Entertainment in Montreal


Pubs, Cafes and Restaurants in Montreal


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Meals and food are an important element of life in Montréal and dining is looked at as a social pastime and art form. Not that long ago, most Montréal and Québec City restaurants served only French food. The immigrants coming to the city slowly influenced the cuisine and there is now a vast array of food options from diners to low-cost ethnic restaurants to haute cuisine. Today, Montréal is a culinary hotspot within Canada with over 5,000 restos (colloquial term for restaurants), and a global foodie destination.

Many Montréal restaurants offer apportez votre vin (bring your own wine) which allows for customers save money. You may be able to bring in other forms of alcohol as well. Specialities like poutine are lusted after by locals and newcomers. Separate bills (l'addition or facture) are common and you may be asked "Ensemble ou séparément?" (together or separately).

Drink

Tap water is safe to drink and is usually offered at restaurants without asking. If you prefer, bottled water is cheap and plentiful.

Alcohol

Alcohol is widely accepted and it is drunk regularly in the home and when dining. Bars are a frequent meeting place for friends, colleagues and family. Alcohol is heavily taxed, especially imported varieties. SAQ (government liquor store) and dépanneur (convenience store) offer alcohol for purchase.

The legal drinking age is 18 years old in Montréal and Québec (legal drinking age is 19 for most of Canada). Bars and clubs will ask for ID. However, if alcohol is to be consumed with a meal or while the teenager is with their parents, the laws are more generous. Consumption in public places may result in a small fine. In addition, drunk driving can result in imprisonment and heavy fines. The legal limit is .08.

Beer - There are many regional breweries to choose from. Molson is a Montréal powerhouse. Smaller breweries include Belle Gueule and Boréal. Look for "bieres en fut" for "beers on draft". The Beer Advocate offers guide and reviews of local breweries.

Wine - Wine is drunk everywhere, but it is not produced in significant quantities in Canada due to the inhospitable climate. Local options include wines from the Cantons-de-l'Est region. Sweet "ice wines" and "ice ciders" are enjoyed after the first frost.

Bars

Montréal has three main strips for bar-hopping.
Rue Crescent - Located in the western part of downtown Montréal, this area caters mostly to Anglophones and tends to be trendy and expensive.
Boulevard Saint-Laurent - This area is full of students and a variety of bar atmospheres. Between rue Sherbrooke and avenue des Pins bars cater to a Francophone clientele. Farther up St-Laurent things are generally downscale and linguistically mixed.
Rue Saint-Denis - Between rue Sherbrooke and de Maisonneuve there is a strong Francophone feel. Moving away from the strip, things are less crowded.

    Bars
  • Alexandre et Fils (1454 rue Peel) - A Parisian café, bistro and brasserie rolled into one.
  • Benelux (245 rue Sherbrooke) - This brew pub offers witbier (a cloudy white beer), stout, blonde Belgian abbey beer and other varieties.
  • Brutopia (1219 rue Crescent) - A three-floor pub with exposed-brick walls. Live music most nights, but no cover charge.
  • Café des Éclusiers (400 rue de la Commune) - This wedge-shaped pavilion offers a canal-side terrace. Open May to Sept daily until 23:00.
  • Copacabana (3910 boul St-Laurent) - Possibly intentionally bad decor of fake palm trees and beach-scene murals set the stage for this cheap drinks bar. Anglo hipsters come here for a game of pool and cheap beer.
  • Dieu du Ciel (29 av Laurier) - Brewpub with a neighborhood feel and a great 3 à 7 special. Beer is brewed on the premises and are constantly changing.
  • Hurley's Irish Pub (1225 rue Crescent) - Hurley's is one of the city's best Irish pubs. Options include single malts and pub food.
  • Le Cheval Blanc (809 rue Ontario E) - Old-style Montréal pub with the same Art Deco decor as when it opened in the 1940s. A fun, Francophone crowd gathers here most nights. They brew their own beer including amber, rousse, dark, bitter and wheat varieties with a seasonal.
  • Le Cigare du Pharaon (139 rue St-Paul) - This eccentric bar features decor of Egyptian kings. You can rent one of the small coffins painted with mummified Tintin characters to store a bottle of your favorite tipple. Jazz and other musical acts perform most weekend evenings.
  • Le Ste-élisabeth (1412 rue Ste-élisabeth) - This bars best sits are in the ivy-covered courtyard terrace. A popular spot, it is often full but you may also snag a seat in a window seat on the upper floor.
  • Magnétic Terrasse Hôtel de la Montagne (1430 rue de la Montagne) - Perched twenty storeys up, this fancy rooftop terrace provides cocktails and pool side sipping.
  • Peel Pub (1196 rue Peel) - A great place for drink deals for sports fans. Morning fare includes $3.99 fry-ups.
  • Pub St-Paul (124 rue St-Paul E) - A large, friendly pub, this place capitalizes on it's atmospheric location on one of Vieux-Montréal's prettiest cobblestone streets.
  • Sir Winston Churchill Pub (1459 rue Crescent) - This English-style pub is also known as "Winnie's". It attracts an older crowd of Anglophones.
  • Stogies (2015 rue Crescent) - A swanky cigar lounge, this is one of the few places that is an exemption from the smoking ban.
  • Terrasse Les Remparts (97 rue de la Commune) - Offers the best view of the Vieux-Port. The rooftop terrace sits atop the Auberge du Vieux-Port (take the lift to the fifth floor, then the stairs).

5-à-7

5-à-7 (also known as happy hour) is one of the best times to hit the bar in Montréal. Generally it starts at 17:00, but many run much later than 19:00. Popular with the after-work crowd, there are usually significant food and drink specials. These specials may be aimed at a foodie crowd, beer-and-wings group, or even vernissage (art opening).

Eat

Montréal is a food lovers paradise. From the quintessential Canadian classics, to Montréal exclusives, to the growing field of international cuisine - Montréal has it all. The largest concentration of restaurants is along boul Saint-Laurent, rue Saint-Denis and ave du Mont-Royal in the Plateau. If you just need a cheap bite, try Jean-Talon market for a ethnic food options like an Indian buffet.

For the Québécois, an entrée is an appetizer, dîner (dinner) is the noon meal, and souper (supper) is the evening meal. Fancier places may offer a complementary pre-appetizer nibble called an amuse bouche.

Table d'hôte meals are fixed-price menus between three to four courses. These meals offer the ability to eat at even the best restaurants for an affordable price. Table d'hôte meals are often offered at lunch.

For dining guides in Montréal, use RestoMontréal.com, chowhound Montréal or Montréal.diningguide.com.

Montréal Specialties

Canada's food specialties commonly include native ingredients like caribou, mussels, salmon, maple syrup, and root vegetables. Montréal's European influence merges with these homegrown elements to make truly unique dishes.

  • Poutine - No visit to Montréal is complete without trying the beloved local dish poutine. It is composed of French fries covered in gravy and topped with chewy curds of white cheddar. There are many variations of this dish - adding chicken, beef, vegetables, or sausage, or replacing the gravy with tomato sauce (poutine italienne). La Banquise (Plateau at 994 rue Rachel est) is legendary.
  • Smoked meat - The smoked meats of Montréal are not the same as the pastrami or corned beef you may know. Try Schwartz's (3895 St-Laurent) for a good example of this Jewish specialty using the same recipe of spices since 1928.
  • Bagels - different from the nearby, legendary NYC bagel, the Montréal bagel (sometimes beigel, beygl, or beguel) is a distinctive. It is smaller, sweeter, denser, larger hole, and is always baked in a wood-fired oven. It contains malt, egg, and no salt and is boiled in honey-sweetened water before being baked in a wood-fired oven, whose irregular flames give it a dappled light-and-dark surface color. There are two predominant varieties: black-seed (poppy seed), or white-seed (sesame seed). Try St. Viateur (263 Rue Saint Viateur) or Fairmountat (74 Avenue Fairmount Oues) for some of the best.
  • Québec cheeses - Cheeses with the fromages de pays label are made in Québec with whole milk and no modified milk ingredients. Many cheeses are unpasteurized (made of lait cru/raw milk) and are unavailable elsewhere because of strict export rules. Look for Mimolette Jeune (firm, fragrant, orange), Valbert St-Isidor (similar to Swiss in texture), St-Basil de Port Neuf (buttery), Cru des Erables (soft, ripe), Oka (semisoft, made of cow's milk in a monastery), and Le Chèvre Noire (a sharp goat variety covered in black wax). For more information on cheeses, go to www.fromageduquebec.qc.ca or sample the offerings at Jean-Talon market.
  • Shish Taouk - This is a Montréal-style chicken shawarma. A variation of the traditional Lebanese dish, it is usually served in a pita wrap. Most Lebanese restaurants serve this dish as well as beef shawarma (simply referred to as shawarma) and falafel. Chains like Amir, Arz, Basha, Falafel, Sarab, and Zouki's specialize in shish taouk.
  • Montréal hot dog - Similar to the hot dog culture of Chicago or New York City, Montréal has its own breed of hotdog. The buns are top loading rather than the side loading and tend to be small, selling for $0.50 to 1.00. Hot dogs may either be steamé/"steamies" which are fresh from the steamer and soft. A steamie is topped with mustard, relish, chopped onion, and sauerkraut, and occasionally fresh coleslaw, plain chopped cabbage, or relish. The Montréal Pool Room (now Le vieux Montréal Pool Room) is one of the oldest hot-doggeries and serves dogs traditionally. Toasté/"toasties" which are grilled or toasted until crisp. Toastés are slightly more expensive and are less popular. Popular brands include Lesters, Lafleur's, and Glatt's kosher.
  • Beavertail - Also known as queues de castor, these unique pastries do not actually originate from Montréal. However, they've become so popular there is a heavier concentration of outlets in the French province than anywhere else in Canada. They can be topped with chocolate, cinnamon and sugar, ham & cheese, etc.
  • Tire sur la Neige - A taffy formed by pouring still hot, boiled maple sap directly onto fresh snow. The result is a soft, flexible candy.

Vegetarian

Vegetarian food isn't difficult to find as most restaurants have a vegetarian offering, and there are many places dedicated to vegetarian fare. As usual, vegan food is harder to find, but far from impossible. Ask nicely about your options as Canadians usually try to be accommodating. The sites, veganMontréal.com or vegemontreal.org, is a helpful resource to finding an acceptable option.

Fuchsia-épicerie fleur
Address: 4050 avenue Coloniale, Montréal, QC, H2W 2C1
Tel: (514) 842-1232
Price: $10 for a main dish, a drink and a dessert
Within the Plateau neighborhood, this vintage grocery-café-boutique offers beauty products, pastries, and meals made from edible flowers.

Commensal
Address: 1720 St-Denis Street, Montréal, QC
Tel: (514) 845-2627
Price: $13
A chain of self-serve vegetarian buffets that offers pay-by-weight system. Great for people who prefer to sample lots of different things instead of one big serving.

Bonny's
Address: 1748 Notre-Dame St West, Montréal, QC H3J 1M3
Tel: (514) 931-4136
Price: $15
This organic, primarily vegan restaurant provides Canadian-style cuisine of salads, burgers and more.

Burritoville
Address: 2055 rue Bishop, Montréal Québec H4A 2J2
Tel: 514 - 286 - 2776
Price: $6-10
Delicious, organic burritos with homemade salsa. Most ingredients are organic and the restaurant even has on-site composting. Local musicians perform in the evening.

Kosher

Montréal has a strong kosher community and there are many options throughout the city. Look for specialties like smoked meat sandwiches (beef brisket) and small bagels. The best areas are around the Queen Mary road Snowdon Métro station, around Décarie near Villa-Maria-des-Neiges in Côte-des-Neiges, and around Bernard in Outremont.

Tipping

The standard tip for acceptable restaurant service is 15% and is usually not included. 20% should be given for excelent service.

Cafes

The city has a vibrant café culture and quality coffee blends.

  • Café Olimpico - This family run café has been in business since 1970. The place is a landmark in Montréal and is known for its authentic Italian style.
  • Caffè Italia - Located within Little Italy, this place has been open since 1956 and is an institution. There are usually clusters of men in their golden age playing cards and drinking coffee all day long.
  • Caffè in Gamba - Located in Plateau's Mile End district, this cafe is dedicated to espresso. It is dedicated to the Third Wave movement, offering some of the world's finest beans. Roasters include Canada's own 49th Parallel, Intelligentsia, Zoka, Novo and Vergnano.

Fast Food

The city of Montréal is unusual in that it has not permitted street food carts since 1947. Unlike other cities that offer fast street food, there are many small "greasy spoon" type (casse-croute) restaurants. Hot dogs, fresh-cut fries (patates frites, poutine, hamburgers, falafel, pogos (corn dogs), pizza, hamburger steaks, and Greek dishes (souvlaki and gyro) are all common. There are, of course, also international fast food stores such as Burger King, KFC, etc.

Restaurants

Montréal claims to have the most restaurants per capita in North America.

L'Express
Address: 3927 Rue Saint-Denis
Tel: (514) 845-5333
This no-frills bistro is the perfect place to sample Montréal's French cuisine. A favorite of locals and tourists, try the steak tartare, pot au feu, or one of the rotating specials.

Au Pied de Cochon
Address: 536 Rue Duluth
Tel: 514-392-2708
This over the top restaurant take dishes like poutine to the next level by topping it with foie gras. Other colorful dishes include "Duck in a Can", and a "melting pot" of pork goodness. Here, pork is king.

Kitchen Galerie
Address: 60 Jean-Talon Est
Tel: 514-315-8994
Price: $35 prix fixe menu
The chef/owners act as maitre d', waiter, bartender, and cook at this bar-like open kitchen. Most meals are composed of ingredients from the nearby Marche Jean Talon. Specials change regularly.

Milos
Address: 5357 ave. du Parc
Tel: 514.272.3522
This restaurant has been serving modern Greek cuisine for over 30 years. Fresh ingredients and elegant entrees make it a destination.

Joe Beef
Address: 2491 Notre Dame West
Tel: (514) 935-6504
This tiny restaurant serves old Montréal restaurant classics in the heart of Little Burgundy. Specializes in steaks and seafood.

Queue de Cheval
Address: 1234 Rue de la Montagne
Tel: (514) 390-0091
Meals at Queue de Cheval are extravagant in price and taste. Popular among the business set, reservations are a must....as well as a big wallet.

Rotisserie Romados
Address: 115 Rue Rachel Est
Tel: (514) 849-1803
Some of the best rotisserie chicken can be found here. Paired with grilled potatoes this makes for a basic, delightful meal. It is also known for its BBQ chicken.

Gibby's
Address: 298 Place d'Youville
Tel: (514) 282-1837
Price: $25+ up per entree
Located in Old Montréal, this place is legendary. Provides classics like rib steak (Gibby's cut), Onion soup, clam chowder, rib eye steaks, etc.

Kaizen Sushi
Address: 4075, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest
Tel: 514.70 78744
One of the few notable sushi restaurants in Montréal. Excellent service, fresh fish, and a view of St. Catherine.

Update 21/05/2013



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