Montreal is nothing if not a foodie city; in fact, rumour has it has the second highest rate of restaurants per capita after New York City. Call it gourmet, call it glutton, call it whatever you like, but the truth is that a trip to Montreal will require eating pants whether you like it or not.
In fact, I might never speak to you again if you make it all the way to my hometown and stick to hotel food.
In no particular order, here are my top 18 restaurants in Montreal. Some are recent favourites; others are classics I’ve been frequenting for over a decade with friends and family.
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Moccione emerged as a refreshing addition to Montreal’s Italian culinary landscape in 2018. The menu is always short, and always smart; the restaurant offers skillfully crafted interpretations of traditional dishes using market-fresh ingredients. It’s a bit of an improbable gem, in a neighborhood that was not so long ago mostly known for its dive bars and greasy spoons rather than upscale dining. Following a recent renovation, the venue now boasts a larger, thoughtfully-designed space that exudes warmth and hospitality. Make sure to read through their predominantly natural wine selection and seek guidance from the knowledgeable sommelier, whose recommendations consistently prove to be spot-on.
The jury’s still out on whether it’s a restaurant or a wine bar, but the photogenic locale with a U-shaped central bar and a thing for oysters sure aims to please. The restaurant has gained a reputation for its lively ambiance, characterized by dim lighting, a bustling crowd, and a retro-inspired decor that adds a touch of nostalgia.
Situated in the vibrant heart of Montreal’s Old Port, Un Po Di Più entices guests with its Italian-inspired cuisine, a thoughtfully curated selection of exclusively Italian wines, and the allure of fresh, artisanal pasta. Translating to “a little more” in Italian, Un Po’ Di Piu embodies the essence of indulgence that I find particularly satisfying in their Torre da aperitivo. This delightful tower showcases a medley of cold cuts, crudités, olives, and walnuts, leaving me craving just a bit more. Not to be forgotten is their mouthwatering focaccia.
The restaurant’s decor is truly magnificent, featuring opulent textures, an abundance of exquisite lighting fixtures, and a sprawling bar that dominates the back of the establishment. Located on rue de la Commune, adjacent to the water, it truly epitomizes a beautiful space that perfectly complements the dining experience.
If it wasn’t for the trendy young clientele, you’d think that time had stood still at Salon de thé Cardinal, where you can find a good old-fashioned afternoon tea served with dainty mismatched tableware and in a Victorian-style space filled with antiques, thick runner rugs, and carved wood. Food-wise, the menu varies between sweet (blueberry scones, bourbon cookies, various English cakes) and savoury (ploughman’s plate, cucumber sandwiches), both complemented by a plethora of fragrant teas.
Tinc Set is a wine bar with a focus on Catalan cuisine, offers a delightful array of tapas and canned delicacies. One of their specialties is the Barcelona-style rotisserie chicken, accompanied by all the essential side dishes such as pan con tomate and patatas bravas. The wine list is a true gem, primarily featuring a flawless selection of their own Catalan and Spanish natural bottles imports. Why not indulge in their house pet nat alongside zesty churro? Truly a delightful way to end the meal on a high note.
If the weather is nice and you find yourself looking for the best restaurant terrace in Montreal, Tinc Set undoubtedly ranks among the top contenders.
The expertise and irreproachable service truly make it an essential stop on any Montreal foodie itinerary. It’s no surprise, then, to know that Le Serpent is often cited as the very best amongst the best restaurants in Montreal. The industrial-looking space caters to trendy diners, and almost paradoxically, serves sublime Italianate plates that could be mistaken for comfort food if they weren’t so elegantly presented.
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This sophisticated French bistro pleases Montrealers with its flawless classics and its heated wraparound outdoor terrace; not to mention the late-night two-course table d’hôte menu at just C$32. Regulars gravitate toward dishes such as the calf liver, salmon, or beef tartare, grilled Cornish hen, and hanger steak—all served with ceremonial aplomb on white linen tablecloths.
Dinette Triple Crown is one of the best-kept secrets as far as Montreal restaurants go. Sure, it’s relatively small, but the real draw here is not indoors; rather, locals know to ask for a picnic basket (fully equipped with cutlery, dishes, and a tablecloth) that will be enjoyed in Little Italy Park across the street.
Fried chicken with fluffy mashed potatoes and gravy, braised greens, and biscuits, along with pulled pork sandwiches and brisket, will have you speaking with a southern drawl in no time.
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This is certainly one of the best restaurants in Old Montreal. Slightly tucked away from the tourist path, Monopole is what we, French speakers, refer to as a buvette: a laid-back place where wine flows abundantly (and since one of the co-owners is in the private wine import business, you know it’s good stuff) and where the variety of market-fresh dishes comes in sharable portions. The manager, Gabriel, is always keen to strike up a conversation.
Can’t decide? Try a food tour!
I know the struggle: picking a handful of restaurants ―nevermind just one― in Montreal can be a real challenge. Why not let yourself be led around the city by some of the most knowledgeable foodies in search of authentic gems in tourist-trap-ridden Old-Montreal, but also further afield in places locals cherish like Plateau Mont-Royal and historic Mile-End.
Best restaurants in Montreal:
- Chez Tousignant: for a proper Québécois greasy spoon that’s both cute and entirely locally-sourced. Their hot-dog Tousignant and their poutine are the BEST.
- Fairmount Bagels: Whatever you do, ask for a bagel fresh out of the oven. Your life will never be the same.
- Mademoiselle Dumplings: Doesn’t look like much from the outside but don’t be fooled; dumplings are made by hand and are the best in town. Ridiculously inexpensive.
- Vieux Vélo: Overrun with hipsters of the normcore confession but OH MY the eggs benedict. Order coffee, too; it’s from next door Odessa.
- Yokato Yokabai: Discreet ramen house favoured by local noodle lovers—especially when temperatures drop below freezing point—with dark wood panelling. Expect queues, but also excellent tonkotsu.
- Café Parvis: Half-stripped paint, hanging plants, relaxed vibes in Montreal’s historic fur district; serves wood-fired pizzas on wooden boards, ideal for sharing.
- Lester’s Deli: Skip Schwartz’s permanent queues and go to Lester’s for Montreal smoked meat. Neither the menu nor the decor have changed in 50 years.
- Tri Express: Known for its flamboyant chef and its bric-à-brac decor, this little neighborhood gem is arguably the most affordable and fun sushi restaurant in Montreal. If the weather’s nice, take your meal to go and enjoy at nearby Parc Laurier!
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