While immensely enjoyable at any time of the year, Old Montreal restaurants are particularly fun come summertime when patios spill out onto the cobblestone streets and apéro (a happy hour of sorts) is celebrated rather extensively.
With so many establishments to choose from, it can be hard, even for a local, to find the perfect place to spend the evening; you don’t want to fall into a pricey tourist trap, do you?
Mélisse (719 William)
This highly inviting café-restaurant-buvette hybrid drew up a locally-sourced, seasonal menu focusing first and foremost on quality and affordable prices.
The contemporary bistro with strong LA vibes revitalised this oft-overlooked part of the city and was quick to become one of the best Old Montreal restaurants, especially as far as brunch is concerned. Also worth noting is the spacious, sun-drenched patio for those lazy summer days.
HÀ + Nhau Bar (600 William)
This contemporary hotspot acts as one of the best Vietnamese Old Montreal restaurants and perhaps the most fun with its enjoyable patio. Simple yet edgy are the operative words here, with steamed buns attractively blackened with squid ink; the Ginger-Carrot crispy tofu and the Caramel-Soya Sauce Cornish hen are also surprising novelties.
To make the festivities last even longer, head downstairs to the sleek, clandestine watering hole lit with about a gazillion paper lanterns with strong “Opium Den” vibes; it’s not just about visual impact down here, though, as the pan-Asian cocktail menu is highly creative.
Le Serpent (257 Prince)
The expertise and irreproachable service at Le Serpent truly make it an essential stop on any Montreal foodie itinerary.
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.
Perché (421 Saint-Vincent)
What could otherwise have been a run-of-the-mill, gimmicky rooftop terrace turned out to be a rather enjoyable spot to grab a drink or two and some nibbles while enjoying the view of Old Montreal.
Tropical vibes are strong in this plant-heavy urban oasis with a healthy fare on offer.
Foodie alert: this is the real thing. Pastel is a bold, trailblazing restaurant intent on celebrating the local flavours of the Québec terroir. They offer a multi-course, market-based “gastronomic experience” every night with wine pairing for $200 per head that is immensely worth the expense.
Smaller budgets will also get a taste of their expertise with the $59, 3-course set menu offered on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Old Montreal food tour
Can’t make up your mind about one restaurant? How about five?
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.
Holder (407 McGill)
Because I’m obsessed with beef tartare (well, French cuisine, really) it goes without saying that I have extensively surveyed the options from one end of the city to the other; and one of the best French Old Montreal restaurants is undoubtedly Holder.
Oh, it would be foolish to be deterred by the English name for Holder is a proper institution as far as European service and atmosphere are concerned and its evergreen menu filled with classics from cover to cover.
Marché des Éclusiers (400 de la Commune Ouest)
Picturesque, waterfront, open-air food court serving elevated locally-sourced dishes and inventive cocktails. A tranquil spot by the water, ideal for summer date nights.
They also have a bi-weekly farmer’s market, if picnics are more your thing.
Olive & Gourmando (351 Saint-Paul Ouest)
Influential types arrive at lunchtime en masse for a table at this bustling bakery and sandwich shop where vegetables are organically grown in a nearby garden and fresh crab is flown
in for salads.
Crowd pleasers include Le Cubain panini (pancetta, roasted pork, Gruyère) and the “poached egg on your face” breakfast sandwich (spicy poached eggs with herbs and mayonnaise, Comté cheese, speck and slow-roasted tomatoes).
LOV (464 McGill)
With its all-white, plant-heavy décor and woman chef, this is the kind of place even die-hard carnivores will line up for; indeed, LOV (acronym for local, organic and vegan) is one of the select few vegan restaurants in Old Montreal, nestled inside a graded building.
It’s an Instagram dream and a guilt-free one at that, aside perhaps from the surprisingly well-curated natural wine list.
Vallier Bistro (425 McGill)
The Québécois bistro got a makeover two years ago and it’s been doing tremendously well since; the contemporary look beautifully combines New York aesthetics with an unshakable Montreal atmosphere for a fun night out on the town and good food to boot.
Expect reinvented terroir classics (maple beef tartare? yes please), which can always be paired with the vast selection of locally-made beers available on tap.
Venice + Boho (436 St-François-Xavier)
The instigator of the “trendy restaurant upstairs and speakeasy-type bar downstairs” combination, Venice, is also famous for its affordable and colourful poké bowls. Healthy meals are far and few between in indulgence-heavy Old Montreal and the Californian vibes make it all the more appealing.
That’s not to mention the surprising South Beach Art Deco cocktail bar downstairs (accessible via a concealed door behind the take-out counter) with a dozen festive libations on offer.
Le Club Chasse & Pêche (423 St-Claude)
Despite the name—French for “Hunting and Fishing Club”—this isn’t a hangout for the local gun-and-rod set. Impeccable service and top-notch ingredients have made this one of
the best restaurants in the city; the name is simply referencing the woodland-
Known for: chasse (filet mignon) et pêche (lobster) dish.
Barroco (312 St-Paul Ouest)
Housed inside one of the oldest buildings of Old Montreal, this atmospheric supper club —those stone walls and baroque chandeliers certainly set the tone— is not exactly about glitz and glamour but rather about good vibes, tasty Mediterranean and Provence fare, and an epic wine list.