Eating like a local in Montreal is nothing short of a culinary circus. Swing from crispy, sweet bagels and pastries, to flavoursome smoked meats, locally-made chocolates and cheese, and traditional French fare loaded with foie gras – all washed down with cocktails, microbrews and superior coffee.
Ranked first in the 2015 and 2016 Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants Guide, Toque! is run by Head Chef Normand Laprise, touted as the godfather of Québec cuisine. Laprise’s distinctive style focuses on market-fresh, local produce and surprising combinations. Think guinea fowl with strawberries and rhubarb gel.
You know you’re in for a memorable meal when it’s prepared by Chef Jérôme Ferrer, a member of the exclusive Grandes Tables du Monde de France. Europea, in downtown Montreal, is a 4-Diamond restaurant serving the very best French gastronomy in an atmosphere of sophistication and romance.
3. Délicieux poutine!
This classic dish of French fries and cheese curd topped with gravy has become a gastronomic religion throughout Canada, and it all started here in Quebec. Head to 24-hour diner La Banquise for 30 ambitious varieties of poutine washed down with local microbrews.
4. Chez l’Épicier
Bring your discerning tastebuds to Chez l’Épicier on Rue Saint-Paul. Chef Laurent Godbout is a global ambassador, representing Canada in Les Bocuse d’Or, the world chef championships. Choose from a tantalising menu that includes ingredients like bee pollen butter, candied Iceland cod and truffle beets.
5. Schwartz’s Deli
Schwartz’s long-time disciples don’t mind waiting for the best smoked meats sandwiches in town. Join the queue to this non-descript deli on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and discover a Montreal institution. Since 1928, Schwartz’s has been serving its flavoursome meats to devoted locals and tourists in the know.
6. Lili Co.
Pull up a stool around the open kitchen at uber-chic Lili Co. and watch Chef David Pellizzari in action. This funky downtown restaurant, with its minimalist black décor and ever-evolving menu of Canadian fare serves impeccable brunch on weekends and dinner Tuesday – Sunday.
7. Eat like a local
Markets are a way of life for Montrealers and it’s easy to gobble your way through the Jean-Talon Market, open 7 days in Little Italy. Feast on local cheeses and fruit, or try something more decadent, such as the maple caramel ice-cream and cream-topped bagels.
8. Joe Beef
Skip a meal or two in preparation for an unforgettable meal of beef and foie gras at the world-famous Joe Beef in Little Bergundy. Named for Charles ‘Joe Beef’ McKeirnan, a 19th century working-class innkeeper, the globally-acclaimed restaurant maintains a down-to-earth attitude and humble décor.
9. Best bagels & patisseries
You haven’t been to Montreal until you’ve feasted on wood-fired bagels. Head to Saint-Viateur Bagel or Fairmount Bagel for warm, crispy, sweet sensations. For the ultimate French pastries, admired pastry chef Patrice Demurs serves classic treats like apple tarts, eclairs, and chocolate gateau at Patrice Pâtissier.
10. Au Pied de Cochon
Au Pied de Cochon is reportedly the biggest buyer of foie gras in the world. What a claim to fame! While foie gras is undoubtedly the star of Chef Martin Picard’s restaurant, the menu also features hearty offerings like pies and seafood, served in a relaxed, upbeat ambiance.