It is no secret that Montreal is well know for iconic food dishes. There’s a reason that they are actually called, Montreal bagels. So, a trip to this trend setting city is not complete without a culinary experience.With more restaurants per citizen then any other city in Canada and a continuously evolving food scene, there is no lack of options. So, understanding how important food is to Montreal’s identity, we took on the challenge of tasting as many Montreal-centric dishes as possible. From smoked meat to poutine here are our favourites.
Olive & Gourmando
A hotspot along Rue St Paul, this little bistro is bustling, and for good reason! From the trendy décor to the mouthwatering menu, Olive and Gourmando is a place worth waiting for. We popped in for lunch on our first day in Montreal and despite a line, couldn’t leave after catching a glimpse of the space.
The front door opens to a wall of feel good thoughts and a velvet curtain that separates the entry. Around the corner is an open café with a takeaway counter on the left (which seems hugely popular) and an eat-in area on the right. The menu is, for lack of a better word, hipster and delicious. Vegan and vegetarian options are plenty and the ingredients, to die for fresh. It’s almost impossible to choose between an array of gourmet sandwiches and a selection of overflowing bowls. If you go or have been we’d love to hear what you picked!
Considered one of Canada’s top 100 restaurants, Nora Gray is a gem. Nestled in one of Montreal’s up and coming neighbourhoods, this delightful Italian eatery serves up elegant comfort food. Reservations are a must and try to book well in advance. The restaurant is hugely popular and short on seating. A fact that might seem unfortunate but actually plays well into creating the perfect intimate atmosphere. You can almost imagine Hemingway or Fitzgerald cozied up with a cocktail. This was one spot that we knew we had to try. Snagging a spot at the bar we effortlessly melted into the warmth of candlelight and rich panelled walls. Over a bottle, or maybe two, we watched bartenders work magic, waitresses invoke smiles and people cheer over the company of great friends.
Dark and moody, Bocata is the perfect place to cozy up with a warm bowl of pasta. Located along the popular, Rue St Paul, this trendy restaurant and wine bar offers a great night out. Stone walls, a large fireplace and oversized mirrors match beautifully with the warmth of the menu. This is a place you can picture settling in for the evening. Friends in tow, we ordered up oven fresh bread, creamy noodles and rounds of drinks. Take a stroll past the front window, and you’ll have to stop in.
Iconic Smoked Meat. Need we say more? If you haven’t heard of Schwartz’s, do yourself a favour and check them out. This authentic Hebrew delicatessen been around since 1929, so they must be doing something right. A line up is pretty much a guarantee, any day of the week. In the summer, people will often wait up to four hours to snag a spot. They’ve welcomed celebrities from near and far and are well known for having Celine Dion stop by to treat everyone with a free meal.
Since it was February, we were lucky and our wait time was only around 20 minutes. Trust us though, any amount of time is worth it. The inside is not overly special but it has its own quirky character. Seating is picnic table style so be prepared to share a table with strangers. The menu isn’t huge but you are really only there for one thing. So, if we can give you any advice (and this comes straight from a local) order the following: a medium smoked meat sandwich, a dill pickle and a cherry coke.
Who wants to pay for expensive drinks when you can bring your own! This was the theme of our final night in Montreal and since we would have to say our goodbyes the next day, it made for the perfect spot to end our trip. Wine bottles in tow, we made our way to what we expected would be a relatively casual restaurant. With multiple locations, we assumed the brand might have a chain type style. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it did not at all. There was no sense that the restaurant we entered was not the only one. In true Quebec fashion, we enjoyed our final night by all ordered a comforting bowl of poutine and sipping on copious amounts of wine.
Have you experienced the culinary delights of Montreal? We would love to hear your story!