One of the most common promises travelers hear before embarking on a maiden voyage to an exciting destination is that the food will be amazing. While it is true that most locations do have a wonderful mix of local and international dining options, it can't be true that every stop on the itinerary will reveal the best dishes in the world.
Montreal, however, doesn't just live up to the hype, it raises the bar; revealing an incredibly vibrant food scene that delivers immaculate cuisine from all over the world, seemingly with ease. It is impossible to find a bad meal in this incredible city, but here are 10 spots that offer the best of the best.
10 Schwartz’s Deli
Even in the depths of winter, when the wind howls and the snow falls, a line of hungry people will be slowly edging their way towards the front door of Schwartz’s Deli. Such is Canada’s oldest deli’s popularity, there is almost always a queue waiting for their turn to occupy a warmed bench seat.
Cooked to the original recipe from 1928, it's the traditional smoked meat sandwiches that everyone is here for. Served with succulent pickle and juicy peppers by passionate staff, this is one of the best places to eat anywhere, not just Montreal.
9 Beauty’s Diner
North American diners are so often much more than just the buildings they inhabit or the food on their menus. There is an atmosphere that lingers within the old-style booths and nostalgic countertops, in the welcoming staff and the aroma of emboldening coffee.
Beauty’s Diner makes visitors feel right at home from the moment they walk in, thanks to its cleverly thought-out decor and iconic imagery. All of the homely usuals take their place on the menu and sit beside fresh and exciting takes on traditional diner fare.
8 Casa Galicia
Montreal knows food. It has some of the best takes on Canadian cuisine in the country, but it also boasts supreme examples of food from all over the world. Casa Galicia may rest on St Denis Street in Montreal, but it takes a place on the world stage when it comes to Spanish food.
Relax in the beautiful decor to the soundtrack of live Spanish guitar while devouring simply magical paella, seafood, meats and freshly baked bread, washed down with some award-winning sangria. A perfect place for a cold winter's night, Casa Galicia transports diners to another continent every time they visit.
7 La Capital Tacos
North America has an endless array of wonderful taco joints, and Montreal is no different. Heavenly guacamole and carefully crisped pork can be found in many places, but La Capital Tacos triumphs over them all.
If the first bite is with the eye, then most visitors will already be feeling full as soon as they walk in. The restaurant is a beautiful explosion of color, boasting stunning art pieces, eye-catching furniture and a glimpse into the bustling kitchen as they churn out fabulous food at a dizzying pace. With a timeless menu and daily specials, La Capital is a delightful slice of Mexico in downtown Montreal.
A Montreal tradition, especially in the colder months, is the enjoying of a still-warm waffle dripping with maple and perhaps sporting a scoop of fresh ice-cream while huddled by the fire.
Engaufrez-Vous crafts made-to-order waffles and has an endless supply of options when it comes to slathering them with extra delights. Sweet waffles are their speciality, but those wanting something in the savory realm are expertly catered to as well. No matter what the temperature is, Engaufrez-Vous is the place for you.
5 Pho Lien
Despite a varied menu of Vietnamese classics, there is only one thing most people come to Pho Lien for: The Vietnamese noodle soup that gives the restaurant its name. This is the best in Montreal, bar none, and will satisfy every pho aficionado.
Within minutes of taking up a seat in this Chinatown institution, a steaming bowl of lovingly-made pho will be sitting in front of you, beside a selection of fresh sides ready to be cast into the soup. Those needing a little more of a kick than the home-grown chili provides can order a Vietnamese coffee that will brighten even the gloomiest of winter days.
4 Satay Brothers
A culture steeped in the art of street food, creating a perfect dish with a minimum of space and fuss, Singaporean cuisine makes the journey to Montreal through Satay Brothers, a street-food venue that does everything right.
Drawing on the true essence of Asian cooking, Satay Brothers actually combines a delectable mix of ingredients and methods with the sensations of Singapore to produce a peerless dining experience. Here you will find all of your favorites, but also plenty of inventive creations that excite the mind as much as the tastebuds.
3 Patati Patata Friterie de Luxe
Canadian food cannot be discussed without mentioning poutine. Not so much a national dish as a national past-time, the deliciously diabolical mix of hand-cut fries, cheese curds and gravy is treated with a genuine reverence in Canadian culture.
Patati Patata is the place to go in Montreal for many reasons, not least of which is the passion they have for ensuring every single poutine made is better than the last. It is also right in the heart of the evening action; a great spot to watch the nightlife thrive while devouring the unique skinny fries that Patati Patata is rightly famous for.
2 St Viateur Bagels
The longest-operating bagel shop in Montreal, St Viateur is placed snugly in the borough of Mile End and has been delighting the palate since 1957. Bagels here can be smothered in one of the many toppings on offer or simply eaten fresh out of the oven, the best way to experience just how stunning these creations are.
It seems the actual structure is just as keen to make bagels as the willing staff here, because when fire took hold in 1985, the wood stove oven that crafts each bagel remained completely undamaged. It would take much more than a fire to bring a halt to this wonderful bagel enterprise.
1 Hof Kelsten
Created in the tradition of the classic Jewish bakeries of yesteryear, Hof Kelsten is the brainchild of chef Jeffrey Finkelstein and is the best place to visit for sweet treats and beautiful bread in Montreal.
While they serve piping hot delicacies and even a wonderful weekend brunch to customers all day, they also provide the bread and pastries for numerous hotspots and famed restaurants and cafes city-wide. There is a reason the best in town always come to Hof Kelsten: There is just no one better.