Montreal Dining -

Montreal has a huge variety of food options, from diners and fast food to low-cost ethnic restaurants to haute cuisine. The large local Jewish population has contributed local specialties including huge smoked meat sandwiches (beef brisket) and small, crusty bagels, of which the sesame variety is the most popular, poppy a distant second and all others decidedly marginal (worth remembering — Montreal bagels are best when very fresh). Other specialties are "all-dressed" pizza (pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers), pizza and spaghetti with smoked meat, and Quebecois favorites like split pea soup.

No visit to Montreal is complete without at least one plate of poutine (possibly from a French word meaning "mess"). This unique dish is a plate of French fries drowned in gravy and topped with chewy curds of white cheddar. There are variations on the theme — adding chicken, beef, vegetables or sausage, or replacing the gravy with tomato sauce (poutine italienne). Every Montrealer has their favorite poutine restaurant where you can get "the real stuff."

Many Montreal restaurants allow you to bring your own wine (you'll see an apportez votre vin sign in the window). This may sound like a hassle, but you end up paying much less for wine with dinner if you bring it yourself. Note that if you can bring it yourself, you can't buy it there; conversely, if the restaurant is licensed to sell wine, you can't bring your own. There's usually a SAQ (government liquor store) or a dépanneur (convenience store, with a limited selection of typically inexpensive wine) nearby; ask your waiter. Your waiter will open your wine for you; corkage fees are rare, but don't forget to factor this service into your tip. In some cases, you may be able to bring beer instead of wine, but check first — it's not a given.

To buy your own food or regional products, the Jean-Talon public market, 7075 avenue Casgrain (metro Jean-Talon or De Castelnau), is the place to go. Open daily from 8 AM to 6 PM. The Jean-Talon market is especially noteworthy for its selection of produce; though not strictly part of the market, the many stores lining it on the north and south sides complete it wonderfully with superb selections of cheese, meat and just about anything edible. In particular, a store specializing in Quebec products (Produits du terroir), Le Marché des Saveurs, is located near the southeast corner of the market. On the north side, Fromagerie Hamel has a terrific selection of cheeses. The surrounding streets are heavily Italian-flavored and feature a number of excellent grocery stores, butchers, bakeries and restaurants. Across town, the Atwater Market is also superb, though quite different from (and much smaller than) Jean-Talon. Here, you'll find the city's best butchers, as well as good selections of cheese, fish and produce. Located on avenue Atwater, just south of rue Notre-Dame (metro Lionel-Groulx).

Restaurants lie thick on the ground in Montreal. Here is a very small sampling:
 • Marlowe Restaurant, 981 St-Jean, Pointe Claire 514 426 8713. Fusion cuisine in an intimate setting. Friendly & local colour add to cozy atmosphere. Ask about daily lunch specials & nightly Table d'Hote. Reservations are frowned upon!
 • Futenbulle, 273 rue Bernard Ouest (metro Rosemont), 514-276-0473. A unique restaurant serving an incredible variety of beers from all over the world, and a selection of venison and other game dishes - often made up modestly as venison steaks or caribou burgers or boar sandwich.
 • La Banquise, 994 rue Rachel Est (metro Mont-Royal), 514-525-2415. Open 24 hours. La Banquise consistently tops locals' lists for best poutine in town (perhaps because it's open for post-bar-hopping munchfests when judgment is slightly impaired). The clientele is hip and clubworn, and the staff is friendly. Poutine makes up most of the menu, but if you insist there are hamburgers and other fast-food fare. $6-10.
 • Chu Chai, 4088 rue Saint-Denis (metro Sherbrooke), 514-843-4194. M-Sa 12PM-3PM, 5PM-10PM, Su 12PM-3PM, 5PM-9PM. A treat for vegetarians, vegans, and those who love them, Chu Chai specializes in Thai cuisine made with soy or vegetable protein to simulate meat. The roast "duck" is delicious, and the tom yum gai (lemongrass soup with "chicken") warms the heart. A bistro and takeout counter next door called "Chuch" has many of the same dishes in a more casual setting. Bring your own wine. $15-20 (per person, not including wine).
 • Toqué!, 900 place Jean-Paul-Riopelle (metro Square-Victoria), 514-499-2084. In 1993, chef Normand Laprise put Montreal cuisine on the map with this landmark restaurant, and after more than 10 years it's still going strong in a new location. Combining the latest trends in fine dining with local and regional produce, the chefs create spectacularly complex dishes in tiny but strangely satisfying portions. The house specialty is an 8-course surprise menu, made up of many small dishes that continue to delight over and over. This restaurant will take a bite out of your wallet, but serious foodies will find it worth the reputation. $30-50 ($80 menu, $100 with wine).
 • Le 2, 2 rue Sherbrooke Est (metro Saint-Laurent), 514-843-8881. Tu-W 5PM-11PM, Th 5PM-1AM, F-Sa 5PM-3AM, Su 6PM-11PM. Le 2 (pronounced luh DOO) provides what it calls "international tapas": small, satisfying appetizer-sized plates of grilled fish and meat as well as salads, fries, and breads with spreads. One or two makes a light meal, but it's more fun to get a few plates and share them with friends over cocktails. The space isn't large, but there's an airiness to it - you don't feel squished here. A great place to start, or end, a bar-hopping evening on Saint-Laurent. $8-12 (per plate).
 • La Queue de Cheval, 1221 boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest (metro Lucien-L'Allier), 514-390-0090. La Queue de Cheval is for serious steak aficionados. It is quite possibly the best steak in North America. The ambiance is excellent, the service is absolutely incredible (they literally wait on you), the food (even non-steak items) is to-die-for. The downside is that it's not cheap and will run you $75-120 a person.
 • Casa Galicia, 2087, Rue Saint-Denis (corner of Sherbrooke), 514-843-6698. Casa Galicia Restaurant in Montreal is one of the best Spanish restaurants in North America. Casa Galicia has a unique cave of reserve wines from Spain's finest wine making regions. The many customers can also wash down their paella, zarzuela or other typical plates from Galicia, with a pitcher of fresh sangria (said to be some of the best in Montreal). The staff is friendly and the decor unique. Flamenco shows with a professional Spanish guitarist on weekends.
 • Milos, 5357 avenue du Parc (metro Laurier), 514-272-3522. Arguably one of Montreal's finest restaurants, Milos specializes in Greek seafood. You can order a wide variety of fresh fish by the pound, sample one of their many seafood choices or try the lamb. Milos' hallmark is the freshness of the food served and the quality of the service offered. Reservations are only essential during world-class events (Formula 1, Jazz and Comedy festivals) when Milos is overrun by visiting celebrities. Milos is also a bit on the pricey side - dinner for two with wine can easily cost over $100 per person - but dining here is an exquisite experience. Best tomatoes ever - a testament to how even the most modest ingredient is considered.
 • La Binerie, 367 avenue Mont-Royal Est (metro Mont-Royal), 514-285-9078. A small unpretentious eatery that became a legend. It features traditional meals for under $10, especially fèves aux lard (beans cooked overnight with bacon).
 • Ouzeri, 4690 rue Saint-Denis (metro Laurier), 514-845-1336. A wonderful Greek restaurant that is somewhat off the beaten path. While it is on Saint-Denis, it is far away from the shops and restaurants for which the street is well known. Ouzeri is particularly fun in the evening. Prices are very reasonable.
 • Au Petit Extra, 1690 rue Ontario Est (metro Papineau), 514-598-0709. Exquisite French bistro cuisine.
 • Fresco Bar & Grill, 6040, Boul Des Grandes-Prairies (corner of Lacordaire), 514-329-1904. Located in the St-Leonard area, Restaurant Fresco Bar & Grill is a restaurant that serves traditional Italian cuisine. Fresco has a great selection of dishes ranging from grilled meats, seafood, veal and pizzas. The atmosphere is very modern, elegant and sophisticated, and surrounded with an artistic decor of light brown and blue. This restaurant is a beautiful place for any occasion : family dining, romantic evening, birthday parties, outdoor dining, etc... Fresco has seating for up to 110 people without counting the terrace. For a taste of Italy, Fresco is the place to be.
 • Bombay Mahal, 1001 rue Jean-Talon Ouest (metro L'Acadie). Excellent dirt-cheap Indian cuisine.
 • Thaïlande, 88 rue Bernard Ouest (metro Rosemont). Great Thai. Good bang for the buck for lunch.
 • Pushap, 5195 rue Paré (metro Namur), 514-737-4527. Great vegetarian Punjabi food. The thali plate makes a big dinner for about $5; be sure to try some of their excellent desserts - they double as a take-out sweet shop.
 • La maison du kebab, 820 avenue Atwater (metro Lionel-Groulx). Persian. With their meal for two, you'll have enough for three!
 • Soupe Soup, 80 avenue Duluth Est (metro Sherbrooke). Best soup and sandwich in town. Not cheap though but great quality and definitely original.
 • Khyber Pass, 506 avenue Duluth Est (metro Sherbrooke). Afghan.
 • Le Roi du Plateau, 51 rue Rachel Ouest and Chez Doval, 150 rue Marie-Anne Est, are arguably the best of the many Portuguese grill restaurants in town.
 • Claude Postel, 433 rue Saint-Vincent (metro Champ-de-Mars). Amazing food, somewhat cheap for lunch. Definitely not a snack bar though.
 • Euro-Déli, 3619 boulevard Saint-Laurent (metro Sherbrooke). Very cozy deli/cafe in the middle of the trendy section of St-Laurent. Excellent fresh pasta, meatballs, lasagna, salads, etc. Very affordable.
 • L'Académie, 4051 rue Saint-Denis (metro Sherbrooke). Italian food in a trendy decor. Comfortable, affordable, bring your own wine, and conveniently located beside an SAQ (Quebec liquor store). St-Denis at Duluth.
 • Eduardos, 404 avenue Duluth Est (metro Sherbrooke). Good Italian restaurant, bring your wine!
 • Aux Vivres, 4631 boulevard Saint-Laurent (metro Mont-Royal). Alternative vegetarian cuisine.
 • Byblos, 1499 avenue Laurier Est (metro Laurier), (514) 523-9396. One of the best unknown restaurants in Montreal. Prices are amazingly reasonable for the food quality. Iranian food.
 • Au Pied de Cochon, 536 avenue Duluth Est (metro Sherbrooke), (514) 281-1114. Modern restaurant with casual ambiance. Huge meals. The place to go for lamb and original Quebec cuisine for a reasonable price.
 • Schwartz's, 3895 boulevard Saint-Laurent (metro Sherbrooke). Famous delicatessen for smoked meat. Cash only. No reservations. Expect to wait for a table at most times.
 • Vents du Sud, 323 rue Roy Est (metro Sherbrooke), (514) 281-9913. Bring your own wine. French restaurant with Basque country meals (St-Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz). Duck and Cassoulet exquisite.
 • Café Presto, 1244 Stanley (Peel metro), (514) 879-5877. The best downtown deal for a very inexpensive and very satisfying casual/cozy Italian fare (main courses are all 3,95$ CDN. Calculate approx. 10$ CDN if you add a glass of wine and an espresso). Mon–Sat 11:30am–2:30pm & 4:30pm–9pm, closed Sundays. Very busy during lunchtime on weekdays. Arrive before noon or after 1:30pm to avoid the longest lines. Cash only (no credit or debit cards, but there are a few ATMs on the same block).

Separate bills are common, and you may be asked ensemble ou séparément? (together or separately?) The standard tip for acceptable restaurant service is 15%, and is not included. The calculation is done for you, though, since sales taxes are 15% and will be shown on your check. Never call a waiter "garçon"! Use "monsieur" or "madame".

Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License


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