As an antidote to Montreal’s brutal, snowy winters, the city positively springs to life in summer. From June to September (give or take a few weeks), restaurants, bars, and cafés in every borough burst out onto sidewalks, rooftops, and courtyards — or terrasses, as locals say. This year, that enthusiasm is bound to explode as Montrealers venture out after a locked-down year.
Since Montreal is an old and somewhat dense city, some of its terrasses are limited to just a handful of tables, which are in high demand. Make a reservation in advance if you can, and note that due to some permitting rules, many restaurants can only serve you alcohol alongside food alongside it.
Here are some of the best terrasses for enjoying Montreal’s hot, humid summers.
One of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants also has one of its best streetside terrasses, ringed by trees and planters on a leafy street in Outremont. Fine Syrian food is the focus at Damas, with silky smooth dips and tender, juicy charcoal-grilled lamb and chicken. The tasting menu, while pricey, is an excellent choice, allowing you to sample a large part of the impeccable menu here.
Caribou Gourmand (Mile End)
Get a taste of Quebec’s boreal forests and seas at this bistro, which specializes in an array of native-to-Quebec meat, game, and seafood: maple bison ribs, a wapiti (elk) burger, or sustainably harvested seal tataki. The food may be foresty, but the view isn’t: sit on the custom-built wooden terrasse and take in the Mile End neighborhood, a cultural hub.
Le Filet (Plateau/Mile End)
This seafood-centric fine dining haunt from the owners of Montreal’s famed Le Club Chasse et Pêche features a solid terrasse looking out to the beautiful Jeanne-Mance Park. But the main attraction is the excellent menu, laden with carefully sourced seafood and a few nods to Japanese cuisine. A few equally elegant meat dishes round out the menu for those who are feeling less fishy.
Maison Boulud (Downtown)
Daniel Boulud’s Montreal outpost at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a veritable oasis amid the concrete of the city’s downtown. Its veranda, right on the hotel’s landscaped garden, is one of the city’s most beautiful outdoor dining options, and the exquisite food from executive chef Riccardo Bertolino rises to that ambiance. Expect a French-tinged menu with caviar, oysters, foie gras, and fine Quebec lamb and seafood.
Youthful energy and upscale classics abound at this neighborhood bistro in the riverside neighborhood of Verdun. Chef Sidney Gordon has a knack for putting fresh twists on Montreal staples such as beef tartare or summery heirloom tomato salads. Super-friendly service and a crafty cocktail list seal the deal.
Au Coin Berbère (Plateau)
This homey spot at the heart of the Plateau has been dishing up soulful Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian food for more than 20 years. It’s a friendly, no-fuss spot, with couscous as the central menu item, served with lamb, merguez, rabbit, chicken, or veggies on a serene streetside terrasse.
Hoogan & Beaufort (Rosemont)
Chef Marc-André Jetté and sommelier William Saulnier paired up to convert a former industrial building in Rosemont into one of the city’s dining destinations, with a spacious courtyard terrasse. Perfectly crafted fresh pasta dishes and seafood mains that showcase Quebec’s bounty are equal parts stunning to look at and to eat. The restaurant is partly centered around an in-house fire pit, so don’t forget to order the focaccia with whipped butter.
Terrasse William Grey (Old Montreal)
Head up to the eighth floor of the boutique William Grey Hotel to take in a formidable view of Old Montreal, the St. Lawrence River, and beyond. Pair it all with summery sangria or spritzes, plus casual bites from charcuterie and cheese plates to salmon tataki.
Helena (Old Montreal)
Montreal has a robust selection of Portuguese dining options, and leading the pack is chef Helena Loureiro’s self-titled establishment in Old Montreal. Start with classic Portuguese cod fritters or caldo verde (a potato-and-greens soup), but leave room for hearty mains such as braised lamb shanks or a grilled seafood platter.
Restaurant Mélisse (Old Montreal)
Multipurpose Mélisse does comforting-yet-refined brunch by day, before morphing into a trendy spot for Mediterranean-inflected meals come nighttime. Expect summery fare that draws on Italian, Greek, Syrian, and Lebanese cuisines, and a tidy wine list centered around natural options, particularly from France, Italy, and Spain — a perfect fit for Mélisse’s chilled-out, plant-ringed terrasse.
Restaurant Park (Westmount)
Montreal isn’t known as a sushi city, but chef Antonio Park’s eponymous restaurant is a major exception to that rule. Park’s omakase is always a wise choice, offering the chef’s selection of delectable sashimi, nigiri, and more. Alternatively, chef Park is also renowned for his Kobe and Wagyu beef imports. Enjoy it all on a terrasse on a tranquil Westmount side street.
Restaurant Santa Barbara (La Petite-Patrie)
A neighborhood staple for casual brunch and dinners in La Petite-Patrie, Santa Barbara offers an intriguing menu that mixes international influences from California to Eastern Europe or Korea — think kimchi pierogies with cheddar, or an expertly-massaged kale salad laden with avocado and shiitake mushrooms. Pair it all with natural wine, Quebec micro brews, or a funky spicy-but-fruity mezcal or tequila cocktail.
Chez Sophie (Griffintown)
With experience from Michelin-starred Parisian restaurants such as L’Astrance, chef-owner Sophie Tabet has since brought her expertise back home to her Griffintown restaurant. Expect fine French fare with some international twists — steamed sea bass with garlic, nori, and a pea cassoulet, or a sea bream with a native Labrador tea infusion: the bright, summery approach goes down a treat on Chez Sophie’s tranquil backyard terrasse.
Fiorellino (Mile End)
From the owners of the famed-but-shuttered Montreal supper club Buonanotte comes this more casual take on Italian dining. Expect plenty of classics, centered around antipasti, pasta, and a robust selection of red and white pizzas. Take note: there are two other Fiorellino locations — one in Little Burgundy (also with a sizable terrasse), and the original downtown restaurant, with very limited outdoor seating.
Cafeden (Little Italy)
This sleek Vietnamese restaurant with greenery-decorated outdoor seating fuses other influences from east Asia into its small-but-tidy menu. It’s ideal summer food: grilled chicken or shrimp skewers, papaya salad, and Cantonese-Vietnamese banh bao (steamed buns), complete with a light-and-bright wine selection. Walk-ins only.
Tim Forster is the former editor of restaurant news site Eater Montreal, and is now a freelance journalist and editor covering food, tech, culture and more.