by celebrated French chef Daniel Boulud, has fed hungry celebs like Woody Harrelson and Bruce Springsteen. It doesn't hurt that the stylish venue has 20-foot floor-to-ceiling windows and a generous patio for warm weather dining.
Canadian businessman and chef Mark McEwan's One Restaurant at the Hazelton Hotel has always been a celebrity magnet, too. Bono, Gerard Butler, and Jennifer Aniston have frequented the restaurant, and of course many have also chosen to stay at the hotel while in town. Others prefer the glam of Parisian style bistro La Societé, where past diners have included Amy Adams, designer Michael Kors, and Claire Danes. Perhaps they come for the French bubbly and stay for the duck confit.
Mary Luz Mejia covers Toronto for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter.