Best Restaurants in Montréal

Montreal's Quintessential Restaurants: Dine Out with Montrealers

Choosing restaurants in Montreal is a breeze. The most obvious method is to drop in to those that appear to cater to a local crowd and not just tourists! An easier method to choose your perfect dining spot is to follow my suggestions so you can reserve ahead, especially on weekends. Standards are generally quite high in Montreal restaurants and prices reasonable. Like most places, lunch is often the better deal.

Don't overlook local hotel restaurants especially if you hear a lot of French - because who knows food better? Consider restaurants a bit off the beaten tourist track too like those in East Montreal, The Village or newer hotspots like Griffentown and the Pointe St. Charles neighborhoods on the western edge of the city.

Quality restaurants with multiple locations like Premiere Moisson and L'Academie are not really chains and should not be regarded as such. Some of the fussiest palates on the planet live in Montreal making it almost impossible to get a bad meal here as Quebec in general and Montreal in particular reject large, international chain restaurants. Dining in Montreal is all about authenticity, quality and enjoying the dining experience. Montreal restaurants therefore become a tourist attraction in themselves. 


Commerce is a modern neighbourhood bar, the creative result of MTL Cuisine and renowned chef Martin Juneau. The shared vision of the partners was to give Old Montreal's financial district a space that would be reuniting each other's taste in matters of food, decor and ambiance.Commerce Gastrobar is best described as a chic neighborhood hangout that's set in one of the most beautiful spots in Montreal, just south of Square Victoria on McGill Street. Commerce serves as a gathering place for foodies, business people and residents of Old Montreal for lunch, dinner and the famous Montreal cinq a sept, or the after-work happy hour. The decor is contemporary yet warm, thanks to gleaming wooden tables and antique lighting.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: A hip yet relaxed old Montreal neighborhood favorite serving experimental food and drinks that change regularly.

Sherel's expert tip: Go as a group and share platters for the full taste experience.

Read more about Commerce Gastropub →

Celine Dion has purchased Schwartz's but vows to keep it the same. Let us hope so. The grubby hole in the wall fixture on St. Laurent (The Main) offers only one real choice: the perfectly smoked meat brisket sandwich served with fries and a pickle best washed down with a cherry coke. It's cramped, noisy and the garish lighting encourages a fast turnover which is just as well as the line moves faster so more can get their fix of the sweet meaty deli treat.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: A Montreal institution serving the best smoked meat sandwiches since 1928.

Sherel's expert tip: Be ready with cash in hand at the checkout to accommodate those clamouring to get in.

Read more about Chez Schwartz Charcuterie →

Parlez-vous Francais? You will have a better time at this hip French Bistro if you do. Young, upwardly mobile Francophones flock to L'Express to see and be seen and to eat the best steak tartare et pomme frites on the planet or the tantalizing duck and foie gras. Calf liver, salmon and ravioli top the favorites list of this Plateau neighborhood haunt. All is washed down with a wide assortment of wine, including some good French vintages best purchased by the half bottle. A dessert of rich creme caramel tops off the perfect French meal.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: L'Express is a true French bistro offering solid value in carefully prepared food.

Sherel's expert tip: You may have to ask for directions as it can be tricky to find

Read more about L'Express →

Mile End

Rumi Grill Restaurant Montreal can best be described as a cross between a grill house and a tearoom. For over a decade Rumi Grill has been serving lamb, beef, chicken and seafood in either half kilo or whole kilo portions accompanied by pickled vegetables and a choice of spicy sauces.Persian saffron, Aleppo pepper and pomegranate provide seasoning for many of the dishes. Vegetarians can choose from a variety of dishes including falafel wheels, hummus, baba ghanoush and muhammara dip. An assortment of home made, non alcoholic drinks include a basil lemonade and a ginger drink along with a good selection of teas, as might be expected from a "Silk Road" tearoom.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: This "Silk Road" speciality restaurant offers exotic flavour combinations not found elsewhere at great prices.

Sherel's expert tip: Best to bring your own wine as the restaurant is unlicensed.

Read more about Rumi Grill →

L'Academie focuses on great mussels (moules) with creative sauces. "Moules et frites" offers diners a large serving of steamed mussels in a variety of cream or tomato-based sauces.The best tomato - based sauce, a savory marinara, tops the "Moules Italien". "Moules Roquefort" caters to those looking for a rich, roquefort cheese sauce. With any dish, order an extra plate of the fresh french bread to soak up the extra sauce. Three floors filled with chatty patrons and waiters rushing by with generous platters make for a lively setting. Thursday night seems to be the most popular when service can get a bit slow. Reservations are recommended but the lines seem to move well should you show up without booking.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: L'Academie Restaurant Montreal is a great introduction to classic French bistro cuisine - at very reasonable prices.

Sherel's expert tip: "Apportez Votre Vin" or bring your own wine available at the liquor store next door.

Read more about Restaurant L'Académie-Montreal →

Mile End

At Milos, traditional Greek architecture meets raw industrial space that produces a casual taverna atmosphere. The understated elegance appeals to sophisticated diners thanks to the formal white tablecloths and well-designed lighting. Patrons can see the fresh fish resting on large ice beds and watch their food being cooked from the open concept kitchen. Tempura - like vegetables and saganaki cheese are fried just right to match the tender crispiness of fish selections lightly dusted with oregano and other spices. Portions of the "fish of the day " platters - sold by the pound - are large enough to share. The taramosalata, Greek sardines with lemon, oregano and olive oil, lamb chops, and avgolemono soup are all good too. The yogurt is made from local goats milk, and much of the produce and herbs are organically grown on regional farms.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Milos serves large portions of the best selection of fresh fish and seafood from around the world.

Sherel's expert tip: Order the Moroccan sole, local char and Mediterranean sardines "lightly fried" as these are done to perfection in a good quality olive oil.

Read more about Milos →

This popular spot for Québecoise cuisine caters to serious carnivores, especially pork lovers, for which the restaurant is famous. Chef Picard, an avid game hunter, has little patience for vegetarians. Ten choices of foie gras include a favorite atop a mound of poutine. "Duck in a Can" is stuffed with thyme sprigs, foie gras, carrots and celery delivered with a can opener. In keeping with the Québecoise theme, finish the meal with a slice of sugar pie. The noisy, convivial atmosphere is better suited to a night out with old friends than a first date. The later the evening, the livelier it gets. Reservations are highly recommended.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Au Pied de Cochon (Pigs Feet)is THE place to sample the best of Quebec meats and game.

Sherel's expert tip: To balance out the heavy meat and game menu try the melt- in-your-mouth tomato tart side dish served in an impossibly light and flakey pastry.

Read more about Au Pied de Cochon →

The Plateau

While Casa Tapas, Montreal's favorite Spanish restaurant serves full meals, it's better known for its extensive tapas menu. A night out here is perfect for small groups sharing small plates. The dining room is comfortable and inviting with sufficient space between tables so even when the restaurant is crowded (Thursdays to Sundays - be sure to reserve)patrons never feel intruded upon. Diners are greeted by the "wine wall" suggesting the impressive wine list dominated by Iberian selections as they enter the classic space done in muted colors and white table linens. With the vegetable offerings, choose something containing more than two principle ingredients. The most successful of the seafood choices include the lightly seared scallops served with figs. Mussels served in a variety of sauces are another crowd - pleaser.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Top drawer, professional service and knowledeable wine-food pairing suggestions insure a great night out for small groups sharing the various dishes.

Sherel's expert tip: From the Carne (meat)dishes, anything with veal is a good bet while the sardines grilled with cumin is a good choice from the Maricos (seafood section).

Read more about Casa Tapas →

Boulangerie Première Moisson
Photo courtesy of Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

With over 17 locations, Montreal natives and visitors alike can always find a reliable outlet for breakfast and lunch at reasonable prices. Premiere Moisson (First Harvest) Bakeries can are found on trendy Montreal streets such as Sherbrooke, Mont Royal and Bernard. Attractive display cases crammed with pork and brie sandwiches crowd the olive sourdough rolls stuffed with sliced tomato, basil and bocconcini. Homemade cabbage rolls and lasagna served with soups are popular lunch and take out items too. The fussy Quebecoise palate demands quality, value-added ingredients like flaxseeds, oats and soy. True to its home-style roots, Premiere Moisson follows age-old baking techniques allowing bread to rise atop burlap in drawers without artificial heat or steam. Flavors develop naturally as does preservation qualities. The bread bakes on stone decks in non-polluting natural gas ovens that prevent the bread from drying out.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The 40+ breads contain unbleached flour, sugar cane, sea salt and filtered water with no fats or preservatives. Deli meats are naturally cured without chemicals.

Sherel's expert tip: For lunch try the thick slabs of toasted soy and oatmeal bread dripping with melted Quebec cheese. Follow with the maple pecan cream pastries or homemade chocolates for dessert.

Read more about Boulangerie Première Moisson →

The Village

One wall of Carte Blanche is a color-field painting by Belgium artist, Andre Claes which balances the chic black and white decor. Popular with local media and Quebec film and TV stars, Carte Blanche is the ideal venue for a special occasion, a first date or a small get-together. The young owners hail from a small village in the center of France (former home of actor, Gerard Depardieu)and stick with traditional recipes like apple tarte tatin from the late 1800's. Pure, simple and traditional best describe Chef Andre's creations. Specialities include shepherd's pie made with blood pudding and carmelized apples served with a maple chutney and a perfectly seasoned duck confit cassoulet. Seafood lovers enjoy a sesame seed-encrusted salmon filet served with a lime and ginger caramel sauce or perfectly seared sea scallops dressed in a light, tangy oil topped with sun dried tomato pieces.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: This is French food at its finest made with top ingredients combined to produce interesting flavors at reasonable prices.

Sherel's expert tip: If visiting in the winter, try to sit near the back of the restaurant, away from the door where it can be a bit cool, and order a clementine - a warming, lightly-flavored orange liquor.

Read more about Carte Blanche →


Meet Sherel Purcell

Sherel Purcell is a travel writer who specializes in golf, Montreal and Quebec, contemporary art, cycling and food and wine. Her articles appear on USA Today's 10Best,, Aol, Matador,...  More About Sherel