Montréal’s reputation as a food town is founded on a love to eat that spans cultures and financial brackets. Some of its most iconic restaurants are takeout counters and smoked meat joints, and though they surely enjoy eating there, too, the city’s most progressive chefs offer a whole range of options themselves—from rethought sushi to menu-less market cuisine to high-brow gastronomy. When it comes to where to eat in Montreal, our list of editor’s picks has it all: the casual and iconic, new wave and progressive, high-brow to low. You won’t waste a meal, and you certainly won’t leave hungry.
With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking one of the prettiest squares in Old Montreal, Toqué! gives a charming first impression. While it offers a relatively casual three-course lunch, the real way to get everything you can out of the restaurant is to choose the seven-course tasting menu, which, with wines, will set you back about $250 per person.
L’Express, a joyful Plateau Mont-Royal icon, is like a piece of Paris relocated to Montreal, right down to the servers’ accents. This is bistro food at its finest. Typical French appetizers—Du Puy lentil and squid salad, marrow bones served with crispy toasts and sea salt—precede a set menu that includes steak frites, veal sweetbreads, and poached salmon.
Candide’s prix fixe menu changes monthly, a reflection of chef John Winter-Russell’s love of local, seasonal, and temporal cooking at his restaurant on the south side of St. Joseph’s Church. Every meal follows the same format: two fixed starters, a choice between two mains, and a choice between two desserts.
It’s worth braving the line on this busy corner of Plateau-Mont Royal just for Rôtisserie Romados’ iconic Portuguese spatchcocked chicken and fries. The joint is half takeout counter (complete with linoleum flooring and open fridges) and half eatery, with a few seats facing the window on Rachel Street.
5.Hoogan et Beaufort
At Hoogan et Beaufort, a happening place in the Angus Yards complex in Rosemont, Marc-André Jetté and William Saulnier’s approach to open-fire cooking yields incredible results. To get the full range of their talents, go for the $75 tasting menu, which might include grilled octopus served over a creamy burnt-pepper yogurt, and one of the pastas (like the luscious spaghetti in sorrel cream with oyster mushrooms and smoked-bread crispies).
Nora Gray is home-away-from-home to many Montreal creatives and other restaurateurs, who love the food just as much as they love the warm bistro ambience at this cozy Griffintown spot. Inside, chefs put an inventive spin on no-nonsense Italian. Take, for example, the crispy lamb terrine starter, a pan-fried slab served with baby lettuce and anchovy vinaigrette, the duck-heart Bolognese served over asparagus ravioli, and the skirt steak served with fried bread and rapini peperonata.
Restaurant hawks love Bouillon Bilk, but it’s accessible enough for an everyday meal—that’s why the lunch menu is so popular. Well situated in Montreal’s cultural center on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, the restaurant embraces art in its cooking.
Montreal has a huge Haitian community, and the food at Agrikol expresses that heritage. Located in a two-story house on Amherst, the restaurant has a transportive tropical vibe and a knockout oxtail stew. Most of the dishes are best shared; order the crispy fish accras, caramelized fried plantain, and whole fried fish of the day. Then dig in.
This Little Burgundy mainstay that helped identify Montreal as an international dining hotspot is the headquarters of Montreal chefs David McMillan and Frédéric Morin, the acclaimed and enterprising minds behind an evolving blackboard menu renowned for its smoked meat croquettes, house-cured ham with truffles, lobster spaghetti, and horse meat steaks.
The menu at this Griffintown hotspot is divided into four sections—starters, pastas, mains, and desserts. Each dish, whether it’s a starter of warm octopus with potato mousseline and salsa verde, or ravioli with green peas, braised lamb, stracchino cheese, and olives, is balanced in flavor and beautiful to see.