Montreal Restaurants
May 31, 2008 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Going to Montreal next weekend (June 6-8) for pure recreation. I'm looking for great restaurant recommendations, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Also: I know now (given the difficulty of booking a hotel room) that it's the Grand Prix weekend. I've heard that it can be difficult but not impossible to go to some events associated with this. Is there a particular event I shouldn't miss?
BTW, this isn't a romantic getaway, it's a reconnect-with-an-old-friend weekend. If that makes any difference.
posted by asavage to Travel & Transportation around Montreal, QC (27 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I really love FondueMentale.
posted by GuyZero at 9:44 AM on May 31, 2008

If you're into nice cars, there are carshows on Crescent and Peel, just north of Ste-Catherine. It's public (ie. right on the street, lots of ferraris, bmw, fashion show...). However, all restaurants are usually reserved for VIP guests only.
Don't know where your hotel is but I enjoy going for a beer at the casa del popolo or at dieu du ciel (they are both around st-laurent and st-joseph).
posted by ddaavviidd at 9:52 AM on May 31, 2008

Response by poster: I'm staying in Old-town.
posted by asavage at 9:54 AM on May 31, 2008

Asavage! I will keep an eye out for you on our streets.

I tend to avoid almost anything Grand Prix-related, so unfortunately I can't help you much with that. But from Thursday to Sunday St-Laurent is closed between Sherbrooke and Mont-Royal and there's a kind of eclectic and chaotic street fair. In the day this mostly involves music, food and vendors but at night it gets a little bit more about people hanging out and staggering between clubs, so depending on your taste you might want to pick the time you visit.

What kind of food are you thinking of? Any particular budget/pretension level?
posted by loiseau at 9:55 AM on May 31, 2008

Here's where not to go, no matter how tempted- Au Pied du Cochon. I love me some foie gras, but their execution is sloppy and indulgent for indulgence's sake.
posted by mkultra at 9:56 AM on May 31, 2008

Of course you'll go to Schwartz's, right?

posted by Acari at 9:57 AM on May 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, and we had a fantastic classic French lunch at Les Chenets. I suspect their dinner is fairly pricey, but we had a totally reasonable midday meal just walking in off the street. Worth it, IMO, just to check out the upstairs, where the every square inch of wall space is lined with copper pots, and the wine list, which reads like a Who's Who of great bottles.
posted by mkultra at 10:00 AM on May 31, 2008

I love the butter chicken from Masala at 995 Wellington street, close to Old-Montreal (although the actual location is a bit in the middle of nowhere). I've tried butter chicken in other indian restaurants, but nothing comes close to the one from Masala.

They are open for lunch only, except on Friday evenings and some Saturdays.
posted by jchgf at 10:03 AM on May 31, 2008

Oh! I can make a breakfast recommendation: Senzala, on Bernard at de l'Esplanade. It's Brazilian; they have a lot of egg dishes plus things like pancakes and french toast, with treats like fruit kabobs and fried plantain. They have this one dish that's a whole wheel of brie baked with blueberry topping... most insane breakfast ever. I love this place.
posted by loiseau at 10:03 AM on May 31, 2008

Response by poster: loiseau, I don't care for pretention as much as I love good grub. Any kind.
posted by asavage at 10:13 AM on May 31, 2008

Enjoy Montreal!


Of course there are the ubiquitous Montreal bagels. Most cafes will serve either St. Viateur or Fairmount bagels. If you want to go straight to the source, each is open 24/7.

Beautys is also a Montreal institution in the old-fashioned Jewish deli sense.
Le Reservoir serves a great brunch (and their own beer for other times of day)
I like the ambiance and location of La Croissanterie Figaro

There are a number of Portuguese chicken (rotisserie and grilled) places in the Plateau-- delicious! Jano and Coco Rico are both on St. Laurent. Good for dinner too.
Also, on St. Laurent is Patati Patata Friterie de Luxe-- yummy french fries and mini-burgers.


Contrary to what mkultra says, Au Pied de Cochon is considered a do-not-miss experience (especially if you like your food rich.)

The BYOW bistro scene is alive and well and offer great deals-- places to consider: Le P'tit Plateau, Bistro L'Entrepot, Resto YoYo and numerous others.

We had a great tapas meal at Tapeo.

In the traditional French bistro vein, try Lemeac (and they have a great after 10 pm deal-- two courses for $22). A little more adventurous fare can be found at Au Cinquieme Peche

Also, check out this blog with their a-z recommendations
posted by picklebird at 10:26 AM on May 31, 2008

I former Montreal-dwelling friend emailed me some recommendations when I visited a couple years back. I only made it to the first (L'Academie) but I had a great time there so I trust his other recs too:
  • L'Academie: 4051, rue Saint-Denis (Its "Bring your own wine" if you want and one of the cheapest fancy meals I have ever eater. About $15-$20 for something on par with almost anything here.....but the pasta isn't worth the money.
  • Sergent Recruiter: 4801 St. Laurent......although it is a bit of a walk from downtown (about 20-30 minutes). This was my all time favorite bar. It is now a pizza and micro-brewery restaurant that still impressed the hell out of me. Their beer is still spectacular, and the pizza suggestions to go with the beer were great. The pizza itself was better than anything I have had here (but to be fair, I don't eat gourmet pizza here a lot). I would recommend, however, the price is not exactly cheap. Expect Vancouver prices.
  • La Binerie: 376 Mt. Royal Ave East (North-west of St. Denis). Get off on the Mont-Royal metro stop). This is the ONLY real Quebecois restaurant I could find in the city. There may be other options now. I would only go for breakfast and only if you want to gain 40 pounds. Oh Quebecers. Why must everything be deep friend with maple syrup? :)

posted by sanitycheck at 10:37 AM on May 31, 2008

I disagree with mkultra somewhat, Au Pied du Cochon can be fabulous. The trotters, the duck in a can, the cassoulet. But I do agree that it's somewhat of an endurance contest to eat there, and that there are a few very silly foie-for-foie's sake things on the menu.

If you sit at the bar at L'Express you will get better service, it's a more casual vibe, and you can disregard the commonly held belief that you need reservations. Good classic solid French bistro food.

Schwartz's, of course.

Le Piton de la Fournaise is on Duluth. Food from Reunion Island reflects the French-Indian-African-Chinese makeup of the island. Great seafood dishes. BYO, inexpensive, big portions, friendly service.

Nice friendly dive-y bar is Bifteck on St. Laurent.
posted by desuetude at 10:40 AM on May 31, 2008

I've only been to Montreal a couple of times, but Mrs. ob and I were taken for an really great meal by a Montrealer at La Prunelle.
posted by ob at 11:07 AM on May 31, 2008

Schwartz even has a film about it: Chez Schwartz maqde by some of the guys involved with Lots of options to browse there.
posted by zaelic at 11:09 AM on May 31, 2008

I hate Schwartz's. You end up standing on line for an hour, just so they rush you inside, all for the same thing you could get takeout from any number of Montreal smoked-meat places. Plus, Grand Prix is pretty busy times for Montreal, and restaurants make a killing. Schwartz's will be madness, being the most touristed restaurant in town...

For burgers, La Paryse on Ontario around St. Denis is wonderful, small, and closed on Mondays. Went in with just one friend and got seated quickly - more than that might be a wait.

For beers, definitely Dieu du ciel - one of the best micro breweries in the city. My friend got them when they were serving a pepper beer, and he couldn't shut up about it for a week. Everything I've had from them has been similarly outstanding. Up at Laurier and Clarke, I think.

I always really enjoy going for Indian up here too - the places on Jean-Talon west of Parc are pretty well respected (deservedly so). You can just walk around up there and you're pretty much sure to stumble upon something good. I love the pushap, personally, which happens to be vegetarian.

For breakfast, there's a cute cafe up on Fairmount and Jeanne-Mance or thereabouts called "Arts Cafe" (201, avenue Fairmount Ouest) which serves ENORMOUS breakfasts (also pastries and the like, if you're going for something smaller) in a relaxed, very french bistro kind of way. It's a lesser known place, which does the Montreal art-vibe well. When you're in the area, you could also go to Fairmount bagels, or venture one block north to the superior St. Viateur bagels, which are always served steaming straight from the ovens.

And if my boyfriend weren't vegetarian, oh BOY would I want to try Au Pied du Cochon. Sigh.

Hope you enjoy your weekend out here!
posted by Herman Hermanson at 12:38 PM on May 31, 2008

Au Pied du Cochon can be fabulous. The trotters, the duck in a can, the cassoulet.

I had the trotters at Au Pied du Cochon. It was a sloppy, overly rich, vinegary mess. Didn't get the duck in a can, but I saw it and it looked unbelievably unappetizing. It's like a restaurant designed by people who don't actually eat.
posted by mkultra at 1:37 PM on May 31, 2008

For me, the Main is as good as Schwartz's, and no waiting. It's right across the street. Smoked meat, chopped liver, yum!

I like the poutine at Frite Alors (since Mondo Fritz closed :( ). It's a chain, there's one on St. Laurent close to Sherbrooke. Also great, and 24 hours for after drinking, is La Banquise. I think it's on Rachel and... St. Hubert maybe?

Chu Chai, on St. Denis above Duluth, has amazing amazing delicious Thai vegetarian food.

Aux Vivres is a great organic/vegan restaurant, on St. Laurent just below Villeneuve.

Santropol is a great place for huge, interesting, and delicious sandwiches and very well known, on St. Urbain and Duluth.

Of course the bagels...

For breakfast, Place Milton in the McGill Ghetto (Milton and St. Famille, I think) has been around for three generations and is a good classic breakfast/diner place with somewhat unusual and delicious pancakes.

No shortage of great eating in Montreal!
posted by Salamandrous at 1:55 PM on May 31, 2008

some very very specific tips:

+ PAIN PERDU dessert (which is the most soul-lavishingly rich and delicious french toast you will ever eat, amazing amazing) at LEMEAC

+ GINGER ICE-CREAM (one of the deliciousest in all of north america) at HAVRE AUX GLACES in jean talon market. or else CACAOPHONIE ICE-CREAM (dark chocolate + white chocolate pieces + cashews) at BILBOQUET, if you prefer yr ice-cream less delicate, more candybar, and still amazing.





+ a BOSTOK (almond pastry) from DE LA GASCOGNE bakery.


+ DUCK IN A CAN and POUD' for dessert from AU PIED DE COCHON.


posted by Marquis at 2:25 PM on May 31, 2008

I just came in here to second everything Salamandrous said. If it were me I'd do Santropol for lunch on a sunny day and ask for a table outside. They're best known for their creative and enormous sandwiches, and the atmosphere is great.
Aux Vivres does a great Sunday brunch, definitely worth checking out.
For dinner if you're in the mood for something veggie, Chu Chai is amazing, or you could go to Yuan on the corner of St-Laurent and St-Denis, and be sure to ask for a table in the back!
posted by vodkaboots at 4:32 AM on June 1, 2008

Chu Chai, on St. Denis above Duluth, has amazing amazing delicious Thai vegetarian food.

Agreed! Some of the best vegetarian food I've had, anywhere.
posted by mkultra at 7:11 AM on June 1, 2008

Def. second going to Endless Banquet and looking through their suggestions. Since it's GP weekend, St-Laurent (and a few other streets) will be closed off, and it will be a great chance to go people watching.

Reservoir is perhaps the best brunch in the city, if you like creative, foodie brunches. I do not particularly like Senzala, however, though it isn't bad. If Reservoir is full, Laika has an okay brunch too, though it's a little hipstery.

Drop by Cocoa Locale and say hi to Rima. The Lemon Cupcakes are my personal favourite, but her carrot cake is also something incredible.

Cash for Curry is a dive on Duluth near Reservoir that serves absolutely awesome curry... you used to be able to walk in but now often need to call ahead, or (preferred) get it for take-out and go to the park.

PDC is amazing, and you should go if you can. I'm actually reminded now that I need to get a visit in while they're running their summer menu, which is focused heavily on Gaspe seafood.

I've eaten through most of montreal, and if you have any specific questions feel free to drop me a PM.
posted by cmyr at 8:17 AM on June 1, 2008

Normand Laprise is the best chef in Montreal at his restaurant Le Toqué. The best cuisine is first about the ingredients and Laprise has taught for years farmers how to grow everything that you'll find at his table. High cuisine, original, very chic, excellent, world class.

Martin Picard at Le Pied de cochon is a former apprentice of Laprise so you can count on the top quality of the food there. But Picard plays it much more relax, bistro and big portions. He likes to hunt and fish and is proud of cooking every part of his catches. If you have a top shape liver, no cholesterol and you are very hungry, go there and enjoy La Grande Bouffe.

Personally, I am much more a L'Express or Le Réservoir guy. L'Express is a classic French bistro, planned as such 30 years ago and still at the top of its game, with the same chef for the past 25 years. Simple, good classic French fare with fresh products. With a big plus: people will tell you to go there for lunch, but if you enjoy wine, I would go there for dinner. L'Express is, to my knowledge, one of only 2 restaurants in Montreal (the other being Le Petit Extra) which imports privately most of its wine and only adds a low mark up (20-50% vs false chic restaurants on St-Laurent that stamp a 300% mark up on ordinary bottles you can find at the corner store). Great wines at low prices. The place is a little noisy, but once you have had 2 glasses, you become part of the buzz.

I also love Le Réservoir. Younger crowd, very relax, excellent chef, fewer choices but very original cuisine and quality wines. Makes his own beer too. (If you go, stay downstairs. The upper level terrace is sometimes downwind from the beer vats).

A dozen of interesting restaurants have set place in Old Montreal these past years. L'Épicier is one of them. Others might be worth a visit, like David McMillan's Joe Beef, so ask around.

Also, June is prime season for lobsters from Les Îles de la Madeleine or Gaspésie. Amateurs will tell you that these are the best lobsters (from cold waters, shipped daily by plane in wet packaging, never put in tap water). I'd go to Le Symposium (Greek) on St-Denis, but ask for lobster from Les Îles (lay-z-eel) at any good restaurant, they should have some.

Reservations are recommended everywhere during the F1 week-end.

For coffee after lunch, or anytime before sundown, I would go on a terrace on St-Denis (between Roy and Mont-Royal), take a table near the sidewalk and enjoy the crowd passing by. It's one of the secret treats of the Montreal summer.

As for parties and events, you are more or less a member of the press corps, right? There are a few famed and glamorous parties around the F1 circus so, if I were interested, I would call Paul Wilson here and try some charm. You know the drill.

You can contact me.
posted by bru at 8:57 AM on June 1, 2008

vodkaboots said "
For dinner if you're in the mood for something veggie, Chu Chai is amazing, or you could go to Yuan on the corner of St-Laurent and St-Denis, and be sure to ask for a table in the back!"

Those streets don't intersect.
posted by loiseau at 12:06 PM on June 1, 2008

Arg, I mean Sherbrooke and St-Denis.
posted by vodkaboots at 4:49 PM on June 1, 2008

In old Montreal for breakfast : Olive & Gormando, a nice bakery on the corner of St-Paul and St-Pierre
posted by racingjs at 9:51 AM on June 2, 2008

Lots of good suggestions here... I'd like to second Parysee for a good burger (they also have Bilboquet sorbet, to die for). Chu Chai is something I haven't seen anywhere else besides Montreal, it's amazing.
posted by furtive at 6:55 PM on June 3, 2008

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