Every year in January, I write down the top 5 cities I’m dying to get to that year. For the last 3 years, Montréal has been at the top of that list. When I moved to New York City, I thought, “Surely I’ll head to Montréal often, it’s so close to the city!” But I never had the chance to visit pre-pandemic!
I excitedly jumped at the chance to go to Montréal when the US-Canada borders opened back up because Montréal was just as magical as I hoped it would be! It’s an easy hour flight from New York but feels worlds away. The city is equal parts old world and new. Montréal seduces travelers with a harmonious pairing of the historic and the new. Captivated by the charm of Old Port of Montréal and the bustling of downtown, the city is a striking union of European charm and North American attitude!
The French and British influence on the city’s culture and architecture make Montréal a truly multicultural and international city. The “joie de vivre” is evident in Montréal and it’s easy for visitors and locals alike to hop from one experience to the next! Day and night, Montréal pulses with activity. You can take in all the city has to offer as a global hub for world-class dining, fashion, technology, art, and architecture. Chefs in the “City of Saints” continue to elevate its reputation as a gourmet destination, as it’s become a traveling foodie’s dream. You will surely be wining and dining your way through Montréal! There are some culinary experiences you just can’t miss while in Montréal: Dine at Joe Beef, have some late-night poutine, compare the famous Montréal bagels! Montréal has hosted multiple international conferences and events, the most notable being the 1967 World Fair and the 1976 Summer Olympics – the only Canadian city to have held the summer games!
I was there in early October, right as the leaves were turning and a light jacket is a perfect thing to wear. While I’d highly recommend fall as an ideal time to visit the city, I can’t wait to get back to Montréal during the summer or winter to experience the city in another season!
If it’s your first time in Montréal, I recommend you grab breakfast/brunch at Dandy! Get some coffee from Crew Collective Café, Tommy, Cafe Olympico or Cafe Éclair! Lunch at Olive et Gourmando or Restaurant Mélisse! Explore the neighborhoods of charming Old Montréal and hip Mile End! And for dinner go to Tiers Paysage, Joe Beef and Foxy! I put quite a few more recommendations below, but noted my favorite spots or the must-dos with an asterisk (*)!
- *Dandy – One of my favorite brunch spots in the city! Located in the heart of Old Montréal, Dandy is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch, for takeaway coffee & pastries, or delight in a long boozy brunch!
- *Restaurant Mélisse – Great for lunch! Simple, fresh, and contemporary is on offer at Restaurant Mélisse, as much for the fine food as for the tasteful décor. Great selections of natural wines as well!
- *Olive et Gourmando – Best for breakfast or lunch! Foodie destination for artisanal breads & sweets, with panini & salads, in a charming rustic space. I got the apple turnover and the cajun chicken sandwich, which were both delicious!
- Moleskine – In a setting combining modern elegance with rough-and-ready odds and ends, Moleskine offers a wide range of culinary delights.
- Chifa – Chifa is Chef Larrea’s way of sharing childhood memories through his own interpretation of Chinese Peruvian cuisine. Originating from Peru, this Chifa cuisine is the accord of Chinese elements with traditional Peruvian ingredients.
- Hélicoptère – A charming neighborhood restaurant serving only the best products of Québec.
- Time Out Market – Popular foodie destination where all of Montréal’s favorites are represented in the mix of eats & beverages at this hip food hall. I’ve visited the Time Out Market in Lisbon, New York and Chicago – they always bring a great mix of the city’s culinary collection together!
- *Arthur’s Nosh Bar – Traditional Jewish deli serving breakfast & sandwiches in a bright, stylish space.
- *Foxy – A cozy, upscale bistro where everything from the cocktails to the food, was so delicious. The charcoal-grill is central for the kitchen with everything from seafood & wood-fired steaks being cooked over it! Everything we got was absolutely delicious – a must-go! Tell Sabrina at the bar that I sent you!
- *Joe Beef – People travel from all over the world to dine at this culinary destination! It’s a surf and turf paradise as they offer quality cuts of meat as well as delicious seafood (like the lobster spaghetti!). If you can manage to get a reservation here – you gotta go!
- Nora Gray – Sleek restaurant featuring Southern Italian dishes & wines, with a buzzy bar & inspired cocktails!
- *Tiers Paysage – One of my favorite dinners we ate. Tell Samia we sent you.
- *Schwartz’s Deli – One of the oldest & most renowned delis in Canada. You’ve gotta get their smoked meat sandwich! Anthony Bourdain dined here on his show ‘No Reservations!
- *L’Espress – This French diner is open and buzzing 24/7, serving bistro classics such as steaks & mussels, croque monsieur and escargot! They also have 11,000 bottles of wine in their basement!
- *St. Viateur Bagel – Iconic 24-hour storefront known for wood-oven baked bagels with varied flavors & toppings.
- *Fairmont Bagel – Well-known bakery doling out varied flavors of bagels topped with cream cheese, plus other bites. Get the classic sesame and expect a line down the block! Also, the first bagel in space!
- Franklin Subs – Delicious Philly Cheesesteak style subs & sandwiches!
- *Byblos le Petit Café – Artsy Persian coffeehouse for brunch! Mediterranean cuisine and phenomenal dips served with pita, plus Iranian tea. Great for brunch!
- RYU – Compact, minimalist Japanese restaurant specializing in high-end sushi, both traditional & contemporary.
- Bonapart – Gourmet French tasting & pre-theatre menus in a Napoleon-themed inn, with alcoves & a skylight.
- Barroco – A lively restaurant with subdued lighting, stone walls & a European-inspired daily market course.
- Satay Brothers – Singaporean street food stall at the Atwater Market that moves to a nearby indoor nook in winter.
- La Banquise – All-night diner for Québécois grub & local microbrews, with many poutine options.
- *Chez Claudette – A poutine-must! This 24-hour spot is serving up Canadian comfort foods like burgers & poutine!
- Ma Poule Mouilée – Casual counter-serve Portuguese grill known for its peri-peri chicken & other meat sandwiches.
- O Noir – Onoir is North America’s first-ever restaurant to invite you to experience food and drinks in complete darkness. Visually impaired staff serves eclectic fare in a completely dark dining room, with surprise dishes.
- Elena – A contemporary Italian eatery with outdoor tables, offering pizza, pasta & an ample wine list.
- *Liverpool House – Joe Beef’s happening sister restaurant offering an oyster bar & market-inspired comfort dishes.
- Monarque – Upscale French eatery in Old Montréal. It’s a stunning chef-owned restaurant. You can reserve a table in the Brasserie or in the Salle à Manger! Two different rooms, two different menus with two different
- *Drogheria Fine – The only thing on the menu here is their gnocchi – because it’s that good! it’s served out of a Chinese-style takeout container!
- *Atwater Cocktail Club – Buzzing, speakeasy-style cocktail bar with late hours in a stylish French brasserie.
- Messorem – Brewpub in an airy, warehouse-style microbrewery with a vast beer garden.
- Marcus at the Four Seasons
- *The Coldroom – Gourmet cocktails mixed in a speakeasy-style hideaway.
- *The Cloakroom Bar – Small and stylish speakeasy bar featuring specialty cocktails in a cozy, dimly lit space.
- *Philémon Bar – Drinks & upscale bites (such as oysters & charcuterie) in a slick, rustic space with banquettes.
- La Distillerie
- Le Darling – Hot spot with a round bar, vintage decor & late hours offering coffee by day, beer & cider by night.
- *Datcha – Hip, low-lit cocktail bar with a Russian theme, a menu of innovative drinks & dancing, plus a patio.
- *Crew Collective Café – Cathedral-style coworking space with a cafe menu of sandwiches, soups & quiches, plus coffee.
- Le Petit Dep – Unique, hideaway deli offering espresso drinks, cafe meals & locally made goods in a cheerful space.
- Ssense – A boutique outpost of the online retailer offering a large selection of designer clothing for men & women.
- Hotel Ambrose – A is a wonderful little B&B with a coffee shop in the lobby.
- *Tommy – A neighborhood coffee shop and bar established in Old Montréal, Tommy offers a wide selection of coffees and delicious pastries!
- *Cafe Éclair – Chic and minimal coffee shop
- *Cafe Olympico – Hipster Italian cafe in a 1970s pool-hall setting with TV sports & a patio (popular even in the winter!).
- Boulangerie Guillaume – bakery (get the “white mushroom” pastry)
- Café Névé – Laid-back meeting space selling artisanal coffee, pastries & light bites for breakfast or lunch.
- Juliette & Chocolat – A chocolate lover’s paradise! A Coffee shop as well as a restaurant that specializes in decadent desserts and everything chocolate.
- Le Cartet – A gourmet shop and restaurant rolled into one, Le Cartet is a comfortable neighborhood spot to enjoy breakfast or lunch in a welcoming atmosphere any day of the week.
- Explore Old Montréal
- Take a ride in the La Grand Roue – Montréal’s Observation Wheel! Take a seat in La Grande Roue de Montréal for an unforgettable experience. A panoramic view 60 meters high, with a breathtaking view of the river, Old Montréal, downtown, and the mountains!
- Notre-Dame Basilica
- Spa day at Bota-Bota – Docked at the Old Port, this contemporary spa, magnificently fashioned in an old ferryboat, takes on the allure of a chic liner with minimalist décor.
- Grab brunch at Dandy
- Experience speakeasy-style cocktails at The Cold Room
- Wine + Dine your heart out at Tiers Paysage
- Dance at Bar Philémon
- Montréal Museum of Fine Arts – The Museum’s original temporary exhibitions combine various artistic disciplines—fine arts, music, film, fashion, and design—and are exported around the world, while its rich encyclopedic collection, spread across five pavilions, comprises international art, world cultures, contemporary works, decorative arts, and design, and Quebec and Canadian art.
- Shop some local treats at the Jean-Talon Market – One of North America’s largest open-air public markets, its lively atmosphere, authentic character, and wide selection of fresh, local produce and specialties from here and abroad always make for a pleasant – and appetizing – outing.
- Experience the OASIS Immersion – the largest immersive destination in Canada! OASIS immersion is walkable, no contact experience featuring three immersive galleries, two dazzling light installations, and a lounge area with a café and a boutique.
- Grab a bite to Eat at Time Out Market
- Experience the Montréal Botanical Gardens – see Garden of Light (September – October)
- Tour around and eat your way through the Mile End and Little Italy neighborhoods
- Grab the iconic “white mushroom” pastry at Boulangerie Guillaume
- Coffee from Café Éclair
- Take a step back in time with an iconic breakfast sandwich + cherry soda from Wilensky’s Light Lunch
- Have a Montréal bagel taste-off between Fairmount Bagels & St. Viateur Bagel
- Gnocchi from Drogheria Fine
- Donuts from Bernie Beigne
- NYC-style pizza from Pizza Bouquet
- Cannolis from Alati-Caserta
- Microbrews from Mellön
- Hike up Mount Royal and take in the views of Montréal at Kondiaronk Belvédère
- Galerie Blanc – Blanc is an open-air art gallery in which an outdoor exhibition can be viewed by anyone at any time of the day, rain or shine. Blanc’s mission is to bring the general public and art closer together.
- Explore the Golden Square Mile – Home to glitz and glamour since the 19th century. This storied Montréal neighborhood at the foot of Mount Royal and McGill University remains a downtown destination.
- Boho Lab – Classy oriental designs for Moroccan rugs & bohemian home decor.
- Rooney – Trendy, shop stocking men’s designer apparel plus books & accessories.
- Madison Espace
- Nüspace – Design-forward home goods & furniture shop
- W Montréal – With a foot on the ground of historic Old Montréal and a finger on the pulse of the downtown scene, W Montreal sits in its own unique space. It’s located right across from the iconic subway stop!
- Humaniti Montréal – A bold & distinctive architectural concept, the complex is shaped like the letter “H” and is Quebec’s first Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel.
- Four Seasons Montréal – Four Seasons Hotel Montréal offers sleek accommodations, stellar restaurants, a luxury spa, and more in the vibrant new epicenter of downtown Montréal.
I was so captivated by the city’s charm and the people’s hospitality everywhere we went! I hope this city guide helps you out! I had an amazing walking tour guide in Montréal that I’d highly recommend: Françoise! She was so engaging and knowledgeable about the city, we loved her! Here is her website – and be sure to tell her that I sent you!! Have you been to Montréal? Let me know if you have any questions or have anywhere that I need to check out next time I’m in town!