5 must-try restaurants for every foodie in Montreal, Quebec

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Bucket List Worthy   Flight Network Foodie  

Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is a foodie mecca. It’s one of the most celebrated culinary destinations in North America. Not only does Montreal have a very strong and vibrant immigrant community, bringing along its influences, techniques and ingredients, the city has a strong reputation for having a very unique food culture in itself. In Montreal, food is very serious matter. Here’s a quick list of five must-try restaurants for foodie tourists when visiting the metropolis.

5. Manitoba

Manitoba - © Cedric Lizotte
Manitoba – © Cedric Lizotte

This restaurant has a lot of flair, from its wait staff to its kitchen and everything in between. There are no “normal”, “regular”, “average” dishes in this restaurant. Furthermore, it’s quite out of the way, which will force you to visit parts of the city you wouldn’t normally visit.

The menu is built exclusively around local ingredients. In Montreal, this means that the menu during the winter will vary greatly as opposed to the menu during the summer. This also means that words like suaeda, sagamite, buckthorn, tatsoi, snakeroot and sabline will adorn the menu. Don’t worry: the bohemian, proud waitstaff will gladly explain in great detail everything that’s on your plate.

Why is it unique? Because it’s impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world, mostly because of the origin of the ingredients.

Address: Manitoba, 271 St-Zotique West. Reservations: 514-270-8000. restaurantmanitoba.com

4. Shinji

Shinji - © Cedric Lizotte
Shinji – © Cedric Lizotte

As was stated before, Montreal has a very strong immigrant community, and listing every single restaurant for every single community in this metropolis would be impossible in such a list. Chinatown has some of the best, most authentic Chinese foods out there; the neighborhood of Parc-Extension has some of the best Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi treats this side of the Pacific; Greek and Portuguese chow is famous in the Mile-End; and Little Italy is just what you’d expect it to be, complete with one of the largest farmers’ markets in the country.

However Shinji is a different story. One of the best chefs in Montreal, Shinji Nagai offers a strange-but-great mix of traditional Japanese cuisine, designer sushi plates and private-imported wines and sakes, in a hip and classy setting. The food is second to none and the Omakase menu is ever-changing.

Why is it unique? The complete Japanese experience is always delectable, and the communal table in the middle of the restaurant creates an ambiance unlike any other restaurant.

Address: Shinji, 1732 Notre-Dame West. Reservations: 438-384-1270. shinjimtl.com

3. Schwartz’s

Schwartz's smoked meat - chensiyuan
Schwartz’s smoked meat – chensiyuan

One of Montreal’s many food institutions, Schwartz’s is to Montreal what Katz’s Deli is to New York. Montreal Smoked Meat, smoked, brined and cured beef brisket, is cut by hand in front of you, then laid on a piece of rye bread and slathered with ballpark yellow mustard. Their fries are hand-cut and twice-fried.

This is a no-frills, cheap, get-in-get-out type of deli, but don’t mistake it for fast-food. The process of making smoked meat takes more than 10 days to make and the results are truly wonderful. Don’t hesitate to ask for a little bit of lean meat, and a little bit of fatty meat, just to try both!

Why is it unique? Just like Montreal’s bagels, smoked meat is part of the Montreal food heritage thanks to the vibrant Jewish community in the city. Smoked meat exists nowhere else in the world! And the #1 best souvenir you can bring back home when visiting Montreal is Schwartz’s Montreal steak spice blend. Buy some and bring it home!

Address: 3895 Boulevard Saint-Laurent. No reservations. schwartzsdeli.com

2. Pied de Cochon

Foie gras poutine - © Jennifer Martinez
Foie gras poutine – © Jennifer Martinez

Montreal has a few unique, iconic meal items. One of them is poutine. Considered the national dish of Canada, poutine originates a few kilometres away from Montreal.

However poutine has been the victim of bandwagon jumpers. Many restaurateurs want to profit from the recent surge in popularity of this blue-collar dish. Impostors are everywhere with their frozen fries, cheap cheddar and sauce made from powdered mixes.

Thankfully there is the Pied de Cochon. There, the fries are thrice cooked in duck fat, the sauce has foie gras in it, and the cheese curds are as fresh as cheese curds can be. And there’s even an option to add a thick slab of pan-fried foie gras on top.

Why is it unique? Don’t be mistaken: Pied de Cochon doesn’t only do poutine well. Every single dish in this restaurant is a delicious, liver-busting, coma-inducing experience. It’s use of foie gras, bacon, maple syrup and the confit-everything attitude it displays are one-of-a-kind.

Address: Pied de Cochon, 536 Avenue Duluth Est. Reservations: 514-281-1114. restaurantaupieddecochon.ca

1. Joe Beef

Joe Beef, the cookbook
Joe Beef, the cookbook

Twice voted the best restaurant in the country, Joe Beef’s reputation is obvious. A quick look at the restaurant’s cookbook, The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts, is enough to convince anyone to seek a reservation in the tiny Little Burgundy restaurant.

Foie gras breakfast sandwich? Lobster spaghetti? Horse filet? Veal tongue? Come on. There’s nothing that’s not worth ordering on Joe Beef’s menu.

Why is it unique? If there’s a quote that summarizes Joe Beef well, it’s probably this one: talking about the owners of the restaurant, Anthony Bourdain says, “Fred, Dave, and Meredith are a significant part of what makes Montreal dangerous—and delicious—to anyone who loves food. The words Joe Beef are synonymous with good food and good times.”

Address: 2491-2501 Rue Notre-Dame West. Reservations: 514-935-6504. joebeef.ca

About the Author: Cedric Lizotte

Bilingual freelance journalist. Tech, food, travel, photo. Twitter: @CedrikLizotte

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