Welcome to Montreal, if you are a foodie visiting for the first time! You are about to embark on a delicious culinary journey filled with delicious pastries, dreamy evenings, exciting culinary experiences, and intoxicating libations.
It can be difficult to navigate Montreal’s diverse food scene, whether you’re a guest, a newcomer, or a Montrealer searching for recommendations on where to eat or drink. Thankfully, we’re here to assist you. This guide aims to highlight the best of Montreal’s culinary offerings, beyond smoked meat, bagels, and poutine.
This guide focuses on categories where Montreal excels, such as baked goods, brunch, coffee, and cocktails, and highlights notable neighborhoods for tourists to check out. Good luck with your meal.
Visit the market.
There are five farmers’ markets in Montreal, including the Jean-Talon market, and more than 50 seasonal markets. For any foodie, visiting one of these culinary meccas is a dream come true. Visit the many cheesemongers, spice stores, artisanal bakeries, seasonal fruit and vegetable booths, and charcuterie stalls. You can also eat your way through many of the restaurants in the market.
Take a bite out of poutine.
Poutine is one of Quebec’s most famous culinary creations, and Montreal has a multitude of “best” places for poutine. From the traditional 24-hour spot La Banquise to Ma Poule Mouillée’s poutine topped with Portuguese chicken or Blackstrap BBQ’s burnt-end poutine, every Montrealer has a favorite. Choose one and try it for the first time; you’ll never forget it.
Bagels should be tasted.
The best bagels in the world are made in Montreal, but who makes the best bagels in Montreal? A true foodie will have to make their own decision, so head to the Mile End and get a steaming hot bagel from either the St-Viateur or Fairmount shops (they’re only a block apart) and pick a side.
- Stand in line at Kem Coba.
- Standing in line for an icy soft serve at Kem Coba has become a summer tradition in Montréal, and it’s something that any foodie should do. It’s not only because it’s one of the best ice creams in town (the soft serve flavors change with the seasons), but it’s a great way to meet other lovers of ice cream and hipster Mile End residents.
- Queuing at Schwartz is a waste of time.
Montréal is known for its smoked meat, and Schwartz’s is a veritable hotspot that draws both tourists and locals. If you don’t want to wait in line, go straight to the take-out counter and pick up your order.
Pro tip: Always order medium lean meat, additional bread, and a side of pickles. After that, you can enjoy your sandwich in your hotel room or in one of the nearby parks.
Brunch like a native Montrealer
Weekend brunch is one of the few gourmet traditions that all Montrealers enjoy. So, do as the Montrealers do and spend a couple of weekend hours at one of the many brunch eateries. However, selecting a restaurant will be difficult given the abundance of excellent options available, which range from two oeufs bacon joints to more sophisticated locations.
You are in luck if you are gluten-tolerant because Montréal offers some of the best bread and pastries. The selection is infinite, from buttery croissants to crunchy baguettes, hearty bread, chewy biscuits, and small, beautiful pastries. Tasting everything would take a lifetime! Even if you don’t get along with gluten, you can still treat yourself because most bakeries and patisseries offer gluten-free selections.
Get some caffeine in your system.
If you’re new to coffee, you’ve come to the perfect place. Over the past few years, Montreal has established itself as a world-class coffee city, rivaling cities like Portland and Melbourne. Find the bar closest to you or take a tour to see as many as you can while you’re there. They’re all so diverse in their personalities.
Montreal’s restaurant week
MTLàTABLE, Montréal’s restaurant week, takes place in November, with 150 restaurants participating and offering three-course fixed-price menus for $23, $33, or $43. If you are a foodie visiting Montreal for the first time, you will save money by organizing your trip around MTLàTABLE.
Nouvelle Cuisine Quebecoise
In 2016, Town & Country Magazine designated Montréal as North America’s latest gourmet hotspot. As a fantastic dining destination, the city ranks highly on numerous other lists. Montreal cuisine has established itself as distinct, emphasizing local and seasonal ingredients, many of which are sought after and exotic, such as Manitoba. Montréal’s chefs are passionate and inventive, and you must visit one of the restaurants to sample the local food.
Locate a food truck.
The street food scene in Montréal is thriving! What started as a test operation in 2013 with a handful of food trucks has become one of the city’s most popular summer pastimes. The army of food trucks patrolling the streets of Montreal is diverse and generous, serving everything from schnitzel to waffles, dumplings, vegetarian fare, bagels, shellfish, and more. Summer food truck festivals, such as Bouffons MTL and First Fridays, are worth checking out.
Make a natural choice.
Montréal features one of the world’s most sophisticated natural and biodynamic wine cultures. Be prepared to drink if you enjoy natural wines and are visiting for the first time. Your liver may not be happy, but your heart and taste buds will be. From cutting-edge wine bars to great restaurants with a fine carte des vins, your liver may not be happy, but your heart and taste buds will be.
Take a look around.
There’s no better way to learn about a city than to take a guided tour led by locals who can share anecdotes and inside jokes about their hometown. Fortunately for visiting foodies, Montréal offers a variety of culinary tours. Pick your favorite and hop on!
Whether it’s visiting a farmer’s market or learning more about the influence of Jewish culture on Montreal’s food scene, there’s something for everyone. The best part of all these tours, of course, is the tastings!
Hope you found this Montreal eater’s guide to drinking and dining in Montreal helpful. Kindly drop a comment if you have any questions.