Like Noah's ark, the Montreal restaurant scene seems to have at least two of every kind (and no dinosaurs), allowing at least your tongue to travel the world without leaving the city -- so here are the best spots this town has to offer from almost every corner of the globe. Passports aren’t required, but stretchy pants might be a good idea...
Best Japanese: Kazu
What you’re getting: 48 hours pork
Kazu is known for its small location and delicious food. One of the best dishes is the 48 hours pork which is extremely tender pork topped with onions and served over rice. But keep in mind that Kazu doesn’t take reservations and the line tends to go out the door, so get there early.
Best Portuguese: Braseiro
What you’re getting: Portuguese grilled chicken
If you find yourself on St-Laurent St and are surrounded by the intoxicating aroma of grilled seafood and meats, you must be near Braseiro. Its Portuguese grilled chicken is by far the best in town. It has that charcoal flavor from the grill and spiciness from its oil-based chili marinade while still remaining moist in the center.
Best Mexican: Maria Bonita
What you’re getting: Mole poblano con pollo
Many Montrealers won’t find themselves on a beach in Mexico this summer. But, if you want to be transported to the streets of Mexico City, head to Maria Bonita where you can have an authentic meal. Definitely try the spicy chicken mole; the mix of chocolate, peanuts, spicy chilies, and chicken is packed with flavor.
Best French: Le Pois Penché
What you’re getting: Le Parisien seafood platter for two
Picking one dish from Le Pois Penché is extremely difficult. From the layered salmon tartare to the pan-seared halibut with clams, the seafood and fish dishes definitely deserves acclaim. But what truly stands out from the menu is the seafood Parisian platter which includes lobster, clams, oysters, mussels, crab, shrimp, and a refreshing scallop ceviche.
Best Southeast Asian: Tuk Tuk
What you’re getting: Larb
Tuk Tuk is a small restaurant which blends Cambodian and Thai flavors to create some innovative and tasty dishes. What exactly is larb? Picture a salad with either beef or chicken that's mixed with lime juice, chilies, shallots, carrots, basil, and mint leaves. Refreshing yet filling.
Best Indian: Darbar
Quartier des Spectacles
What you’re getting: Chicken tikka
Darbar is an Indian restaurant which specializes in Northern Indian cuisine. The Punjab restaurant cooks most of its dishes in a tandoor, a cooking device made of clay. The chicken tikka is one of the dishes cooked using this method. To top it off, smoky chicken is marinated in a spicy yogurt sauce.
Best Chinese: Cuisine AuntDai
What you’re getting: Twice-cooked pork (huí guō ròu)
Along with being voted the best Chinese restaurant around by CTV News Montreal, Cuisine AuntDai is a step above the rest for its transparency. The restaurant's website includes videos on how to make most of its dishes. Try the twice-cooked pork dish and remember when it says spicy, it means spicy.
Best Italian: Inferno
What you’re getting: Braised rabbit with homemade linguine
Any pasta dish on Inferno’s menu is delicious, but the braised rabbit with homemade linguine stands out of the crowd. Dressed with garlic and olive oil, and topped with chanterelle mushrooms and seasonal veggies, it is the perfect accompaniment to the tender rabbit.
Best BBQ joint: Blackstrap BBQ
What you’re getting: Burnt ends poutine
When you walk into Blackstrap BBQ, you’ll salivate instantly, thanks to the smoky and meaty aromas. This is the place to be for brisket, and since it’s Montreal, there’s a dish that marries brisket’s yumminess with a Quebecois favorite. The burnt ends poutine includes a gravy made of brisket drippings topped with the crispy ends of the brisket.
Best Spanish: Casa Galicia
What you’re getting: Any of the paellas
The test of a good Spanish restaurant is a good paella and Casa Galicia knocks it out of the park. With over 10 different types of paella, it’s hard to make a bad choice. Feeling fishy? Try the clam, shrimp, mussel, and squid paella. Looking for something a little more carnivorous? Try the Catalana paella with lamb, chicken, mussels, chorizo, and squid.
Best Middle Eastern: Damas
What you’re getting: Fattet mozat
When you think Middle Eastern cuisine, you automatically think of food with a complex yet cohesive flavor profile. It sends your taste buds on an adventure and Damas always promises one hell of an adventure. Try the Syrian restaurant’s fattet mozat, which is lamb shank coated with yogurt, nuts, rice, and herbs.
Best steakhouse: Moishes
What you’re getting: Any of the dry-aged cuts
Moishes has been dominating the steakhouse game since 1938 and recently received international attention as it was voted one of the top 12 steakhouses in the world by the UK’s Daily Telegraph. Your meal starts with a pickle and ends with a tummy rub and a smile. The dry-aged cuts are not to pass up. You have the choice between USDA Prime beef and local Quebecois beef, all aged at least 45 days.
Best vegetarian/vegan: Invitation V
What you’re getting: Chia seed, berry, and chocolate brownie
Vegan food typically gets a bad rap from those who have never tried it and are completely skeptical about whether or not they’ll leave the restaurant hungry. Invitation V proves that not only will you leave satisfied, but you’ll also be raving about its vegan desserts like the brownie.
Best burger joint: Burger Bar Crescent
What you’re getting: Hangover Burger
Choosing one burger isn’t easy, thanks to Burger Bar Crescent’s AAA beef patties with the most intricate plethora of toppings. Whether you’re feeling fancy like Iggy and want foie gras on your burger or just want to cure your hangover with the Hangover Burger, a 6oz patty topped with poutine and a fried egg, there’s something for everyone.
Best Greek: Marven’s
What you’re getting: Calamari
If you end up at Marven’s and aren’t hungry, turn around and leave because the portion sizes are massive. The old-school restaurant doesn’t take reservations so go early to line up, but stick it out because the calamari is exceptional. It's always perfectly cooked and done the proper Greek way, meaning it’ll make you want to search for the closest Yiayia and kiss her hands.
Best Caribbean: Mango Bay
What you’re getting: Curry goat roti
If you find yourself in downtown Montreal and are craving some Caribbean cuisine, head to Mango Bay. The food will make you feel like your palate has been sent to Jamaica, and no dish brings on that feeling more than the curry goat roti. Its spiciness is balanced with the rice and beans that accompany it. End your meal with the mango ice cream.
Best African: Le Nil Bleu
What you’re getting: Tasting menu
This Ethiopian restaurant is a powerhouse in Montreal’s African cuisine community and the tasting menu will let you see why. Options for the tasting menu include a vegan chickpea puree with garlic and lemon, a filet mignon tartare seasoned with Ethiopian spices, and lentils cooked in a berbere sauce, a dynamic spice mixture which includes chilies, ginger, basil, korarima, and more.
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1. Kazu1862 rue Ste-Catherine O, Montreal
2. Braseiro8261 boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal
3. Maria Bonita5269 avenue Casgrain, Montreal
4. Le Pois Penché1230 boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest, Montréal
5. Restaurant Tuk Tuk5619 Chemin de la Côte-Des-Neiges, Montreal
6. Resto Darbar2027 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal
7. Cuisine AuntDai5557 Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges, Montreal
8. Restaurant Inferno6850 Rue St Dominique, Montreal
9. Blackstrap BBQ4436 rue Wellington, Verdun
10. Casa Galicia2087 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal
11. Damas1201 Van Horne, Montreal
12. Moishes3961 boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal
13. Invitation V254 rue Bernard O, Montreal
14. Burger Bar Crescent1465 rue Crescent, Montreal
15. Marven's Restaurant880 Ave Ball, Montreal
16. Mango Bay1202 rue Bishop, Montreal
17. Le Nil Bleu3706 rue St-Denis, Montreal
Regardless of the small size of its location, Kazu has become known for its delicious food. Menu highlights include housemade tofu, a shrimp burger, and 48-hour pork with onions and rice.
Braseiro's grilled seafoods and meats are its staple, and the remarkable smell it sends down St-Laurent is second only to the incredible flavors.
This Mile End spot's authentic Mexican dishes are packed with flavor. Expect Mexican specialties like spicy chicken mole, stuffed poblano peppers, and refried beans.
This Downtown Montreal eatery is best known for its fine array of tasty French dishes and its upscale confines provide a quiet and sophisticated evening to enjoy French comfort food and an extensive list of wines.
The blend of Thai and Cambodian flavors make this spot especially unique. It's the product of a husband-wife collaboration and they're serving dishes like larb: a salad with beef or chicken, lime juice, chilies, shallots, carrots, basil, and mint leave. Yep -- sounds good.
This Ville-Marie spot take Northern Indian cuisine and serves it in a slightly upscale setting, while still cooking with the traditional methods like using a tandoor, a cooking device made of clay.
AuntDai holds a solid place among the local favorites and has been voted best Chinese restaurant in the city. Keep in mind when ordering: They really mean spicy.
The menu at Inferno is a blend of Italian classics and more original dishes, offering Antipasto Inferno and the signature Trippa Della Nonna -- a family recipe for tripe with tomato sauce. If you can get over thinking tripe is gross, this dish has been on the menu so long for a reason.
Over at Blackstrap, slow and steady wins the race, and the taste-test. These guys cook up authentic Memphis-style 'cue over a 12hr smoking process and then their dry rub creates a delicious "bark" on the outside of the meat. It's close to perfection.
Located in Montreal's Latin Quarter, this Spanish resto is dominating the paella game. Ten different kinds of paellas range from more traditional seafood to dishes like the Catalana paella with lamb, chicken, mussels, chorizo, and squid.
Focusing on Syrian cuisine, the menu at Damas brings tons of flavor and complex dishes. Order from the more traditional dishes, like Kibbé, Falafel, and Humus Lahmé (hummus with cubed lamb), to get authentic Middle Eastern flavors.
Moishes Steakhouse was founded in 1938 by Moishe Lighter, a Romanian immigrant. The restaurant-- a hybrid Jewish deli and steak house-- remains a fixture of "The Main" neighborhood of Montreal today with its famous charcoal-broiled bone-in filet mignon, among other meaty offerings.
Invitation V proves all those vegan-doubters out there wrong by being one of those spots where you can have a fantastic veggie-based meal and leave feeling not only totally full and satisfied, but also raving about the vegan desserts like the brownie.
This award-winning burger resto serves up a variety of juicy meat discs including cheese burgers, bacon cheese burgers and something called the Supersonic Burger, which is topped with onion rings, Jarlsberg cheese, bacon, dill pickle, tomato, banana peppers, and spicy mayonnaise. And if that's not your thing, take down one of their other sammies or tasty poutine.
A meal at Marven's will get you huge portions of delicious Greek food at very affordable prices, which is hard to pass up. Renowned for its calamari (some say it's the best in the city), Marven's also makes a mean souvlaki, quail, and lamb chops, among many other dishes.
The Caribbean cuisine at Mango Bay will make you feel like your palate has been sent to Jamaica. Get the perfectly spicy curry goat roti, and then cool things back down with the mango ice cream.
This much-loved Ethiopian spot has an extensive menu, complete with separate vegan and meat sections. Get the tasting menu to really get the full experience - options include a vegan chickpea puree with garlic and lemon and a filet mignon tartare seasoned with Ethiopian spices.