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A pizza from Elena.
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The 38 Essential Restaurants in Montreal

Eater’s guide to some of the city’s most indispensable eats, including copious platters of chicken shawarma and burrata with savoury pancakes

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A pizza from Elena.
| Elena/Facebook

Behold, Montreal’s Eater 38: Your answer to the age-old question, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” This list is our attempt to render Montreal’s food scene in list form, compiling the city’s unique, sometimes offbeat blend of poutine, Haitian, and Middle Eastern staples, and, of course, French-leaning fine dining institutions that make this city such a standout place to eat.

This time, we welcome several restaurants to the list, including Mokili, Mastard, Bossa, Sumac, and Stem Bar. They replace the still formidable Junior, Kamúy, Dinette Triple Crown, Caribbean Curry House, and Le Mousso.

Note: Restaurants on this list must have been open for at least six months. Looking for a guide to some of the city’s newer options? Check here.

Have tips or suggestions for Eater 38? Send them to our tipline.

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Chez Ma Tante

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When Chez Ma Tante got its start, owners served steamed hot dogs (“steamés” in local parlance) out of a horse-drawn carriage. After upgrading to a camper van, the operation eventually moved into a standalone space on Fleury Street. Old-school in the best way, Chez Ma Tante remains one of the top casse-croûtes and poutine purveyors in Montreal. There’s no indoor seating, but diners can settle into one of the picnic tables in its parking lot if the sun is out.

Snowdon Deli

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Looking for famed Montreal smoked meat without having to endure the snaking queues at Schwartz’s? Family-owned Snowdon is a circa-1942 deli that offers the city’s iconic smoked meat on mustard-smothered rye in addition to matzo ball soup, chopped liver, latkes, knishes, and blintzes — minus the long wait times. Inside, expect a no-frills atmosphere where regulars squeeze into booths, chatter flows from behind the deli counter, and veteran employees ensure everything goes off without a hitch.

Restaurant Moccione

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Newly nestled onto a quiet stretch of Saint-Denis Street, Moccione has mercifully reopened after a months-long hiatus. The Eater Restaurant of the Year for 2019 seamlessly picks up where it left off with a series of simple, yet revelatory appetizers, such as asparagus wrapped in a thin sheet of lard or melt-in-your-mouth beef carpaccio, and some devastatingly delicious pasta dishes. Its new, larger digs make nabbing a table slightly easier than it previously was, though — be warned — reservations still fill up fairly quickly.

In the short time since chef Epepe Tukala Vuvu and Baka Serkoukou opened their pan-African food counter, they’ve made a mark. It’s a small place out in Villeray, where one can enjoy dishes like mafé, a Senegalese peanut chicken stew, and ntaba, a Congolese dish composed of grilled goat, plantains, and dollops of puréed safou. Grab a seat at the counter, and don’t leave without a jar of pili-pili, a fiery sauce made of red habaneros locally grown by African farmers.

Dépanneur Le Pick Up

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This easygoing, quintessentially Montreal dépanneur-meets-restaurant is beloved for its lunchtime sandwich offerings and street-side dining tables. Locals typically point to the grilled halloumi with harissa mayo sandwich or the pulled pork (or vegan equivalent) as favourites, but Le Pick Up also grills a mean burger. Looking for laidback Le Pick Up vibes after dark? Head to sibling spot Resto-Bar Le Pick Up in Hochelaga for dinner, and make sure to order a side of garlic and cilantro fries.

Upscale Syrian restaurant Damas is one of Montreal’s most impressive comeback stories: After a fire gutted it in 2015, it was reborn better than ever in a much larger Outremont locale. Seven years later, its mezze spreads and hefty char-grilled mains replete with sumac and Aleppo peppers are an almost guaranteed home run. The restaurant’s owners now also run a street food takeout counter across the street, where they channel Damas flavours into sandwich form.

Chez Tousignant

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It may not have been in business for decades, but Chez Tousignant is as good as a Quebec casse-croûte gets. Opt for the poutine with thick-cut fries, squeaky cheese curds, and rich gravy, along with a house-made hot dog or a cheeseburger drenched in a top-notch secret sauce.

Chalet Bar-B-Q

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With over three-quarters of a century to its name, NDG landmark Chalet Bar-B-Q has won the hearts of multiple generations enamoured with its spit-roasted bird and its arguably unmatched dipping sauce. Open daily, the old-timey, wood-panelled Sherbrooke Street haunt is also known to serve a mean “hot chicken,” a traditional Québécois dish of chicken, sliced white bread, peas, and gravy.

This four-year-old Outremont hideaway wields coastal Catalan flavours with such aplomb that diners may momentarily forget that they’re in Montreal. Expect set seafood-laden menus dotted with conservas, like an ostensibly simple yet flavourfully so-sophisticated dish of white anchovies and tomatoes on crusty bread, and a transportive wine list, all from partners (in business and life) Lindsay Brennan and Juan Lopez Luna. If you can’t snag a table at Alma, sibling wine bar Tinc Set, just next door, serves some impressive tapas and Barcelona-style roasted chicken from a shared kitchen.

Vin Mon Lapin

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When petite Little Italy wine bar Vin Mon Lapin announced, amid ongoing coronavirus health restrictions, that it would be expanding its square footage, it sounded like a risky move — but it paid off. Perennially packed, even at double the size, Vin Mon Lapin is still one of the hottest tables around, four years after its debut. The menu changes frequently at the whims of its chefs (Marc-Olivier Frappier and Jessica Noel) though dependably spotlights farm-fresh veggies and seasonal seafood, with favourites like its layered buckwheat cake remaining a standout.

Le Super Qualité

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La Petite-Patrie’s happening, neon-lit Indian street food restaurant consistently nails its tiffins (available in vegetarian or meaty options), but pros know not to overlook its snacking fare either. There’s the dahi batata puri, bite-sized shells filled with yogurt, tamarind chutney, and crispy sev; chickpea-battered okra; or the wada pav, a chutney-smothered potato patty stuffed into a small, cloud-like bun.

Pho Tay Ho

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There’s no decisive answer to the question of who serves Montreal’s best pho, but Pho Tay Ho is undoubtedly serving one of the highest-ranked bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup in the city. Technically falling within the boundaries of Little Italy, this family-run spot prepares a broth that’s chicken- rather than beef-based — and it’s packed with flavour.

Mastard

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Chef Simon Mathys is recognized as one of the best in the business, having notably fine-tuned his craft at the now-closed Manitoba. At Mastard, the Rosemont restaurant that Mathys opened in January 2021, his devotion to local flora and fauna remains on full display with a continually changing menu that’s recently surfaced dishes carrying raw scallops and hazelnut butter, and carrots draped in creamed matsutake mushrooms and sabayon made of meat juices. A free-reining “carte blanche” menu comes in at $85 for five services.

Casse-Croûte Sissi & Paul

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Montreal is brimming with casual Haitian spots dishing out succulent cubes of marinated-braised-then-fried pork, known as griot — and everyone has their personal favourite. Great for takeout or a low-key lunch or dinner, Sissi & Paul may be a frill-free haunt out by D’Iberville metro station, but its grub occupies a place in the top tier.

Darna Bistroquet

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No guide to Montreal’s multifaceted food scene would be complete without at least one North African destination. La Petite-Patrie’s Darna Bistroquet is just three years old, but its exceptionally warm service, homey feel, and tasty Moroccan fare have proven to be a winning combination. Diners who come with a couple of friends in tow will have no problem making their way through Darna’s inviting line-up of grilled halloumi, carrot tajine, and Berbere-spiced quail.

Île Flottante

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Chef Sean Murray Smith consistently wows with tasting menus that give seasonal vegetables pride of place — without being strictly vegetarian. Dishes are composed of layers of interesting textures, organic colours, and playful flavours, and they’re all served up in a polished dining space. Reservations are highly recommended, with the restaurant frequently booked solid weeks out.

Montreal Plaza

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Many of the city’s fine dining, French-leaning, market-driven restaurants could earn a spot among Montreal’s top culinary destinations, but this raucous Plaza St-Hubert restaurant from Charles-Antoine Crête and Cheryl Johnson stands out for its whimsy. Dishes like almond macarons with foie gras and cranberry compote, or one that combines marrow, pork, and popcorn shrimp with lobster caramel and strawberries in smoked duck fat, manage to be elegant and complex without being self-serious. Cap off what is sure to be a memorable evening with Montreal Plaza’s trademark “crispy fruit,” a light dessert of strawberries, chocolate mousse, sorbet, and slivers of dacquoise.

From the team that brought standout curry shop Pumpui to Little Italy comes this St-Hubert Street newcomer also spotlighting Thai flavours but in a more formal, wine bar-esque setting. Pichai’s menu focuses on Isaan grilled meats and salads, including options like laab ped (a spicy duck dish), choo chee pla (grilled swordfish in a red curry sauce), and sai krok isan (a rice-fermented Berkshire sausage). A Thai tea-infused tiramisu, attractive wine list, and daily specials round out the offerings at Eater Montreal’s 2021 Restaurant of the Year.

Wilensky's Light Lunch

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This Mile End lunch counter is as classic as they come. Montrealers and tourists flock to 90-year-old Wilensky’s for one thing: The Special, a signature sandwich that layers beef salami and bologna, cheese (optional), and mustard (mandatory), all in a grilled, pressed roll.

It’s no wonder effortlessly cool Elena has kept its place among the hottest dining destinations in the city for four years. Diners head to the Saint-Henri gathering spot for everything from a lunchtime hoagie and beer enjoyed on an easygoing backyard terrasse on warm-weather days to a special night out indulging in excellent natural wines and pristine plates of pasta and pizzas — in an absolutely stunning dining room to boot.

Restaurant Queen Sheba

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There isn’t an extensive collection of Ethiopian restaurants in Montreal, so Queen Sheba, on Parc Avenue, does some heavy lifting. Here, spongy injera bread supports mounds of berbere-spiced meat stews and comforting vegan options, like the gommen (garlicky, gingery sautéed kale) or messer wat (slow-cooked split lentils). A good group setting, the dining room is spacious but homey, and the service is friendly and attentive.

Arthurs Nosh Bar

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From the McArthur schnitzel sandwich to a tower of house-smoked salmon and bagels for two, it’s pretty much impossible to fumble when ordering at this St-Henri breakfast, brunch, and lunch haunt — and everyone knows it. So, if you’re planning to come on the weekend, factor in some lengthy wait times (they don’t take reservations), but rest assured, you won’t regret it.

Otto Bistro

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This Japanese bistro in the Plateau excels at raw fish, mazemen (broth-less ramen topped with everything from duck confit to burrata), and an array of other elegantly tuned dishes from chef Hiroshi Kitano, including a keema curry and ebi (shrimp) tempura burger. A nondescript Mont-Royal Avenue spot with high tables, bar seating, and eclectic artwork, Otto Bistro is a relaxed venue, perfect for a low-pressure date or solo dining session.

Satay Brothers

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One of the very few places to offer Singaporean and Malaysian food in the city, Satay Brothers has evolved over the years from a seasonal market stall founded by two brothers and their mom to a bustling destination-worthy restaurant on the Notre-Dame strip. Stellar peanut-sauced satays, steamed pork belly buns, shrimpy laksa, and coconut-topped rendang have propelled them to icon status on the city’s restaurant scene — with that original stand at the Atwater Market still in the picture.

This low-key, counter-service restaurant delivers some of Montreal’s very best Middle Eastern grub. Copious platters of chicken shawarma, falafel, and beef kefta, and some seriously delicious spreads (hummus, baba ghanoush, muhammara, and labneh) are among the reasons why this Saint-Henri spot from ​​Raquel Zagury and David Bloom demands a slot on every Montreal food itinerary.

Le Vin Papillon

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This Little Burgundy wine bar was a seamless addition to the Joe Beef family when it opened in the summer of 2013. Expect a bevy of natural and organic wines, a chalkboard menu featuring dishes less hefty than at its sibling spots on Notre-Dame’s restaurant row, and a not-to-be-missed staple: cheddar-topped, brown butter-slathered ham.

Ma Poule Mouillée

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The quarter or half chicken plates — doused in spicy piri pir and served with a mountain of well-seasoned fries and a token salad — are the standard play Portuguese grill Ma Poule Mouillée, but the poutine, bulked up with chicken, chorizo, and São Jorge cheese, has achieved icon status. Some well-coordinated counter service ensures the wait isn’t too long, even if the queue of hungry locals and tourists often spills out the door and around the corner.

Stem Bar

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When the Stem Bar team first landed on Notre-Dame West, it was with a daytime coffee shop called September Surf. But since 2020, they’ve been running a nightlife counterpart just next door. Here, diners can expect a dynamite wine list by sommelier Alessandro Ghirotto and a food menu — particularly the anchovy-topped burrata with salty pancakes and some sumptuous cavatelli with braised lamb ragu — that demands attention.

Au Pied de Cochon

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It’s difficult to remember where Montreal’s restaurant scene was before Martin Picard wrote his love letter to Quebec cuisine in the form of Au Pied de Cochon more than twenty years ago. The Duluth Street staple has since been credited with elevating poutine from a greasy snack to Québécois culinary icon with a decadent foie gras-laden take on it — and it continues to find ways to innovate with hearty, rustic fare in a French brasserie-inspired space.

L'Express

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Opened in 1980, the city’s bellwether bistro has only felt more vital since the untimely death of founder Colette Brossoit in 2014. The oh-so-classic French offerings — think duck confit and pistachio-speckled chicken liver pâté — at this longtime Plateau darling remain solid, while a seat at its bar is as coveted as ever.

Arepera

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This casual Venezuelan eatery specializes in the stuffed cornbread pockets known as arepas. Arepera’s are filled with your choice of a (borderline overwhelming) array of beef, chicken, pork, fish, and veggie options. In 2018, Arepera moved to a far more roomy Plateau locale — meaning shorter wait times for on-site dining.

Brothers Ari and Pablo Schor (both Liverpool House alum) sought to recreate the confluence of Spanish and Italian cultures in their native Argentina with this 2019 opening in Verdun. Slip away from Promenade Wellington into Beba’s intimate dining room for bright, seasonal seafood and salads, brilliantly braised meats and vegetables, and some lovely pasta dishes. Make sure to kick off the meal with whatever empanada is on offer.

Bossa Prêt à manger (multiple locations)

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It’s no surprise sandwich shop Bossa habitually draws lines out the door: meaty fillings like porchetta, chicken cutlet, and cured meats join classic Italian ingredients like marinated eggplants, provolone cheese, rapini, and giardiniera (pickled veggies) in flavour-soaking bread. There are now two locations (one on Wellington Street, one on Masson), both also selling an array of imported Italian goods, such as pasta, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Hoogan et Beaufort

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Hoogan & Beaufort brings a distinctly local offering to the ever-developing Technopole Angus. Under chef and owner Marc-André Jetté’s watch, mushrooms, beets, turnips, and more make appearances, often accompanying catches from the province’s land and lakes. The space, a former factory where trains and tanks were once built, has tall ceilings and concrete floors but is warmed up with natural lighting, wooden furniture, and a fire pit at the centre of its open-concept kitchen.

Dobe & Andy

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Chinatown’s premier Hong Kong-style barbecue joint is run by second-generation owners (and brothers) Eric and Edmund Ku. Since taking over from their father, they’ve experimented with adding some fantastic fried chicken, juicy chili garlic wontons, and some sweet merch, but the char siu pork and roast duck served with rice and a dollop of ginger-scallion sauce remain the headliners.

La Capital Tacos

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This taqueria resides in Chinatown and has dinnerware to match. Opened seven years ago by partners from Mexico City and Monterrey, La Capital has cemented its reputation with some satisfying carnitas tacos, easy-drinking cocktails, and reliable vegan options (such as a soy chorizo and potato quesadilla). Its quesabirria — a tortilla stuffed with tender beef, sealed shut with melted cheese, and served with a side cup of flavour-packed consommé — is a must.

Olive & Gourmando

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There’s a reason locals keep coming back to Olive & Gourmando: It’s just that good. A small menu centres on sandwiches (the Cuban is a favourite) and other breakfast and lunch fare like sweet and savoury ricotta plates (the former topped with honey and served with brioche bread, the latter featuring asparagus, almonds, shaved pecorino, and Romesco sauce). There’s really no wrong move here, and if you like the experience, you can pick up the restaurant’s cookbook and keep feasting at home.

Hélicoptère

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With a culinary approach that feels like fine dining but is more casual in setting and price, Hélicoptère has been checking boxes left and right since opening in 2018. Expect a menu of colourful, creative plates with plenty of seasonal fare and international flavours from chefs David Ollu and Marianne Lafleur, and don’t overlook adjoining sibling coffee shop Hélico — another necessary stop on any Hochelaga pilgrimage.

Chez Ma Tante

When Chez Ma Tante got its start, owners served steamed hot dogs (“steamés” in local parlance) out of a horse-drawn carriage. After upgrading to a camper van, the operation eventually moved into a standalone space on Fleury Street. Old-school in the best way, Chez Ma Tante remains one of the top casse-croûtes and poutine purveyors in Montreal. There’s no indoor seating, but diners can settle into one of the picnic tables in its parking lot if the sun is out.

Snowdon Deli

Looking for famed Montreal smoked meat without having to endure the snaking queues at Schwartz’s? Family-owned Snowdon is a circa-1942 deli that offers the city’s iconic smoked meat on mustard-smothered rye in addition to matzo ball soup, chopped liver, latkes, knishes, and blintzes — minus the long wait times. Inside, expect a no-frills atmosphere where regulars squeeze into booths, chatter flows from behind the deli counter, and veteran employees ensure everything goes off without a hitch.

Restaurant Moccione

Newly nestled onto a quiet stretch of Saint-Denis Street, Moccione has mercifully reopened after a months-long hiatus. The Eater Restaurant of the Year for 2019 seamlessly picks up where it left off with a series of simple, yet revelatory appetizers, such as asparagus wrapped in a thin sheet of lard or melt-in-your-mouth beef carpaccio, and some devastatingly delicious pasta dishes. Its new, larger digs make nabbing a table slightly easier than it previously was, though — be warned — reservations still fill up fairly quickly.

Mokili

In the short time since chef Epepe Tukala Vuvu and Baka Serkoukou opened their pan-African food counter, they’ve made a mark. It’s a small place out in Villeray, where one can enjoy dishes like mafé, a Senegalese peanut chicken stew, and ntaba, a Congolese dish composed of grilled goat, plantains, and dollops of puréed safou. Grab a seat at the counter, and don’t leave without a jar of pili-pili, a fiery sauce made of red habaneros locally grown by African farmers.

Dépanneur Le Pick Up

This easygoing, quintessentially Montreal dépanneur-meets-restaurant is beloved for its lunchtime sandwich offerings and street-side dining tables. Locals typically point to the grilled halloumi with harissa mayo sandwich or the pulled pork (or vegan equivalent) as favourites, but Le Pick Up also grills a mean burger. Looking for laidback Le Pick Up vibes after dark? Head to sibling spot Resto-Bar Le Pick Up in Hochelaga for dinner, and make sure to order a side of garlic and cilantro fries.

Damas

Upscale Syrian restaurant Damas is one of Montreal’s most impressive comeback stories: After a fire gutted it in 2015, it was reborn better than ever in a much larger Outremont locale. Seven years later, its mezze spreads and hefty char-grilled mains replete with sumac and Aleppo peppers are an almost guaranteed home run. The restaurant’s owners now also run a street food takeout counter across the street, where they channel Damas flavours into sandwich form.

Chez Tousignant

It may not have been in business for decades, but Chez Tousignant is as good as a Quebec casse-croûte gets. Opt for the poutine with thick-cut fries, squeaky cheese curds, and rich gravy, along with a house-made hot dog or a cheeseburger drenched in a top-notch secret sauce.

Chalet Bar-B-Q

With over three-quarters of a century to its name, NDG landmark Chalet Bar-B-Q has won the hearts of multiple generations enamoured with its spit-roasted bird and its arguably unmatched dipping sauce. Open daily, the old-timey, wood-panelled Sherbrooke Street haunt is also known to serve a mean “hot chicken,” a traditional Québécois dish of chicken, sliced white bread, peas, and gravy.

Alma

This four-year-old Outremont hideaway wields coastal Catalan flavours with such aplomb that diners may momentarily forget that they’re in Montreal. Expect set seafood-laden menus dotted with conservas, like an ostensibly simple yet flavourfully so-sophisticated dish of white anchovies and tomatoes on crusty bread, and a transportive wine list, all from partners (in business and life) Lindsay Brennan and Juan Lopez Luna. If you can’t snag a table at Alma, sibling wine bar Tinc Set, just next door, serves some impressive tapas and Barcelona-style roasted chicken from a shared kitchen.

Vin Mon Lapin

When petite Little Italy wine bar Vin Mon Lapin announced, amid ongoing coronavirus health restrictions, that it would be expanding its square footage, it sounded like a risky move — but it paid off. Perennially packed, even at double the size, Vin Mon Lapin is still one of the hottest tables around, four years after its debut. The menu changes frequently at the whims of its chefs (Marc-Olivier Frappier and Jessica Noel) though dependably spotlights farm-fresh veggies and seasonal seafood, with favourites like its layered buckwheat cake remaining a standout.

Le Super Qualité

La Petite-Patrie’s happening, neon-lit Indian street food restaurant consistently nails its tiffins (available in vegetarian or meaty options), but pros know not to overlook its snacking fare either. There’s the dahi batata puri, bite-sized shells filled with yogurt, tamarind chutney, and crispy sev; chickpea-battered okra; or the wada pav, a chutney-smothered potato patty stuffed into a small, cloud-like bun.

Pho Tay Ho

There’s no decisive answer to the question of who serves Montreal’s best pho, but Pho Tay Ho is undoubtedly serving one of the highest-ranked bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup in the city. Technically falling within the boundaries of Little Italy, this family-run spot prepares a broth that’s chicken- rather than beef-based — and it’s packed with flavour.

Mastard

Chef Simon Mathys is recognized as one of the best in the business, having notably fine-tuned his craft at the now-closed Manitoba. At Mastard, the Rosemont restaurant that Mathys opened in January 2021, his devotion to local flora and fauna remains on full display with a continually changing menu that’s recently surfaced dishes carrying raw scallops and hazelnut butter, and carrots draped in creamed matsutake mushrooms and sabayon made of meat juices. A free-reining “carte blanche” menu comes in at $85 for five services.

Casse-Croûte Sissi & Paul

Montreal is brimming with casual Haitian spots dishing out succulent cubes of marinated-braised-then-fried pork, known as griot — and everyone has their personal favourite. Great for takeout or a low-key lunch or dinner, Sissi & Paul may be a frill-free haunt out by D’Iberville metro station, but its grub occupies a place in the top tier.

Darna Bistroquet

No guide to Montreal’s multifaceted food scene would be complete without at least one North African destination. La Petite-Patrie’s Darna Bistroquet is just three years old, but its exceptionally warm service, homey feel, and tasty Moroccan fare have proven to be a winning combination. Diners who come with a couple of friends in tow will have no problem making their way through Darna’s inviting line-up of grilled halloumi, carrot tajine, and Berbere-spiced quail.

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Île Flottante

Chef Sean Murray Smith consistently wows with tasting menus that give seasonal vegetables pride of place — without being strictly vegetarian. Dishes are composed of layers of interesting textures, organic colours, and playful flavours, and they’re all served up in a polished dining space. Reservations are highly recommended, with the restaurant frequently booked solid weeks out.

Montreal Plaza

Many of the city’s fine dining, French-leaning, market-driven restaurants could earn a spot among Montreal’s top culinary destinations, but this raucous Plaza St-Hubert restaurant from Charles-Antoine Crête and Cheryl Johnson stands out for its whimsy. Dishes like almond macarons with foie gras and cranberry compote, or one that combines marrow, pork, and popcorn shrimp with lobster caramel and strawberries in smoked duck fat, manage to be elegant and complex without being self-serious. Cap off what is sure to be a memorable evening with Montreal Plaza’s trademark “crispy fruit,” a light dessert of strawberries, chocolate mousse, sorbet, and slivers of dacquoise.

Pichai

From the team that brought standout curry shop Pumpui to Little Italy comes this St-Hubert Street newcomer also spotlighting Thai flavours but in a more formal, wine bar-esque setting. Pichai’s menu focuses on Isaan grilled meats and salads, including options like laab ped (a spicy duck dish), choo chee pla (grilled swordfish in a red curry sauce), and sai krok isan (a rice-fermented Berkshire sausage). A Thai tea-infused tiramisu, attractive wine list, and daily specials round out the offerings at Eater Montreal’s 2021 Restaurant of the Year.

Wilensky's Light Lunch

This Mile End lunch counter is as classic as they come. Montrealers and tourists flock to 90-year-old Wilensky’s for one thing: The Special, a signature sandwich that layers beef salami and bologna, cheese (optional), and mustard (mandatory), all in a grilled, pressed roll.

Elena

It’s no wonder effortlessly cool Elena has kept its place among the hottest dining destinations in the city for four years. Diners head to the Saint-Henri gathering spot for everything from a lunchtime hoagie and beer enjoyed on an easygoing backyard terrasse on warm-weather days to a special night out indulging in excellent natural wines and pristine plates of pasta and pizzas — in an absolutely stunning dining room to boot.

Restaurant Queen Sheba

There isn’t an extensive collection of Ethiopian restaurants in Montreal, so Queen Sheba, on Parc Avenue, does some heavy lifting. Here, spongy injera bread supports mounds of berbere-spiced meat stews and comforting vegan options, like the gommen (garlicky, gingery sautéed kale) or messer wat (slow-cooked split lentils). A good group setting, the dining room is spacious but homey, and the service is friendly and attentive.

Arthurs Nosh Bar

From the McArthur schnitzel sandwich to a tower of house-smoked salmon and bagels for two, it’s pretty much impossible to fumble when ordering at this St-Henri breakfast, brunch, and lunch haunt — and everyone knows it. So, if you’re planning to come on the weekend, factor in some lengthy wait times (they don’t take reservations), but rest assured, you won’t regret it.

Otto Bistro

This Japanese bistro in the Plateau excels at raw fish, mazemen (broth-less ramen topped with everything from duck confit to burrata), and an array of other elegantly tuned dishes from chef Hiroshi Kitano, including a keema curry and ebi (shrimp) tempura burger. A nondescript Mont-Royal Avenue spot with high tables, bar seating, and eclectic artwork, Otto Bistro is a relaxed venue, perfect for a low-pressure date or solo dining session.

Satay Brothers

One of the very few places to offer Singaporean and Malaysian food in the city, Satay Brothers has evolved over the years from a seasonal market stall founded by two brothers and their mom to a bustling destination-worthy restaurant on the Notre-Dame strip. Stellar peanut-sauced satays, steamed pork belly buns, shrimpy laksa, and coconut-topped rendang have propelled them to icon status on the city’s restaurant scene — with that original stand at the Atwater Market still in the picture.

Sumac

This low-key, counter-service restaurant delivers some of Montreal’s very best Middle Eastern grub. Copious platters of chicken shawarma, falafel, and beef kefta, and some seriously delicious spreads (hummus, baba ghanoush, muhammara, and labneh) are among the reasons why this Saint-Henri spot from ​​Raquel Zagury and David Bloom demands a slot on every Montreal food itinerary.

Le Vin Papillon

This Little Burgundy wine bar was a seamless addition to the Joe Beef family when it opened in the summer of 2013. Expect a bevy of natural and organic wines, a chalkboard menu featuring dishes less hefty than at its sibling spots on Notre-Dame’s restaurant row, and a not-to-be-missed staple: cheddar-topped, brown butter-slathered ham.

Ma Poule Mouillée

The quarter or half chicken plates — doused in spicy piri pir and served with a mountain of well-seasoned fries and a token salad — are the standard play Portuguese grill Ma Poule Mouillée, but the poutine, bulked up with chicken, chorizo, and São Jorge cheese, has achieved icon status. Some well-coordinated counter service ensures the wait isn’t too long, even if the queue of hungry locals and tourists often spills out the door and around the corner.

Stem Bar

When the Stem Bar team first landed on Notre-Dame West, it was with a daytime coffee shop called September Surf. But since 2020, they’ve been running a nightlife counterpart just next door. Here, diners can expect a dynamite wine list by sommelier Alessandro Ghirotto and a food menu — particularly the anchovy-topped burrata with salty pancakes and some sumptuous cavatelli with braised lamb ragu — that demands attention.

Au Pied de Cochon

It’s difficult to remember where Montreal’s restaurant scene was before Martin Picard wrote his love letter to Quebec cuisine in the form of Au Pied de Cochon more than twenty years ago. The Duluth Street staple has since been credited with elevating poutine from a greasy snack to Québécois culinary icon with a decadent foie gras-laden take on it — and it continues to find ways to innovate with hearty, rustic fare in a French brasserie-inspired space.

L'Express

Opened in 1980, the city’s bellwether bistro has only felt more vital since the untimely death of founder Colette Brossoit in 2014. The oh-so-classic French offerings — think duck confit and pistachio-speckled chicken liver pâté — at this longtime Plateau darling remain solid, while a seat at its bar is as coveted as ever.

Arepera

This casual Venezuelan eatery specializes in the stuffed cornbread pockets known as arepas. Arepera’s are filled with your choice of a (borderline overwhelming) array of beef, chicken, pork, fish, and veggie options. In 2018, Arepera moved to a far more roomy Plateau locale — meaning shorter wait times for on-site dining.

Beba

Brothers Ari and Pablo Schor (both Liverpool House alum) sought to recreate the confluence of Spanish and Italian cultures in their native Argentina with this 2019 opening in Verdun. Slip away from Promenade Wellington into Beba’s intimate dining room for bright, seasonal seafood and salads, brilliantly braised meats and vegetables, and some lovely pasta dishes. Make sure to kick off the meal with whatever empanada is on offer.

Bossa Prêt à manger (multiple locations)

It’s no surprise sandwich shop Bossa habitually draws lines out the door: meaty fillings like porchetta, chicken cutlet, and cured meats join classic Italian ingredients like marinated eggplants, provolone cheese, rapini, and giardiniera (pickled veggies) in flavour-soaking bread. There are now two locations (one on Wellington Street, one on Masson), both also selling an array of imported Italian goods, such as pasta, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Hoogan et Beaufort

Hoogan & Beaufort brings a distinctly local offering to the ever-developing Technopole Angus. Under chef and owner Marc-André Jetté’s watch, mushrooms, beets, turnips, and more make appearances, often accompanying catches from the province’s land and lakes. The space, a former factory where trains and tanks were once built, has tall ceilings and concrete floors but is warmed up with natural lighting, wooden furniture, and a fire pit at the centre of its open-concept kitchen.

Dobe & Andy

Chinatown’s premier Hong Kong-style barbecue joint is run by second-generation owners (and brothers) Eric and Edmund Ku. Since taking over from their father, they’ve experimented with adding some fantastic fried chicken, juicy chili garlic wontons, and some sweet merch, but the char siu pork and roast duck served with rice and a dollop of ginger-scallion sauce remain the headliners.

La Capital Tacos

This taqueria resides in Chinatown and has dinnerware to match. Opened seven years ago by partners from Mexico City and Monterrey, La Capital has cemented its reputation with some satisfying carnitas tacos, easy-drinking cocktails, and reliable vegan options (such as a soy chorizo and potato quesadilla). Its quesabirria — a tortilla stuffed with tender beef, sealed shut with melted cheese, and served with a side cup of flavour-packed consommé — is a must.

Olive & Gourmando

There’s a reason locals keep coming back to Olive & Gourmando: It’s just that good. A small menu centres on sandwiches (the Cuban is a favourite) and other breakfast and lunch fare like sweet and savoury ricotta plates (the former topped with honey and served with brioche bread, the latter featuring asparagus, almonds, shaved pecorino, and Romesco sauce). There’s really no wrong move here, and if you like the experience, you can pick up the restaurant’s cookbook and keep feasting at home.

Hélicoptère

With a culinary approach that feels like fine dining but is more casual in setting and price, Hélicoptère has been checking boxes left and right since opening in 2018. Expect a menu of colourful, creative plates with plenty of seasonal fare and international flavours from chefs David Ollu and Marianne Lafleur, and don’t overlook adjoining sibling coffee shop Hélico — another necessary stop on any Hochelaga pilgrimage.

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