The city of Montreal developed a reputation for being a culinary destination because the chefs who established themselves here held nothing back when it came to food and preparation. Of course, it also helped that its population were such an enthusiastic bunch that they will try anything once even if the combination of flavors might seem unusual at first. Finally, immigrants also contributed to Montreal’s reputation as a great place to eat. They brought with them traditional recipes, some of them they tweaked to include local ingredients that resulted into a few of the city’s most iconic dishes. Whatever season you decide to visit and stay in Montreal, know that you’ll never leave hungry. Here’s a first-timer’s list of where to eat and drink in Montreal.
Best Places to Eat in Montreal
No meal is more important than breakfast and if you’re staying in Montreal, one place you need to try is Beautys Luncheonette. This retro-style space remains family run and maintains many of its original signature dishes including the infamous lox and cream cheese on a bagel aptly named Beautys Special.
Address: 93 Avenue du Mont-Royal O, Montréal, QC H2T 2S5
St-Viateur and/or Fairmount Bagel
Ask any local what food item first comes to mind upon mentioning the word “Montreal” and their answers might just surprise you. It’s not poutine, like most visitors will say, but rather bagels. Yes, folks, Montreal is known for their exceptional bagels, the best of which you can find at either St-Viateur or Fairmount. There’s an ongoing debate among Montrealers which of the two serves better bagels so why not try both and be the judge yourself. Both locations are open 24-hours.
Address: Fairmount, 74 Avenue Fairmount O, Montréal, QC H2T 2M1
St-Viateur, 263 Rue Saint Viateur O, Montréal, QC H2V 1Y1
Devouring an order of smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s Deli while visiting Montreal is akin to eating croissant while sitting at a café in Paris. It’s just something you do, primarily because you’re hungry, but also because the deli is part of what defines Montreal. Established in 1928 by Romanian Jewish immigrants, Schwartz’s refused franchising its deli and preserved many of its original methods of cooking including curing their brisket for 10 days prior to smoking. The result is a unique combination of flavors that you’ll find nowhere else in the world. It’s not surprising therefore, to find Schwartz’s Deli on everyone’s list of the best places to eat in Montreal.
Address: 3895 Boul St-Laurent, Montréal, QC H2W 1X9
You’ve likely wondered what Quebecois cuisine is and where in Montreal should you try it. The answer is Joe Beef, the farm-to-table restaurant started by Allison Cunningham and chefs David McMillan and Frederic Morin. The cuisine is undoubtedly Quebecois but you’ll find no poutine on their menu. What you’ll get instead is an emulsion of flavors on a plate (or a clock radio) made with the freshest ingredients the culinary team can find. What’s more, the atmosphere here is very relaxed. Joe Beef is likely Canada’s most famous restaurant so reservations are a must. Let’s hope that you snag one.
Address: 2491 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, QC H3J 1N6
Au Pied de Cochon
When you think of the Quebecois dish poutine, you’re likely imagining a street vendor selling you a box container dripping with gravy and overflowing with cheese curds unless you’re getting them at Au Pied de Cochon. Chef Martin Picard elevated the poutine to where it fits the mold at fine dining establishments by adding foie gras to the already rich dish. Just don’t schedule a cholesterol check-up the next day.
Address: 536 Avenue Duluth E, Montréal, QC H2L 1A9
Gibeau Orange Julep
There’s no chance of missing the giant orange orb that indicates Gibeau Orange Julep’s location. The roadside classic has been serving non-descript burgers, hotdogs, and fries for generations of Montrealers but what keeps them coming back is its signature drink, the Gibeau Orange Julep. It’s made up of orange juice, mixed with a little bit of milk, perhaps some egg whites, and blended until it produces a frothy top. It seems like a strange combination but the resulting taste is similar to that of a creamsicle ice cream bar.
Address: 7700 Decarie Boulevard, Montreal, QC H4P 2H4
La Distillerie I, II, or III
La Distillerie is the classic choice for a drinking in Montreal. The selection of cocktails varies from classic to modern, some of which they serve in mason jars. If you can’t decide on what to get, ask the barkeep for a suggestion or simply go through the menu that explains in detail how strong or sweet each concoction is.
Address: Three locations: 300 Rue Ontario, 2047 Avenue du Mont-Royal E, 2656 Rue Masson