Hands up if you've ever gotten really excited to go somewhere, whether it was a restaurant, bar, or ice cream shop, planned your time wisely, and arrived only to find a massive line so disheartening, it crushed your food-inspired dreams in mere moments.
With the top quality dining and drinking options available in Montreal, it's an unfortunate reality that many of the most widely acclaimed spots will come with longer than average wait times. And while nothing can stamp out good vibes like a never-ending lineup, the truth is, sometimes it is absolutely worth it to grit your teeth, and wait it out.
Your time is precious, so luckily, we've narrowed down the places that are truly worthy of your commitment when you encounter a winding-around-the-block lineup. So, rest assured that the delights at these Montreal spots will make you forget the distant pain of waiting in line.
1. Ma Poule Mouillee
I mean, if that photo doesn't convince you that the line here is worth it, I don't know what will. The King of all Portuguese chicken restaurants in Montreal, people flock to Ma Poule Mouillee for good reason - the food is out of this world, and the portions will keep you full for days.
The lineup will probably be longest on the weekends, so if you want to avoid it, consider going during the week for a quick lunch or early dinner. If you're feeling a little more adventurous than just the standard chicken dish, try the Portuguese chicken poutine - no regrets, I promise.
2. La Banquise
If you've ever had the poutine from La Banquise, then you know that it is undoubtedly worth the wait. The lineups are likely to be longest at dinner time, and between 2:00-3:00 a.m., when everyone is stumbling home from the bar and needs a good poutine to slow them down.
But, since this place is an essential Montreal institution, the wait is worth it not only for the poutine, but for the memories; Remember that time we waited half an hour for poutine at that famous place in Montreal? Do it for posterity.
3. Kem CoBa
This past Sunday, I biked by Kem CoBa, and I'll be honest, my first thought was 'Seriously? That long of a line for ice cream?' Admittedly, I was just jealous of everyone close to the front of the line, about to taste the glorious, delectable ice cream flavours.
Despite that extensive lineup, when considering spots for this list, Kem CoBa came up as an essential choice, because it really does live up to the hype. I know some people think that ice cream is ice cream, and any old place will do, but those people have obviously never tried Kem CoBa. If you want a truly unique, delicious, and unforgettable ice cream experience, gather your patience and tough out the line here.
Waiting in line for brunch is something most of us have probably experienced at some point: it's a popular thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday. Thus, it's even more difficult to discern which breakfast/brunch spots are actually worth that typical lineup. Well, without exception, Lawrence is one of them.
Lawrence has been named tons of times as one of the best brunch spots in Montreal, and really, the food speaks for itself. Equal parts tasty, classic and inventive, this restaurant will make your weekend mornings even more enjoyable.
5. Pizzeria Napoletana
Another confession: I ate here this past weekend, and pretty much died and went to pizza heaven, so I'll disclose my bias upfront. Due to some lucky twist of fate, I didn't have to wait in line, even though friends told me to expect a decent wait.
Either way, I now know that whatever line may be present, no wait time should deter you from this classic Little Italy pizza and pasta joint. The prices are fair, the ambiance is fun, and it's a great way to experience the charm of the neighbourhood. Oh, and, there's a sign in the restaurant that reads "It's ok to eat a whole pizza to yourself." And, you can bring your own wine. Need I say more?
Ask yourself this question: how long would I wait in line for chicken and waffles? Personally, my answer is forever. In all honesty, the chicken and waffles at Faberge know no time limits. If you arrive here for brunch and can't stand the line, just envision the chicken and waffles in your head, and that should give you the resolve to stay.
All jokes aside, like Lawrence, Faberge is a widely popular brunch spot that definitely draws a sizeable crowd every weekend. But their dishes (aside from being beautiful to look at) seriously deliver on taste and creativity. Wait in this line for a while, but look back on the photos you inevitably took of your food for a lifetime (and sigh).
7. La Distillerie
Waiting in line for mason jar cocktails? How basic does it get, right? But really, if there's ever been a time to embrace the hipster-esque invasion of mason jars, it's now, and it's at La Distillerie.
Overall, the atmosphere is what makes the inevitable lineup here worth it - nothing can satisfy your post-work drink needs like La Distillerie. The thing I appreciate most about it, however, is that you get what you pay for. So many bars charge ridiculous amounts for a simple gin and tonic, but La Distillerie serves you an artfully crafted, delicious cocktail for the same price.
8. Patisserie Au Kouign-Amann
With the plethora of bakery options in this city, you know when you see a fairly long lineup outside of one, that there is something special to be discovered. So, the secret to this family-owned little bakery? Simplicity. Fresh, warm, delicious baked goods, ready-made to change your life.
While some places try to wow with artistic designs and crazy combinations, Au Kouign Amann lets their traditional delights speak for themselves. Although you won't get tons of variety here, what you will get is true quality, and if you ask me, that's worth waiting in line any day.
9. Fairmount Bagel
A true Montrealer will endure any lineup for a good bagel, so get ready, because the fresh, incredible bagels at Fairmount may require a time commitment.
The good news is, the lineups at Fairmount aren't actually that long, it's just that the place itself is fairly small, so a line of ten people seems longer than it is. Head here bright and early, and you may not even find a line at all. Either way, both the plain bagels and bagel sandwiches here are freshly crafted, so it's time to quite literally get them while they're hot.
While some Montrealers may roll their eyes at this choice, it would be ridiculous not to include Schwartz's on this list. I mean, both locals and tourists know all too well that the lineup outside this classic smoked meat deli is always, and I mean always long.
Even if it's mostly tourists waiting patiently at this famed establishment, what makes that line worth it, for them and for locals, is the chance to take part in a true Montreal tradition. If you live in Montreal and you've never been, quit the eye-rolling and get yourself to Schwartz's at some point - waiting in this line is basically a rite of passage.