Visitors to town often ask us for restaurant recommendations. So I’ve started keeping a list. It’s a bit of a ripoff of “…an endless banquet’s” lists — available here and here — except that their choices aren’t always to our taste, and vegetarianism isn’t a consideration for them (except in the negative). Most of these places have at least one good veggie dish (exceptions noted; I eat dairy and eggs, but not fish), though Carrie is carnivorous and likes these places too. Eventually, we may add other things we like in town besides restaurants and maybe some tips on places to stay, but in the meantime, it is a work in progress.
(Please note: this is about 2 years out of date now; all the medical stuff prevented me from going out much in 2009-10 and have been away in 10-11. But it will be refreshed as I get around in the fall of 2011).
DOWNTOWN and OLD PORT
Basha — cheap Lebanese and delicious
Commensal — tasty vegetarian buffet (though can add up)
M:Brgr — fancy burgers, but some good veggie options too. Fries and onion deals are great
Sho-Dan — some say the best sushi in town. Has lunch specials. Best to reserve.
Chez l’Epicier — high end Quebec-French cuisine in Old Montreal. Very often a vegetarian option is on the menu and if it’s not they’ll come up with something good if you warn them. Desserts are excellent too. Very expensive, at least to me.
Cafe Ferreira — Portuguese seafood. They also have a killer porcini pasta at certain times of year. People who eat seafood say the seafood paella is the best thing they’ve ever had. The place is, unbelievably, even more expensive than Chez l’Epicier. Reservations a must.
Amelio’s — some of my favorite pizza in the city. Cash only, no reservations, there are lines. They do deliver. To McGill. I must restrain myself.
Cuisine Bangkok (the stand in the Faubourg) — The area around Concordia’s downtown campus has waaaayyyy better pickings for lunch (or dinner, for that matter) than McGill. For example, this counter-in-a-mall is said to have the best pad thai in the city and I can’t say that I’ve had better.
La Montée (reservations are essential) — Formerly known as la Montée de Lait this restaurant was the “only” place to go in the Plateau for fancy French as far as I was concerned. Now they’re no longer in the Plateau. They moved downtown, the space is bigger (and still very close to a metro stop) and the food is still great. But it now stretches the budget a bit more than it did.
Yuan — Almost in the Plateau but not. Vegetarian Chinese. Similar concept to Chu Chai (see below) with the veggie meats but not yet on their level. I have high hopes for vegetarian dim sum, though, if we ever make it there. Bonus: Asian grocer with lots of frozen veggiemeats in back.
Ouzeri — Greek tapas style (except the plates are big). One of our standby places
Chu Chai — Vegetarian Thai, excellent presentation, veggie meats, also one of our favorites.
OM — skip the Indian main courses, go for the momos. Tibetan cuisine, for western tastes (ie, if you’re craving yak, you won’t find it here). The family that runs it is awesome, too. Another household favorite. We prefer it to Shambala, though I do like their bleu cheese soup.
Robin des Bois — Frenchish cuisine with a few veggie and fusion options. The hook is that the wait staff are all volunteers (happily the cook is paid, so the menu is consistent from night to night), your tips and some of your meal cost goes to charities that they list on their site. And the food and atmosphere are really good.
Chao Phraya — Regular Thai, also very good.
Pintxo — Basque Tapas
Sala Rossa — Spanish tapas
Casa Tapas, even more tapas; higher end.
La Banquise — many varieties of Poutine. I am told the sauce is vegetarian. I have trouble believing it but several vegetarians insist that it is so. I choose to believe them as it is at the very least a convenient fiction.
Aux Vivres — 100% vegan restaurant. I wasn’t a convert the first time I went a few yars back but since the renovation it seems to be much nicer. Best veggie burger in town and the secret is that it’s tempeh on a bun, not a “burger.” Definitely get some juice or a smoothie with your meal.
Maria Bonita — Mexican Cazuelitas (small plates), probably my favorite Mexican in town. Carrie says skip the steak.
Los Classicos — another Mexican resto in the Plateau. It’s not licensed, but the food is great and different enough from Maria Bonita and El Sombrero that it’s worth visits on its own. I am a fan of the Alambre Vegetariano and the hot salsas. Carrie likes the extra extra hot sauce. As with all Mexican places in town, she is underwhelmed by the steak but pleased by cochinita pibil.
Prato — coal-fired pizzas (a variation on the brick oven concept), very good. Watch the people in line for Schwartz’s and gloat (to yourself) as you eat something better.
le Petit Italien — Some veggie options, reasonable prices (for Outremont), good winelist, great service, nice space.
Cao Lanh — Vietnamese submarines and shockingly good baked items (if you get the right thing). 2669 Ontario est, 514-523-6334. I can’t find any discussion of it online. Dead cheap.
Guadalupe Mexicain — excellent Mexican food and very convivial owner, reasonable prices. However, allow about 2-3 hours if you go. Service is very slow, except with the margaritas; you can imagine the results.
Marché Maisonneuve — outstanding public market with good produce, Quebec cheese, butcher (we can’t vouch for that part), Première Moisson, and various seasonal attractions. Much smaller than the Jean-Talon market but we were regulars there when we lived in the area.
PETIT PATRIE, LITTLE ITALY, PARC EX and VILLERAY
Marché Jean-Talon — foodie capitol of Montreal. A massive public market with fresh everything (yes, that’s everything, though you might have to pay), plus specialty stores. In the “I can’t believe I live within walking distance of this place” category. Lots of stands too if you want to buy something to eat there.
Cafe Banh Mi Linh — located inside the Jarry metro (or in the same building) Banh Mi serves absolutely delicious Vietnamese food. They do wonderful vegetarian sandwiches, salads and spring rolls, and Carrie vouches for their beef as well. An added plus is that while the place in a hole in the wall, it is without any of the insipid music one sometimes finds in low-end Vietnamese restos. A full review will be forthcoming.
da Lillo — another good neighborhood joint. Somewhat Portuguese, somewhat Italian, good for both of us. Carrie swears by their meats, I am fond of the arrabiata. The wood-fired pizza has better and worse days, perhaps depending on who makes the sauce. Heavier on the cheese than usual for this kind of pizza but it works.
Cafe Epoca — good and reasonably priced Italian in Little Italy.
Cafe International — also good Italian, a little pricier but some of our friends who usually won’t pay to eat Italian will eat here.
Via Roma — good Italian, a bit pricey, and the seats get a little uncomfortable, which is kind of lame for a place in this pricerange. It’s here because it kept drawing us back for awhile and the patio area is quite pleasing though it is currently out of rotation. The space is more appealing than the other Little Italy options listed here, though.
Daou — best Lebanese in the city (nicer and more expensive than Basha even though Basha’s really good) — bonus is that it’s in our neighborhood. Apparently Céline Dion’s favorite, not that that counts.
Alep and Petit Alep — These two are across the street from Hamel’s cheese shop (at Marché Jean-Talon–also recommended) and serve amazing Syrian food. Alep is more formal and has a few more menu items. And their homemade teas are outstanding.
There are lots of great pupuserias in the city. Our favorite is very close to us, Las Palmas. Though for years we enjoyed las Cabañas as well. Scroll down this excellent list to Salvadoran and they are both listed. Family run businesses, very inexpensive, not much fancy decor but excellent food.
There are a ton of cheap hole-in-the-wall-but-amazing-Indian places not far from us. I recommend Bombay Mahal and Maison Indian Curry (which is Carrie’s favorite in the area) . Be sure to order some south Indian dishes (and not just the usual Punjab stuff) if you go. These two are across the street from each other. When we are lazy and want to order in, we order from India Beau Village, though sometimes they’re just not in the mood to deliver. Malhi Sweets once catered a reception for us and was also excellent.
Halal 786 — Pakistani foods. Red beans and mustard greens. Plus they deliver.
El Sombrero — Mexican, has some exotic ingredients (like corn fungus) and a nice patio
Supermarché Andes — excellent Mexican groceries: everything from fresh churros to fresh poblanos, plus lots of sauces and canned goods. It also has a Plateau location for the hipsters.
Quincaillerie Dante — kitchenware and ammo, or kill it and cook it. Good prices on some kitchen items, and an experience.
Jolifou — Latin-influenced French/Quebecois cuisine. Don’t expect Mexican. Expect French with a twist and you’ll be delighted. Extra points for keeping a vegetarian option on the standard menu even if they don’t explain it. Even more extra points for the toys. A new household favorite in the French category.
Pasta Casareccia — excellent home-style Italian. It’s not high end, prices are good, and main dishes are great and it’s the most likely stop for us if we are looking for dinner in NDG.
Bofinger — Montreal’s only option for real American-style BBQ. We go there if I’m feeling reeeaaalllly nice and I make a meal of sides while Carrie dines on pulled pork and puzzles over which sauce to get.
Supermarché Akhvan — when I was considering the position at McGill, a friend took me here. It’s a middle eastern supermarket and I remember calling Carrie in Pittsburgh because I was amazed that that they had a gazillion different kinds of tsatziki (okay, I probably would have called her that night anyway). We still have been known to pick up a pile of deli foods from them and feast on them for dinner for days.
Adonis — some people think it’s Akhvan on steroids, though they only have one kind of tsatziki. They make up for it with vegetarian kibbeh. This is a fully stocked supermarket, but with an emphasis on the middle east. It’s a zoo on weekends. We visit the one near Marché Centrale since it’s relatively close to us.
Bombay Choupati — the best south Indian food on the island, as far as I can tell. And it’s on the West Island.
Restaurant di Menna — we went here in search of the best pizza in Montreal. I’m not sure it’s the best but the porcini pizza was mighty good.