You Travel, You Eat: Where To Find The Best Food & Drink In Montreal

Montreal, Quebec — the great French-Canadian city located 330 miles north of New York City — is basically two cities. There is the one you find during the too-short summers, filled with outdoor festivals, sidewalk dining and effortlessly chic locals out strutting their stuff. And then there is the one that exists during cold, snowy winters, when temperatures dip to face-cracking lows and the natives make use of the connecting metro stations ominously referred to as the "underground city." Regardless of the weather, a trip to Montreal is sure to involve a lot of good, if not spectacular, eating and drinking. Here's where to go.


Au Pied de Cochon

Martin Picard's pork-and-foie gras temple has become a requisite stop for epicures visiting the city. Often overlooked in the face of the namesake pig foot, gutbusting foie gras-topped poutine, and succulent blood sausage is the fantastic wine list. 536 Duluth Ave. East, Plateau, 514-281-1114,

Joe Beef

This cozy, rustic restaurant serves up fare that you might describe as Montreal-soul. Expect whimsical dishes like cornflake-encrusted eel nuggets and a take on the KFC Double Down that uses foie gras instead of chicken. Plus, fresh greens from the backyard (summer only), house-smoked meats/fish, and kooky riffs on classic cocktails. (For more, check out our story Eating Well, Living Better With Joe Beef.2491 Notre-Dame St. West, Little Burgundy, 514-935-6504,


There are folks who go to Montreal as a cheaper alternative to Paris. Such misguided souls are validated at this moderately priced mainstay Parisian-style bistro. It's one of the few places – in the world, one would suspect – that you can get a hearty pot-au-feu or classic steak tartare at 1 a.m. 3927 Saint-Denis St., Plateau, 514-845-5333,

Brasserie T!

Chef Normand Laprise presides over what is often said to be the city's best restaurant, Toqué! Its casual sister establishment is a modern, glass-walled canteen at the heart of the theater district. Expect brasserie standards like garlicky escargots, duck rillettes and superlative housemade sausages. 1425 Jeanne-Mance St., Place-des-Arts, 514 282-0808,

Le Club Chasse et Pêche

It translates as "the hunting and fishing club," so you can probably guess that meat and fish abound. But this is no rustic log cabin-style dining room. You might say it looks deco-lodge, with exposed brick, leather club chairs and white ceramic animals adorning the light fixtures. The food has an artsy flair, too. 423 Saint-Claude St., Old Montreal, 514-861-1112,


Save at least one meal during your trip for this storied Jewish luncheonette. The same simple smoked-meat sandwich has been made here since 1928: slabs of peppery smoked brisket on white rye, smeared with yellow mustard. Novices should order it "medium"; "lean" is for lightweights and "fat" may be more than you can handle. 3895 Saint-Laurent Blvd., Plateau, 514-842-4813,

La Banquise

You're going to want to have poutine while in Montreal, either to say you tried it or because you already have and are now addicted to piles of French fries, brown gravy and cheese curds. (Sound good? Here's a recipe.) This decidedly unfancy diner has about 28 incarnations of the drunk-food staple. Oh, and it's open 24 hours. (Yeah, they know what they're doing.) 994 Rachel St. East, Plateau, 514.525.2415,


POP! Bar Laloux

The décor at this wine bar is '50s Scandinavian, all teak furniture and clean lines. The bottle list is largely made up of natural wines, from elegant and Old World to more rustic and terroir-driven styles. If you come hungry, a dainty $32 (Canadian) prix-fixe featuring housemade charcuterie and Frenchified pizza will fuel your imbibing. 250 Pine Ave. East, Plateau, 514-287-1648,


Taking its inspiration from the luxury train cars of yore, this wine bar is hyper-stylized. Retro tray tables, wine glass chandelier, chairs on the ceiling, plus scrumptious small bites. But it's the 300-strong wine list, including 50 by-the-glass options, that's the real draw. 3424 Parc Ave., Place-des-Arts, 514-288-7779,

Baldwin Barmacie

You might expect the whitewashed room to feel antiseptic, what with the whole pharmacy theme. But nothing could be further from the truth, especially when it's packed full of warm, writhing bodies. Take your medicine in the form of a craft cocktail or two. 115 Laurier Ave. West, Mile End,

Whisky Café

From the team behind popular Barmacie, this dim-lit whisky bar (note: sans "e") specializes in Scotch, with some 150 different bottlings in stock. It also boasts an impressive selection of port, grappa, wine and beer. 5800 Saint-Laurent Blvd., Mile End, 514-278-2646,

Bily Kun

One of the most consistently packed boîtes in Montreal is this Czech-themed bar, known for its walls lined with mounted ostrich heads, legendary happy hour – referred to locally as a 5-à-7, as in 5 to 7 p.m. – and hot DJ lineup. 354 Mont-Royal Ave. East, Plateau, 514-845-5392,

Dieu du Ciel!

Beer lovers should not miss out on the city's brewpubs. The rustic interior here is crammed with small, round tables occupied by beer-happy folk drinking ale brewed in-house. In the summer, there's a terrace: one of the ubiquitous floating islands you see set up outside bars and restaurants during the warmer months. 29 Laurier Ave. West, Mile End, 514-490-9555,


Café Olimpico

Those seeking out the Euro-accented ambiance they heard was so prevalent in Montreal will find it at this 40-plus-year-old café. Not French but Italian soccer paraphernalia adorns the walls. They make a mean espresso, but Montrealers tend to prefer a café allongé or long coffee. 124 St-Viateur St. West, Mile End, 514-495-0746,

Club Social

It's a similar setup to Olimpico, but with paninis, a full liquor license and a shady outdoor terrace in the summertime. Set in a former private Italian social club, it's home to poets, paupers, boho-chic artsy types, freelancers and old men. 180 Saint-Viateur St., Mile End, 514 495-0114

Pikolo Espresso Bar

This new addition is cute and cozy, just as you might have deduced from the name. It sells direct-trade beans by Calgary-based Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters and Heart Coffee Roasters in Poland and specializes in coffee art-capped drinks – and prides itself on a latte cheaper than Starbucks'. 3418 Parc Ave., Place des Arts, 514-508-6800

Pourquoi Pas Espresso Bar

Another new addition, run by a pair of coffee obsessives, also takes an artisanal approach to coffee. Its beans hail from Toronto roaster Te Aro and its preferred brewing method is the AeroPress, which makes for a rich, yet clean, cup of joe. 1447 rue Amherst, Plateau, 514-419-9400


Atwater Market

Opened in 1933, this Art Deco building houses two floors of food vendors and, in the warmer months, about a dozen kiosks outdoors. Highlights include Fromagerie Atwater, where you can find local (including raw) cheeses; and Charcuterie de Tours, for pork and game sausages. 138 Atwater Ave., Saint-Henri,

Jean-Talon Market

A few dozen vendors in wintertime swell to nearly 300 in the summer months, when the ground thaws long enough for stuff to grow. Produce that looks like it was carved from marzipan, local cheese, charcuterie, and more abound. 7070 Henri-Julien Ave., Little Italy,

Olive & Gourmando

In addition to breakfast pastries and wholesome salads and sandwiches for lunch, this café-slash-gourmet shop peddles jams, homemade granola, spicy nuts and baked goods. Grab one of the few seats or order to go. 351 Saint-Paul St. West, Old Montreal, 514-350-1083,

Bagel St. Viateur

The old Montreal-vs.-New York bagel debate is something of a nonstarter – not because one is definitely better than the other, but because they're such different animals. One of the best examples of the crusty, chewy, slightly sweet Montreal kind is here. 263 Saint-Viateur St. West, Mile End, 514-276-8044,

Boulangerie Mr. Pinchot

This neighborhood bakery isn't exactly on the tourist map. Located a block from Parc Lafontaine, with its hordes of Bixi (bike-share) bikes in the summer and half-kilometer-long frozen pond scattered with ice skaters in the winter, it sells excellent breads, pastries and homemade ice cream. 4354 Brebeuf St. Plateau, 514-522-7192

Suite88 Chocolatier

Shop for chocolates as though they were precious jewels at this cocoa-filled boutique. There are "diamonds" and "pearls" and other intoxicating treats. When it's cold out, the hot chocolate – classic, "intense" or Cayenne pepper-infused – is a godsend. 1225 Boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest, 514-284-3488,


The wine red-accented shops of La Société des alcools du Québec, the provincial liquor board, are everywhere. You can buy booze in corner stores, but the SAQ has a much better variety. With so many BYOB restos in the city, you may find yourself looking for an SAQ. They're also great for picking up such fine local products as strong craft beer and ice cider. Various locations,


Ateliers & Saveurs

What better way to immerse yourself in a culture than to cook there? This epicurean education center offers classes on everything from 30-minute meals to mixology to wine tasting, all featuring local ingredients when possible. The best part? They start at $22 a pop. 444 Saint Francois-Xavier St., Old Montreal, 514-849-2866,

La Guilde Culinaire

Practice some French and culinary skills at the same time at this cooking school for more advanced amateurs. Learn how to debone a bird, fun tricks with oysters or sultry uses for chocolate. Classes (some in French) start at $120, last 3.5 hours and include a glass of wine. 6381 Saint-Laurent Blvd., Rosemont, 514-750-6050,

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