As a Montrealer, one of the things that rubs me the wrong way are the posts on Montreal food from other bloggers. Maybe they all go on the same food tours – but I’m tired of hearing that you HAVE to eat poutine (I personally think poutine is gross), that you HAVE to eat bagels at St. Viateur (they’re ok, but a must?), or that you HAVE to go eat smoked meat at Schwartz’s (I’ve been once in 30 years in Montreal – yes it was good, but was it worth lining up for half an hour? No.). It’s not that any of the suggestions are horrible, it’s just that they’re all the same – which is why you see all these tourists lined up outside of St. Viateur, Schwartz’s, or Montreal Pool Room. If Montrealers spent all their time eating poutine, bagels, hot dogs and smoked meat we’d all be fat. Have a look at Montrealers. Most of them are good looking people. They’re not fat.
So I’m going to give you a few of my recommendations as to where to eat in Montreal, places where real Montrealers go.
I’m not a food blogger and I don’t go to a whole bunch of restaurants looking for an experience. We consider ourselves ordinary restaurant goers who enjoy going out and having a comfortable, consistent experience. Like most people, we have a rotation of regulars. Sometimes one falls off the list (like this one did about a month ago) and we’ll be adventurous and look for something to replace it.
So here are a few places we enjoy and regularly come back to, all for different reasons. They’re all located on the Plateau Mont-Royal.
This place is an institution and is the best Greek food BYOB (bring your own booze) in Montreal. The restaurant is especially busy in the summer when couples and families come to sit in the large terrasse in the back. Lots of atmosphere. The plates are big and filling, you won’t leave hungry. It’s not fine dining but it’s hearty food and very good value. A good place to come with family and kids. They don’t take reservations, just get in line. Recommendation: have the pikilia as an entrée, can be shared among 2 or 3 people.
The Quartier is our regular “date night” restaurant. French Bistro, great food, great service, BYOB (you save a lot of money when you can bring your own wine). You get great value for money for what you get and we always come back because they welcome us like returning royalty (one of the perks of being a regular). Love this place. Reservations a must, try to book a couple of weeks ahead.
Café Cherrier is another Montreal institution. Classic French bistro, it’s been here since 1931 and there are lots of photos of Montreal personalities on its walls. Very popular for breakfast, brunch, for drinks on the terrasse, or for diner. Nice place to be seen and good place to meet business associates. It is not as cheap as my 2 prior recommendations but it has a reasonably priced menu and wine list. I especially recommend coming here for brunch. Service can be haughty (French, right ?) and the bathroom situation a bit weird. A very nice place that will be remembered.
A great spot for cheap food as well as something unique and exotic. This is a Venezuelan restaurant (owned and run by Latinos) where you can get arepas filled with beans, chicken, feta cheese, shredded beef, avocado…almost anything to satisfy all tastes. Friendly service, you’ll feel like you just stepped into Venezuela. One of the best deals anywhere.
Another great spot for cheap eats, this is a popular spot for Vegans. I’m a meat-eater and I’ll eat anything as longs as it’s good; the great thing about the vegan food here is that you would never know that it’s vegan. It’s that good. The sandwiches are HUGE, delicious and of great value. Fantastic juices and smoothies as well. Popular with the yoga crowd.
Everyone loves Première Moisson. It is a bakery that makes bread, desserts, sandwiches. It is not a “restaurant” but if you want to stop somewhere for a sandwich, dessert, and coffee there is no better place. A very “French” experience. There are quite a lot scattered through the city, one of the most popular is at the Jean-Talon market, another is on Avenue Mont-Royal close to the Mont-Royal metro. If you want a quick lunch or breakfast this is the place.
Below: other activities that might interest you in Montreal
Note: the place in Quebec to pick up wine is the SAQ. Don’t pick it up at corner or grocery stores, that’s the cheap (ie. crappy) stuff. Go to the SAQ for a good bottle of wine.
You won’t go wrong with any of these recommendations and you’ll have a different, and very Montreal, experience at each. And you won’t get fat or sick.
Related: Our detailed Montreal Guide
Ps. If you find our blog helpful, please consider using our links to book your flights, hotels, tours, and car rentals. Have a look at our Travel Resources page.