’s culinary variety puts many of the world’s foodie cities to shame. In the course of a day and within just a few miles, a visitor can feast on a classic Montreal-style bagel (smaller, denser and sweeter than the New York variety), a sandwich of bacon and cheddar bundled between two slabs of foie gras and a dry-aged filet mignon at a decades-old Romanian steakhouse. Here's a sampling of the city’s best eateries.
Foodie Favorite: Au Pied de Cochon For chef Martin Picard, who is widely credited with putting Québécois cuisine on the map, almost anything edible is an acceptable vehicle for foie gras. At Au Pied de Cochon, he serves it alongside buckwheat pancakes and bacon, on hotdog buns and even atop Montreal’s favorite comfort food: poutine (fries layered with cheese curds and gravy).
No-Holds-Barred Dining: Joe Beef This inconspicuous eatery has inspired many a northerly road trip. The sublime cuisine, which ranges from tender (backyard nasturtium-sprinkled lettuce) to artery busting (a sandwich of bacon and cheddar bundled between two slabs of deep-fried foie gras), resists categorization. A meal at Joe Beef is as unpredictable as it is rapturous.
Classic Steak House: Moishes A local institution since its 1938 launch, Moishes is an old-school eatery known for spectacular red-meat dishes and white-glove service. Everything from its prime cut steak to the classic Caesar salad, Monte Carlo potato and salmon tartare wows, leaving no doubt that the restaurant deserves its place on Forbes magazine’s list of Top 10 Steak houses in the World.
Casual Lunch Spot: Olive + Gourmando At this bustling patisserie and sandwich spot in historic Old Montreal, the colorful comfort food and cozy atmosphere are perfectly in sync. The seasonal lunch menu is always evolving, but the chalkboard menus invariably feature a nostalgic array of restorative soups and grown-up grilled cheese sandwiches.
Innovative Sushi: Park Chef Antonio Park was the first sushi guru to introduce Canada to kaimin tai, in which needles are inserted into live fish to put them into a comalike state while they are being transported to ensure maximum freshness. The results are extraordinary: fish arrive from an overnight flight in nearly the same condition they were upon being caught. Sushi lovers gush over the à la carte options and fusion dishes like Korean bibimbap.
Local Haunt: Schwartz’s This Mile End kosher-style deli has attracted accolades aplenty, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s just say it serves the best smoked-meat sandwich in North America. Schwartz’s opened in 1928 and launched Montreal’s now-famous smoked-meat obsession. Expect a rush at lunchtime—this is a Montreal favorite.
Quick Bite: St.-Viateur Bagel Montreal’s best-bagel debate rivals the wrangling in Chicago over deep-dish pies. The bagels at St-Viateur, which boasts a large open-plan kitchen and lively atmosphere, are our favorite.
Big Night Out: Toque! This refined Relais & Châteaux establishment, credited with popularizing new Québec cuisine, serves among the most gourmet fare in Montreal. Located around the corner from Hôtel Le St.-James, the elegant spot—which offers a number of tasting menus as well as à la carte options—is the perfect choice for a big night out.
Located in the Little Italy neighborhood, the Jean Talon Market is one of Montreal’s most iconic tourist destinations and a must-visit for foodies. Locals’ preferred market, Jean Talon offers a wide variety of purveyors, from butchers to produce stands to cheese mongers, including such highlights as Olives et Épices, a fantastic spice shop, and Le Ryad, which sells Middle Eastern delicacies and pastries. Also popular is the Atwater Market, a two-story indoor and outdoor complex that houses a more gourmet selection of butchers, bakeries, restaurants and hawkers of fresh produce. Because the goods are of higher quality than those at Jean Talon, prices are a bit steeper. Both markets are worth visiting.
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