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Downtown Montreal: Where to Lunch This Winter

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dtmtllunch.jpg[Photo: Wikipedia]

Downtown Montreal has never been a food destination per se, certainly not in the mold of a Mile End or Little Burgundy. The bridge and tunnel crowds rarely make a specific, purposeful trip to dine in the core of the city - Downtown beckons with other business and diversions after all - but, in many respects, that reputation is now under threat.

This new reality is about to collide with the busy holiday season, as Ste-Catherine street clogs up, the Underground City's hours extend and parents bundle kids up to go see Casse-Noisette and Ogilvy's festive window display. And while the likes of Al-Taib, Boustan, Bangkok and Mister Steer will do in a pinch, the emphasis of this map, with one possible exception, is on Downtown Montreal restaurants that offer a more cultivated brand of service and cuisine. And alcohol. The importance of alcohol, especially in December, cannot be overstated.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Bouillon Bilk

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1595 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec
H2X 2S9, Canada
(514) 845-1595
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Open weekdays for lunch, Bouillon Bilk is a haven from downtown's bustle. Chef François Nadon's upscale takes on poutine, Waldorf salad and tartares impress.

2. Brasserie T!

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1425 rue Jeanne-Mance, Montreal, Quebec
H2X 2J4, Canada
(514) 282-0808
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Normand Laprise's Quartier des Spectacles restaurant is so much more than a casual sister to Toqué! The food at Brasserie T! is razor sharp. Lesley Chesterman: "With the holiday season soon upon us, this modern brasserie would be a terrific choice for a pre- or post-spectacle meal."

3. Café Bistro McCord

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660 rue Sherbrooke O., Montreal, Quebec
H3A 1E9, Canada
(514) 398-7100
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The McCord Museum's restaurant revamp includes a new menu from chef Joanna Galanomatis and Julien-Leblanc Traiteur, with a $30 table d'hôte. Now to persuade the museum brass to consider a name change ...

4. Laurie Raphaël

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2050 Mansfield, Montreal, Quebec
H3A 1Y9, Canada
(514) 985-6072
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Big time Quebec chef Daniel Vézina helms The Germain hotel's restaurant, if from afar. The luxe lunch menu is just what you want in Montreal in December too, from foie gras terrine to risotto.

5. Dominion Square Tavern

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1243 rue Metcalfe, Montreal, Quebec
H3B 2V5, Canada
(514) 564-5056
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Just off the Ste-Catherine retail drag, Dominion Square Tavern probably the best lunch draw in the downtown core. This is classic hearty fare done well, from the Ploughman's to the Bangers and Mash. The temptation to stay inside and pore over the excellent cocktail list is difficult to deny.

6. Maison Boulud

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1228 rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1H6, Canada
(514) 842-4224
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Ambiance-wise the Ritz-Carlton's restaurant is a stunner for mid-spree respites. Maison Boulud's lunch menu is a hefty one - to wit, the killer burger, crispy ris de veau and $40 entrecôte. Strong wine list too.

7. Sakura

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3450 rue Drummond, Montreal, Quebec
H3A 1B1, Canada
(514) 288-9122
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Sakura humbly celebrates four decades in business in 2013. Montreal's doyen Japanese restaurant still serves lunch five days a week.

8. Café des Beaux-Arts

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1384 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1J5, Canada
(514) 843-3233
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Chef Richard Bastien still works the line at Café des Beaux-Arts from time to time but regardless, the Museum of Fine Arts restaurant is a branché lunch spot.

9. Il Cortile

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1442 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1K4, Canada
(514) 843-8230
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There may be better Italian food in the city but Il Cortile's inner cobblestone courtyard is stellar. The veteran Montreal restaurant's cellar is not half-bad either.

10. Europea

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1227 rue de la Montagne, Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1Z2, Canada
(514) 398-9229
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Many consider Europea the best restaurant in Montreal. Relais & Châteaux grand chef Jérôme Ferrer's lunch menu, most notably the $60 prix fixe with forfait sommlier, caters to a business executive crowd but is worth a holiday splurge.

11. Le Mas des Oliviers

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1216 rue Bishop, Montreal, Quebec
H3G 2E3, Canada
(514) 861-6733
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Jacques Muller is not a romantic sort of Francophile. The man just lives the life - the full expression of which is his longtime restaurant Le Mas des Oliviers. With lunch items like boudin à la Lyonnaise, steak tartare and soufflé au Grand Marnier, the place is a total nostalgia trip.

12. Kazu

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1862 rue Ste-Catherine O., Montreal, Quebec
H3H 1M1, Canada
(514) 937-2333
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About as casual as it gets on this list, Kazu makes the grade thanks to shrimp burger, beef kalbi and ramen goodness. Those Kirin tallboys do the job nicely as well. No reservations - sit at the bar if you can.

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1. Bouillon Bilk

1595 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec, H2X 2S9, Canada
Open weekdays for lunch, Bouillon Bilk is a haven from downtown's bustle. Chef François Nadon's upscale takes on poutine, Waldorf salad and tartares impress.
1595 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec
H2X 2S9, Canada

2. Brasserie T!

1425 rue Jeanne-Mance, Montreal, Quebec, H2X 2J4, Canada
Normand Laprise's Quartier des Spectacles restaurant is so much more than a casual sister to Toqué! The food at Brasserie T! is razor sharp. Lesley Chesterman: "With the holiday season soon upon us, this modern brasserie would be a terrific choice for a pre- or post-spectacle meal."
1425 rue Jeanne-Mance, Montreal, Quebec
H2X 2J4, Canada

3. Café Bistro McCord

660 rue Sherbrooke O., Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1E9, Canada
The McCord Museum's restaurant revamp includes a new menu from chef Joanna Galanomatis and Julien-Leblanc Traiteur, with a $30 table d'hôte. Now to persuade the museum brass to consider a name change ...
660 rue Sherbrooke O., Montreal, Quebec
H3A 1E9, Canada

4. Laurie Raphaël

2050 Mansfield, Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1Y9, Canada
Big time Quebec chef Daniel Vézina helms The Germain hotel's restaurant, if from afar. The luxe lunch menu is just what you want in Montreal in December too, from foie gras terrine to risotto.
2050 Mansfield, Montreal, Quebec
H3A 1Y9, Canada

5. Dominion Square Tavern

1243 rue Metcalfe, Montreal, Quebec, H3B 2V5, Canada
Just off the Ste-Catherine retail drag, Dominion Square Tavern probably the best lunch draw in the downtown core. This is classic hearty fare done well, from the Ploughman's to the Bangers and Mash. The temptation to stay inside and pore over the excellent cocktail list is difficult to deny.
1243 rue Metcalfe, Montreal, Quebec
H3B 2V5, Canada

6. Maison Boulud

1228 rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1H6, Canada
Ambiance-wise the Ritz-Carlton's restaurant is a stunner for mid-spree respites. Maison Boulud's lunch menu is a hefty one - to wit, the killer burger, crispy ris de veau and $40 entrecôte. Strong wine list too.
1228 rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1H6, Canada

7. Sakura

3450 rue Drummond, Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1B1, Canada
Sakura humbly celebrates four decades in business in 2013. Montreal's doyen Japanese restaurant still serves lunch five days a week.
3450 rue Drummond, Montreal, Quebec
H3A 1B1, Canada

8. Café des Beaux-Arts

1384 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1J5, Canada
Chef Richard Bastien still works the line at Café des Beaux-Arts from time to time but regardless, the Museum of Fine Arts restaurant is a branché lunch spot.
1384 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1J5, Canada

9. Il Cortile

1442 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1K4, Canada
There may be better Italian food in the city but Il Cortile's inner cobblestone courtyard is stellar. The veteran Montreal restaurant's cellar is not half-bad either.
1442 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1K4, Canada

10. Europea

1227 rue de la Montagne, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1Z2, Canada
Many consider Europea the best restaurant in Montreal. Relais & Châteaux grand chef Jérôme Ferrer's lunch menu, most notably the $60 prix fixe with forfait sommlier, caters to a business executive crowd but is worth a holiday splurge.
1227 rue de la Montagne, Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1Z2, Canada

11. Le Mas des Oliviers

1216 rue Bishop, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 2E3, Canada
Jacques Muller is not a romantic sort of Francophile. The man just lives the life - the full expression of which is his longtime restaurant Le Mas des Oliviers. With lunch items like boudin à la Lyonnaise, steak tartare and soufflé au Grand Marnier, the place is a total nostalgia trip.
1216 rue Bishop, Montreal, Quebec
H3G 2E3, Canada

12. Kazu

1862 rue Ste-Catherine O., Montreal, Quebec, H3H 1M1, Canada
About as casual as it gets on this list, Kazu makes the grade thanks to shrimp burger, beef kalbi and ramen goodness. Those Kirin tallboys do the job nicely as well. No reservations - sit at the bar if you can.
1862 rue Ste-Catherine O., Montreal, Quebec
H3H 1M1, Canada

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