The place to Eat in Montreal

THere’s nothing like eating in Montreal. This is a city built by the cross-currents of its histories and cultures, a city where French meets English, where Canadian practicality meets cosmopolitanism, and where 16th-century fur traders have as outsize an impact as hipster rock bands like Arcade Fire. If you’re looking for an elegant Parisian-style bistro that always feels modern despite not having changed its menu for 20 years, this is the place. And if you’re looking for a fusion restaurant where you can find Argentine recipes transformed by Québécois flavors, look no further. Ask any local what the one thing you simply must do during your first visit to Montreal, and they are almost certainly bound to say the same thing: Mangez!

Here, an essential hit list for where you can—and should—eat while you’re here.

Make It Quick

Snowdon Deli

If you thought New York had cornered the market for Jewish delis, think again. This Montreal institution, which has been in the same family since it opened in 1942, is a quintessential spot for matzo ball soup, latkes, knishes, blintzes, and more. If you’re looking for a quick grab-and-go situation, order one of the smoked meat sandwiches, piled high on pillowy rye bread. While tourists tend to line up for smoked meat at Schwartz’s Deli over in the Plateau, locals know that the flavorful, juicy smoked meat from Snowdon is as good as anything you’ll find in Montreal–and there’s never a line of tourists down the block .

See and Be Seen

Elena

Power spots in Montreal aren’t about three-martini lunches or bougie expense account dinners—they’re about where the artists, the writers, the musicians, and the hipsters are hanging out. Since this bumping pizzeria opened in 2018 in St-Henri, it’s been the see-and-be-seen spot of choice for Montreal’s creative class, and for good reason: the sleek, industrial chic dining room is one of the sexier spaces in town , and the approachable menu of pastas and pizzas paired with funky natural wines is fun, flavorful, and just quirky enough to keep things interesting year after year.

hold the meat

Ile Flottante

Vegetables take center stage at this Mile End restaurant, where chef Sean Murray Smith offers up tasting menus that are complex, unexpected, and rich in flavors. The restaurant itself isn’t strictly vegetarian–the occasional locally sourced meat or seafood might pop up during a course or two–but the staff is more than adept at tailoring the tasting menu to diners’ dietary restrictions. Leeks, for instance, might be served butter-braised, topped with a dollop of melted Louis d’Or cheese, and a spoonful of salmon roe. This is also a great option for those with a sweet-tooth: the restaurant is named after chef Smith’s favorite dessert, so he always keeps a rotating flavor of île flottante on the menu.

If It Ain’t Broke

Lemeac

Tourisme Montreal/Mayssam Samaha

What’s a trip to Montreal without a little late-night French brasserie fare? Head up to Avenue Laurier in the posh French enclave of Outremont for a dining experience that hasn’t changed in years–and shouldn’t. Where else, after all, can you get a perfectly truffled salmon tartare, a beautifully dressed arugula and fennel salad with lemon dressing and parmesan, or a giant, steaming bowl of moules-frites? Turns out, many places—but few do them with such quintessentially French precision, and endearingly stubborn resistance to change as Leméac.

munchies

La Banquise

Tourisme Montreal/Bruno Guerin

Ah, la poutine. As much as Montreal’s food scene tries to strive for European levels of refinement and elegance, the world will always remember this city (and the province of Québec, generally) for its single greatest culinary contribution, a pile of crispy french fries smothered in brown gravy and topped with hunks of cheese curds. There are many places that offer great poutine around Montreal, but few that unabashedly embrace the unpretentiousness as La Banquise. For the record, the menu does include lighter fare such as sandwiches and salads, but who are they fooling? The crowds come here for the poutine menu, which includes both classic and less classic versions, such as La Royale, which comes with pulled pork, apples and bacon. Pro tip: if you’re in need of some early morning munchies to fuel up for the day or to nurse the effects of the night before, La Banquise also offers a greasy spoon morning menu which, thankfully, includes some breakfast poutines.

start me up

Olive and Gourmand

If you’re in Old Montreal, make this your go-to breakfast and coffee joint. A neighborhood favorite since opening its doors in 1997, this intimate space is now a seamless part of the neighborhood, blending in with the surrounding old world architecture and cobblestone streets. If you’re pressed for time, stop by the grab-and-go counter for coffees, espresso drinks and hands-down the best croissants in Montreal. If you have a little more time to spare, make breakfast the most important meal of your day with poached eggs, breakfast sandwiches, chia pudding, and elegant viennoiserie. The morning vibes here are, as they say, nothing short of immaculate.

Under the Radar

beba

Brothers and Liverpool House alumni Ari and Pablo Schor are leading the new wave of restaurants and bars sprucing up the neighborhood of Verdun with this truly unique nook that is, perhaps unexpectedly, a quintessential example of what makes Montreal’s food scene so cool. Beba is a mish-mash of things that, in sum, work together beautifully: casual yet special and refined; cool yet unpretentious; and a menu that blends Canadian, Argentine and Mediterranean flavors. Let chef Ari Schor take you away with handmade empanadas, courgette involtini, lamb tartare with capers and anchovies, and halibut cheeks with asparagus, bone marrow and samphire, and then wash it down with one of Pablo Schor’s biodynamic wine recommendations.

One for the Feed

Le Blossom

Tourisme Montreal/Alison Slattery

Every inch of this Village “neo-Japonais” restaurant exudes sex appeal, and the enormous silk sakura tree hanging over the bar is one of the most stunning, instantly recognizable (and photogenic) icons in Montreal. For drinks, there’s an extensive, robust sake list, with entry-level options as well as more complex offerings for connoisseurs. Come nightfall, there’s a lively bar crowd that has a real see-and-be-seen atmosphere. Oh! And the menu. It definitely takes some liberties in terms of authenticity—Bang-Bang Cauliflower, while delicious, isn’t exactly traditional—but altogether the food is fun, flavorful, and, in itself, entirely worthy of Instagramming.

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