Montréal City Guide

Montréal is one of my favourite and most frequented cities in Canada. With its European architecture, bilingualism, and focus on art and style, you’ll definitely find something wonderful to eat, drink and explore here.

(P.S. Bolded text are linked to the places’ websites if available! No affiliate links.)

Cafés

  • Olive et Gourmando: If there’s only one place you visit in Montréal, make it this café and restaurant! The local ingredients and care they put into preparing them is worth the slightly higher price tag. They don’t take reservations, so be prepared for a little wait during busy times.
  • Café Olimpico: There are three locations of this iconic Italian coffeeshop, and their caffè crema and affogato are really wonderful treats on a hot summer day.
  • Crew Collective: Housed in an old, majestic bank, this is a tourist destination that many may miss out on if you’re not paying attention. Usually filled with students getting together on group projects – you can look at booking this space for your meetings and networking activities as well.
  • Bar Caffetteria: Super cute, colourful and modern Italian café tucked away in the Golden Square Mile – come for the espresso, panini and lobster tail pastries during the day, and aperitivo for your 5-7 as well.
  • place in Montreal, hands down.
  • Mollo Boulangierie: A favourite hangout for a sophisticated, minimalist graphic-designer and writer crowd in the Saint Henri neighbourhood, you can get some bakery staples here alongside your coffee.
  • Café Paquetbot: Very fun, very cozy spot that makes excellent coffee with packaging you’ll want to bring home.
  • Lili et Oli: Don’t be surprised if everyone seems to know everyone else here at this Griffintown hangout. Great place to shamelessly get a little work done on the laptop, relax and chat with your friends.

Restaurants

  • Nora Gray: Low key, high-end Italian restaurant that has a very seasonal, ephemeral menu (think dishes like grilled halibut served with peas, morels on a lobster bisque). This place makes me really happy.
  • Liverpool House: This place is just so damn good! From the Joe Beef family of restaurants, this is a modern French-but-distinctly-Montréal style bistro with great ambiance, rich sauces, and feels completely generous in every way.
  • Elena OR Gia Vin et Grill: These two are sister Italian restaurants in Montréal and both have excellent, fun, Italian food (especially the pizza!) but you only need to go to one at a time because they are quite similar.
  • Monarque: You literally can’t go wrong with choosing this restaurant. A favourite among all the Montréal law firms (trust me, you will run into a lawyer or two here!), this is a fine dining (mostly French) restaurant that is not too fussy, and so delicious. The bar seating and private dining room are also great.
  • Damas: This restaurant is special, and has some of the best Middle Eastern (specifically, Syrian) food you can get in the city. I would say however, it has a very er, special price tag that goes along with it, and a menu that makes it hard to order à la carte (so you’re going to likely order the 10-course prix fixe!).
  • Stash Café: This is the restaurant I go to in Old Port on a rainy day when I just want pierogies and cabbage rolls and maybe a warm bowl of soup. It is traditional, but does not lack at all in quality.
  • Café Parvis: While I wouldn’t travel far to go to Café Parvis, it is one of the best places in its specific area for non-fast food food, and feels calming yet vibrant.
  • Jatoba: This is an excellent, stylish, Asian-fusion (primarily Japanese and French) restaurant in the Central Business District. I would highly recommend this place for a business dinner (less so for a family gathering), and order as much of the French dishes that are available (and none of the Chinese ones).
  • Jellyfish: This is one of those so-hip-it-hurts restaurants in the Old Port that focuses on the crudo and charcoal grill, but they do it well. Similar to Jatoba, they also market themselves as a bit of Asian fusion with a focus on the French and Japanese. I would also recommend this place for a business dinner.
  • Park: This restaurant is on my list because it is iconic and I am a huge fan of Antonio Park, but it has been known to be hit or miss on the non-sushi items. Still, you probably can’t have a terrible experience here, and the service is great.
  • Vallier Bistro: If you are travelling for business and just want to be in a casual French restaurant with a glass of red and your steak frites and no fuss, this is your place! Trust me that half the restaurant’s patrons had the same idea.
  • Ô Thym: I feel that this apportez-votre-vin (bring your own win) restaurant is so underated in Montréal! It is a simple, local produce, seasonal restaurant that is mostly French, a little Italian, and a little Contemporary Canadian.

Bars (with Good Food)

  • Tiradito: Just when I was missing Peruvian food, I came across this super fun Peruvian bar and restaurant that offers up some classic, fun dishes such as ceviches, crab causa, and duck anticuchos. Please note: the WHOLE restaurant is a huge bar-style table with stools all around. They also have a Chinese Peruvian restaurant called Chifa next door I’ll check out next.
  • Bar Henrietta: This is the kind of place you come when you’re feeling like a cool intellectual and want to have some small bites and “try something new tonight” cocktails.
  • Bar Dominion: Just like the recommendation for Café Parvis above, I would not travel to Bar Dominion, but it is the best restaurant in the Ste. Catherine disaster construction area if you want a nice glass of wine and simple French or generically Continental European meal.
  • Doubles: Don’t let the exterior fool you – this place literally looks like trash from the outside, but is a special little dive bar led by Chef Danny Smiles. The Michigan Olive Burgers are the real standout here!
  • The Coldroom: I had to add at least one speakeasy to the list, so I am adding Coldroom! It is as advertised, located behind a nondescript brick door. The cocktails are good. The vibe is space age funk. I have not yet tried the food.

Other Fun Food Experiences

  • Try Montréal-Style Bagels at St. Viateur Bagels AND Fairmount Bagels: You can probably try them at most breakfast and brunch restaurants in Montréal, but if you have time to make the trip to the bakeries themselves, it’s a fun and inexpensive way to really taste and compare the freshest and most popular Montréal-style bagels that are world famous. Psst. St. Viateur are my favourites, but don’t let me bias you!
  • Visit Marché Atwater: Walking around this open-air market is a great way to spend a late morning or early afternoon with a lunch break at one of the vendors (I tried and enjoyed the famous Satay Brothers and a scoop from Calem Creamery).
  • Visit Gibeau Orange Julep (also known as the Big Orange): This giant orange has so much history, and is home of the original orange julep (that allegedly was invited way before the fast food mall chain). You can order poutine and hot dogs here too.
  • Visit a Jewish or Kosher-Style Deli: There are so many excellent ones, but the competition is fierce and the criteria is divisive! Some are great because of the tradition they carry, some are great because of their modern takes on classics. But seriously, you don’t want to miss out on this part of Montréal’s culinary tradition.
  • Order a portion of poutine you definitely can’t finish: Fries. fresh squeaky cheese curds. Rich gravy. Ridiculous toppings. Poutine is an iconic dish of the province of Québec and you will find some excellent ones in Montréal. I don’t have a favourite at the moment but will update this post when I do!

Attractions

  • Bota Bota: This spa on the water (and specifically, on a boat) is one of my most frequented spots in Montréal, and I just can’t recommend it enough. It is decent pricing for such a wonderful experience, it’s easily accessible from the Old Port, and I dare you not to feel great after leaving.
  • The Biodome: Created from the space where the Olympics were once held, this is a very special contained space that is one part zoo, one part biodiversity conservation project. It is a little out of the way, but worth a visit at least once.
  • Mont Royal Park: This area makes for a beautiful walk or hike, especially to see the city transform into its beautiful new colours in the Fall.

Hotels

  • Le Germain
  • Hotel Honeyrose
  • Four Seasons
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • William Grey
  • Le Petit Hotel
  • Bonaparte
  • Hotel Place d’Armes
  • Monville
  • Hotel Bonaveture

For more information, you can also check out my blog posts from the past.