City Travel North America

Must Eat: The Very Best of Montreal | Canada

Montreal Street Art

Photo by Alex L’aventurier on Flickr

GUEST POST: With French vibes, 90+ annual festivals, and a 3 story orange defining its skyline (but, really), Montreal is an appropriately bizarre highlight of Canada. When our friend Lia Mitchell mentioned she was going, we knew she’d share a good story. Why? Because she’s the curious type. She has spent more time adventuring Alaska than any sane person would. She seeks out stories in all that she does, and makes a friend in every room she enters. Also, there was that one time she got kicked out of a concert for pretending to be a waitress, and serving bussed nachos to her friends. This time, she came, she saw, and she ate Montreal. Read on, and check out the rest of her adventures out on Instagram!

I never realized how much the city of Montreal had to offer until I was limited by a 48 hour timeline. I had been dreaming of that North American-French architecture for years, but underestimated the rich and diverse Franco charm that runs through its streets. Poutine, music, fresh bagels, more music, mixology, underground music, nature, fusion gastronomy… where do you even begin? Although I’m certain you could wander around Montreal blind folded and still find a good time, I did manage to uncover some gems in those 48 hours that I highly recommend.

Drink + Eat + Do Montreal

Eat: Starting off the day right was easy with brunch at Lawrence Restaurant and some famous Fairmont Bagels, afterward wandering through the eccentric vintage shops in Mile End (St. Laurent St.; between Laurier and St. Bernard). Even if you lose the whole day there, you can justify staying through the evening as well while new crowds pour in for the thriving night scene.


Drink: For late afternoon cocktails we explored mixologists’ recipes at Le Distillerie, all of which are served in your choice of a large mason jar or a gigantic mason jar. Games like Jenga make their way around the bar, creating ample opportunities to meet locals.

Eat: Our new Le Distillerie acquaintances (I should really make a point to forewarn readers that Montreal residents are really, extremely friendly) directed us to L’gros Luxe, a resto bar tucked away in the hip Plateau neighborhood. Between the tater-tot poutines, giant Bloody Cesears (the Canadian alternative to a Bloody Mary), or the use of beets and arugula in their grilled cheese sandwich, everyone’s creative appetite was satisfied.

Poutine in Montreal

Do: To wrap things up with a night cap, we walked ten minutes to Dièse Onze Jazz Club, where live music is served nightly until 3am. Great jazz matched the authentic speak easy ambiance.

Eat: Besides eggcelent egg benedicts, and fresh juice served in glasses the size of a small fish bowl, the glow in the dark graffiti bathrooms in L’Avenue Restaurant will surely kick your day off right.

L'Avenue's giant juice is definitely a best of Montreal

Do: Observe the 1976 Olympic building relics as you make your way to the 185 acre Montreal Botanical Gardens. Montreal showcases garden styles from various cultures and climates, making for one of the world’s largest and most famous botanical gardens. It’s also great for an incredibly beautiful day outdoors (Hint: For some indoor fun, don’t miss the butterfly room).

Botanical Gardens of Montreal

Eat: Jump on the metro and take a stroll down the Old Port, treating yourself to some gastronomic temptations at the Maison Christian Faure.  Walk off the sugar buzz and head to Le Vin Papillon, for French faire without any pretentious service. Sit outside and enjoy quintessential Montreal cuisine brought to you by the same owners as the famous Joe Beef.

Do: Since we were there on a Tuesday, we were able to catch the weekly underground Kalmunity event. If you enjoy the poetic soul hip hop had in the 90s, appreciate good music and the skill needed for improvisation, this is the Tuesday night for you.

Do: We closed the chapter on Montreal at Fitz Roy, a cool warehouse bar kept vibrant with an abundance of indoor plants and a magnitude of pool tables, foosball and arcade games. It was easy (surprise, surprise) to strike up a conversation with locals here and we even saw a dance off in the corner.

48 hours in Montreal was a blast but definitely not sufficient. I guess that means we will have to come back.

Thanks again to Lia for eating and drinking all of Montreal, and proving there’s more to Canadian food than just poutine. We know it was a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. She’s got some ridiculous adventures ahead, so if you haven’t already, follow along on Instagram.

Have you been? What are your favorite restaurants in Montreal? Any things not to miss?

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