Whether you're a first-time visitor to the beautiful city of Montreal, or a seasoned veteran who knows their way around the 514, when it comes to deciding where to eat, the sheer amount of options can be overwhelming. If you know anything about Montreal, you know that there are hundreds upon hundreds of incredible eateries, spanning every cuisine, style, taste, and ambiance.
While this is one of the best things Montreal has to offer, it can certainly pose a difficulty to visitors, especially couples, who have inevitably already gone through the frustratingly circular 'Where should we eat?' and 'I don't care, you decide' argument.
So, consider this your short list for go-to options you and your boo can count on when spending time in Montreal. Instead of wandering around and stumbling into any old eatery just to satisfy your hunger, these places are guaranteed to provide a more authentic experience of Montreal. The dishes on these menus are bound to show off the city's tradition and culinary prowess.
1. Breakfast/Brunch: Bagel Etc.
One widely known, and deeply loved fact about Montreal - the bagels are to die for. They're world famous for a reason; the unique texture and flavour have satisfied breakfast-goers for decades. What better way to experience a Montreal bagel than as a breakfast sandwich, done in many perfect variations at Bagel Etc?
You and your significant other will need good fuel for your day of touring the city, so indulge guilt-free in the carbs, and trust that a Montreal bagel will set the tone for an awesome day. If you don't have time for a sit-down breakfast, you can also pick up fresh bagels from the famed St-Viateur Bagel, or the always delicious Fairmount Bagel Bakery.
2. For lunch: Ma Poule Mouillee
Something I learned pretty quickly when I moved to Montreal: this city is obsessed with Portuguese chicken. Sounds weird, right? But Montreal has a vibrant Portuguese community, and they share their culture in the absolute best way: by serving up some incredible traditional eats.
I'd say at this point, it's a pretty legitimate Montreal experience to try some Portuguese chicken. And dare I say, Ma Poule Mouillee makes it the best. Be warned: this place is extremely popular, so if you're going on the weekend, prepare for a wait - but rest assured, it's a wait that is so worth it.
3. For a quick bite: Montreal Pool Room or Decarie Hot Dog
I suspect I'll be using the word 'iconic' a lot in this article, but hey, it's not my fault Montrealers have cultivated so many fiercely loved, delicious foods. So yes, another iconic menu item: the steamed hot dog, or, as the Quebecois endearingly call it, a 'steamie'.
Whatever your hot dog preferences are, you simply must try one of these two Montreal institutions. If you're downtown or in the Plateau, Montreal Pool Room is your best bet. You'll feel the nature of its tradition as soon as you walk in, and you'll be dining next to locals, so you know you're doing it right.
I'll leave the debate between who has the better steamie up to you and your partner; I have a feeling it'll get pretty heated. Either way, Decarie Hot Dog is also a Montreal tradition, but it's a little ways outside of the downtown core, so if you're willing to Metro, or are staying nearby, it's definitely worth it.
If you're on the go and don't want to wait at a restaurant, grabbing a steamie and a poutine (the essential combo) is a great option. It's quick, filling, and a tried-and-true Montreal experience.
4. For a fancy/upscale dinner: Jatoba
I need not sing the praises of this popular Asian-fusion restaurant, because its elegance, inventive nature, and flavours speak for themselves. The Prime Minister has dined here. This place has won tons of awards. If you bring your boo to dine here, it'll be a night to remember for both of you.
Jatoba is certainly higher on the price scale, but the food, ambiance, and service definitely live up to the hype. Be sure to make a reservation, and if you can, try to get a table in their magical garden terrasse. Time to treat yourself, and enjoy a place that encapsulates the culinary superiority Montreal has to offer.
5. For a laid-back dinner: Pizzeria Napoletana
First and most important thing to know about this charming Little Italy spot: you can bring your own wine. I know this may not be groundbreaking news to everyone, but it's a feature that shouldn't go unappreciated. And honestly, wine and a good slice of pizza? Heaven.
While the pizza and pasta are delicious here, what's great about Pizzeria Napoletana is the vibe and atmosphere. You'll find tons of people who have arrived straight from work, ready to celebrate the weekend and toast to good times. The comfortable, fun environment will set the tone for a great night out, and honestly, after a few glasses of wine and some authentic pizza, who wouldn't be ready to take on the bar scene?
6. For a foodie experience: Kitchen Galerie
If one or both of you are foodies, then Montreal is the ideal getaway to begin with: you'd be hard-pressed to find another city that loves food as much as this one.
A delicious foray into the more exquisite dishes of Montreal can be found at Kitchen Galerie, a restaurant that mixes the traditional and modern in new and exciting ways. From crab legs, to short ribs, to inventive twists on foie gras, Kitchen Galerie will far surpass your steepest foodie expectations.
7. For a comfort food/cheat meal: Mache
Saint-Denis is one of the most lively streets at night, so get down there early to watch the action unfold, and while you're at it, indulge in a decadent meal to get you ready for the night ahead.
Marche does all the classic comfort foods so well, like Shepherd's Pie, Mac and Cheese, and of course, greasy cheeseburgers with, you guessed it, poutine on the side. If you're just in the mood to pig out, and tired from a long day of exploring the city, you deserve a great meal at Mache.
8. For a dinner with great cocktails: Majestique
The most accurate way to describe Majestique is just to say it's really cool. From the location in the heart of the Plateau, to the whimsical decor, creative cocktails, and artfully crafted dishes, Majestique hits all the marks when it comes to a dinner out.
It's also a great spot for couples, with the dim lighting and relaxed ambiance. Although Majestique is often lauded as a signature drinking spot, the food deserves way more credit than it gets. Believe me, try their oysters, and you'll agree. Also, it's open super late - the perks of this place just keep coming.
9. For a late-night meal: La Banquise
I know I've mentioned poutine a few times already in this article, but I must declare: if there is any iconic dish that reigns supreme over all others in Montreal and Quebec, it's definitely poutine. Even if it's your first time visiting the city, you undoubtedly know that poutine is a staple of any Montrealer's diet.
While there are tons of incredible places to grab a poutine in Montreal, La Banquise is arguably one of the most famed spots, and it's a longtime family-run favourite. You may think you've tried a good poutine in your lifetime, but trust me, until you've eaten at La Banquise, you don't know poutine in the slightest. Line up here after a long night on the town, and be prepared to have your soul changed. Ok, that sounds dramatic, but I'm telling you, these cheese curds are powerful.
10. For a quick dessert: Trou De Beigne
Do I even need to say anything or are you already mesmerized by this photo? I know, donuts. Donuts are life. If you're too full from dinner and need to walk it off a bit, then stroll on over to this glorious bakery and grab yourself a couple of gourmet donuts as a reward.
From maple bacon (not a joke, this is a real flavour), to s'mores, to cookie dough, Trou De Beigne has every donut you've ever imagined and more. You need these in your life, trust me.
11. For a decadent dessert: C'ChoColat
If the dessert menu at your dinner spot just didn't satisfy your sweet tooth, no doubt that C'ChoColat will. I mean, look at those milkshakes - if that doesn't scream decadent, I don't know what does.
This dessert bar specializes, obviously, in all things chocolate, whipping up concoctions that will have you in awe at first sight. If you ask me, there is no better way to show your love and appreciation for your significant other than to treat them to a chocolate-infused experience.