Everything’s great when you’re downtown, right? That goes double for Montreal: When you’re eating at any one of the best restaurants in downtown Montreal, you really get a feel for the high-class atmosphere and the high quality of food here.
With its high concentration of tourists, Montreal’s centre-ville is a meeting ground for many of the city’s best chefs, all setting up to put their best foot forward and bring their A-game. Great brunch spots, award-winning spots, spots to pig out at, absolutely astounding spots that are sure to impress your date—downtown’s really got a lot going on, and it knows it.
Read on to get a list of some of the best restaurants you can find in downtown Montreal.
MARCUS Restaurant + Lounge
Where: 1440, rue de la Montagne
Why You Need To Go: Whether you’re going for its more casual eats in the lounge or the supreme fine dining of its main restaurant, MARCUS is one of the very best places to eat when you’re downtown. Huge seafood platters? Check. Highly curated plates themed after land, sea, and harvests? Triple check. Chefs Marcus Samuelsson and Jason Morris and their skilled team of cooks are making dishes that reach the highest level you can find in the city.
Where: 1485, rue Jeanne-Mance
Why You Need To Go: This pan-Caribbean restaurant from Chef Paul Toussaint in the middle of Quartier des Spectacles is where diners need to go if they want island flavours with an expertly upscaled treatment. Classics like jerk chicken, griot, and jambalaya take on amazing, flavourful new dimensions you won’t find elsewhere in Montreal, and everything can be matched with great cocktails and an amazing selection of rum that’s perfect for ti-punch.
Where: 1441, rue Saint-Mathieu
Why You Need To Go: Montreal’s got a lot of great izakayas, but a lot of them try to do too much at the same time. At Otto Yakitori, they’ve concentrated their menu on grilled chicken skewers (hence the ‘yakitori’ in their name) and it comes out of the kitchen as fast as you can order it. Pair that with pitchers of Sapporo or carafes of hot sake, and you’ll quickly realize why this place outshines other restaurants like it.
Where: 1238, rue Mackay
Why You Need To Go: This Lebanese restaurant is among the city’s best when it comes to food that’s equal parts authentic and delicious, loading up tables with a variety of mezze and charcoal-grilled meats, fish and vegetables. It’s not only one of the better Middle Eastern restaurants in Montreal, but it’s one where you can easily eat its cuisine on the cheap, too.
Where: 1844, rue Sainte-Catherine O.
Why You Need To Go: If you ever see a long line-up as you walk along the Chinatown West strip near Concordia University’s downtown campus, this place is probably the reason. Even after they moved into a bigger address with a larger dining room, they’re still seeing a sizeable fanbase collect around their front door asking for tables. Why? It’s one of the best Japanese restaurants in the city, thanks to its kitchen’s creativity and simply delicious food.
Where: 1900, rue Sainte-Catherine O.
Why You Need To Go: One part lively bar, one part cutting edge Korean restaurant, Ganadara is a place that’s had a lot of staying power in Montreal thanks to its lively dining and drinking atmosphere along with outstanding food. You’ll find a lot of classics like sizzling bibimbap and saucy bowls of udon noodles, but they do a lot of crazier dishes like poutine with tteokbokki instead of fries, too.
Where: 1076, rue de Bleury
Why You Need To Go: Leading the pack in Montreal when it comes to serving Nikkei cuisine, a mixture of Japanese and Peruvian, this restaurant from acclaimed chef Marcel Larrea is just as good for a pre-game of drinks and light bites as it is for full evenings with filling dinners that explore the whole menu. Expect a lot of fresh ceviches and tiradito (a saucy sashimi dish) alongside grilled skewers, empanadas and dumplings.
Where: 1391, rue Saint-Jacques
Why You Need To Go: Located on the border between downtown and Griffintown, this restaurant is where the mastery of Italian cooking that spawned places like Elena and Gia Vin & Grill all began. From antipasti to larger entrees, everything on their menu takes the elements of classic Italian cuisine and gives it inventive and contemporary spins that’ll make your nonna proud. Don’t skip on their wine lists either, which are full of options you need to enjoy before, during, and after a meal.
Where: 1431, boul. Saint-Laurent
Why You Need To Go: One visit to the spacious and lively dining room of this modern Quebec restaurant from the minds behind Bouillon Bilk, and it’ll quickly become one of your go-to spots for a bite to eat before continuing on with the rest of your night. That’s because plates range from small and careful (read: good for a snack with a glass of wine) to bigger dishes of steak and fish, so it’s plenty versatile. Whatever you pick, it’s sure to win you over.
Where: 1227, rue de la Montagne
Why You Need To Go: it’s dinner and a show at this Japanese restaurant which only serves omakase menus — where the chefs serve you whatever’s freshest at the time, over 20 delicate courses. Almost everything that arrives on your plate will come as a one-bite portion; while that may not sound like much, trust that it all stacks up in your stomach by the end of your night, and it’s all delivered with a supremely elegant service.
Where: 1228, rue Sherbrooke O.
Why You Need To Go: Hotel dining may not always be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re looking to eat a meal downtown, but when it’s a place led by a world-famous chef (Daniel Boulud, anyone?) and a star-studded team like this one? You know it’s going to be good. It’s one of the best places to experience the upper echelons of French cuisine in Montreal, and while it comes at a price, few can cook it as well as the crew working here.
Where: 1446, rue Peel
Why You Need To Go: Portuguese is a mainstay cuisine in Montreal, but few places serve it up at the level that this seafood-forward address does. Whether you’re having something from their ice bed of fresh fish and shellfish cooked specially for your table or enjoying dishes like octopus carpaccio, grilled squid or just straight (and wonderful!) platters of oysters, it’s not only going to be good — it’s going to be great.
Time Out Market Montréal
Where: 705, rue Sainte-Catherine O.
Why You Need To Go: It’s the most chic food hall found downtown, thanks to its focus on serving only the best in class of whatever cuisine or chef it has to offer. With 16 different eateries to choose from to pair with its wine, beer and mocktail bars, this is where you want to bring a bunch of people for a meal when no one can decide where they want to go for lunch or dinner. Why? Because everyone will find something that satisfies them.
Where: 1065, rue de la Montagne
Why You Need To Go: This French brasserie and steakhouse from chef Jérôme Ferrer might seem old school to some, but its reputation for serving food at a masterful level has kept it in business for years. It doesn’t take more than one visit to understand why, as bites of dishes like filet mignon coated in béarnaise sauce or huge seared scallops on a bed of risotto are going to immediately convince you that Beaver Hall is the best of its class in the city core.
Where: 1440, rue Drummond
Why You Need To Go: Set inside a former private social club in a downtown heritage building, this restaurant’s contemporary English cuisine served with Québécois quirks makes it a lively place worth experiencing more than once. Good for both dinner and brunch, you need to make sure not to skip the cocktails the bar is making here either, as it’ll be one of the more creative works of mixology you’ll have ever had downtown.
Le Pois Penché
Where: 1230, boul. de Maisonneuve O.
Why You Need To Go: This French brasserie is a big destination for tourists when they hit the downtown core, but it’s far from a proper tourist trap. Whether it’s for lunch, brunch, or dinner, food here is precise, considerate, and true to its roots; think things like a classic bouillabaisse, shrimp cocktail, or steak-frites by night and croque madames and oeufs en meurette (poached eggs in bourguignon sauce) by day.
Where: 1504 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1L3
Why You Need To Go: Few Italian restaurants in Montreal get as chic and luxurious as this one, where carefully plated dishes of pasta, meat, and fish get paired with hands-on service. We’re not just talking about their old school outfits, but how they’ll come to your table to personally shave the truffles on that bucatini you asked for. It’s best to come here for a special occasion, because it’s definitely going to be special.
Where: 1198, rue Sainte-Catherine O.
Why You Need To Go: The chic design of this lounge and its four-season terrasse with awesome views of downtown are one thing, but the food and drinks? That’s where this place really kicks it into high gear. Wagyu tartare, fish à la plancha, steak, chicken supreme — whatever you opt for, it’s going to be great and twice as good when taken with one of their cocktails.
Where: 1184, rue du Square-Phillips
Why You Need To Go: Few places get as classy as this restaurant focused on Asian-fusion menus from chef Olivier Vigneault. From snackable gyoza to whole roasted fish and wok-tossed lobster, its lengthy lists of options are going to appeal to a wide range of people, and it’s one of the better places to go downtown if you’re looking for a place that can service a big group of people — just ask to book its back indoor terrasse.
Where: 30, rue Sainte-Catherine O.
Why You Need To Go: A fashionable food hall that excels at giving its diners a close-quarters, back alley-style of experience. Walking through the sheer selection of restaurants here is a unique experience you can’t currently find elsewhere in Montreal. They’ve got it all, from some of the best Indian in Montreal and Neapolitan pizzas to Japanese ramen, charcuterie, and Spanish tapas — all served in a super casual atmosphere.
Where: 1188, rue Sherbrooke O.
Why You Need To Go: While this spot from the minds behind the Italian restaurant Beatrice comes recommended for lunch, this is also the restaurant you want to visit if you want one of the best brunches downtown right now. Served via a cafeteria-style service along with bars for coffee and cocktails, the dishes here get unreal, from scrambled eggs with stracciatella to lemon-ricotta pancakes.
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