Dining in Montreal

• A WorldWeb.com Travel Guide for Montreal, Quebec.
Known as Canada's cultural capital, Montreal offers visitors beautiful architecture, art, music, film and a noticeable European vibe. Canada's second largest city also boasts an ethnically diverse and creative culinary scene with a selection of restaurants that are sure to appease every palate.

Travellers might be overwhelmed by Montreal's extensive dining scene. One can grab a quick bite at an inviting street-side cafe, enjoy an evening on the town at a live music club or choose from the many different regionally and internationally inspired restaurants. Montreal certainly has it all when it comes to eating out.

ETIQUETTE

Dining in Montreal is, for the most part, very similar to other parts of Canada and the USA. However, visitors to the city might want to keep a few things in mind when heading out for a meal. Locals don't overdress when they go out and a nice pair of jeans and dressy top should be appropriate for any restaurant, except the most upscale. Though a predominately French-speaking province, most restaurants also offer English menus. Montrealers do tend to eat later than other North Americans and visitors can expect restaurants to fill up around 10pm rather than the typical 7:30pm. Reservations are recommended Thursday through Saturday, especially for larger groups. Lastly, as in most Canadian cities, tipping is customary at approximately 15 per cent of the bill and can be adjusted depending on one's appreciation of the food and service.

DINING AREAS

Deep in the heart of Montreal's bustling downtown lies an odd assortment of upscale restaurants and fast-food joints, giving one the choice of the very best or the very fast.

In Old Montreal, one can wander the streets and admire the incredible architecture, sample everything from fresh baguettes and cheese to champagne and oysters, or kick back and enjoy a meal at a friendly, low-key bistro.


Plateau Mont-Royal is home to one of Montreal's largest green spaces, making it a popular destination for visitors and a much sought-after neighbourhood to live in. Drop in to one of the numerous restaurants located here, order a meal to go and enjoy a picnic in the park.

DELICATESSENS, CAFES & BISTROS

The most famous place to eat in all of Montreal is Shwartz's Delicatessen. It's usually crammed full of locals and tourists alike, and guests can expect a line-up out the door every lunch hour. Smoked-meat sandwiches are the specialty and sides like French fries, coleslaw and crisp pickles complete the meal. Founded in 1928, this landmark is a must for all visitors. There are plenty of other delicatessens in Montreal, like La Queue de Cochon and Reuben's Deli, that are worth checking out as well.

For the perfect start to a day of exploring, stop by W Cafe & Bartini and order an espresso and a light but satisfying breakfast. Cafes are in abundance in Montreal and finding one won't be difficult. All tend to serve strong coffee and a variety of French pastries, making them the ideal stop for a quick (and indulgent) snack.

For heavier fare or a sit-down meal, hit up one of Montreal's welcoming bistros.

WORLDLY TASTES

Like many Canadian cities, Montreal is a multicultural hub. People from myriad backgrounds call Montreal home and this ethnic diversity has brought a buffet of international foods to the city. Visitors will find Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Mediterranean and Mexican restaurants, to name a few, in the city.

During cooler weather, nothing beats a cozy restaurant, fresh bread and the aroma of great Italian cooking. To refuel after a day of sightseeing, Montreal's various Italian eateries offer old favourites like margarita pizza, antipasti platters and, of course, meatballs. For that old-world feel and a traditional menu, try Oggi Ristorante. Alternatively, Le Petit Italien and Ristorante Bice feature a more modern atmosphere.

As to be expected in a French-speaking city and province, there is an enormous selection of French restaurants available. Book a night out at Narcisse Bistro Bar a Vin and enjoy a beautiful view of the St. Laurence River as well as a carte du jour that features authentic French cuisine and a stellar wine list. Bistro Chez Roger serves specials like foie gras and tartars in a more casual environment while Bouchonne offers exotic delights like chopped calf's liver, devilled quail's eggs and marinated salmon.

A TASTE OF QUEBEC

Montreal and Quebec have their own nouveau cuisine specific to the area. Dating back to the period of fur trading, traditional Quebecois dishes were made to be hearty and filling to stave off the cold. Savoury meat pies, pea soup and maple dishes are some of the items found on traditional menus. Vallier Bistro et Comptoir is a 1950s-themed restaurant offering Quebecois-inspired fusion cuisine as well as French classics.

Serving patrons since 1940, La Binerie Mont-Royal also serves traditional Quebecois dishes in a diner-style atmosphere. Try asking the server for recommendations on which meal to order.

Of course visitors will want to try the authentic and borderline heart-stopping Quebecois classic—poutine. Montreal Poutine, La Banquise and Patati Patata are great greasy spoons at which to discover the famous concoction of French fries and cheese curds drenched in gravy.

A NIGHT OUT

Montreal has a vibrant nightlife, especially Thursday through Saturday, and getting out with the locals is the best way to experience the city and culture. From live music clubs and lounges to high-energy nightclubs and laid-back pubs, there is a place to suit everyone's style.

Club Soda is a popular live music club that has welcomed performers from all over the world, from Canada's own Tragically Hip to Oasis and Soundgarden.

Those looking to dance the night away can heat up the stylish floor at Tokyo Bar, located in the heart of Montreal's club district, rue Saint Laurent. This hotspot features a rooftop patio overlooking the buzzing boulevard.

Pubs are the perfect place to unwind after a long day of exploring Montreal. Sit back with a pint and plan where to go next while diving into typical pub fare like burgers, pizza, potato skins and nachos. A handful of Irish pubs, like Hurley's and the Old Dublin, provide a wide choice of ale, lagers, imported and domestic beer as well as many different spirits and wines.

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