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19 of Montreal’s Food World Success Stories

The restaurants, cafés, and burger joints that made it big

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Making it in Montreal’s restaurant, bar, and café world isn’t necessarily the easiest task (take a look at the city’s never ending stream of closures) — yet for all the complaints of red tape and roadwork, it’s not impossible.

Here are 19 local businesses — mostly restaurants, with a few bars and cafés — who have made it work. Some are decades old, some have been around for no more than two or three years. But all of them had something that worked well enough for them to expand around Montreal and beyond.

One note: this guide focuses on successful business concepts, not successful individuals. While restaurateurs like David McMillan and Antonio Park have been pretty prosperous, their one-of-a-kind restaurants aren’t included here — this map only includes ideas that have managed to open at least three locations.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Dic Ann's

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Dic Ann’s is the iconic Montreal burger — founded in Montréal-Nord over a half century ago, the go-to menu item barely resembles a burger, with a thin patty and an almost chili-like sauce. It never really expanded beyond Montreal and its suburbs, but at a micro level remains a big fast food success story.

Dispatch Coffee

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If Café Myriade brought good coffee to Montreal, Dispatch deserves credit for truly beefing up the city’s coffee cred. Dispatch’s upstart founder Chrissy Durcak started business as a coffee truck (which can still be spotted around town in warmer months), before getting into the roasting business on St-Zotique Street — not to mention locations on the Plateau and at McGill University.

La Panthère Verte

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Relative to some others on this map, the all-vegetarian Panthère Verte (Green Panther) keeps a relatively low profile: no stunts, little advertising, just solid falafels served up from six inner Montreal locations.

Soupesoup

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Founder Caroline Dumas may have left the company to open a separate restaurant, yet this lunch-hour juggernaut keeps powering on. With seven locations (and open to franchising more), Soupesoup serves gallons of soup daily with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients.

Comptoir 21

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British food might not have the trendiest reputation, yet there’s still room for two fish and chip chains in this town. Comptoir 21 is the bigger of the two, balancing out classic cod (or calamari) and fries with a few non-British options like burgers.

St-Viateur Bagel

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Fairmount Bagel might be the longer-running purveyor of Montreal bagels, yet St-Viateur Bagel turned the circular dough-nuggets into a much bigger business. The Mile End icon now counts multiple production facilities and bakeries, and a handful of cafés serving up breakfasts which (surprise!) prominently feature bagels.

Montréal, Québec, Canada, January 6, 2016. -- St-Viateur Bagel is a famous Montreal-style bagel bakery located in the neighbourhood of Mile End in the borough of Le Plateau Mont-Royal. Established in 1957 by Myer Lewkowicz, the bakery takes its name from its street, St-Viateur Street. The bagel shop operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and serves over 12,000 bagels a day. A bagel also spelled beigel, is a bread product originating in Poland, traditionally shaped by hand into the form of a rin (Photo by Thierry Tronnel/Corbis via Getty Images) Corbis News/Getty Images

Les Enfants Terribles

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Starting out as an Outremont neighbourhood brasserie in 2008, Les Enfants Terribles made a name doing comforting rustic dishes with dashes of Quebec tradition (see: pouding chômeur and poutine). It now has a more pan-USA-and-Canada menu, and five locations from Outremont to Magog. The expansions haven’t been without drama: a location atop Place Ville-Marie copped disastrous reviews upon opening.

Pizzéria No 900

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Possibly the biggest casual dining success story in recent years (at least in business terms) has been this wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzeria. Founded by pizzaiolo Alexandre Brunet alongside entrepreneur Dominic Bujold (see also: LOV, Sushi Shop), its chic debut earned a warm reception in Outremont in 2015, and the restaurant rapidly started slinging pies all around the island, and in Quebec City.

L'Gros Luxe

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While its bloody caesars garnished with burgers, onion rings, and more may seem gimmicky, L’Gros Luxe’s comforting menus replete with burgers and mac and cheese have garnered it a loyal following. The affordable prices (helped along by menus that don’t go too heavy on meat) have also been a success, allowing founder Alex Bastide to grow L’Gros Luxe to Sherbrooke and Quebec City.

La Diperie

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It’s a straightforward idea, well done: soft serve ice cream, dipped in melted toppings from chocolate to green tea flavour, with various extras sprinkled on top. Starting out with one location on Pins in 2014, La Diperie now has 21 spots in Greater Montreal, and was bought out by food giant MTY in late 2016.

Uniburger

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The closest thing Montreal has to cult California chain In-N-Out Burger, Uniburger keeps things simple: the standard burger is just griddled ground beef, lettuce, cheese, tomato, a secret sauce on a potato bun. The newly-opened St-Henri Uniburger is only its third outlet, but local excitement around that suggests that any further expansions will be welcomed with open arms.

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La Distillerie

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An early adopter to the “drinks served in mason jars trend”, this bar’s three locations still draw line-ups after years in business, courtesy of a thorough, well-mixed cocktail list; it has also spawned some of the city’s best bartenders. La Distillerie hasn’t expanded in recent years, but that it’s still a veritable institution on the city’s cocktail scene.

Brit & Chips

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Between Brit & Chips and his enduring Little Burgundy pub, the Burgundy Lion, it seems that owner Paul Desbaillets has a knack for successful business plans. With six types of fish all served in crispy batters with crunchy fries, and a few British-style meat pies, the success here is straightforward hearty dishes that go beyond the standard ubiquitous burgers-and-poutine comfort food elsewhere in the city.

Café Myriade

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Anthony Benda has been credited with bringing third wave coffee to Montreal via his Concordia University-adjacent café. While he may have moved onto less coffee-oriented projects, Myriade still holds a special spot on the city’s caffeine scene. (Fun fact: the Mile End “Myriade” on St-Viateur is no longer part of the Myriade family, but somewhat confusingly, retains that name.)

Cacao 70

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It started out as a café focused on chocolatey drinks — and that was successful enough to get Cacao 70 established in cities from Montreal to Vancouver. Now with a new factory in Pointe-St-Charles and pro chocolatier Gaiia Kim heading it up, the company is pivoting towards playing around with cocoa some more, from chocolate bars to possible savoury uses of chocolate.

Chocolate production at Cacao 70’s factory
Xavier Girard Lachaine

Saint-Henri Micro-Torréfacteur

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Sometimes known as Café Saint-Henri, this was one of the first third-wave cafés in the city to also take on roasting its own beans (something they source with ample care). At five locations and growing, founder JF Leduc has now turned his focus to a shiny new roasting facility which will be open to the public in Villeray; a jewel in the crown for this Sud-Ouest success.

Notre-Boeuf-de-Grâce

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While Montreal’s other more recent burger success story Uniburger keeps things simple, Notre-Boeuf-de-Grâce takes a different route, with a lengthy selection of loaded-up burgers and toppings that range from prosciutto to chimichurri and six types of cheese, and beef ground in-house each day.

Mon Ami

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It’s safe to say Montreal isn’t known as a Korean food hub, yet the success of this NDG restaurant proves there’s definitely an appetite for it. Korean fried chicken and bulgogi are the best-sellers, and have allowed the mini-chain to double in size in just 18 months, adding Ville-St-Laurent, Côte-des-Neiges, and Brossard locations. One of the older Mon Amis also specializes entirely in Korean barbecue.

Dilallo Burger

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The iconic Montreal burger before Dic-Ann’s came into existence, founder Luigi Di Lallo created a burger that leaned Italian, with capicollo and pickled peppers. Three generations later, it’s still a local favourite.

Dic Ann's

Dic Ann’s is the iconic Montreal burger — founded in Montréal-Nord over a half century ago, the go-to menu item barely resembles a burger, with a thin patty and an almost chili-like sauce. It never really expanded beyond Montreal and its suburbs, but at a micro level remains a big fast food success story.

Dispatch Coffee

If Café Myriade brought good coffee to Montreal, Dispatch deserves credit for truly beefing up the city’s coffee cred. Dispatch’s upstart founder Chrissy Durcak started business as a coffee truck (which can still be spotted around town in warmer months), before getting into the roasting business on St-Zotique Street — not to mention locations on the Plateau and at McGill University.

La Panthère Verte

Relative to some others on this map, the all-vegetarian Panthère Verte (Green Panther) keeps a relatively low profile: no stunts, little advertising, just solid falafels served up from six inner Montreal locations.

Soupesoup

Founder Caroline Dumas may have left the company to open a separate restaurant, yet this lunch-hour juggernaut keeps powering on. With seven locations (and open to franchising more), Soupesoup serves gallons of soup daily with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients.

Comptoir 21

British food might not have the trendiest reputation, yet there’s still room for two fish and chip chains in this town. Comptoir 21 is the bigger of the two, balancing out classic cod (or calamari) and fries with a few non-British options like burgers.

St-Viateur Bagel

Montréal, Québec, Canada, January 6, 2016. -- St-Viateur Bagel is a famous Montreal-style bagel bakery located in the neighbourhood of Mile End in the borough of Le Plateau Mont-Royal. Established in 1957 by Myer Lewkowicz, the bakery takes its name from its street, St-Viateur Street. The bagel shop operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and serves over 12,000 bagels a day. A bagel also spelled beigel, is a bread product originating in Poland, traditionally shaped by hand into the form of a rin (Photo by Thierry Tronnel/Corbis via Getty Images) Corbis News/Getty Images

Fairmount Bagel might be the longer-running purveyor of Montreal bagels, yet St-Viateur Bagel turned the circular dough-nuggets into a much bigger business. The Mile End icon now counts multiple production facilities and bakeries, and a handful of cafés serving up breakfasts which (surprise!) prominently feature bagels.

Montréal, Québec, Canada, January 6, 2016. -- St-Viateur Bagel is a famous Montreal-style bagel bakery located in the neighbourhood of Mile End in the borough of Le Plateau Mont-Royal. Established in 1957 by Myer Lewkowicz, the bakery takes its name from its street, St-Viateur Street. The bagel shop operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and serves over 12,000 bagels a day. A bagel also spelled beigel, is a bread product originating in Poland, traditionally shaped by hand into the form of a rin (Photo by Thierry Tronnel/Corbis via Getty Images) Corbis News/Getty Images

Les Enfants Terribles

Starting out as an Outremont neighbourhood brasserie in 2008, Les Enfants Terribles made a name doing comforting rustic dishes with dashes of Quebec tradition (see: pouding chômeur and poutine). It now has a more pan-USA-and-Canada menu, and five locations from Outremont to Magog. The expansions haven’t been without drama: a location atop Place Ville-Marie copped disastrous reviews upon opening.

Pizzéria No 900

Possibly the biggest casual dining success story in recent years (at least in business terms) has been this wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzeria. Founded by pizzaiolo Alexandre Brunet alongside entrepreneur Dominic Bujold (see also: LOV, Sushi Shop), its chic debut earned a warm reception in Outremont in 2015, and the restaurant rapidly started slinging pies all around the island, and in Quebec City.

L'Gros Luxe

While its bloody caesars garnished with burgers, onion rings, and more may seem gimmicky, L’Gros Luxe’s comforting menus replete with burgers and mac and cheese have garnered it a loyal following. The affordable prices (helped along by menus that don’t go too heavy on meat) have also been a success, allowing founder Alex Bastide to grow L’Gros Luxe to Sherbrooke and Quebec City.

La Diperie

It’s a straightforward idea, well done: soft serve ice cream, dipped in melted toppings from chocolate to green tea flavour, with various extras sprinkled on top. Starting out with one location on Pins in 2014, La Diperie now has 21 spots in Greater Montreal, and was bought out by food giant MTY in late 2016.