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.
The team behind Le Club Chasse et Peche opened Le Serpent restaurant at the end of 2013. A contemporary bistro with Italian accents and stylish decor, it is located in the Darling Foundry, a visual-art venue. The dining room features local contemporary artwork, such as a sculpture from Patrick Coutu, a photograph from Geneviève Cadieux, and a painting from Pierre Dorion. Sommelier Philippe Boisvert has curated a wine list for a variety of palates and wallets with both familiar and uncommon choices. With relaxed but professional service, it’s a popular choice in the Old Port. Make a reservation at Le Serpent.
LOV stands for “local, organic and vegetarian/vegan” and the restaurant describes their cuisine as “botanical,” meaning plant-based fare with a conscience. Much of the menu is made up of all vegetarian or vegan versions of comfort classics like French onion soup, burgers, fries, and mac and cheese. However, new classics like their avocado toast with cucumber and Aleppo pepper, and beautiful and vibrant salads are equally as appealing The interior is an updated and chic version of the 1960’s with hanging basket chairs, leafy wallpaper, terrariums, and clean white surfaces. Make a reservation at LOV.
Le Club Chasse et Peche
Le Club Chasse et Peche is a Montreal institution. Executive chef Claude Pelletier and maitre d’ Hubert Marsolais opened it 13 years ago, but it’s just as clubby and cool now as it was then. Most of the staff have been there for more than a decade and contribute to the continued popularity of the restaurant with their professionalism and their general knowledge. Modish, dark, and with retro touches, the restaurant features innovative cuisine and creative combinations in dishes that beg to be shared. The restaurant’s famous braised piglet risotto with frozen foie gras shavings is a must. Make a reservation at Le Club Chasse et Peche.
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Amy Sherman is a San Francisco-based writer, editor, blogger, and cookbook author. She is the publisher of the food blog Cooking with Amy. She currently contributes to numerous online publications including Food Network, Fodor’s and Refinery 29 and never says no to a warm donut. Follow her @cookingwithamy.
Photo credits: Sylvie Li (Salmagondis); Michael Bandassak (Hoogan & Beaufort).