Known for its signature bagels and smoked meat and a passion for foie gras and poutine, Montreal is a city whose denizens love to eat. While some of the must-visit restaurants for visitors overlap with local picks, there are also some neighborhood gems that fly under the radar. We went straight to the source to find the Montreal restaurants loved by locals.
Toque! is an institution and makes it to the top of every list of the best restaurants in Canada. Normand Laprise is arguably the most respected chef in town and the Montreal cuisine guru. He is credited with having pioneered the local farm-to-table movement using top quality products from around the country, and he has trained many of the city’s hottest young chefs. One of his emblematic dishes is the duck breast, currently served with Jerusalem artichoke purée, rutabaga, funnel chanterelle mushrooms, black garlic purée, and vermouth sauce. Make a reservation at Restaurant Toque!.
La Chronique is a top French restaurant, still getting amazing reviews after more than 20 years in business. Located on Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, the chef-owners are Marc De Canck and Olivier de Montigny. Cozy, classy, and sleek, it offers a fresh approach to French market cuisine with luxurious and pure Canadian touches. A signature dish is the tuna tartar with cucumbers, shimeji mushrooms, and a soy maple glaze. Service is impeccable and dishes are presented elegantly, making it a perfect place for special occasions or a romantic evening. Make a reservation at La Chronique.
A favorite in Little Italy and close to the market, Salmigondis has a white interior with dark wood and a lovely terrace with a vibe that’s been described by some as haute hipster. Locals choose it for brunch, lunch, and dinner, thanks to the friendly and professional service and impressive food that ranges from comforting borscht and French onion soup to modern dishes like duck tartar with pear, pearl onion, cloudberries, and a sous vide egg yolk. There are attractive prix–fixe deals for lunch and dinner, and the restaurant boasts an excellent cocktail program. Make a reservation at Salmigondis.
Hoogan & Beaufort
Hoogan & Beaufort is the dream of and collaboration between the owners, chef Marc-André Jetté and sommelier William Saulnier. It is located in Rosemont Petite Patrie on the EST part of town in a rustic building that dates back to the early 1800’s and features a big fire pit as the main attraction in an open kitchen. The cuisine is modern and creative, and, in addition to grilling, they make their own bread, pastas, and charcuterie, and work with whole animals from head to tail. Also on trend, they offer organic and natural wines from small unique producers. Make a reservation at Hoogan & Beaufort.
Mesón Restaurant Général Espagnol
Mesón Restaurant General Espagnol is a neighborhood favorite in trendy Villeray. Hip and with a terrific bar, this beautiful and casual spot is the sister restaurant of Tapeo, another local favorite. Guests rave about their octopus with potatoes and smoked paprika as well as their seafood zarzuela stew, coca chickpea flatbreads, and their much- loved Paella a la Mesón with bomba rice, chicken, shrimp, clams, mussels, chorizo, tomatoes, and green peas. Brunch offers something out of the ordinary in the way of pancakes served with dulce de leche and fruit, churros and a Spanish-style tortilla with potatoes. Make a reservation at Mesón Restaurant Général Espagnol.
Lawrence is always hopping, thanks to a creative and unique menu. Opened in 2011 by Sefi Amir, Marc Cohen, Annika Krausz, and Ethan Wills, the offerings change regularly, but there’s always an emphasis on local and respectfully raised meat, seasonal vegetables, fresh fish and seafood, homemade charcuterie, and a strong bread and pastry program. The food is simple yet refined and elegant, and the vibe at night is lively. Brunch is particularly popular, with a decidedly British slant—with dishes such as the classic British breakfast, deviled kidneys on toast, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, and scones with jam and clotted cream. Make a reservation at Lawrence.