Dinner & A Movie: WIFF Edition
Nine Spots to Stop Before or After a Movie
By: Jen Brignall-Strong of Tailgate Takeout
Movie lovers rejoice; The Windsor International Film Festival returns October 26th through November 5th, 2023. WIFF celebrates the art of cinema by showcasing Canadian and international filmmakers, including some from right here in YQG.
With 186 films being shown at The Capitol Theatre, The Armouries, and The Chrysler Theatre, downtown Windsor will undoubtedly be buzzing with activity; including moviegoers looking for a bite to eat in between shows.
Thankfully, the city’s core offers plenty of amazing dining options; from quick and casual to cozy and chic.
Looking for a spot for cocktails and apps, a quick snack, or a fine dining experience? Here are just a few of the many tasty options for you to discover…
AutoCity Hamburgers & Poutine – 256 Ouellette Ave.
Searching for a fast and fresh meal option before show time? AutoCity Hamburgers & Poutine takes the classic “burger and fries” combo to a whole new level of yum, with hand cut fries, fresh beef, and one-of-a-kind creations.
A few of their top sellers also happen to be some of my favourites. Their Philly Cheesesteak burger is super flavourful and topped with freshly sautéed peppers and onions (and that cheese sauce…mmm.) I also love the sweet and savoury flavour profile of the Maple Cranberry burger; goat cheese, lettuce, cranberries, and bacon cooked in maple syrup. Like it hot? Order the Sweet Heat burger; a spicy version of the Maple Cranberry with jalapeños and hot sauce.
The real show stopper, though? The Montreal smoked meat poutine with dill cheese curds. An absolute must try (and definitely big enough to share.)
When talking about iconic Windsor foods, shawarma is right up there at the top of the list with our beloved pizza. Not only is this popular wrap a delicious option for lunch, dinner, or snack, it’s also super portable; perfect if you need to eat as you rush to catch the next flick.
Shawarma Palace on Ouellette is just a quick walk from any of the WIFF venues and offers a mouth-watering menu of Middle Eastern favourites including chicken or beef shawarma, fattoush, falafel, spinach pies, and more. My personal favourite is the classic chicken shawarma (with extra garlic sauce, of course!)
Pro tip: call ahead to order during peak lunch or dinner rush so you can grab and go…you’ve got 186 movies to watch so there’s no time to waste!
Famished after a film or looking to feed a small army before the show? Enjoy the biggest, cheesiest poutine around at Frenchy’s Poutinery on Ouellette. Seriously; even the smallest serving size is easily shared by two people. Not only are their creations big in size, they’re also big on flavour, with countless combinations of freshly prepared ingredients including meats, veggies, and yes, lots of cheese.
As much as I love a classic poutine (which they do offer), I enjoy experimenting with different add-ins, like their pulled pork and sautéed peppers and onions. You can add meatballs, gyro meat, smoked sausage, jalapenos, mushrooms…the list goes on and on!
Looking for even more delicious creations? They also offer build-your-own sliders, available in 4 or 6-packs. Whatever you decide on, be sure to ask for extra napkins.
Scorsese and De Niro. Tracy and Hepburn. Han and Chewy. There are so many memorable Hollywood duos, but when it comes to food, beer and pizza is the ultimate power couple.
Literally steps away from The Capitol Theatre, this dynamic duo make it easy to grab a bite or drinks with friends before or after the show. Enjoy a pint and a delicious wood fire pizza on their shared patio, or dine indoors at either the Craft Head’s taproom or next door in Terra Cotta’s cozy dining room.
There are countless beer and pizza options for you to choose from, but I recommend my long-time favourite La Bruna (vegetarian friendly) with a pint of Craft Head’s special edition WIFF beer. For every “WIFF Crew Brew” sold, Craft Head’s will donate a portion of the proceeds to a WIFF volunteer pizza fund to keep that amazingly dedicated team well fed throughout the 11-day festival.
Looking for that quintessential “dinner and a movie” night out? Make La Guardia a part of your WIFF experience. One of Windsor’s oldest restaurants, this charming Pitt Street mainstay is known for its impeccable service and rustic Italian fare.
Their extensive menu is filled with dishes inspired by the various regions of Italy, all made fresh to order. Popular items include their veal entrees, as well as their Pollo alla Parmigiana; freshly breaded chicken topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Their pasta dishes are fabulous as well, including the Tortellini La Guardia; cheese stuffed tortellini in a blush sauce with prosciutto, peas, and fresh parmesan cheese.
They also offer a fantastic cocktail and scotch menu. In honour of the silver screen icon, I opted for The Marilyn Martini, made with vodka, banana liquor, lemon, and orange juices. Be sure to save room for dessert too, like their made in house tiramisu.
While there might not be any Westerns in the WIFF lineup this year, you can still get your fix of all things country at The Bull & Barrel Urban Saloon.
Mosey on down Ouellette Avenue for some mouth-watering Southern-inspired fare including smoked brisket, pulled pork, and more. Looking for something with a little kick? Check out the Angry Chicken Sandwich; panko crusted chicken breast, jalapeño Havarti, lettuce, crispy jalapeños, Buffalo sauce and ranch. I also love the Pretzel Bacon cheeseburger, served on a fresh pretzel bun.
With a wide selection of beers on tap and over a dozen different appetizer choices, this is also a great spot to stop for a sharable snack with friends before or after the movie.
COCKTAILS & APPS:
With a carefully curated menu, expertly crafted cocktails, and chic décor, Panache Ultra Lounge offers WIFF moviegoers an ultra-cool dining experience.
Sip on one of their signature creations while you peruse their small plates menu. We enjoyed the “Second Best” cocktail made with Empress Gin, Elderflower, lemon and simple syrup, as well as the refreshing “Mexican Razor Blade” made with Hornitos Tequila, cucumber, lime juice, and simple syrup.
Looking for something shareable to nosh on? The sliced 12-ounce New York striploin is cooked to perfection and pairs nicely with their popular fried Brussels sprouts. They also offer sliders, wings, and cheeseburger egg rolls; order a little of everything and split with your favourite movie buddy after the show.
Need a place to unwind as you talk plot twists and casting choices? After the credits roll, make your way to Maiden Lane Wine & Spirits.
This eclectic cocktail bar and bottle shop features a wide selection of expertly mixed cocktails, unique wines, craft beers, and ciders, all paired with a chill atmosphere and stellar playlist. Whether you’re enjoying a drink on the patio under the twinkling lights or cozying up at a table inside, this place actually feels like the perfect setting for a movie. The scene of a couple’s first date, perhaps?
My personal favourite cocktail here is the El Diablo, made with Cazadores reposada tequila, cassis, lime, and ginger beer. Whichever cocktail (or mocktail) you choose, be sure to pair it with something off their snack menu, like warm bread, a cheese board, or one of their seasonal desserts prepared by The Pantry.
With a creative cocktail menu and a wide variety of starters, this popular Riverside Drive grill & lounge offers something for everyone. Located along our picturesque waterfront, it also offers one of the best views in the city.
Take in the sights and enjoy one of their many fun libations, like the Blue Kayak Lagoon made with tequila, blue curacao, lime juice, and pineapple juice. The Riverside Pool Side is also a top pick, made with Malibu rum, pineapple juice, lemonade, and a splash of 7-Up.
The appetizer selection is great for sharing; although everything is so delicious you might not want to. Their spinach dip is a must try, served with warm pita and tortilla chips for dipping. They’re also known for their Prime Rib Beef Tips; lightly dusted and fried, served with an A1 aioli that you’ll want to dip everything in.
For schedule, events and everything you need to know to plan your best WIFF experience, click here for our WIFF 2023 Guide.