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28 Classic Restaurants Every Montrealer Must Try

Out with the new, in with the old

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Sometimes it seems that the never-ending churn of hot new establishments wrests the limelight away from reliable veterans that chug along, decade in, and decade out. Some of these war-horses have made concessions to the times; others have powered through on the coattails of nostalgia.

They may not be vanguards of innovation, but they help tell Montreal's story. Meet the classics.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Dic Ann's

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This burger joint has a style all its own: an uncommonly thin patty is covered in a spicy meat sauce and pressed between a toasted bun. For the more adventurous, add a slice of pepperoni to the mix. Open since 1956 in Montréal-Nord, with outposts around the city. Still one of a kind after 60 years.

Méli Mélo

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This ace stockist of Caribbean, South American and West African goods pulls double duty as a Haitian casse-croûte. The dish that denizens queue for is griot, a salmagundi, as the shop's name suggests, of thrice-cooked pork and aromatics, served with rice and beans and fried breadfruit. Open since 1984.

Make it four decades of upmarket Syrian and Armenian cuisine, and one of the best wine lists in the city to boot, at this consistent favourite in the vicinity of Jean-Talon Market; consider the next door sibling Le Petit Alep if you’re looking to keep it cheap. Open since 1976.

Pizzeria Napoletana

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Pizza in this city is a tough racket. Napoletana claims to serve the first authentic Neapolitan pizza Montrealers shoved in their pie holes. With the added BYO bonus and boisterous atmosphere, it remains a Little Italy institution. Open since 1948.

Elio Pizzeria

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Italian immigrant Elio de Lauri started his namesake restaurant with just four tables — now it can seat 400, and despite the upsizing and very refreshed dining room, the classic quality is very much still there on the part-Italian, part-Montreal menu of pies. Open since 1964.

Le Mitoyen

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Trends and chefs come and go but this country house restaurant in Laval from Richard Bastien (Leméac) is still at it. It’s tranquil, it’s relaxed, and the staff very much know what they’re doing. Open since 1980.

Marven's

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This no-frills, Park Ex emporium of Greek crowd-pleasers has been run by the Kostopoulos family since 1976. Not much has changed here since it first opened, from the heaping plates of fried calamari to the honking steaks and titanic mixed grill platters.

Wilensky's Light Lunch

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Places like Wilensky's are on the verge of extinction. When you sit down at that lunch counter for their iconic special sandwich, you're transported back in time. Often imitated but never equalled. Open since 1932. Enjoy a photo gallery and this interview with Sharon Wilensky about her family's famous restaurant.

Aux Lilas

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There are almost no Lebanese restaurants in Mile End — perhaps because Aux Lilas has been quietly excelling at that game for almost 40 years, with crispy kibbeh, herby tabbouleh, and silky smooth dips.

Lester's

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Everyone in this city has a favourite deli, and for some, there’s no question when it comes to Lester’s. Ask owner Billy Berenholc about the time he landed a plane on Parc Avenue. Open since 1951.

La Binerie Mont-Royal

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If you’ve ever wondered what an authentic, salt of the earth Quebec breakfast was like back in the day, look no further than La Binerie on St-Denis (it moved to new digs in late 2019). Open since 1938, they’re still serving up some of this province’s heartier classics. Elastic waistbands welcome.

La Binerie’s old location on Mont-Royal
La Binerie/Official

Milos has been a Montreal fixture for over three decades. In that time owner Costas Spiliadis has forged a singular legacy, with estiatorio outposts in New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Athens. Open since 1980.

Chez Doval

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A place close to all our hearts, Chez Doval’s curt waiters, live guitarist, night sweat inducing house wine and often long waits are totally worth it for a piece of that sweet, sweet chargrilled chicken or seafood. Open since 1974.

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L'Express

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The city's bellwether French bistro feels even more indispensable since the untimely death of founder Colette Brossoit just a few short years ago. Open since 1980.

Beautys Luncheonette

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This classic diner on the corner of Saint-Urbain and Mont-Royal is arguably the original Montreal brunch spot and still serves the Beauty’s Special to the masses, and still going strong after iconic owner Hymie Sckolnik died in 2017. Open since 1942.

Moishes

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Owner Lenny Lighter, a prince among men in the restaurant industry, has managed to continue the Moishes steakhouse legacy while not sacrificing quality or service. Period tweaks and overhauls of both the menu and the interior proves he still knows what his customers want. Open since 1938.

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen

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This smoked meat temple is one of the most well-known landmarks in the city and still induces locals and tourists (mostly tourists) to line up and down the block, day after day, season after season, for their classic sandwich. Open since 1928.

Montreal Pool Room

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Despite moving across the street to a new, but fittingly “worn” location a few years back, this is still, hands down, the best place to get a pair of all dressed steamés in the city. (Word to the wise: hold it if you can, their unisex bathroom has seen better days.) Open since 1912.

The location in a relatively ugly high-rise apartment building may not be glamorous, but Sakura is a Montreal sushi classic — it might not compete with newer, perma-hot destinations like Park, but it also won’t set you back 150-ish dollars, and it does a fine job. Reportedly a family favourite of Justin Trudeau, open since 1973.

Mister Steer

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Mister Steer has been serving up classic Steer burgers and curly fries at its downtown location for 57 years. Still a well-frequented choice for the business crowds, it’s also a great place to eat pre- or post- game or show at the nearby Bell Centre. Open since 1958.

Caribbean Curry House

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After reforms to Canada’s immigration policy in the 1960s, Montreal welcomed multitudes of newcomers from the likes of Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad. Pockets of the city soon became conversant in the heady, habit-forming cuisine of the West Indies. Caribbean Curry House's stuffed rotis deserve much of the credit. Open since 1980.

Gibeau Orange Julep

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Built by Hermas Gibeau to honour his signature drink, the giant orange ball that houses this casse-croûte on Decarie Blvd. has become a local landmark. Open since 1962.

Snowdon Deli

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This well loved Jewish delicatessen opened after the Second World War by brothers Abe, Joe and Phil Morantz. Still run by the family today, Snowdon Deli has been providing Montrealers with solid deli favourites and kick-ass party sandwiches since 1946.

Greenspot

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St-Henri might be gentrifying rapidly, but then there’s Greenspot — chugging away on classic breakfasts, poutines, and burgers since 1947.

Côte St-Luc BBQ

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As much as Montreal is a smoked meat city, we also know how to cook a pretty mean bird. This NDG barbecue joint prides itself as being the only restaurant that offers maple char grilled chicken roasted in authentic brick ovens, and it survived a major fire in 2017 to boot. Open since 1953.

Chalet Bar-B-Q

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This NDG mainstay pumps out rotisserie chickens at a rate that will make your head spin. With some of the friendliest waitresses in the business, there is not one, but two (!) party rooms to cater to almost every occasion. Open since 1944.

Many Montreal ‘hoods have their staple, ultra-long-running diner — and Cosmos is just that for NDG. Get burgers, bacon and eggs, or the mish-mash for the greasiest of greasy spoon fare.

Dilallo

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Dilallo's Buck Burger — a hamburger with cappicola, cheese, hot peppers, relish, mustard, onions, tomato and lettuce — is proudly made on the same custom stoves designed and used by founder Luigi Di Lallo almost a century ago. Open since 1929 in Ville-Émard, with a few other outposts.

Dic Ann's

This burger joint has a style all its own: an uncommonly thin patty is covered in a spicy meat sauce and pressed between a toasted bun. For the more adventurous, add a slice of pepperoni to the mix. Open since 1956 in Montréal-Nord, with outposts around the city. Still one of a kind after 60 years.

Méli Mélo

This ace stockist of Caribbean, South American and West African goods pulls double duty as a Haitian casse-croûte. The dish that denizens queue for is griot, a salmagundi, as the shop's name suggests, of thrice-cooked pork and aromatics, served with rice and beans and fried breadfruit. Open since 1984.

Alep

Make it four decades of upmarket Syrian and Armenian cuisine, and one of the best wine lists in the city to boot, at this consistent favourite in the vicinity of Jean-Talon Market; consider the next door sibling Le Petit Alep if you’re looking to keep it cheap. Open since 1976.

Pizzeria Napoletana

Pizza in this city is a tough racket. Napoletana claims to serve the first authentic Neapolitan pizza Montrealers shoved in their pie holes. With the added BYO bonus and boisterous atmosphere, it remains a Little Italy institution. Open since 1948.

Elio Pizzeria

Italian immigrant Elio de Lauri started his namesake restaurant with just four tables — now it can seat 400, and despite the upsizing and very refreshed dining room, the classic quality is very much still there on the part-Italian, part-Montreal menu of pies. Open since 1964.

Le Mitoyen

Trends and chefs come and go but this country house restaurant in Laval from Richard Bastien (Leméac) is still at it. It’s tranquil, it’s relaxed, and the staff very much know what they’re doing. Open since 1980.

Marven's

This no-frills, Park Ex emporium of Greek crowd-pleasers has been run by the Kostopoulos family since 1976. Not much has changed here since it first opened, from the heaping plates of fried calamari to the honking steaks and titanic mixed grill platters.

Wilensky's Light Lunch