Excellent food is one of Montréal’s main attractions and the city’s restaurants represent an important part of its cultural fabric. With many great places to pick from, here are Montréal’s 16 best restaurants.As the biggest city in the province of Québec, Montréal has long been a beacon for traditional French-Canadian food – but that’s not all the city’s restaurants have to offer. Montréal today is diverse and vibrant and that variety is reflected in the local cuisine. Across the city, cultures and culinary heritages come together in delicious ways, from simple bagels and poutine to cutting-edge gastronomy. The following restaurants represent some of the best the city has to offer.
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Restaurant Jérôme Ferrer: Europea
Restaurant Jérôme Ferrer: Europea (formerly Restaurant Europea), is headed by the eponymous chef and specializes in Languedoc-inspired French coastal cuisine. Prized by many as the quintessential haute-cuisine restaurant in Montréal, Europea pairs excellent food with impeccable service and a theatrical dining environment. Highlights at the downtown restaurant include wild lobster cooked on its shell and charcoal, the maple-bark pan-seared foie gras and a selection of dainty amuse-bouches. Europea recently moved from its original location to a bigger space, featuring a brasserie, cocktail lounge and lunch counter.
Montréal’s most famous bohemian bistro is headed by chefs David McMillan and Fred Morin, and goes above and beyond its steak-and-seafood billing. In fact, Joe Beef has made a name for itself with just one dish, the infamous Joe Beef foie gras double down. The dish is made with bacon and cheese topped with chicken-skin mayonnaise and sandwiched between two deep-fried slabs of foie gras, then drizzled with maple syrup. Other favorites include a generous lobster spaghetti and a mouthwatering caesar cocktail, a play on the classic bloody mary.
Olive et Gourmando
Olive et Gourmando is one of the most delightfully charming breakfast and lunch spots in Old Montréal. Specializing in sandwiches and sweets, Olive et Gourmando is home to some of the best paninis in the city. Le Cubain, a hot panini with pancetta, roasted pork, gruyère cheese with lime, cilantro, chipotle and pickle mayonnaise, is a must-try. For breakfast, opt for the poached egg on your face panini, with spicy poached eggs, Comté cheese, speck and slow-roasted tomatoes. Olive et Gourmando also serves a great selection of baked goods, which are beautifully presented and deliciously tempting.
La Banquise is the place to tuck into a Québec staple: poutine. Said to have originated in rural Québec in the 1950s, poutine is a comfort food made by smothering crispy fries in gravy before topping them with a helping of cheese curds. In operation since 1968, La Banquise has taken poutine to the next level and now features over 20 different variations of the Québecois dish on its menu. Toppings include bacon, steak, smoked meat, veggies and more. Open 24/7, La Banquise is a must-visit for a hearty taste of traditional Montréal.
Another classic restaurant in Montréal, Schwartz’s Deli is consistently one of the most highly recommended dining spots in the city. Schwartz’s Deli opened in 1928 and famously serves Montréal-style smoked meat (viande fumée) along with home-made side dishes. Paired with a plate of fries, pickle and a black cherry coke, Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich is a real taste of Montréal’s history and its Jewish heritage. Here’s a fun fact: Celine Dion has been a part-owner of Schwartz’s since 2012.
Rôtisserie Romados may not look particularly impressive from the outside, but it is a reliable and much-loved spot in the heart of the Plateau. Featuring a short and simple menu, Romados focuses on perfecting just one thing: Portuguese-style roasted chicken. Romados’s claim to fame is its ever-turning racks of chicken that keep pace with the queue of eager customers, some of whom have been frequenting this humble bistro for years. The must-order item is, of course, the roast chicken, which comes in whole, half and quarter sizes. Most diners complement this with an order of fries (you’ll get a mountainous portion).
Ta Pies, or Tourtière Australienne, brings “rapid cuisine from Australia and New Zealand” to the heart of Québec. Ta Pies specializes in the iconic meat pie, often considered the national dish of both countries. Ta Pies offers a huge variety of these quick-to-eat pies, piping hot with flavors ranging from classic beef and cheese to butter chicken. Any pie can also be topped with mushy peas and mash, as well as gravy. For the homesick Aussie craving a bite of home, Ta Pies also sells Lamingtons, Tim Tams and other Australian desserts.
Located on the revamped Saint-Hubert Plaza, Montréal Plaza is a delightful and buzzing restaurant that specializes in small dishes made from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Headed by Charles-Antoine Crête and Cheryl Johnson, Montréal Plaza effortlessly achieves an atmosphere that is at once chic, modern and homey, while presenting unpretentious and inspiring dishes, including chicken liver mousse and foie gras, Chinatown razor clams and more. The energetic restaurant is perfect for a lively date or a group celebration and an ever-changing menu keeps people coming back.
If you’re walking down Saint-Catherine Street in downtown Montréal and notice a queue of people outside a restaurant, there’s a good chance it’s Kazu. The wait is worth it. Known for its authentic Japanese dishes and affordable menu, Kazu has become a regular haunt for locals and a treat for tourists. The printed menu features favorites like the 48-hour pork bowl and the delicious tuna salmon salad rice bowl, while handwritten notes pinned to the restaurant’s walls display more niche and seasonal items. Because the space is modest, Kazu is best for smaller groups.
To Montréal natives, Agrikol is known for three things. First, its delicious Haitian cuisine; second, its lively – and frankly beautiful – summer terrace; and third, its famous owners: Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne and Win Butler. The Caribbean restaurant serves up flavorful Haitian dishes and exquisite rum-based cocktails in a colorful and vibrant setting. In the heat of Montréal summer, the restaurant’s enclosed terrace is a welcome respite from the city’s noise and bustle. After eating, diners are enticed to stay late into the night, drinking and dancing to Haitian music.
Walking off Saint-Denis Street into L’Express feels like stepping into the past. The restaurant, which opened in 1980, is dear to most Montréalers for its magnetic ambiance and classic bistro fare. Conceived by architect Luc Laporte and its owners Colette Brossoit and Pierre Villeneuve, L’Express harkens back to a time of white tablecloths, checkered floors and opulent bars. When the menu arrives, you can’t go wrong with a steak tartare and fries or the luxuriant shrimp risotto. Adding to the L’Express charm is a welcoming jar of pickles on every table.
Arthur’s Nosh Bar
A relative newcomer to Montréal’s Saint-Henri neighborhood, Arthur’s Nosh Bar has already become a local staple for brunch. Named after co-owner Raegan Steinberg’s late father, Arthur’s has carved out a culinary niche for itself by reimagining classic Jewish fare. Though you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, the house-smoked salmon, challah french toast and pancakes really shine. The bustling restaurant is consistently busy on weekends, but don’t let that deter you: it’s a great way to start the day!
Just around the corner from the Jean-Talon Market is Alep, an established restaurant specializing in Syrian and Armenian cuisine. Welcoming diners for nearly 40 years, the Middle Eastern restaurant has a plentiful menu filled with authentic meat, fish and seafood dishes. Guests will be transported by a menu filled with regional spices like mint, fennel and sumac and should indulge in the restaurant’s broad wine selection. Alep also offers a reasonable tasting menu to accommodate larger groups. For a more casual but still delicious bite, Alep’s sister restaurant Petit Alep is right next door.
Located in the heart of the Mile End, Nouveau Palais is a spot much loved by locals. The cozy restaurant, which has kept many of the trappings of the former diner in which it is housed, consistently draws in a lively crowd, which converges on the restaurant’s booths to enjoy classic comfort food and drinks late into the night. It is not uncommon for a calm dinner at Nouveau Palais to turn into a rowdy dance party. Specialties include oysters, the Palace Burger and seasonal vegetable dishes. The owners recently opened a second location on Papineau Street.
Montréal’s inviting Little Italy is home to some truly outstanding Italian restaurants. Among them is Impasto, a contemporary eatery headed by acclaimed restaurateurs Michele Forgione and Stefano Faita. With a concise menu featuring an array of seafood, meat and pasta dishes, Impasto’s flair lies in its ability to perfect Italian staples and liven them up with fresh ingredients and surprising flavors. Like many traditional Italian restaurants, Impasto offers a multi-course tasting menu and an expertly curated wine selection.
This is an updated version of an article originally created by Stephanie Chang Avila.
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