Montreal may be a bilingual city, but that's not how you intend to occupy your tongue when you're there, since it would take you over three years to eat your way through all the city's restaurants. Then you'd have to spend another few years sampling all the microbrews and absinthe cocktails in town, and, while it'd totally be worth it, we're here to save you time: these are the spots where locals get their onion ring & corn dog poutine, lobster poutine, and classic French plates. And then more poutine.
Need even more places to eat and drink? Head to Thrillist Montreal for hot openings and the rest of our longtime favorites.
Why you're here: Smoked meats just off the beaten path
What you're getting: Located just outside all of the downtown hoopla in the heart of Little Burgundy (congratulations Ron!), this cozy smokehouse boasts a special wood chip smoking technique for melt-off-the-bone ribs & chicken, topped with a famed house BBQ sauce. Follow it all with their bacon brownie -- that's right, there's meat in the desserts too.
Why you're here: French bistro dinner in Canada's Francois capital
What you're getting: This bistro epitomizes Parisian cool with its black & white checkered tiles, white linen tablecloths, and devilishly good-looking and well-dressed waitstaff. Enjoy classic French cuisine in style and then take in the infamously seductive nightlife of rue Saint-Denis. Also? You get an entire jar of pickles with your meal.
Why you're here: Steak & seafood with Quebecois ingredients
What you're getting: Named for Charles “Joe Beef” McKiernan (an Irish-born, no-nonsense military man & 19th-century Montreal working-class hero), this classic joint turns out belly-warming comfort food. When you’re done here, make the inebriated crawl across the road to Burgundy Lion Pub, where keeping your pride may become a challenge.
Why you're here: Creative food with a view
What you're getting: This aptly-named culinary lab is on the top floor of the Société des Arts Technologiques (a hub for digital arts culture); the glass-walled building is surrounded by flashy LED sidewalk lights & topped with a huge white dome known as the Satosphére. Take your experience to the next level on one of the best rooftop terraces in the city.
Why you're here: Its unique mix of beef & Jewish deli staples
What you're getting: Named by Forbes Magazine as one of the top steakhouses in the world, Moishes has been a fixture in Montreal's gastronomic scene for 70+ years. They’ve served the likes of everyone from Hulk Hogan to the former Pope John Paul II, and it's the perfect place to increase your own mass.
Why you're here: One of Canada's best izakayas
What you're getting: Even in the deep, dark depths of Montreal winter, there is always a line outside of this cozy Japanese izakaya. This nationally ranked restaurant is well worth the wait for the best ramen in town or a drool-worthy shrimp burger.
Why you're here: Over-the-top rich food
What you're getting: A cult favorite for locals & tourists alike, their artery-clogging foie gras poutine is served in an amazingly unpretentious, casual, and friendly atmosphere. Be prepared to adjust your belt a couple notches after you chase it down with one of their maple syrup shakes; probably the name of the condition you'll develop afterwards, too.
Why you're here: Great cocktails without the pretension
What you're getting: The drinks at La Distillerie have a reputation for being really strong, and really big. Where else can you order booze by the liter and have it served to you in a Mason jar? Also, you get jars of Goldfish crackers to snack on while you drink. This place gets packed, so get there early.
Why you're here: Prohibition-style bar pouring old-fashioned drinks
What you're getting: Dominion Square Tavern's fashioned as a '20s-era saloon -- one that serves fancy variations on traditional Quebecois pub fare. Pour four drinks simultaneously with their fancy tabletop absinthe fountains, and your liver won't be green much longer.
Why you're here: Experimental mixes
What you're getting: Drinks are regularly lit on fire in this otherwise dimly-lit bar that has the feel of an ol’ timey speakeasy. Experienced "Labtenders" will be happy to mix up any classic 'tail, or something from their list of originals, many of which contain maple syrup.
Why you're here: Drinks in the heart of Montreal's going-out neighborhood
What you're getting: Buzzing on any given night, Bílý Kun is one of the hottest watering holes in the trendy French neighborhood, Plateau (meaning it’s a stone’s throw away from about four late-night poutine joints, too). Also, they have a freaking wall of ostrich heads, which is not something you can ignore by just burying your... never mind.
Why you're here: Micros from one of the best beer bars in the world
What you're getting: Offering their own house microbrews & exotic imports on chalkboard wall menus, Dieu du Ciel! has everything from chocolate stouts to peppercorn-infused red ales to "Aphrodisiaque" cocktails (sometimes known as "literally any cocktail").
Why you're here: Live music with your drinks
What you're getting: Stomping grounds for many of Montreal’s musicians (including the Arcade Fire), Casa’s a great place to take in a night on their patio or to catch a band in their second room. They serve up regular DJ's and nacho plates large enough to ensure you probably won't be able to dance to said DJ's.
Why you're here: A resto whose burgers & brunch are just as good as the drinks
What you're getting: This detail-oriented, hipster-chic spot's always filled with Mile End neighborhood regulars, and's rumored to have the best-looking staff and clientele in the city. Don’t go too far after last call -- they’ll be serving up one of the best hangover brunches in the city the next morning.
Why you're here: One of the best outdoor drinking areas in the city
What you're getting: Down a seedy dark alley just off of the St. Catherine’s strip, you won’t find this place if you’re not looking for it. When you get there, make your way straight through the bar and refrain from gasping when you discover the amazing, vine-covered outdoor terrace; the barkeeps'll easily find another way to occupy your tongue.
Why you're here: It's a local classic with poutine that's anything but classic.
What you're getting: Any list that doesn’t include La Banquise shouldn’t be taken seriously. This classic greasy spoon is open 24/7 and boasts a menu with over 30 varieties of the good stuff to choose from, including La Taquise, which's taken to the next level by sour cream, tomato, and guac. But if you're sparing no expense, the real star is La T-Rex: a massive, meat-laden number topped with ground beef, pepperoni, and bacon.
Why you're here: Poutine from a '50s-style diner
What you're getting: Affectionately referred to by locals as the “G-Spot”, this '50s-style greasy spoon has 27 different types of poutine available, though ask the waitress, and she’ll recommend the Reine Gadboi -- it's topped with onion rings and chopped-up pogo sticks (which are just corn dogs that've jumped across the border).
Why you're here: Fancy poutine
What you're getting: Head chef Chuck Hughes loves lobsters (he has one tatted on his arm), and his lobster poutine is the poutine that won Iron Chef America 2011, basically flaying Bobby in the process. It's so famous that foodies around the world actually plan their trips to Montreal around it, and you will find it at his resto, hidden down a side street of Old Montreal.
Several locations across Montreal
Why you're here: Poutine that makes sauce the star
What you're getting: There are eight styles of poutine to choose from at this fry-house, including a hearty sucker topped with steak, 'shrooms, and fried onions. The thing that really makes it, however, is their selection of 17 different sauces to dip the fries in. And in case you were wondering, those fries are trans-fat free! Phew!
1. Au Pied de Cochon536 Ave Duluth Est, Montréal
2. Moishes3961 boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal
3. L'Express3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal
4. Le Boucan1886 rue Notre-Dame-Ouest, Montréal
5. Labo Culinaire1201 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montréal
6. Kazu1862 rue Ste-Catherine O., Montréal
7. Joe Beef2491 rue Notre-Dame O, Montreal
8. Garde Manger408 rue Saint-Francois-Xavier, Montréal
9. Dieu du Ciel!29 Ave Laurier Ouest, Montréal
10. Dominion Square Tavern1243 rue Metcalfe, Montréal
11. La Distillerie300 rue Ontario Est, Montréal
12. Bílý Kun354 ave. du Mont-Royal Est, Montréal
13. Le Lab1351 rue Rachel Est, Montréal
14. Sparrow / Le Moineau5322 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montréal
15. Casa del Popolo4873 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montréal
16. Le Sainte-Élisabeth1412, rue Sainte-Élisabeth, Montréal
17. La Banquise994, rue Rachel Est, Montréal
18. Frite Alors!5235A ave. du Parc, Montréal
19. Le Garde-Manger408 rue Saint-Francois-Xavier, Montréal
20. Green Spot3041 rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal
Dining at “the foot of the pig” ("Au pied de cochon") is a Montréal must, as Chef Martin Picard has created a temple for all things meaty, decadent, and over-the-top (read: poutine topped with foie gras!). While ultra-luxe ingredients like red wine chutney and pig's trotters are a common theme here, their application to low-brow foods is what sets this bustling restaurant apart. The price tag might not match the casual atmosphere, but exaggerated indulgences like pan seared foie gras with goat cheese and raspberries on a brioche will blind you to dollar signs.
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.
Enjoy classic French cuisine-- think pot-au-feu and quiche du jour-- in style at this traditional French bistro complete with black-and-white tiled floors, white linen tablecloths, and an ultra-dapper waitstaff.
Located in the heart of Little Burgundy, this smokehouse specializes in Southern-style BBQ dishes like melt-in-your-mouth ribs, pulled pork poutine, burgers, and the very meaty, mighty "pit boss platter". If you haven't gotten your meat fix yet, bacon brownies are for dessert.
Tucked inside Montreal's Société des Arts Technologiques (or SAT, for short), Labo Culinaire is an experimental resto churning out inventive, weekly-changing dishes. After your meal, check out a show or DJ set at the 360-degree Satosphère. The best part about this culinary experiment (besides the awesome rooftop) is the variety of food that it offers. One night, renowned chefs will craft dishes while another night a completely unknown chef will hold a workshop.
This tiny, traditional Japanese izakaya located in downtown Montreal features specials like a "48 hour pork" rice bowl, BBQ pork necks, and lunchtime special ramen.
An ode to Charles "Joe-Beef" McKiernan, a 19th century innkeeper and Montreal working-class hero, this resto serves up Quebecois classics like sausages, hot smoked salmon, and 18oz steaks (dubbed the "Monsieur's portion" on the menu) in the heart of Little Burgundy.
This dimly-lit, Old Montreal resto's blackboard specials change on the regular and include staples like seafood platters, lobster poutine, and braised short ribs.
This microbrewery and pub features beers infused with everything from hibiscus to coffee. One of the most popular brews: a creamy cocoa vanilla stout aptly named the Aphrodisiaque (ooh la la!).
The Dominion Square Tavern first opened its doors in 1927 as a hotel restaurant and is still one of the classiest establishments in town, known for their traditional absinthe presentations.
If really strong booze served in really large mason jars is your thing, La Distillerie won't disappoint for a late afternoon cocktail. Goldfish crackers (also served in mason jars!) will help tide you over you while you wait.
Located in the trendy French neighborhood, Plateau, this friendly watering hole is a local favorite and is decked out with an entire wall of... yup, you guessed it... ostrich heads!
Located in the Plateau neighborhood, Le Lab has an extensive cocktail menu that changes regularly and churns out inventive concoctions like the Deer Hunter (Jägermeister, violet liqueur, and lime). It might not even be a stretch to say that Le Lab might just make some of the best cocktails in the country, and if it doesn’t anymore, it certainly paved the way for bartenders to aspire to fancy techniques that hadn’t even crossed their booze-addled minds. The bar is dimly lit and has the feel of an ol’ timey speakeasy, and if you don't like anything on the menu, the experienced "Labtenders" will be happy to mix up any classic 'tail, or something from their list of originals.
This resto & cocktail spot's always filled with Mile End neighborhood regulars who come back for The Sparrow's baller weekend brunch. On the must-eat list: banana and chocolate-filled donuts, smoked salmon & scrambled eggs, and a potato & cabbage dish called Bubble 'n Squeak.
This family-run neighborhood vegetarian hot-spot is part cafe, part live music space, and part resto-bar. Grab an order of their giant nachos and post up on their outdoor patio while you soak up the live tunes.
Le Sainte-Elisabeth is tucked away in a back alley, but once you find it, you'll discover one of the most elegant and relaxing spots in Montreal. This European-style pub has tons of microbrews on tap alongside an extensive whiskey selection. The best part of this spot, however, may be its giant, vine-covered outdoor terrace. The terrace is shaded and has plenty of tables all arranged underneath trees. We recommend calling in for a reservation to grab a prime spot at this restaurant, which gets busy during the summer.
This Montreal Poutinery, to coin a phrase, is open day and night and serves up scrumptious curds 'n gravy fries in a variety of configurations. On top of that, there's a more general menu for traditional fare such as burgers and sandwiches, and they've got a number of microbrews to choose from as well. But really, lets cut the pretense, we know you're mainly here for the scrumptious and squeaky pouty-pouts.
This chain of Belgian-style restaurants uses french fries as a central theme, which is basically the greatest central theme for anything ever. The fries are served in a cone, and can be purchased in regular and sauce-drizzled varieties. The poutine here is available in numerous configurations, ranging from regular sauce to braised beef. Should you want something more than just french fries (inconceivable!!), there's also a bevy of traditional fare including burgers and sandwiches, with several imported and domestic beers for you to wet your whistle.
Chuck Hughes, this resto's founder and winner of Iron Chef America 2011, is known the world over for his lobster poutine, so it should come as no surprise that his establishment pumps this stuff out on the reg. The blackboard menus that adorn the walls allow Chuck and his team to change up their offerings whenever they see fit, but you should rest assured that the crowd favorites aren't going anywhere.
This local diner is styled to resemble a mid-century greasy spoon-style establishment, and the 27 different poutine options on the menu give you plenty of greasy goodness to revel in. There's also more traditional diner-type grub, and Green Spot serves up some breakfast specials that are not to be missed either.