Though France was the first country to settle in Montreal, the city (now home to more than 200 ethnicities) has made quite the name for itself in the international culinary scene, crafting unique, fusion-based menus and a burgeoning cocktail culture. Whether you’re interested in sampling dishes at some of the city’s up-and-coming eateries or tasting from tried and true neighborhood favorites, we’ve got you covered.

International Food Scene

Over a third of Montreal’s population was born abroad, so this city truly represents a vibrant mix of cultures and cuisines. If you’re craving al dente pasta in Little Italy or the punchy Latin-American flavors found in La Petite-Patrie, don’t worry — it’s all available and it’s all delicious.

In Montreal’s Jewish Quarter, between Mile End and McGill, you’ll find some of the most delicious Judaic cuisine in the world. Home to a number of famous delis (try Schwartz’s), the historic area also boasts a world-renowned bagel establishment: St-Viateur (263 Rue Saint Viateur Ouest). Though there’s quite a bit of contention about which of the city’s bageleries make the best sesame-studded disk, St-Viateur is definitely in the running, if not the victor of Quebec’s bagel war. Stop by on a chilly day for this warm, bready, and slightly sweet treat. And, if you’re still hungry, check out the shop’s number-one competitor — Fairmount Bagels — located just a 10-minute (three-block) walk away.

Nearby Café Olimpico (124 Rue St-Viateur Ouest) has a similarly storied? legacy. Opened in 1970, it rose to a place of prominence with the patronage of writers, poets, and musicians. Today, it remains a vestige of Montreal’s literary history (2014 Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels wrote “Us Conductors” and is recognized as one of the world’s 50 best cafés. Needless to say, if you need a cozy corner in which to grab a bite and a (very) good cup of coffee, look no further.

For those who are curious about the result of fusing Japanese and Peruvian food, head to Tiradito (1076 Rue de Bleury), which boasts a mouthwatering and unique menu. This chic, quirky space offers an incredible atmosphere for bundling up against the cold, snowy streets of Montreal, and its dishes fail to disappoint. Our recommendation is to try the Peruvian Ramen, the Cauliflower Stew, the Yucca Fries, or the Chicharron Sandwich, and to wash it all down with one (or two) of the venue’s iconic Pisco Sours.

When in Montreal, a visit to a traditional French brasserie is also a must. With six locations across the city, Les Enfants Terribles makes the experience fairly accessible. This beautifully modern restaurant offers fresh twists on old favorites. Start with their Beet Salad, and proceed with the steak or chicken — oh, and you can’t go wrong topping it all off with a slice of cheesecake.  

Neighborhood Favorites

With a host of cozy enclaves and diverse neighborhoods, Montrealers have a variety of options to choose from.

The French obsession with filet mignon be damned. Herbivorous visitors will gravitate toward the chic interiors and organic dishes served at LOV (464 McGill Street). Blessed with a streamlined (and Instagrammable) interior featuring hanging wicker seating, this establishment is the place for clean eats. Their coconut curry comes highly recommended — but don’t leave without dessert. Topping off your meal with an order of their signature almond cake is a decision you won’t regret.  

Have you ever been to a vegan butcher? Rather, have you ever heard of a vegan butcher? The folks at GUSTA (191 Place du Marché-du-Nord) schemed up the impossible, and what they’ve created is pretty special. Step inside their quaint space opposite Jean-Talon Market and marvel at the mouth-watering delicacies they’ve been able to fashion entirely from plants before sampling them for yourself. We recommend the Breakfast Scramble with a side of roasted potatoes. 

Ask anyone frequenting the Centre-Ville neighborhood what their favorite brunch spot is, and chances are they’ll mention Le Cartet (106 McGill Street). After 18 years, the attractive eatery has a monopoly on its residents’ hearts (and stomachs), but rightfully so. And while their weekend brunch is their most popular offering (if you go, order the Canon Breakfast), you should try to pay a visit during their weekday lunch — if you do, order the Avocado and Vegetable Toast with the Soup of the Day, or for carnivores, opt for the Braised Pork Chili. Alternatively, if you’re in a rush, the restaurant offers pre-made, grab-and-go versions of their menu items in the shop located at the front of the building.

Montrealers venture to Modavie (1 Saint-Paul St West) for the jazz and end up staying for the delicious food (and wine). Here, the menu is certainly comfort-based, so whether you’re in the mood for lamb poutine or a burger, you’ll be taken care of. Oenophiles, jazz-lovers, and hygge enthusiasts will all recognize the importance of this Old Montreal-based locale, which features live music every day of the week. You can either show up and be surprised or peruse their extensive performance calendar for a chance to see your favorite up-and-comer while enjoying Modavie’s signature comfort food.

To round out the local favorites, pay a visit to Montreal’s famed Société des arts technologiques and end work your way to Food Lab (1201 St Laurent Blvd), located on the museum’s third floor. The open-concept restaurant is punctuated by an inviting atmosphere and a unique menu of “earth-to-table” offerings. We recommend starting with the Squash Soup, the Seared Duck, or the trout. Delicious mains included the Buckwheat Cavatelli and the Veal.

Bars

Montreal is so packed with bars and clubs that it would take us well, forever, to visit them all, let alone write about them. But this list of establishments charmed us, both in terms of originality and creativity.

It’s unusual to experience the warm vibes of a California dive bar in the middle of chilly Montreal, but Boho (436 St François-Xavier) does it surprisingly well. This speakeasy can be accessed through the front of a nondescript eatery, where you’ll be ushered through a secret entrance by the bouncer inside. Once within the cavernous and palm-tree-spotted interior, peruse the drink menu, which is replete with wonderfully West Coast offerings. We liked the Basil Smash and the cleverly named El Chapo.

If sunny California isn’t your happy place, head down the narrow set of stairs to Boho’s neighbor bar, Clandestino. While Boho represents the Pacific Coast of the U.S., Clandestino is reminiscent of its more mysterious southern neighbor — Mexico. Specializing solely in tequila and mezcal-based drinks, the dark and somewhat-hazy venue features velvet accents, dusky drapes, and myriad memorabilia. With the omnipresent hum cocktail-catalyzed chatter and a backdrop of slinky electronic tunes, this space perfectly mirrors its inventive menu (we recommend the Garcia!).

If you’re a gin-enthusiast and lucky enough to be in Montreal on a Thursday, do yourself a favor and head to the W Montreal (901 Rue du Square-Victoria) for their weekly gin and tonic event that debuts a new gin-based drink each and every week. And even if you aren’t a drinker, you’ll want to go just to sit at the bar and watch the bartenders practice their craft — the experience is visually astounding.

Did we miss any of your favorite food spots in Montreal? Let us know in the comments below!

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Camille Danielich
Camille is a writer, traveler, and visual storyteller from New Jersey. She has lived in the Czech Republic, Thailand and in New York. She's always looking forward to her next adventure and probably won't stop instagramming her food anytime soon. Follow along on instagram