There aren't too many things that Montreal native David McGimpsey hasn't mastered. On top of being a totally successful musician, comedian, and author of acclaimed books (incl. Sitcom and Li'l Bastard), he's also an avid foodie who knows exactly what you should be puttin' in your mouth when you're in Montreal. We broke some bread with the multi-talented man himself and got a rundown of how to get the most from your Belle Ville experience:
Montreal's McGimpsey shares how to act and eat like a local
Dic Ann's Hamburgers. Pretty working-class stuff, and not celebrated like poutine or smoked meat, but still unique to Montreal. They're these tiny hamburgers pressed really flat and they use a weird Swiss steak sauce on them. You need a popsicle stick to lift it up! They might surprise people looking for American-style hamburgers because they're not that. Higher end, I like Moishes Steakhouse. Not contemporary at all but still excellent.
Best Cheap Eats
I go to Wilensky's all the time and I love that place. I also go to Punjab Palace a lot. Their mulligatawny soup is one of the best soups in Montreal, and I kind of have an obsession with soup. I also go to Dilallo Burger. They have a burger called a "Buck Burger", which I guess started back in the 70s. You can use the price of a burger to see the rate of inflation in Montreal; it's still cheap, but now it's probably like $4.25 or something.
La Binerie. The baked beans there are insanely delicious. It's the very foundation of Quebecois food, historically speaking, but they're the only place that makes those classic Quebecois dishes. They do breakfast so well, and it's remarkably inexpensive.
Best Late Night Grub
A Chinese restaurant called La Maison V.I.P. in Chinatown, off of Clark and LaGauchetiere. Classic Cantonese food, good chow mein, BBQ duck -- always open late.
Chez Philippe. Their poutine is amazing, and they've also got a really great hamburger made with fresh meat they grind on the premises.
Best Smoked Meat
Schwartz's. Anyone who says anything else is just ridiculous. It's clearly the best. Order medium. Only a terrible rookie would order the smoked meat sandwich lean.
Best Hot Dog
Decarie Hot Dog. That place is amazing and their fries are so good. I'd even say they have the best French fries. I mean, just a plate of fries!
Montreal is not as good for weird food as one might imagine. I think the absence of food trucks and outdoor counters has a lot to do with this. The salad at Ty-Briez may be a little weird -- appearing almost like a whole head of lettuce -- but it is delicious!
Best Place to Watch a Sports Game
Pub Laurier. But only if it's the Habs.
Best Dive Bar
Verres Stérilisés on Rachel Street and La Petite Idée Fixe on Park Avenue.
Brasserie Capri in Pointe-Saint Charles. The food is great and it represents what Quebec culture feels like to me: working class, mercifully unpretentious, friendly, and absolutely comfortable.
Olympico and Caffè Italia. I like Caffè Italia the best. They also have my favorite sandwich in Montreal and that sandwich is just a peanut butter sandwich on toasted Italian bread. Having a latte and that sandwich there is just heaven.
Best Comedy Club
ComedyWorks on Bishop Street. But, I also love the brave pioneers who shepherd the floating stages that appear suddenly in Portuguese restaurants and abandoned buildings.
What would you say are Montreal's unofficial food groups?
Poutine, smoked meat, and steamed hotdogs. Hotdogs and French fries were, to me, always the soul of Montreal cuisine.
If you have a free afternoon..
I would go for a long walk. The best walk you can take in Montreal -- and I'm a fan of epic walks -- is the entire length of St. Laurent. Takes about 5 hours with stopping and eating in different places.
If you could take a Montreal food item into space...
It would have to be the Wilensky's special. It's a pressed sandwich. I don't know a better way to call it other than a "Jewish Panini." It's got salami pressed into an onion bun and it always comes with a pickle. It's always got mustard too. It'd be a shame to not take the soda fountain into space though...
Ontario Street. That's like the heart of the traditional east end of the city.
1. Dic Ann's Hamburgers10910 Boul. Pie-IX, Montreal
2. Wilensky's34 Ave Fairmount Ouest, Montréal
3. Punjab Palace920 Jean-Talon Ouest, Montréal
4. Dilallo Burger2523 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal
5. La Binerie367, Av. Mont-Royal E, Montréal
6. La Maison V.I.P.1077, rue Clark, Montréal
7. Pataterie Chez Philippe1877 rue amherst, Montreal
8. Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen3895 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montréal
9. Decarie Hot Dog953 Decarie Boul , Saint-Laurent
10. La Vieille Crêperie Bretonne Ty-Breiz933 rue Rachel Est, Montréal
11. Pub Laurier266 Laurier E, Montreal
12. Verres Stérilisés800 rue Rachel Est, Montréal
13. La Petite Idée-Fixe4857 ave. Du Parc, Montréal
14. Brasserie Capri2172 St-Patrick, Montréal
15. Café Olimpico124 rue Saint-Viateur Ouest, Montréal
16. Caffè Italia6840 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montréal
17. Comedyworks1238 Bishop Street, Montreal
Dic Ann's Hamburgers holds two world records for the number of hamburgers and cheeseburgers served in an hour -- impressive, but not as impressive as the burger itself! A flattened patty soaked in their secret sauce is the place's specialty, and with over 15 locations across Canada, you can get it nearly anywhere in the country.
Think old-school -- like, ring-up cash register and old-fashioned soda fountain old-school. Wilensky's opened in 1932, and their "Wilensky's Special" -- a deliciously simple grilled sandwich with all-beef salami, all-beef baloney, and a hint of mustard -- has been a solid local favorite ever since.
Sometimes when you're in a French city, all you want is some good Indian food, right?! Punjab Palace has got you covered. With an extensive menu and specials, this affordable fare will leave you with plenty of money to spend elsewhere -- maybe, for example, on the alcohol that you will need to bring yourself, since Punjab Palace lacks a liquor license.
The famous Dilallo Burger is a true Montreal institution in the best sense of the word. Be sure to try its famous "Buck Burger." It's not actually a dollar, but at $4 or so, no one's complaining.
True to its name, La Binerie is famous for its baked beans. This place has been serving up traditional Quebecois cuisine since 1938, and it hasn't lost its touch. If baked beans aren't your thing, try the Tourtière (meat pie), Pouding Noir (black pudding), or Soupe aux Pois (pea soup).
Open late-night, early morning, and every time in between, V.I.P serves traditional and delicious Cantonese-style Chinese food.
Pataterie Chez Philippe has a strong motto: "never serve others what you wouldn't eat yourself."Choose from a selection of sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, and poutine, and don't forget to order a side of fries -- cooked in canola oil, they're err... kinda healthy?
Montreal is known for its smoked meats, and Schwartz's Deli has some of the best in the city. Order a sandwich -- literally any sandwich -- and prepare for your taste buds to explode from the deliciousness.
This hole-in-the-wall hot dog joint serves up some of the best dogs, French fries, and poutine in Montreal. Just don't expect to sit down... as there isn't much room.
This creperie in the Plateau Mont-Royal 'hood has been around since 1959 and has been churning out sweet (think nutella & banana) and savory (sausage, apple, and cheese, anyone?) pastries ever since!
With a lime green exterior and disco lights, Pub Laurier isn't hiding from anyone. This dive bar is ideal for drinking a cheap beer, playing some songs on their itunes-like jukebox, and watching a sports game.
This divey sports pub has three plasma screens, a projector, two regular tubes, and an especially raucous local crowd. Add in a few of their cold micro-brewed beers, and it'll feel just like you're watching the game at home!
Dim lighting, wooden bar stools, a pool table, and a jukebox are staples of any dive bar, and La Petite Idée-Fixe is no different. You won't find any trendy cocktails here, but you will find a number of affordable cold brewskies.
Pork knuckles. That's all you need to know about Brasserie Capri. They're a Quebecois tradition, and you should order them!
Family-owned since 1970, Café Olimpico brews delicious Italian coffee. Enjoy an espresso, latte, or cappuccino while people-watching on the outdoor patio.
Brewed with locally roasted and blended beans, the espressos and lattes are sure to start your day off right in the Belle Ville.