When I was planning my first visit to Montréal, I had no idea where to begin when it came to the food scene. In New York, I'm so acclimated to knowing what new places are opening, what are the classic institutions, and I am essentially a human GPS for good coffee in downtown Manhattan.
I started to follow some popular local Instagrammers (aka unabashedly stalked their pages) to see where the locals flocked to, since I'm much more interested in that scene rather than the 5-star Zagat rated restaurant that will raid my wallet. Since my first visit to Montréal, I've learned of even more places thanks to natives and friends experiences.
This list below is comprised of all the places I've gone to and recommend, and I've also listed places still left on my Montréal bucket list at the bottom. Happy eating!
I am always on the hunt for delicious, quality coffee, as evidenced by my roundup of my 13 Favorite Downtown NYC Coffeeshops. So naturally, I figured I would start my list here! Coffeeshops are often havens for free WiFi and a little refreshment from exploring a city, and they are particularly helpful for the cold Montréal winters!
1. Cafe Myriade
I have been to the Cafe Myriade II location on St Viateur in Mile-End as well as the Myriade Cafe in Club Monaco near McGill University, and they are both fantastic. They have Transcend, Anchored, and Parallel coffee and take their coffee brewing seriously, as you can see. Perfect place to stop in to warm up/cool down, and grab a little snack. The St Viateur location also has a little men's shop with clothes, accessories, and outdoorsy gear as well.
I stumbled upon this place as I was wandering around during the wintertime, preparing myself for the cold hike up Mont Royal. I'm so glad I did, because not only are the baristas so nice, but the lighting in here was every Instagrammer's dream. Just north of Mont Royal, it's the perfect pre or post-hike pit stop.
3. Pikolo Cafe
This cute little spot serves up Phil and Sebastian coffee (my favorite I've had in Canada!), and has a variety of local and/or housemade goodies like jalapeño and feta scones, classic croissants, and yogurt with granola. Also, next door is a paperie that is a stationary nerd's dream filled with amazing notebooks and paper. Get a notebook, bring it to Pikolo, sit and journal. That was one of my favorite memories back in the wintertime. Bonus: they accept American dollars if you are stuck without Canadian cash like we did!
Right by McGill University is this little coffeeshop that I would have dreamed to have had right next door to my school. Friendly baristas, Mast Brothers Chocolate, and free WiFi = check in my book!
Northeast of Mont Royal, I stopped in because I saw the Marquee lights and vintage decor. I got some delicious tea with a generous stone teapot and people-watched by the window seat. A popular spot for those to camp out with the available WiFi and their laptops to get some work done in a chill environment.
Now onto the food! Inevitably starting with... Montréal staples of bagels and poutine!
6 & 7. The Bagel Battle: Fairmount vs. St Viateur
You're either on either Team Fairmont or St Viateur. During the wintertime, I only got to try St Viateur and their Rosemary and Sea Salt bagel was absolutely delicious. Then this time, we got to go to Fairmount bagel, and I think I may be a Fairmount girl. I will gladly cheat on my oversize NYC bagels for one of these perfectly hand-rolled Fairmount everything bagels with Liberté cream cheese. The best texture of any bagel I've ever had, I'm just mad I didn't bring a dozen home with me. Or maybe, that's better... Things to know: Both places sell cream cheese by the container separately, and don't you dare ask for it toasted- it won't happen. Also, Fairmount is cash only- bring all your Canadian dollars.
8. La Banquise
As one of my clients who was born and raised in Montréal says, La Banquise is an institution.
This 24-hour joint solely specializes in poutine and has over 30 varieties of it, alongside a concise but solid beer menu.
We purposely planned to stop in here after we completed our hike up and down Mont Royal, so we wouldn't pass out from a food coma, and I advise you do the same. Amazing, yes, Thanksgiving-worthy, also yes. If you're going to poutine once in your life, do it here!
9. Comptoir 21
This place was actually my first poutine back in the wintertime. Comptoir 21 has a charming diner-like feel, serving up simple fish & chips, burgers, poutine, and beer & wine. It's a great place for a quick meal with efficiently friendly service. Their poutine is also offered with a vegetarian gravy, for those who don't eat meat. They also offer free WiFi for their customers.
10. L'Gros Luxe
L'Gros Luxe is like the trendy Williamsburg brunch spot of NYC. Delicious spins on classic brunch food, like miso eggs benedict, are on the menu but for extremely affordable prices. Also, their bathroom signs win for humor. Stop in here for brunch with friends, then wander over to the nearby spice shop, flower shop, and bookstore for a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon.
Want great food, great cocktails, and love a good moose-themed restaurant bar? Enter L'Original. This trendy space is decorated with a camping theme, with a canoe hanging behind the bar as a shelf for liquor and vintage photos and outdoorsy-themed artwork. Awesome service, great mixed drinks, oysters, and some of the best french fries with garlic-chive aioli I've ever had. Unfortunately I don't have any photos, but check out their website for their menu. You won't be sorry.
12. Toro Toro
I'm a bit biased to love this restaurant because of sentimental meaning, but they have truly fantastic food. A Spanish tapas-style restaurant, the service is outstanding and it is the perfect date spot. They offer a solid wine list, and I loved that they make their sangria to order, as I usually can't have it due to my apple and pear allergies! They made me a strawberry-lime tinto that was superb. Quite generous with the portions on their cheese plate, it was the ideal match for the charcuterie platter. Who knew that Spanish food in a French city would be done so well?
13. Les 3 Brasseurs
On the charming little streets of Old Montréal by Old Port on St-Paul Est is this brewery that is perfect to finish the night at on vacation. Great place for a beer-lover, they have in house blonde, amber, white, brown, and IPA brews, along with beer cocktails.
The food menu is comprised of typical bar food such as wings and quesadillas, so this place isn't exactly health-oriented, but it is a solid place for an affordable date-night after walking around the festivities in Old Port.
That's my top 13 so far! There are still quite a few places I've had recommended to me that I did not make it to, but here is what is next on my list:
2. Schwartz's Deli- Montréal's version of NYC's Katz's Delicatessen, I'm sad I didn't get to try this here. I'm not even a smoked meat type of person, but I hear rave reviews for this place, even from picky New Yorkers.
3. Manitoba- Definitely for a nice lunch or dinner, this menu looks like every foodie's dream.
4. Lawrence- Also recommended to me by many, this place has a solid brunch and dinner menu.
5. Cafe Titanic- An eclectic sandwich cafe in Old Montréal, I hear it's a great place to grab a bite while exploring the neighborhood
6. Rustique- Another recommendation from Kevin, this pie place is possibly the one I was saddest to miss. This bakery cranks out a variety of mini-pies and apparently it's very difficult to stop at just one.