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15 Underrated Restaurants to Try in Montreal

They’re serving delightful dishes from under the radar

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In a city that obsesses over which bagels, poutine, or barbecue chicken reigns supreme, it’s easy to overlook some great spots that might not receive the attention they deserve. Small restaurants eschewing delivery apps for local pickups, neighbourhood favourites with limited hours, mom and pop shops — Montreal is full of these unsung treasures.

Here, for your consideration, are 15 restaurants we’ve deemed underrated. There is no scientific measurement for what makes an underrated restaurant, and it might vary from person to person — one diner’s beloved neighbourhood haunt may be an unknown entity to many others in the city. Overall, two things unite the restaurants below: they’re good, and they deserve more mainstream love.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Restaurant Ho Guom

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Villeray favourite Ho Guom’s extensive menu showcases a wide range of pho as well as bún (rice vermicelli) in soups and dry dishes, with copious amounts of herbs on the side. Don’t miss the chả cá lã vọng turmeric fish and their tropical fruit juices. There’s even a special meal for kids on the menu.

Rose Ross

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Rosemont’s Rose Ross aims to comfort, with seasonal, market-fresh fare. Expect fried cauliflower with a parmesan-caper vinaigrette, duck confit fettuccini, braised pork cheek with cheesy mash potatoes, and rice pudding for dessert — all in a compact dining space.

Thai Sep

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At this Rosemont BYOB, familiar Thai starters and curries at the front of the laminated picture menu give way to some unique Lao selections at the back: homemade sausages, spicy Lao-style papaya salad, and nême kao, a crispy rice salad with pork, all of which might just become the dishes of your dreams. In mango season, check out the sticky rice with mango and coconut cream, a perfect ending to the meal.

All the Lebanese favourites are here at this family restaurant, starting with tomato salad with sumac and ending with grilled meats, stuffed vine leaves, and molokhia greens. It’s been around for almost fifty years for a reason.

Luciano Trattoria

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Antipasti, delicate pastas, and a few simple mains are on the menu at Luciano’s, a stalwart trattoria on Saint-Zotique East equipped with firehall windows.

Santa Barbara

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Taking a vegetarian yet carnivore-friendly approach (meaty options available), Santa Barbara is a popular neighbourhood spot, with fresh ingredients and international recipes that vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters can all love. Well-liked for its brunch, the menu is extensive, including buckwheat beer crepes, beet burgers, banh-mi and kimchi-laced eggs with daikon pickles alongside a creative granola bowl.

Le Virunga

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Chef Maria de Frias creates some truly unique dishes at this cozy Plateau restaurant, drawing on cuisines from a range of sub-Saharan African cultures. Using quality local meats and seafood, Frias offers both à la carte and table d’hôte options, with or without wine. Gabonese shredded salt cod, rainbow trout with cassava, and mutton osso buco are only a few of the highlights. The foods of the Congo and adjacent countries may not get representation on Montreal’s fine dining scene, but Le Virunga’s innovative menu proves that they should.

Maria Bonita

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Mexican cuisine in Montreal can feel like it’s limited to tacos above all else, but that’s not the case at Maria Chavez’s Mile End restaurant. Cazuelitas (small, saucy plates in terracotta dishes) are the specialty — go for spicy, chocolatey mole, pork-stuffed poblano peppers with walnut sauce, or cactus gratin, and a range of margaritas on the side.

Barcola

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The wine list at Barcola complements their Menu Aperitivo – a northeastern Italian-inspired three-course meal, typically with an appetizer, pasta, and a main. Dessert is extra, but don’t miss it.

Le Nil Bleu

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Vegans and carnivores can be very happy with the range of bright salads, grains, beans, meats and warmly spiced sauces on the Nil Bleu menu. Trouble deciding? There are tasting menus alongside table d’hôte options, all featuring your choice of injera, Israeli couscous, or rice.

This diminutive spot run by Elyse Garand and her partner Hidenori Tsuda offers a menu of Japanese street food specialties like takoyaki octopus balls and okonomiyaki cabbage pancakes alongside bowls of comforting oden stew and miso soup. The grocery is stocked with cold dishes and ingredients to make your own; don’t miss the Calpico drinks or Elyse’s well-chosen sake collection.

Chinatown’s Kanbai’s menu showcases dishes from Sichuan and Hunan, home to some of China’s hottest cuisines. If you’re not a Chinese reader, look for translated key words “hot” and “chili,” ideally combined with “garlic” and “sauce” to find your way to options like poached fish filet in hot chili soup or eggplant and minced pork with hot garlic sauce. For the spice-averse, there’s an extensive range of more seasonally focused Cantonese food.

Handmade manti (tiny beef ravioli served with yogurt) and meaty Anatolian specialties await at Avesta in Shaughnessy Village. Grilled or braised, köfte and kebabs, sandwiches on lavash bread, and homemade desserts featuring pistachios, walnuts, and honey round out the menu.

Chez Sophie

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Paul Bocuse graduate Sophie Tabet shows the Sud-Ouest her stuff in a tidy menu featuring appetizers, seafood, meat, pasta, and dessert. The wine list is curated by her husband Marco Marangi, making this one of the city’s most elevated mom and pop shops.

Les Délices de l'Île Maurice

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This Verdun spot is one of Montreal’s very few Mauritian restaurants — expect various Indian and east African touches (Mauritius is, after all, between the two) on a well-spiced menu. The table d’hôte costs around $25 for most options, and features vegetarian, meat or seafood, with your choice of curry, creole, or sweet and sour, honey, or saffron sauce. 

Restaurant Ho Guom

Villeray favourite Ho Guom’s extensive menu showcases a wide range of pho as well as bún (rice vermicelli) in soups and dry dishes, with copious amounts of herbs on the side. Don’t miss the chả cá lã vọng turmeric fish and their tropical fruit juices. There’s even a special meal for kids on the menu.

Rose Ross

Rosemont’s Rose Ross aims to comfort, with seasonal, market-fresh fare. Expect fried cauliflower with a parmesan-caper vinaigrette, duck confit fettuccini, braised pork cheek with cheesy mash potatoes, and rice pudding for dessert — all in a compact dining space.

Thai Sep

At this Rosemont BYOB, familiar Thai starters and curries at the front of the laminated picture menu give way to some unique Lao selections at the back: homemade sausages, spicy Lao-style papaya salad, and nême kao, a crispy rice salad with pork, all of which might just become the dishes of your dreams. In mango season, check out the sticky rice with mango and coconut cream, a perfect ending to the meal.

Daou

All the Lebanese favourites are here at this family restaurant, starting with tomato salad with sumac and ending with grilled meats, stuffed vine leaves, and molokhia greens. It’s been around for almost fifty years for a reason.

Luciano Trattoria

Antipasti, delicate pastas, and a few simple mains are on the menu at Luciano’s, a stalwart trattoria on Saint-Zotique East equipped with firehall windows.

Santa Barbara

Taking a vegetarian yet carnivore-friendly approach (meaty options available), Santa Barbara is a popular neighbourhood spot, with fresh ingredients and international recipes that vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters can all love. Well-liked for its brunch, the menu is extensive, including buckwheat beer crepes, beet burgers, banh-mi and kimchi-laced eggs with daikon pickles alongside a creative granola bowl.

Le Virunga

Chef Maria de Frias creates some truly unique dishes at this cozy Plateau restaurant, drawing on cuisines from a range of sub-Saharan African cultures. Using quality local meats and seafood, Frias offers both à la carte and table d’hôte options, with or without wine. Gabonese shredded salt cod, rainbow trout with cassava, and mutton osso buco are only a few of the highlights. The foods of the Congo and adjacent countries may not get representation on Montreal’s fine dining scene, but Le Virunga’s innovative menu proves that they should.

Maria Bonita

Mexican cuisine in Montreal can feel like it’s limited to tacos above all else, but that’s not the case at Maria Chavez’s Mile End restaurant. Cazuelitas (small, saucy plates in terracotta dishes) are the specialty — go for spicy, chocolatey mole, pork-stuffed poblano peppers with walnut sauce, or cactus gratin, and a range of margaritas on the side.

Barcola

The wine list at Barcola complements their Menu Aperitivo – a northeastern Italian-inspired three-course meal, typically with an appetizer, pasta, and a main. Dessert is extra, but don’t miss it.

Le Nil Bleu

Vegans and carnivores can be very happy with the range of bright salads, grains, beans, meats and warmly spiced sauces on the Nil Bleu menu. Trouble deciding? There are tasting menus alongside table d’hôte options, all featuring your choice of injera, Israeli couscous, or rice.

noren

This diminutive spot run by Elyse Garand and her partner Hidenori Tsuda offers a menu of Japanese street food specialties like takoyaki octopus balls and okonomiyaki cabbage pancakes alongside bowls of comforting oden stew and miso soup. The grocery is stocked with cold dishes and ingredients to make your own; don’t miss the Calpico drinks or Elyse’s well-chosen sake collection.

Kanbai

Chinatown’s Kanbai’s menu showcases dishes from Sichuan and Hunan, home to some of China’s hottest cuisines. If you’re not a Chinese reader, look for translated key words “hot” and “chili,” ideally combined with “garlic” and “sauce” to find your way to options like poached fish filet in hot chili soup or eggplant and minced pork with hot garlic sauce. For the spice-averse, there’s an extensive range of more seasonally focused Cantonese food.

Avesta

Handmade manti (tiny beef ravioli served with yogurt) and meaty Anatolian specialties await at Avesta in Shaughnessy Village. Grilled or braised, köfte and kebabs, sandwiches on lavash bread, and homemade desserts featuring pistachios, walnuts, and honey round out the menu.

Chez Sophie

Paul Bocuse graduate Sophie Tabet shows the Sud-Ouest her stuff in a tidy menu featuring appetizers, seafood, meat, pasta, and dessert. The wine list is curated by her husband Marco Marangi, making this one of the city’s most elevated mom and pop shops.

Les Délices de l'Île Maurice

This Verdun spot is one of Montreal’s very few Mauritian restaurants — expect various Indian and east African touches (Mauritius is, after all, between the two) on a well-spiced menu. The table d’hôte costs around $25 for most options, and features vegetarian, meat or seafood, with your choice of curry, creole, or sweet and sour, honey, or saffron sauce. 

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