Montreal If you spent every week of your life ticking one of these items off your list, you’d be through the best that Montreal has to offer in just under a year... but what a year it would be. From crispy Southern fried chicken, to crepes, to poutines, to smoked meat, these are the things you need to cross off your dining bucket list before you leave the city/Earth. More Stuff You Will Like
Chez L’Épicier (address and info) Old Montreal The menu at Chez L’Épicier may change regularly, but the strawberry macarons at this ultra-local high-end restaurant are always available on the basis of popular demand. Continue Reading
Beautys Luncheonette (address and info) The Plateau It’s hard to describe what a joy it is to dig into a fluffy Western omelet, fill your mouth with a breakfast bagel, and take a bite out of gooey French toast when you know it’s been virtually unchanged for decades. Montreal is a city that loves tradition, and Beautys Luncheonette is about as traditional as they come.
3. La Diperie special
La Diperie (address and info) The Plateau A soft-serve vanilla ice cream dipped into warm chocolate, rolled in almonds and then drizzled with caramel. Need I say more?
4. Mango coconut sorbet
Le Bilboquet (address and info) Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Though there’s not an ounce of dairy in this ice cream, the delicate flavour of La Bilboquet’s mango coconut sorbet will make you forget lesser flavours like salted caramel and chocolate.
5. Orange julep
Gibeau Orange Julep (address and info) Notre-Dame-de-Grâce The drink that kick-started Hermas Gibeau’s empire can best be described as a cross between a milkshake and an Orange Crush... and that’s being kind. But it’s also as full of contradictions as our city, and we love every sip of it.
Moishes Steakhouse (address and info) The Plateau There’s a reason Moishes has maintained a loyal following for 75 years, and that reason is steak. Dining here is like a trip into a 1950s-era movie, and we wouldn’t change a thing.
7. Salmon Christmas tree
Saint Sushi Bar (address and info) The Plateau The taste of the salmon Christmas tree at Saint Sushi is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted, and the presentation is as original as the name. But we’re not going to spoil it for you: you must taste this deliciousness to truly understand it.
8. Hi Boy burger
Dic Ann’s (address and info) Various locations Founded in 1954, Dic Ann’s gained notoriety for its thin hamburgers, thin patties, and delicious hot sauce. It’s now a family hangout, or just a place to get a cheap burger that is truly Quebecois.
9. The Dragon Bowl
Aux Vivres (address and info) The Main A bowl of freshness loaded with veggies, delicious fried tofu, and the best sauce you’ll ever have. Plus, you need something light after all the smoked meat.
10. Chocolate babka
Hof Kelsten (address and info) Saint Laurent You can’t go wrong with the chocolate babka at Hof Kelsten. It’s got so much chocolate it’s basically bordering on sinful, and once it goes stale, it will make all of your French toast dreams come true.
11. Deer heart gravlax
Restaurant Manitoba (address and info) Little Italy Thought it only opened in 2014, Restaurant Manitoba has taken the city by storm with its ever-changing menu of foraged flora and fauna and unapologetically hipster vibe. Deer heart gravlax remains the dish that made the restaurant, and we urge you to get over your squeamishness and give it a try.
12. Black & white cookie
Boulangerie Cheskie (address and info) Outremont Is the black & white cookie at Cheskie’s a classic sugar cookie with a rich chocolate/vanilla glaze, or is it a reminder of the dual nature of everything around us? When it tastes so good, I’m not sure it even matters. Prepare for a sugar coma.
13. Ricotta cornetto
La Cornetteria (address and info) Little Italy Filled with gently sweetened ricotta cream, the Italian version of a croissant is worth every squirt of filling you’ll get on your clothes... and you’re going to get plenty.
Pho Lien (address and info) Côte-des-Neiges A rich flavoured broth that is as herbaceous as it is meaty, thinly shaved slices of beef and handfuls of fresh herbs and onion make the pho bowl at Pho Lien worth the trek to Côte-des-Neiges. Just don’t blame us if you get addicted.
15. Bagel with lox and cream cheese
St-Viateur Bagel & Café (address and info) Côte-des-Neiges/The Plateau For the perfect creamy and salty combo, you need a bagel with lox and a schmear of cream cheese in your life. You can go to the original St-Viateur Bagel bakery and get your bagel, then buy your lox separately and make the combo at home, or you can go to one of its cafés on Monkland or Mont Royal and get the whole shebang. Your choice.
16. Sesame bagel
Fairmount Bagel (address and info) Mile End I can’t very well send you to St-Viateur without instructing you to also try the other famous Montreal bagel, Fairmount. Just like in the classic stories of good vs. evil, you can’t have one without the other... and you can’t have Montreal without the ever-present rivalry of its two longest-standing bagel factories.
Café Le Falco (address and info) Mile End At $1.95 a pop, the onigiri rice balls at Falco get you a ticket to one of the most beautiful lunch spots in Montreal.
Montreal Pool Room (address and info) The Main One of the only independent places in Montreal that serves real Montreal-style hot dogs. These dogs are smaller in size, cheaper, and the bun is top-loading -- all the better to stuff it with coleslaw.
19. Poutine gratinée
Fameux Viande Fumee et Charcuterie (address and info) The Plateau Montrealers will get into bloody fights over which restaurant/food truck/country joint serves the best poutine, and I will defend my choice of the poutine gratinée at Fameux Viande Fumee et Charcuterie to the death. Cheesy, generous, and slicked in the best gravy this side of the St. Lawrence, it’s impossible to resist this messy dish -- so you may as well not even try.
Caffe San Simeon (address and info) Little Italy Caffe San Simeon does one thing, and one thing only: coffee. But it does it extremely well. If you’re going to get one cup in Montreal, it needs to be from San Simeon, one of the most popular cafés in Montreal’s Little Italy.
21. Lobster pasta
Joe Beef (address and info) Little Burgundy There are few things more comforting than a big bowl of pasta; but when that pasta is topped with massive pieces of lobster, the comfort becomes of a totally different kind: knowing you can afford this kind of a splurge.
22. Duck in a can
Au Pied de Cochon (address and info) The Plateau Au Pied de Cochon’s duck in a can breaks all the rules by serving you canned food at a five-star restaurant. But you arguably can’t understand Montreal until you taste the food of the city’s favourite enfant terrible, Chef Martin Picard.
Depanneur Le Pick Up (address and info) Mile-Ex Dripping with BBQ sauce and studded with pickles and zesty coleslaw, this hefty vegan sandwich will fool any meat eater.
24. Korma chalaw
Khyber Pass Cuisine Afghane (address and info) The Plateau Montreal isn’t just the city of poutine and smoked meat; it’s also the city of countless immigrants and their various traditions. The lamb korma chalaw at Khyber Pass embodies the feeling of Afghanistan that you can only get from food prepared lovingly by its people... and then interwoven into the fabric of Montreal.
25. Huevos rancheros
Bagel Etc (address and info) The Main In a city where brunch is the most important meal of the day, Bagel Etc still maintains a stronghold on people’s dreams. Maybe it’s because Leonard Cohen still comes here when he’s in the city. Maybe it’s because it feels like home. Or maybe, it’s just because the huevos rancheros, eggs Benedict topped with all the typical Mexican fixings, are so damn good.
26. Matcha green tea ice cream
Kem CoBa (address and info) Mile End For an ice cream that is a bit off the beaten track, go to Kem CoBa, which translates as “third auntie’s ice cream,” and order the matcha green tea flavour. I promise, it will taste nothing like your auntie’s.
Romados (address and info) The Plateau Nobody likes Portuguese chicken as much as Montrealers, and nowhere does it taste better than at Romados. A bite into the crackling skin reveals a juicy, white centre that smells as good as it tastes... and it goes beautifully with a cold local beer.
Patati Patata (address and info) The Main Sitting on a rickety stool by the window in this cheap Montreal mainstay is a rite of passage, almost as much as drinking a bottle of red in the park across the street. Go for the burger and fries -- they’ll taste even better once you see the bill.
29. Grilled ox heart, stuffed red peppers, and polenta
Lawrence (address and info) The Main In the few years since it opened, Lawrence has shot to the top of Montreal’s restaurant food chain due to its innovative and daring spirit -- and its willingness to embrace blood, guts, and tripe. Its grilled ox heart is the ultimate revelation, mainly because it manages to taste like your grandmother’s stew, while still making you feel bold.
30. Crepe soufflé
Pâtisserie Rhubarbe (address and info) The Plateau Though you could spend hours drooling at Pâtisserie Rhubarbe, we recommend you go straight for the prize: a soufflé that has fallen so low in the middle that it’s got room for dozens of perfectly ripe berries, fruit compote, and a generous portion of house ricotta.
31. Southern fried chicken
Dinette Triple Crown (address and info) Mile-Ex With its perfectly crispy fried chicken that was made for pairing with sweet potatoes, Dinette Triple Crown brings true Southern food and hospitality to the cold Northern reaches of Quebec.
32. 48-hour pork
Kazu (address and info) Shaughnessy Village It’s hard to pick just one dish you need to eat at Kazu. Between the tuna & salmon salad rice bowl, the lunch-only ramen, and the Sunday special homemade tofu, you have your choices between surf, turf, and everything in between. But if you’re looking for one of the most unique dishes in Montreal, try the 48-hour pork. You can taste the care in each mouthful.
Boulangerie Roma (address and info) Little Italy The lines outside the door here are a clear indication that you’ve come to the right place. For a cannoli that truly shatters in your mouth upon first bite, revealing a soft centre filled with fragrant ricotta cream, go no further than Boulangerie Roma.
34. Chicken souvlaki with potatoes
Villa du Souvlaki (address and info) Notre-Dame-de-Grâce The world’s best grilled souvlaki just may await you among the nondescript walls of Villa de Souvlaki in NDG. Get it with a side order of a big Greek salad and some truly unique potatoes.
35. Sausage sandwich
One of the delis on St. Laurent The Main It’s impossible to walk down St. Laurent without being tempted by the smells and sights of the many European markets, hawking their wares to anyone in sight. But when they cost under $5 and taste like a dream, why should you? Treat yourself to some fat-fried fries while you’re at it.
36. Pizza margherita
Pizzeria Napoletana (address and info) Little Italy Mozzarella, thin dough that crackles as you bite into the burnt spots, and a delicious, pure tomato sauce make this simple dish a standout.
37. Salmon gravlax
Le Sain Bol (address and info) The Plateau Le Sain Bol hasn’t been around as long as some of the heavy hitters on this list; however, the care that Chef Frédéric Houtin takes with his ingredients and preparation makes every dish here a memorable standout. For the ultimate in freshness, go with the salmon gravlax.
Mamie Clafoutis (address and info) Various locations Imagine a cake-sized puffy, yeasted almond croissant that’s filled with cream, and you’ll get the tropézienne at Mamie Clafoutis. Only it tastes even better.
39. Kouign amann
Pâtisserie Kouign Amann (address and info) The Plateau When you take the world’s flakiest buttery pastry, fold it upon itself into layers, and bake the whole thing into a pie, you get the Breton treasure that is kouign amann. Go to the source for the best version in Montreal.
Fous Desserts (address and info) The Plateau The perfect croissant from Fous Desserts is a work of beauty: a rich golden colour, an unbelievably flakey crust, and layers of subtle buttery flavours all joined together to create an exquisite bite that produces more crumbs than you ever thought possible.
41. Smoked meat sandwich
Schwartz’s (address and info) The Main Whether you love the line or think it’s overrated, you simply can’t leave Montreal without trying Schwartz’s legendary smoked meat sandwich. It’s peppery, mustardy, and everything you’ve ever wanted -- with a side of cherry cola.
Bottega Pizzeria (address and info) Little Italy In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Montreal has a proud and vibrant Italian community... and if there’s anything they love to do, it’s eat. Try the pillowy gnocchi or gnudi at Bottega Pizzeria, and discover a world beyond pizza and spaghetti.
43. Pistachio ice cream dipped in chocolate
Les Givrés (address and info) The Plateau Though it’s available in select Montreal grocery stores, there is still something special about going to the source and eating Les Givrés ice cream in the boutique it started from... and that something special is the opportunity to dip your pistachio ice cream into melted hot chocolate.
44. Porchetta sandwich
Le Cochon Caché (address and info) Villeray As you can deduce from its name, Le Cochon Caché knows pork. Come here for one of the best sandwiches in the city, an unforgettable porchetta on panini bread with herbaceous green sauce.
45. Vegan Brando burrito
Velo Burrito (address and info) La Petite Patrie Velo Burrito is like that friend that always bails you out in a time of need. As such, it is best ordered at 9:30pm, when all other dinner plans have failed. But this is no testament to the quality of the great Brando burrito, delivered to your door through the green power of bikes, which bursts at the seams with smoky chipotle tofu, refried beans, and pico de gallo. Get it vegan, and feel even better about your ecological footprint.
46. Pork & pineapple tacos
El Rey del Taco (address and info) Mile-Ex Filled with succulent pork and fresh, bright pineapple, the tacos at El Rey del Taco are worth their weight in gold. They’ll also make a nice reward after a few hours of shopping at nearby Marche Jean-Talon, another Montreal foodie landmark.
Alep (address and info) Mile-Ex Though the sausages and lamb pitas at Petit Alep are to die for, the true connoisseurs know to always order the vegetarian appetizer platter for a starter. Overflowing with hummus, baba ghanoush, stuffed grape vine leaves, and a spicy mouhamara salad, this platter is guaranteed to blow you away. But be warned: this plate is only for sharing!
48. The special
Wilensky’s (address and info) Mile End The Wilensky special is a salami and bologna sandwich on rye bread, with mustard, grilled on the same sandwich maker owner Moe Wilensky bought when he opened the place in 1932. Because you don’t mess with tradition.
49. Chicken karahi
786 Halal (address and info) Parc-Ex For the best in Pakistani cuisine, 786 Halal's got you covered. Try any flavour of chicken karahi, the restaurant’s flagship dish of chicken on the bone, simmered in a deeply spiced and fragrant tomato sauce. It’s finger-lickin’ good.
50. Fried zucchini & eggplant
Tripolis (address and info) Parc-Ex People come to Tripolis for the grilled octopus and spanakopita, but they keep coming back for the fried zucchini and eggplant slices -- perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside and silky on the inside, and with plenty of fresh tzatziki sauce for dipping. Sign up here for our daily Montreal email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in the City of Saints.Ksenia Prints is a Montreal-based freelance writer, photographer, and chef. Follow her delicious goings-on at The Immigrant's Table.