Must Eat Places in Montreal
I went to Montreal this weekend for a four-day bachelorette party getaway, and here is my list of some top must eat places in Montreal.
I just returned from Montreal after a four-day getaway with several friends to celebrate our BFF Natasha’s impending wedding. There were a total of 11 of us + the Bride = 12. Out of the 12 of us girls, 3 of us were expecting and 1 of us was on antibiotics. We also flew in from Toronto at different times, and departed Montreal at different times. It could have all been a logistic mess, but thankfully, it all worked out due to the diligent planning of the bridal party.
If any of you are planning a bachelorette party getaway, Montreal is a fantastic alternative to an all-inclusive resort, especially for us Ontarians. It has a lot of history, a proud Francophone culture, great food, and the Zika virus cannot survive. Believe me, the latter was a deal breaker.
There are flights from Porter and Air Canada that fly right into the Montreal Airport. Although we all flew into the city (there were some fantastic deals at the time), Montreal is also easily accessible by Via Rail, coach, and vehicle.
Montreal also has a growing food scene. For all you foodies out there, I’ve described some of the places we went to below in this Must Eat Places in Montreal post.
The only thing I regretted was not brushing up on my French before I went! Although many of the Uber drivers spoke only French, we were still able to get to our destination fairly quickly without any problems.
I’ve included a map so you can visualize where all the hot spots eats are located. Even if you are not going to Montreal for a bachelorette party, some of the places we hit up are still worth a visit whatever the reason for your trip. Here are the must eat places in Montreal:
1. Courtyard by Marriott Montreal Downtown | 380 Boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest | Located in downtown Montreal, the Courtyard is a fairly new hotel with clean rooms and modern aesthetics. It has a full fitness centre, indoor swimming pool, restaurant/bar, and a grab and go counter. Their manager working on the Friday was super friendly, however, he wasn’t able to find 3 adjacent rooms for us to check us in before 3 pm, so we had to wait a bit. Although we mainly used Uber, when we did need a taxi, the concierge called one for us. On the last day, we were able to extend our check out time to 2 pm. Overall, I didn’t have much to complain about the service or the hotel in general.
2. Olive + Gourmando | 351 Rue Saint-Paul Ouest | A French bistro known for its buttery pastries, cold sandwiches, hot paninis, and organic salads. Located in Old Montreal, it is a stones throw away from the waterfront and downtown Montreal. All of the chalkboard menus are in French, but the servers speak English fluently. I ordered the O + G grill cheese panini, a decadent toasted sandwich comprised of caramelized onions, Raclette and Gouda cheese. I swear it weighed as much as a brick. The sweet and salty definitely hit the spot. I also highly recommend the Big Healthy Salad (with or without chicken) which has quinoa, lentils, sprints Goji berries, mix of baby greens and herbs, asparagus, and smoked almonds, served with tahini and pomegranate dressing. The restaurant was packed to the brim, and at least 20 people were waiting outside to be called for seats. We ordered take out and then walked down to the waterfront for a picnic. Image courtesy of Olive + Gourmando: http://oliveetgourmando.com/
3. Waterfront - We walked along Rue de La Commune Ouest from about Rue Saint-Pierre to Rue St. Denis. During the summer months, there’s a ton of events held here, including nightly fireworks. It was here on the benches and picnic tables scattered along the waterfront that we ate our paninis from Olive + Gourmand. Gazing across the Saint Lawrence Rive, we saw the Habitat 67, a model housing complex designed by Moshe Sadie for Expo 67. You can't miss it.
4. Le Bremner | 361 Rue Saint-Paul Est | Co-owned by the charismatic Chuck Hughes and located in the basement of a row of historic houses in Old Montreal, Le Bremner is one of those restaurants that take you to the depth of the sea. It specializes in comfort seafood and is the more serious brother compared to the other Chuck Hughes’ restaurant, Garde Manger. In order to find the restaurant, you’ll have to look for it by it’s address as there is no name sign. There is a good variety of seafood on the menu. We ordered the cauliflower with parmagiano reggiano (or pecorino) and the tuna & tahini sashimi. Although the cauliflower was way overpriced (you only get 1/4 of a cauliflower head for $17), the creamy saltiness of the cheese really brought out the sweetness of the cauliflower. At least half of us ordered the seabream with carrots and salsa verde as it was highly recommended. The fish is served whole, and the server debones it in front of you at your request. I tried my friend’s dish and found the fish extremely savoury. I couldn’t imagine having a whole fish to myself so I ordered the risotto with asparagus and lobster, which came on a plate. On first impression, the presentation was lacking, but it tasted quite good. It was light and flavourful and there was a generous amount of lobster, cooked just right and not rubbery at all. Highly recommend if you enjoy seafood.
5. Le 281 | 94 Rue Sainte-Catherine Est | A bachelorette party is not complete without a trip to le erotic cabaret (somehow the French translation for a strip club sounds much more sensual and less grimy than the English version) and Le 281 is one of the highly rated male strip clubs in Montreal. The men put on a Magic Mike-like show, from being fully clothed to wearing nothing at all. Needless to say, all of the girls quite enjoyed the show, and doubly enjoyed watching the Bride’s squirm whenshe got a lap dance. This isn’t for everyone, but if you intend to do this once in your life time, then it should be at a Bachelorette Party when you can legitimately giggle like a teenage girl again. Admission, $13 per person, $15 per lap dance.
6. Frite Alors | 3497 Boulevard Saint-Laurent | A franchise restaurant in Quebec, Frite Alors serves Belgian fries deep-fried in duck fat. They have a variety of poutine toppings and sauces. Unfortunately if you are a vegetarian or vegan, this won’t be the place for you as they literally have nothing that is not fried or cooked in duck fat. A great place for a midnight snack.
7. Buonanotte | 3518 Boulevard Saint-Laurent | Buonanotte is a restaurant during the day and a club at night. They play mainly top 40 hip hop, and some early 2000 hip hop later at the night. If you’re in your 30’s you’ll love the music. The bottle service you might not like as much. I’ve never been to a club with bottle service where there was no true booth or cushioned seating and your “booth” was a 4 person table with a few chairs (we actually stole a few chairs from another booth), for 11 people. Although the bottles were not particularly expensive (we got a 750 ml bottle of Grey Goose and a bottle of gin for about $520 plus tax and tips), and the service was consistent (the bus boy was pretty good at clearing our used glasses and empty cans), it didn’t feel like we were being wined and dined. That said, the music was pretty good, it was not too crowded, we had great company amongst ourselves, and we got 80% of the bachelorette dares completed, so it ended up being a fun night.
8. Lawrence | 5201 Boulevard Saint-Laurent | We had brunch here after anight of strip club and clubbing, and boy did this continue the overindulgence! The menu is chockfull of hearty, meaty dishes in generous portions. For sure, it did not have your typical English bacon and eggs dishes, instead, the thick cut bacon and runny or baked eggs had a side of pork kidneys, pork feet, or polenta hash brown (not surprising, very yummy). Thankfully we had made reservations, otherwise, it would have been next to impossible to grab a seat for 12 people on a Saturday morning.
9. Boulevard Saint-Laurent & Avenue du Mont-Royal Est | There are numerous cute boutiques, small art galleries, and unique eats along Boulevard Saint Laurent, and the vibe reminds me of a more refined version of Queen Street West (west of Ossington) in Toronto. If you head east on Avenue du Mont-Royal, there is a mix of local retail and well-known brand name retail stores, along with thrift shops. While we were there, they had a food and street festival going on.
10. Gibeau Orange Julep | 7700 Boulevard Décarie | Not worth the drive or the time to outer Montreal where it is located. If you like orange juice that is fresh squeezed and then sweetened to creaminess, you will love the drink that Gibeau Orange Julep is so famous for. But if you want fresh squeezed orange juice straight from an orange, then this is not for you. Most of us did not enjoy the juice. It tasted artificial, unnaturally creamy, and unnaturally sweet. If you are a foodie, you will be disappointed. Skip this. It is not even worth locating on my map, however, I thought I would mention it as it was, for some unknown reason, frequently cited on travel blogs.
11. Cadet | 1431 Boulevard Saint-Laurent | Loved this restaurant! Newly opened in late April by the same owners of Bouillon Bilk, the interior is bright and decor simple with straight clean lines. It was so new that the washrooms were still under construction and we had to use the washrooms of the adjacent restaurant. All of the dishes on the menu are meant for sharing between 4 or or fewer people. What I enjoyed the most was the complexity of flavours and textures in each dish. I would have a preconceived idea of how a dish would taste, and when I actually ate it, it would blow my mind because it didn't taste as expected! We ordered an asparagus dish that was to die for, and their salmon sashimi exploded with flavour. Six of us ordered about 10-12 dishes to share. We finished with a banana split with cardamon ice cream, coffee sauce, and strawberries, as well as a peppered strawberry tart. Every dish was amazing. It helped that we had a super friendly and cute server. Highly recommend.
12. Schwartz’s | 3895 Boulevard Saint-Laurent | Every time we pass by Montreal, we stop by Schwartz’s for their famous smoked meat deli sandwiches. Over the years, their portions have been reduced and you no longer get a pickle on the side, but their meat continues to make my mouth water every time. Many famous celebrities have eaten there evident by the numerous framed celebrity photos exhibited all over the diner walls. You order your food with a waiter and pay by cash at the front after you’re done eating. It opens at 10:30 am for hot meals, so 2 of us went to line up around 9:30 am to make sure that we had a table for the 11 of us. You can also buy their seasoning and/or smoked meat either fresh or packaged at the counter next to the restaurant. Unfortunately, their menu is extremely limited so if you are a vegetarian be prepared not to be able to eat anything there at all other than coleslaw.
13. Marche Jean-Talon | 7070 Avenue Henri Julien | We went to Marche Jean-Talon, a farmer’s market, for Sunday afternoon. Thank goodness we had that planned as it was raining cats and dogs. It is partially indoor with the remaining sections covered by a large tent. They have stalls and stalls of locally grown fruits and vegetables. We just had to sample some for tasting, and we couldn’t help but buy a few pints of raspberries and tomatoes. There are also a number of shops selling locally made cheeses, herbs, pastries, pies, fresh cut flowers, seafood, fois gras etc. Most of them offer samples. Overall a great food market with a variety of shops.
14. Kazu | 1862 Rue Saint-Catherine | I always find it interesting to eat Asian food in other cities, and Kazu’s Japanese-inspired dishes did not disappoint. It is similar to Guu and other iyazaki restaurants that are so popular these days. If you want to get one of their 25 seats, you have to arrive at least an hour earlier than their open time of 5:30 pm. Even by 5:00 pm there was already a line up forming outside of the restaurant. Apparently they are famous for their housemade tofu and shrimp burgers. I can’t say I was that impressed by their housemade tofu; to me, it was simply soft tofu sitting in a bowl of soya sauce with a seaweed garnish. It wasn't particularly soft or smooth or sweet. Tofu is my absolute favourite food so my expectations were perhaps a bit high. Their shrimp burger was fantastic though - it was like a shrimp taco with lettuce and mayonnaise sauce but in a burger. Most of the other dishes had a salad on the side, which is more veggies than most of us had on this entire trip; my only complaint is that the salad all tasted the same. We ordered several dishes to share among the 8 of us. I enjoyed their 48 hour pork bowl, which was a bowl of rice, salad, and sliced pork in a sweet sauce, as it reminded me of Taiwanese minced meat…which isn’t technically Japanese. You will also enjoy their Tuna Salmon Salad Rice Bowl if you like to mix salad with rice and protein.
15. Le Cartet | 106 Rue McGill | This French bistro serves light brunch and lattes. There are many egg options, including my favourite combination, goat cheese and scrambled egg. Most dishes come with potatoes roasted in duck fat, and a small salad of fresh greens. They also specialize in lattes, and offer gourmet food products to purchase.
16. St. Viateur Bagel Shop | 263 Rue Saint Viateur Ouest | Famous for serving Prince Charles (and making him wait in line like all their other customers), St. Viateur Bagel Shop makes all of their bagels Montreal-style: they are smaller than other bagels with larger centres, boiled in honey water before being baked in a stone oven. I find Montreal bagels chewier and sweeter than other types of bagels. They come in plain, poppy, sesame, all-dressed, whole wheat, multi-grain, cinnamon & raisin, flax, and rosemary, and can be purchased in singles, 1/2 dozen, or 1 dozen. If you buy the all-dressed bagels, make sure you tie the bag tightly otherwise, the smell of garlic will follow you everywhere! I regret buying only 1/2 a dozen of bagels because Warren and I gobbled them all up within 3 days.
17. Old Montreal | East of Rue McGill, South of Avenue Viger, West of Rue Berri | A must go. I would recommend spending more time west of Rue Saint-Paul, where the smaller boutique fashion stores and restaurants are located. Although I usually feel nostalgic when walking on cobbled streets, the section of Rue Saint-Paul east of Boulevard Saint-Laurent has become so tourist-sy, with numerous souvenir stores peppering the street, that I would avoid that section all together.
Phew! That was a long rehash of our Montreal Bachelorette Party Itinerary! I hope it is helpful to any of you who might be heading to Montreal for a weekend getaway.
On Sunday, I will be heading to L.A. for our babymoon. Warren will be there for a three-day conference. Right now, I'm more excited about the potential foods I'll eat (oh my goodness) rather than celebrity sightings (meh, whatever). Stayed tune for another rehash. I promise it'll be worthwhile.