The United States may be right next door, but a short trip across the border can seem like a journey into another world for Canadians unaccustomed to American decadence and consumerism. A quick hop through customs and you'll find yourself in a foreign landscape dominated by American chain restaurants. These massive moneymakers can be found across the U.S., but many of them have yet to enter the Canadian market.

My mom is American and twice a year, since I can remember, we have driven across the border to stock up on American snacks and grab lunch at one of the many American chains. 

Throughout the years, I have managed to score meals (thank you, mother) at most of these eateries, some of which I like, others, not so much. 

Part of the thrill of driving to the U.S. is the opportunity to indulge over-the-top menu items. Or, if you are anything like my friends and me, sometimes you just drive across the border to get Chipotle. Day trips for food make for some of the best memories. 

Below, we list the American chains within driving distance of Montreal. At the bottom of the article, you'll find a map that illustrates the location of each restaurant.

Just make sure to bring your passport! 

Chipotle

Where: 200 Consumer Square Ste 208, Plattsburgh, NY

Distance From Montreal: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love Chipotle. I am serious; I have dreams about its bowls.

Chipotle also serves alcohol!

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Panera Bread

Where: 100 Consumer Square, Plattsburgh, NY

Distance From Montreal: 1 hour and 15 minutes

This chain of bakeries and coffee shops is known for its fresh, quality foods at affordable prices. Panera serves up amazing sandwiches, soups, and baked goods, all of which are worth the drive. 

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Buffalo Wild Wings

Where: 200 Consumer Square, Plattsburgh, NY

Distance From Montreal: 1 hour and 15 minutes

As amazing as the food is in Montreal, I do feel that we are lacking an epic wings spot, like Buffalo Wild Wings. 

The vast array of sauce choices, the large portions, and the little crowns make this a great option for a food-driven road trip. 

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Chick-Fil-A

Where: 400 NY-3, Plattsburgh, NY

Distance From Montreal: 1 hour and 12 minutes

I must be honest, I have never eaten Chick-Fil-A as I do not agree with its anti-queer ideologies. Apparently, it is set to stop funding anti-LGBTQ organizations, which is a start. 

However, those who have eaten their chicken say it is quite impressive! 

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Outback Steakhouse

Where: 150 Dorset St, South Burlington, VT

Distance From Montreal: 1 hour 45 minutes

The "Australian" franchise has been around since the late ’80s and is known for its quirky menu items and big slabs of steak.

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Red Lobster

Where: 750 Upper Glen St, Queensbury, NY

Distance From Montreal: 2 hours and 47 minutes

Red Lobster specializes in seafood dishes and, surprise, lobster! And, in less than 3 hours, you can experience the hype for yourself and taste what the red lobster has to offer. 

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Olive Garden 

Where: 1025 Shelburne Rd, South Burlington, VT

Distance From Montreal: 1 hour and 47 minutes

The Olive Garden is the most Americanized Italian food you can find. Its unlimited breadsticks and salad combined with towering pasta dishes make this spot a go-to for many road-trippers looking for something to nosh on. 

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The Cheesecake Factory

Where: 131 Wolf Rd, Albany

Distance From Montreal: 3 hours and 25 minutes

The Cheesecake Factory has one of those incredibly large menus, making it close to impossible to pick just one dish. 

From flavour-filled appetizers to a seemingly endless list of and giant cheesecakes, The Cheesecake Factory is very much worth the drive. 

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Arby’s

Where: 172 Market St, Potsdam, NY

Distance From Montreal: 2 hours and 16 minutes

This fast-food chain was founded in 1964 and has been a staple in the U.S. since then. 

Known for its curly fries, mozzarella sticks, and roast beef, this fast food joint is a must for any junk food lover. 

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Popeyes 

Where: 4230 Po Valley Rd, Fort Drum, NY

Distance From Montreal: 3 hours and 14 minutes

If you are a fried chicken lover, this chain is totally worth the drive. 

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Panda Express

Where: 10730 Enduring Freedom Dr, Fort Drum, NY

Distance From Montreal: 3 hours and 14 minutes 

Panda Express has been serving fast food Chinese dishes to satisfied customers since 1983.

If you have yet to try it, why not take a little drive to Fort Drum and test it out for yourself! 

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Denny’s

Where: 730 Shelburne Rd, South Burlington, VT

Distance From Montreal: 1 hour and 46 minutes

Denny’s is known for its 24-hour breakfast, something that Montreal, unfortunately, lacks in great supply. So if you want a late-night road trip with the intent of getting pancakes, Denny’s is the place for you! 

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Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 

Where: 1289 Coffeen St, Watertown, NY

Distance From Montreal: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Get a little taste of the south and get some shopping done at the same time. The country store inside every Cracker Barrel includes American novelty items and souvenirs. 

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Longhorn Steakhouse

Where: 1405 Maple Tree Pl, Williston, VT

Distance From Montreal: 1 hour 52 minutes

Longhorn Steakhouse is a chain of restaurants known for meat and stereotypical western décor. If you want the illusion of being in Texas without actually being there, Longhorn Steakhouse is a good placed to do just that. 

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Chili’s

Where: 125 Cypress Place, Williston, VT

Distance From Montreal: 1 hour and 49 minutes

Some of the most popular menu items at this casual dining chain include the boneless, fully loaded chicken wings and bottomless chips and salsa! 

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TGI Fridays

Where: 21890 Towne Center Dr, Watertown, NY

Distance From Montreal: 3 hours 17 minutes

If you want a fully American dining experience, TGI Friday’s is a spot you need to check out. 

From mozzarella dippers to Mario loaded nachos, TGI Friday’s is a dream destination for anyone looking to fight the munchies. 

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Applebee’s

Where: 80 Centre Dr, Plattsburgh, NY 12901

Distance From Montreal: 1 hour and 13 minutes

I have always wanted to go to an Applebee’s but have never gotten around to it. Perhaps this a sign that its salsa verde beef nachos or Thai shrimp salad are in my near future!  

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Dave & Busters

Where: 1 Crossgates Mall Rd, Albany, NY

Distance From Montreal: 3 hours and 30 minutes

If you are looking for food and entertainment, Dave & Busters is the place for you. All of the restaurants are stocked with cool arcade rooms.

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Chuck-E-Cheese

Where: 601 Troy Schenectady Rd, Latham, NY

Distance From Montreal: 3 hours and 21 minutes

As a kid, I always wished I could have a birthday at Chuck-E-Cheese and as an adult, that's still a goal.

From the copious amounts of games and the prizes to be won, Chuck-E-Cheese is a great spot to head to on a day trip outside of the city. 

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All of these chains are mapped for you below, so it's easy to plan your next road trip.

Happy American-style eating!

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