If you’re planning a visit to Montreal this year, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the culinary experiences that this French-Canadian city has to offer. Here are our picks for best eats in Montreal: best bagels, smoked meat, fine dining… you name it!
Do you have any to add to the list? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
• For a hip micro-brewery (and I’m talking micro… the beer is all brewed in tanks right behind the bar) hit Bénélux on Sherbrooke street near McGill. This place attracts the artsy university-student crowd. Their beer packs a punch, as Québec beers are wont to do! Try the Cuda, their award-winning IPA, for a start.
• La Distillerie undisputedly has the best mixed drinks in town. It’s fun, it’s funky, and the free-poured cocktails (14 oz mojito, anyone?) will knock your socks off! The original location on Ontario street is quite small and often has a lineup after 11 pm, so it’s worth it to get here early. There are two other locations that I have not been to yet – have you?
Fine dining(… reservations required!)
• I recently enjoyed the 10-course tasting menu at Europea downtown and it did not disappoint. Full of extras and surprises from the chef, this place is fine dining with whimisical flair. Try their signature sparkling wine cocktail, which is made with Italian wild strawberry liqueur. Truly a must-not-miss dining experience.
• Toqué! is a renowned fine-dining establishment in Montreal with a warm and playful feel. As they say on their website, it “is where cookery unfolds, enhanced by a touch of utter madness.” Absolutely splendid food.
I couldn’t think of a better title for this category of restos – places that just have that chic, quirky, slightly European but also quintessentially “Montreal” feel. You’ll just have to visit them to see what I mean! Reservations recommended for both of these spots.
• Au Pied de Cochon is one of my absolute favourite places to eat in Montreal. They have an entire section of the menu devoted to foie gras – included on the list is the foie gras poutine, which is stunning (both to the taste buds and to the coronaries, I’m sure)! Some traditional Québec dishes served with fine dining flair. Not recommended for vegetarians!
• Le P’tit Plateau is off the beaten path. A neighbourhood restaurant with two nightly seatings. House-smoked salmon is available for take-home purchasing. Desserts are made in house (try the îles flottantes! They are divine). Great food and great Montreal atmosphere at this quaint little spot.
• This is the one entry on this list that is a little more “touristy” but it is just irresistible. An entire restaurant dedicated to chocolate, Juliette et Chocolat has chocolate fondues, chocolate drinks… chocolate everything! They also serve crepes and salads (many of which also contain chocolate)! Must try: the fleur de sel caramel brownie. Nothing should be allowed to taste that good!
• Cosmo’s Snack Bar is an old-school greasy spoon in the NDG area of Montreal. For a classic eggs-and-bacon breakfast, or a killer breakfast sandwich, grab a stool at the counter and take in the authentic ambiance of this place. Try their famous home fries!
• Montreal is famous for its bagels. Hands-down, the best spot to try them is at the Bagel Shop on St Viateur. Get here early for piping hot bagels of all kinds. The classic sesame seed and poppy seed flavours are made fresh all day right before your eyes.
• Montreal is also famous for its smoked meat. Schwartz’s Deli is, I am told by many, the best place in the entire city to get it. Don’t be fooled by the lineups and the tourists – locals go here, too (often at odd times to strategically avoid waiting in line). It’s also in a cool neighbourhood with indie boutiques and stuff.
• MB & Co is tucked away on a side street and is conveniently located right next to the downtown shopping area on Saint Catherine. Stop by here for a delicious sandwich or salad that’s made on the spot with fresh ingredients and herbs grown in store. They even make their own mayo! This is a favourite among locals who work in the area. Carrera marble countertops and modern white decor combine with the old features of this building to make a great atmosphere.
• Birk’s Café is a new brunch/lunch spot that has recently opened on the mezzanine level of Birks’ flagship store in Montreal. The Birks on Sainte Catherine is a classic building and worth a visit in and of itself. The company moved their headquarters here in 1894 and the classic opulence of the decor is delightful. The Café’s menu was developed by chef Jérôme Ferrier who is also the chef at Montreal’s Europea, another of our recommended spots (see above)!
I’m personally not sure when poutine turned into a pizza-like, choose-your-own-topping adventure so I always go with the classic fries, cheese curds and gravy… maybe with a little bit of added bacon if I’m feeling indulgent. I suppose I must also admit that I adore the foie gras poutine served up at Au Pied de Cochon for a mere $23! Sigh!
These two poutine places make a great classic version of the dish but also offer fun topping combos. Ah, poutine… how I love you!
• Frite Alors! has multiple locations in Montreal for your french-fry enjoyment. Try the classic poutine or add topping such as merguez, steak and onions, or bbq smoked cheese.
• La Banquise is another local favourite for poutine, with over 20 permutations of the dish from which to choose!
We hope you’ll let us know if you’ve tried any of these spots and what you thought. Or, if you have any more must-tries to add to the list, we’re all ears!