Best Restaurants in MontrealOur favorites include some of this destination's best restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.
By Inspector 5
Montréal's multiculturalism is vividly reflected in the city's diverse restaurant scene. Add a pinch of this, a dash of that—and voilà, there you have it: the perfect Montréal dining experience. For starters, let's begin in Old Montréal, where the city was founded in 1642 and where you'll find some amazing places to eat.
French and Asian influences give comfort food a new twist within the stone walls of Chez l'épicier Restaurant et Bar à Vin (l'épicier is French for “the grocery”). This casually elegant eatery, wine bar and grocery—where the menus are printed on paper bags and water is served from milk bottles—faces the historic Bonsecours Market. The restaurant's fine cuisine may include selections such as arctic char, milk-fed veal carpaccio, snail shepherd's pie and parmesan oil raviolis. Specialty gourmet items, including cheeses, sauces, oils and sorbets, are available for takeout, and guests can sip wines by the glass or bottle in the adjacent wine bar. The restaurant's 2,000-bottle wine cellar includes many private imports and specialty wines, the majority of which are from France, with impressive selections from Burgundy and the Loire and Rhone valleys.
If you're wondering where to eat when you're north of downtown, the area has some wonderful restaurants as well. The rich, decadent Québec cuisine at Restaurant Au Pied de Cochon may be too much of a good thing, but it's oh, so satisfying. The casual bistro-brasserie strips away traditional fine-cuisine formality for an emphasis on high-quality fresh ingredients. Sample duck with foie gras cooked in a can and opened at the table, or the chef's version of the classic Québec poutine, a concoction of french fries smothered in cheese curds and hot gravy. Try pied de cochon (pig's feet) stuffed with foie gras, or the grain-fed veal tourtière (meat pie), venison tartare, sea snails, lobster, soft-shell crabs, oysters on the half-shell, blood pudding or springtime fiddleheads. Start off with some oreilles-de-crisse (Christ's ears), a traditional Québec sugar shack appetizer of crispy, deep-fried strips of pork skin. Wash down your meal with fine wines available by the glass or bottle.
Where do you go for more Québec comfort food and the city's best baked beans? The “binerie,” of course. La Binerie Mont-Royal, family-operated since 1940, is a bustling little diner in the heart of a trendy residential neighborhood. It is an ideal spot to sample affordable and traditional French Canadian foods such as pea soup, tourtière (meat pie), stews, wieners and baked beans with maple syrup, or pâté made from pork drippings. For dessert try Québec classics such as sugar pie or pouding chomeur (unemployment pudding). The narrow diner has a tidy but modest décor with counter or table seating. The owners and family members provide friendly personalized service.
The upscale Moishes Steakhouse is part of history on “the Main”—a popular strip for authentic ethnic cuisine, cafes and dance clubs. This long-standing favorite of Montréalers is always busy (especially on weekends). Servers bring bowls of kosher dill pickles and coleslaw to munch on while you wait for your main course. In addition to its specialty of hearty premium cuts of American beef, the menu also includes grilled fish, chopped liver, chicken, potato latkes and Monte Carlo potatoes. An impressive selection of vintage wines is stored in dark wood wine cabinets. Expect to wait, even with a reservation, on busy nights.
More than a light lunch eatery, Wilensky's Light Lunch Inc . is a morsel of Montréal's Jewish history. This vintage corner deli was used as a location for the 1974 film “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,” starring Richard Dreyfuss. The deli stands proudly in the multicultural neighborhood made famous in the Mordecai Richler novel that inspired the film. Family-run since 1932, the décor remains virtually untouched. Take a seat at the counter and enjoy Wilensky's “special” sandwich made with salami, bologna and a choice of cheese. Or you can try a chopped egg sandwich, half-sour dill pickles, karnatzel (sort of like beef jerky) or an all-beef hot dog.
Still north of downtown Montréal, but a little farther out, is another group of restaurants. Near Old Montréal is Restaurant Toqué!, which left the neighborly Latin Quarter behind and moved across from the Montréal convention center in 2004. Since its opening, this eatery has earned rave reviews and is regarded as a “must” stop for Montréal-bound gourmets who are looking for places to eat. The well-spaced tables are luxuriously set and the ambience is relaxed in the roomy, stylish dining area. The restaurant takes great pride in using only the freshest regional ingredients and in the beautiful presentation of its dishes. Visitors can dine on the seaside grazed Québec lamb, Havre St-Pierre scallops, pan-seared foie gras, suckling pig, guinea fowl and Boileau venison or try the multicourse tasting menu. Guests are invited to pause from their dinner and tour the kitchen, where they can see executive chef and owner Normand Laprise working in symphony with his skilled staff.
The clientele is hip and the décor artsy at Café Santropol, a spirited, eclectic restaurant catering to the health-conscious crowd. Sweet root and minted ham sandwiches, vegetarian chili, desserts, milkshakes and fair-trade teas and coffees can be enjoyed with friends or while sitting alone, reading a good book and munching on a sweet carrot and alfalfa sprout sandwich. The socially aware owners also manage an off-site organization that delivers food to the underprivileged.
Reservations are a must at L'Express, a lively French-style bistro that has been a favorite with Montréalers since 1980. The café, on a trendy commercial strip in a multicultural residential neighborhood, has a classic décor featuring a black-and-white checkered tile floor, elegant artwork, upscale tabletops, tightly spaced seating and a bar counter for cocktails or casual dining. Each table is set with a generous jar of pickles for diners to enjoy while deciding whether to order steak and fries, foie gras, fresh seafood or steak tartare. Crème caramel is a sinful dessert choice. Attentive, friendly service is provided by career wait staff. The restaurant has an impressive inventory of wine, with dozens of selections available by the glass. You might even notice the bartender preparing fresh-squeezed orange juice for each screwdriver—an added touch of class.
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15 m/49 ft.
Canada levies a 5 percent Goods and Service Tax. Québec's provincial sales tax is 9.975 percent on goods and services. The Montréal area hotel room occupancy tax is 3.5 percent per night.
Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital (Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont), (514) 252-3400; Montréal General Hospital (Hôpital général de Montréal), (514) 934-1934; St. Mary's Hospital Center (Centre hospitalier de St-Mary), (514) 345-3511. These can be reached at (514) 890-8000: Hôtel-Dieu, Notre-Dame Hospital (Hôpital Notre-Dame) and St. Luke's Hospital (Hôpital Saint-Luc).
1255 rue Peel Montréal, QC H3A 3L8. Phone:(514)844-5400 or (877)266-5687
Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), formerly Montréal-Dorval Airport, 22 kilometres (14 mi.) west of downtown in Dorval, handles commercial flights.
Nearly all major rental-car companies serve Montréal, and desks are inside airline terminals at the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
Amtrak, (800) 872-7245, and VIA Rail Canada, (514) 989-2626, operate from Central Station, 895 de la Gauchetière beneath Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel. Part of the underground city, Central Station is connected to the Métro subway and to Windsor Station at rues Peel and de la Gauchetière.
Greyhound Lines Inc. and Adirondacks Trailways run to New York City. Orléans Express operates inner-city service within Québec. The Gare d’autocars de Montréal (Montréal Coach Terminal), 1717 rue Berri, serves Canada and the U.S. Megabus buses link several Ontario cities, and connect to Buffalo, N.Y.
Cabs are plentiful in Montréal; you should have no problem hailing one. Taxis are metered, and fares generally are fixed at $3.45 to start, plus $1.70 for each kilometre (.6 mi.) traveled as well as 63c for every waiting minute. Major companies are Diamond, (514) 273-6331; and Taxi Co-op, (514) 725-9885.
Société de transport de Montréal (STM) provides bus, Métro (subway) and commuter train service throughout greater Montréal.
Large vessels put in at Montréal's docks. Port d'escale du Vieux-Port de Montréal (Bassin Jacques Cartier), 333 rue de la Commune Ouest, charges $18 for a minimum 3-hour stay, plus $6 per additional hour for vessels less than 18 metres (59 ft.) in length, or $66 for a minimum 3-hour stay, plus $22 per hour for vessels measuring 18 to 24 metres (59 to 79 ft.). Overnight rates $2.30-$4.15 per .3 metre (1 ft.) per day, depending on the season. Rates may increase on weekends, and there are discounts for stays of 7 or more days; phone (514) 283-5414 to verify pricing.