Montreal is a world-class dining city. Despite being a French-speaking city, it’s a world apart from Paris — although you can still find some excellent bistros — and despite its geographic location, it’s not quite like the rest of North America, either. Instead, a mix of influences from its French colonial past, the vast Canadian wilderness, Indigenous produce, and various immigrant communities from the Caribbean to the Middle East and beyond merge together to create one of the most unique food scenes around.
Among the greats of Montreal are multiple generations of famed restaurants: There’s the renowned fine dining of Toqué, considered to have put Québécois fine dining on the map in the ’90s, and internationally renowned Joe Beef with its meaty menu and relaxed cheer that’s still going strong after more than a decade. Then there’s a new guard that’s emerging in destinations like Île Flottante, which are moving away from Quebec’s meat-focused traditions to create stellar new gastronomic options. And while they’re definitely not fancy spots for a multi-course meal, it would be remiss to skip local specialties like a poutine from La Banquise or Montreal-style bagels at Bagel St-Viateur.
The following 19 Montreal favorites are a key part of the city’s dining tapestry, including fine French dining, Québécois food both fancy and affordable, steakhouses, a Syrian destination, and more.
After a fire forced Syrian fine dining destination Damas out of its old premises several years ago, it bounced back better than ever just a few blocks away. With new digs and a sprawling terrasse (patio) in leafy Outremont, it catapulted back to the top of the city’s food scene. With mezzes from fattoush salad to creamy hummus, and mains centered around melt-in-your-mouth lamb with perfectly-spiced sauces, chef-owner Fuad Alnirabie and his team bring Levantine cuisine to stunning new heights.
At the heart of Montreal’s new and luxuriant Four Seasons hotel is celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s eponymous restaurant. Headed by Montreal chef Jason Morris (known for exceptionally creative work at Pastel and Le Fantôme), Marcus focuses squarely on a combination of seafood and vegetables, boosted by the presence of a Japanese-style robata grill in the kitchen among other nods to Japanese cuisine. With a gleaming Art Deco space and a plant-lined terrasse, it’s also a good spot for a casual drink, with a crafty cocktail menu that’s at turns fruity and spicy.
Jérôme Ferrer Europea (Downtown)
Prominent local chef Jérôme Ferrer made his name with classically French cuisine, but in the latest incarnation of his long-running restaurant Europea, he’s turning his attention back toward Quebec and Canada. That means dishes with wild mushrooms, snow crab, or foie gras with Quebec apple butter across an eight- or ten-course seasonal tasting menu. Alternatively, Europea also has a brasserie section with casual, yet refined options such as a fanciful guédille (lobster roll) or beef tartare with cream of mushroom poutine, as well as comforting, bistro-style mains like a filet mignon surf and turf.
Maison Boulud (Downtown)
One of several outposts in renowned chef Daniel Boulud’s empire, Maison Boulud occupies an exquisite space in Montreal’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel, accompanied by a gorgeous garden-side patio. Chef Romain Cagnat delivers a refined, mostly-French menu with staples from Niçoise salad and foie gras through to prime rib with béarnaise sauce, as well as a divine weekend brunch.
Chez Sophie (Griffintown)
This restaurant’s namesake chef, Sophie Tabet, cut her teeth in Michelin-starred restaurants such as L’Astrance in Paris and Dal Pascatore in Lombardy, Italy. Almost a decade ago, she brought those skills back to her hometown, and this upscale neighborhood spot is the result of that. Expect French-leaning dishes that draw on Tabet’s pedigree, but with plenty of nods to native Canadian products from sorrel to seafood, plus some international twists.
Le Club Chasse et Pêche (Old Montreal)
Le Club Chasse et Pêche’s owners, Hubert Marsolais and Claude Pelletier, have crafted a small empire consisting of several top Montreal restaurants, but this Old Montreal fine-dining spot is where it all began. The name translates to “The Hunting and Fishing Club” and gives a fairly clear idea of what to expect: The restaurant’s simple yet elegant dishes showcase main ingredients such as Arctic char, halibut, and rabbit, all served in a refined space with just the right amount of log cabin-inspired decor.
Toqué! (Quartier International)
While he’s not as well-known outside Quebec, Normand Laprise is one of the province’s most famed chefs, credited as an innovator who raised historically maligned Québécois cuisine up to new heights. His restaurant Toqué! is where much of this happened — now approaching 30 years old, it’s still a seminal institution on the French-Canadian dining trail. Expect a tasting menu that spotlights fine meats, mushrooms, cheeses, and seasonal produce; it’s quite a special occasion restaurant, so it would be wise to splash on the wine pairing option, too.
H4C par Dany Bolduc (St-Henri)
Acclaimed chef Dany Bolduc converted a century-old former post office in the city’s southwestern neighborhood of St-Henri, turning it into a hotspot for inspired new Canadian dishes. With the exception of Sunday brunch, H4C typically offers a choice between a five- and ten-course tasting menu, and wine pairings are available for an extra cost. Expect precise dishes that merge French techniques with predominantly local ingredients, with a few international twists sprinkled in — most dishes feature just three or four elements, spotlighting the primo produce that Bolduc’s team sources.
Joe Beef (Little Burgundy)
With multiple stamps of approval from the late, great Anthony Bourdain, Joe Beef is Montreal’s most internationally famous restaurant — and it backs up that fame with serious gastronomic chops. Owners Dave McMillan and Fred Morin deliver an ever-changing menu laden with dishes that center top-notch Quebec and Canadian produce, from horse meat to radishes. Don’t skip the iconic lobster spaghetti, and take advantage of the exceptionally well-crafted, natural-leaning wine list.
Terrasse William Gray (Old Montreal)
Come to this rooftop venue for the splendid view over Old Montreal and the St-Lawrence River, but stay for the upscale takes on classic bar and brasserie food. Located on the eighth floor of the William Gray Hotel, the Terrasse dishes up burgers, beef tartare, grilled octopus, and steak frites, while also offering an extensive bar menu of spritzes, sangrias, and Montreal-brewed beer from St-Ambroise. If there’s no space on the terrasse, you can also head to Perché on the hotel’s fourth floor, which offers a full bar and beachy food from tacos to poke.
Bar George (Downtown)
Formerly the exclusive Mount Stephen Club, this historic building at the heart of downtown Montreal is now boutique hotel Le Mount Stephen — and the crowning jewel might just be its British restaurant Bar George. Grab a classic cocktail (perhaps a pimm’s cup or sidecar) and snacks such as chicken liver toast or a Ploughman’s plate, or just dive into the hearty main menu with beef Wellington, stuffed quail, or a summery salmon cassoulet.
Le Filet (Plateau/Mile End)
Although this chic spot facing Jeanne-Mance Park hails from the owners of Old Montreal’s Le Club Chasse et Pêche, it takes quite a different path. Regularly featured on lists of the best meals in the city, yet somehow managing to remain low-key, Le Filet delivers a lighter, seafood-oriented menu. Chef and co-owner Yasu Okazaki draws thoughtfully on his Japanese heritage to craft unique dishes in perfect equilibrium — and they’re usually quite photogenic, to boot.
Île Flottante (Mile End)
After owners Nada Abou Younes and Sean Murray Smith overhauled former restaurant Les Deux Singes de Montarvie and gave Montreal Île Flottante in its place, a new dining darling was born. This tasting menu-only establishment in the center of the ever-cool Mile End focuses its attention on Quebec’s harvests, stepping away from the meaty focus of many other local icons. The menu changes rapidly but typically features thoughtful and complex concoctions; past dishes such as a savory carrot cake or trou normand with cucumber sorbet convey the vibe you should expect. Take note: Île Flottante is exceedingly vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, but it’s not strictly vegetarian.
The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth’s in-house restaurant is a downtown go-to for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Take a seat in the stylish dining room for comforting yet sophisticated options such as seared albacore tuna, a guinea fowl supreme, or a tidy pizza menu, including an intriguing raclette pizza with wild mushroom and confit garlic. Rosélys’s affordable weekend brunch also holds down the fort with an international menu spanning from Korean pancakes to shakshuka. If you have a moment before or after your meal, consider checking out the hotel’s in-house bar, Nacarat — it’s one of the city’s finest spots for cocktails.
40 Westt (Pointe-Claire)
Those looking to surf and/or turf will be exceedingly well served by West Island fixture 40 Westt. With both a raw bar and steakhouse, expect all manner of tartare, ceviche, and carpaccio to start, before moving up to the hot end of the menu, with grilled seafood platters, a robust selection of steak cuts, and a vast selection of classic steakhouse sides. The beef is all raised in Ontario and dry-aged on site. An excellent venue for larger groups, 40 Westt also has a well-equipped wine cellar — but makes a mean martini, too.
Hoogan et Beaufort (Rosemont)
Chef Marc-André Jetté and top sommelier William Saulnier make a deft pairing at this stunning venue tucked in a quiet corner on the east side of Rosemont. Jetté uses the restaurant’s in-house fire pit with care to compose careful, refined dishes that go well beyond the rustic norm of fire pit cooking, such as local guinea fowl with morel mushrooms, sumac, and asparagus. Jetté’s crew also know when to put the flames aside, like in the restaurant’s restrained pasta dishes that are bursting with flavor. It all goes down in a trendy converted warehouse with a sprawling off-street terrasse in the warmer months.
Bonaparte (Old Montreal)
It’s a très French affair at the Bonaparte Hotel’s in-house restaurant: The robust menu skews classic with dishes such as lobster bisque and filet mignon with five pepper-cognac sauce on a six-course degustation menu. If you’re looking for fewer courses, the classicism continues on the a la carte menu with tartares (both beef and salmon), soupe à l’oignon, or roasted duck breast.
Bagel St-Viateur (Mile End, various)
Montreal-style bagels are a breed of their own; thinner and denser than their New York counterparts, they’re a fraction sweeter by virtue of being boiled in honey water. Arguably the best place to get them is at this famed Mile End bakery, a historic hub of Jewish Montreal. Montreal bagel bakeries are a no-frills affair, so if you want anything on your bagel (lox, cream cheese), you’ll need to do it yourself, although St-Viateur helpfully has a fridge loaded with the standard toppings. St-Viateur has a small empire with another bakery down the street, a café-bakery down about a mile away in the Plateau, and a couple of suburban locations in Laval and the West Island. Take note: some Montrealers will vehemently disagree with this recommendation as one of the city’s signature debates is whether St-Viateur or Fairmount Bagel reign supreme. Luckily, Fairmount is only a couple of blocks away, so you can try both.
La Banquise (Plateau)
This 24/7 diner is a round-the-clock hotspot for a classic Québécois poutine (seriously, check out the line out front at 3 a.m. on a weekend). La Banquise does the famed French-Canadian comfort food exactly as any good casse-croûte (diner) should, with skin-on fries, squeaky cheese curds, and a meat-based gravy made in-house — never from a can or a powder. Those looking to make their poutine even heavier can choose from various toppings ranging from fried onions and peppers to bacon or sausage. A vegetarian gravy is also available, as well as other diner staples like burgers.
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