You know the old saying, you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone? That’s how I feel about the food in Montréal. Growing up, I loved the eateries, but never realized what a foodie destination it really is. In fact, according to many sources, it has more restaurants per capita than any other city in North America. So, if you’re wondering where to eat in Montréal, you’ve come to the right place!
Since moving away in 2002, I know a lot has changed. New places have opened, and these trendy hotspots will be on many reviewers’ lists. You won’t find that here. Instead, this is a guide from a woman who fondly remembers the meals of her childhood. If you’re looking for good stuff, these restaurants have withstood the test of time, and this list is for you. These are convenient, affordable options that work for our large family — including vegetarians and keto-loving meat eaters! We hope you will find this helpful!
Top Rated Restaurants in Montréal
Before we go any further, I’m not sure everyone wants to take a trip down memory lane with me. While I love my childhood favorites, there are a million other places where you can get good food in my hometown. Here are some of the top rated restaurants in Montreal according to Yelp:
- Les Deux Gamins (French restaurants with a wine bar)
- Schwartz’s (full deli and smoked meat sandwiches)
- La Banquise (poutine, breakfast, general Canadian food)
- Ma Poule Mouillée (rotisserie chicken, poutine, salads)
- Au Pied de Cochon (traditional Quebec “sugar shack” food including maple syrup, lardons, pancakes and more)
- L’Avenue (extensive breakfast menu, lunch options)
- Damas (Syrian)
- Pamika Brasserie (Thai)
- Kazu (Japanese)
- Poutineville (every type of poutine imaginable!)
Yes, my friends. There are a LOT of poutine restaurants in Montréal. You can’t be surprised! If you’ve never had the deliciousness, feel free to keep reading or check out our post about finding the Best Poutine in Canada. Also, when I was a kid, my mother was OBSESSED with Schwartz’s. The restaurant specializes in smoked meat sandwiches, and I’ve heard many times that they are simply the best. I’m not a big fan of smoked meat, but I will say that those sandwiches are pretty darn tasty!
Technically, you can visit Tim Hortons anywhere in Canada. While you’ll find a few oddballs who don’t like it, Canadians love Timmy’s! It’s like our official food for everything. Running errands? Gotta get Timmy’s. Hockey event at your kid’s school? Gotta get Timmy’s. Wife just gave birth? Better pick up Timmy’s on the way to the hospital! It’s really like that!
There’s so much that I love about the Tim Hortons menu, and my kids miss it so much. He’d heard a lot about it, but growing up in Virginia, Josh never tried Tim Hortons. It wasn’t a surprise, though, that he was hooked after just one visit! On one of our last trips to Montreal, he demanded we hit the drive-thru even though it was after 2 a.m.!
What to Eat at Tim Hortons
There’s not much I wouldn’t order from Tim Hortons, it’s all pretty good. There are some must-haves, though, that I can’t skip. Whenever I’m near a Tim Horton’s, I have at least one stepped tea “Double, Double” (two creams, two sugars), an Iced Cap and a turkey bacon club sandwich. Of course, you have to have donuts, too! My favorite is the strawberry-filled powder donut, but everyone loves the bite-sized Timbits!
Josh really loves the breakfast sandwiches. They are a great alternative to the greasier versions found at McDonald’s. The biscuit is nothing like what his Southern mouth is used to, but their morning meals take him to his happy place. For me, I tend to stick with a butter croissant during a morning stop to Tim’s. Ugh, I want one right now!
We always take a box of Timbits for the road. We even almost missed our flight out of Vancouver once just to grab some. We’re always so sad, wondering when we’ll be able to have Timmy’s again. Even with heavy Québec taxes, it’s just such an affordable and delicious option that we genuinely miss every day.
No matter where you go in the world, you’ll probably find a McDonald’s. While you can have a Big Mac just about anywhere, it’s always cool to see how the menu varies from country to country. McDonald’s Canada is very different than it is in the States. In fact, McDonald’s is pretty different around the world (we love it in Japan and the world’s largest entertainment McDonald’s!).
If you like the familiarity of McDonald’s but want to try something regional, this is a safe bet. There are a LOT of locations in Montréal, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one!
What to Eat at McDonald’s Canada
One of my favorite things about McDonald’s Canada is that most locations have a pastry/baked goods case! It’s not as tasty as Tim Horton’s, but it’s pretty good! Most people don’t go to McDo (as it’s often called by French Canadians) for a muffin, though. They want to have a burger, fries or one of our favorite foods — poutine! It’s just so delicious and McDonald’s sells one that is hot, cheap and yummy!
If you’ve never heard of poutine, all it is really is french fries covered in cheese curds and a brown gravy. How the fries are prepared and the flavor of the gravy can make a huge difference. McDonald’s already has one of the world’s most beloved french fries, so that’s a good foundation. Their gravy is okay. It’s nothing special. Together, though, it’s enough to satisfy the craving!
Even when Lauren and I were up for a quick trip after my grandmother died, we had to hit McDonald’s for a poutine (along with an Iced Cap from Timmy’s!). It’s not as good as what you can get elsewhere, but it’s still a solid option on the go. It definitely is MUCH better than the worst poutine we’ve ever eaten!
Another cool thing about McDonald’s Canada is that, when I was a teen, they even had personal pizzas on the menu! They took a while to bake, and not everyone liked them, but I did! People said it couldn’t work, but now you see Blaze Pizza killing it with years later. Sigh. Get back in the game, McDonald’s!
La Belle Province
If you’re wondering where to eat in Montréal when you’re craving poutine, you’ve got to try La Belle Province! Sure, there are newer, trendier poutineries around, but this one is iconic. Plus, there are so many La Belle Province restaurants. You can’t drive five minutes without hitting one!
Founded in 1970, La Belly Province is what we’d call a “greasy spoon.” You’ll find a very straightforward menu including breakfast items, poutine, club sandwiches, submarines, burgers, smoked meat, souvlaki and the best hot dogs I’ve ever had in my entire life.
What to Order at La Belle Province
There are several things that I grew up loving at La Belle Province. One of them is hot dogs. You can get them with either a steamed or toasted bun, and I really have no preference. It all depends on the day, but they are both equally delicious in my opinion. There’s also Pogos which, I feel, beats both of them.
Pogos are hot dogs dipped in a batter. Yes, theoretically they are similar to corn dogs, but the batter is not made with cornmeal. It’s like a sweet breading and I’m so sad I can’t eat one right now. I wish I could have one of the amazing subs at La Belle Province to help make me feel better. Steak and pepperoni was always my favorite!
When we took Caleb to visit family in 2015, Josh had his first taste. With a baby in tow, we needed more space than the cramped eating area in La Belle Province. Besides, I needed to introduce Josh to my favorite milk shake (more on that in a bit!), so we sat in the food court at Champlain Mall (an old haunt from my youth – it’s also got good food options!).
When I was a little kid, my grandmother would take me to Laura Secord for ice cream. We’d get lollipops, chocolate bars, and seasonal items, if they were on sale. She really loved butterscotch, and now every time I smell that flavor, it takes me back to those days. Memories can be so amazing.
As I got older, I’d take my own children to the kiosk in the mall. While we enjoyed all the things I grew up loving, we started branching out and trying new things. That’s how I discovered one of my favorite things to eat (or drink!) in Montréal.
What to Get at Laura Secord
Get. A. Milkshake. If you can tolerate dairy and enjoy frothy drinks, do yourself this favor. Oh my goodness, just a plain chocolate milkshake from Laura Secord is enough to knock my socks off. This isn’t a thick milkshake — it’s meant for drinking right away. It’s fresh, frothy and creamy and there’s just nothing else like it.
During a trip a few years back, I introduced Josh to the milkshake. As soon as it hit his taste buds, he became an addict! We’ve made several trips up to Montreal over the next few years, but we never leave without grabbing a milkshake. I’m so glad that Josh loves them as much as I do. Maybe it’s a sign that we’re meant to be together 🙂
The chocolate bars are also amazing. A few times I brought home some of the chocolate bars, but they didn’t always travel well. Eventually we stopped because the creamy chocolate would melt by the time we drove back to Virginia. That hot Southern sun destroyed them, but I still licked the chocolate out of the wrappers!
KFC/Taco Bell Canada
While KFC and Taco Bell (often sharing the same restaurant space) are smaller franchises in Canada, they still make sure to set themselves apart from their American counterparts. Oh my goodness, I’d eat at Taco Bell Canada or KFC Canada any day of the week. The menu is so diverse!
One thing that I really miss? Fries Supreme from Taco Bell Canada. Yes, they’ve recently started offering a version of this in the States, but it’s just not the same. Canadians have been eating this for years, and they’ve perfected the recipe. While we were there, I took the opportunity to share some with Josh. As you’ve probably already guessed, he loved it!
What to Eat at KFC and Taco Bell Canada
KFC Canada (or PFK in Québec) is also very, very different. There are no biscuits, for example (biscuits are rare in Canada, in general), but meals do come with a super delicious piece of buttery bread. When I was a kid, you could buy a whole loaf of it (maybe you still can?!).
The cole slaw is fantastic, but it’s no longer a blue/green radioactive color as it was in my youth. That was the best cole slaw on the planet, but I digress… Anyway, while we were there, they had a Waffle Double Down sandwich that Josh just had to try! I really thought he was going to lose his mind.
When we got out to the car, he went on and on about how amazing it was. He loved the sauce, the quality of the chicken and was especially impressed by the waffle. When a version of this came to the States, Josh tested it out. He’ll address that showdown in another post, but let’s just say that the Canadian one is the best in his eyes. He absolutely loved it!
When I lived in Calgary, Alberta, I stumbled upon Moxie’s by accident. I was doing a press event for the Juno Awards and the restaurant was in the lobby where my coworker was staying. After scanning the extensive menu, I decided on the Chicken Vindaloo and a love affair began. It was so much spicier than I ever expected from a chain restaurant in Canada. Over the years, they’ve either adjusted the recipe or I’ve become accustomed to the heat!
Josh and I typically grabbed quick meals while we were up in Canada because our trips were so rushed but, a couple times, we forced ourselves to slow down and have a real dinner. He chose a steak dish with veggies and I stuck with my Chicken Vindaloo.
Over the years, it feels like the spiciness has been toned down in the dish, but it’s still really good. I love the side of naan bread — it’s just enough for sopping up the sauce and scooping up rice. This is a great option if you’re craving an Indian-inspired dish but your companion wants something else.
Full disclosure: While I’ve had a great and wonderful history with Moxie’s in Calgary, our last visit to the Montréal location did not end well. We waited a long time for our meal and then Josh sent his back because the steak was overcooked. We waited a really long time for a replacement and, just a few hours later, our entire trip was derailed because Josh contracted a severe case of food poisoning so… keep that in mind!
Les Rotisseries Benny
Since 1960, Les Rotisserie Benny, or “Benny’s” as we call it, has been delighting the people of Québec. Their specialty, as the name suggests, is rotisserie chicken. For more than 30 years, my go-to meal has been the chicken breast meal. The portions are so generous (by Canadian standards) and the food is delicious!
The chicken skin is so flavorful and the meat is tender. The amazing thing is that they’ve managed to keep it so consistent over the years. It has been more than a decade by the time I introduced Josh to Benny’s, but everything still tasted the same. The sauce is always so hot and thick. It sticks perfectly to those incredible crinkle cut fries. I literally could eat this meal once a week for the rest of my life and be happy!
Of course they offer poutine, and Josh loves getting the one with dark meat chicken on top. One time, we grabbed some right before heading back into Upstate New York. When the customs officer asked if we had anything to declare, we said, “Just this tasty Benny’s.” Josh pointed to the box on my lap and we all laughed. He agreed, it’s pretty delicious!
Until recently, Benny’s has only been a counter service restaurant where you could either pick up your order or have it delivered. While we were outside Ottawa a few years ago, we stumbled into one that had a full seating area and it was pretty great!
Bar B Barn
My heart skips a beat when I think about the Bar B Barn. I remember being really young and climbing up the steps to get to the top floor at the downtown Montréal location. I’d eat a kids meal, wishing I could have just a little more from someone’s plate. It was so good.
During all of our previous trips to Canada, Josh and I never made it to the Bar B Barn. On our last trip, though, I had a feeling we wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon. I seized the opportunity. It was a busy night in the restaurant, but I didn’t care how long we had to wait. We were going to have chicken. We were going to have ribs. And it was going to be glorious!!!
Josh was surprised by the stripped down interior. As I pointed out, though, this is supposed to be a “barn.” It’s very rustic (they’ve had that same paper place mat menu my whole life), so don’t expect fancy seating or the bells and whistles. That being said, be ready to lick your fingers and howl at the moon because you will love your meal!
We decided to order half a chicken (leg for him, breast for me!) and a Whole Hawg (a full rack of ribs) and then we split it up. I was immediately taken back to my childhood, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear or two. It was spectacular and worth the long wait. Just like Benny’s, Bar B Barn has remained consistent my whole life and it tastes every bit as good as it did years ago.
If you’re wondering where to eat in Montréal and want a truly unique chicken and ribs experience, check out the Bar B Barn. The prices are reasonable for what you get, the atmosphere is unique and you can say you’ve been to one of Montreal’s iconic eateries. You’ll love it!
Caribbean Curry House
One of the best things about looking for where to eat in Montréal is that everything is so multicultural. There are so many different types of food, so if you’ve never tried Caribbean, here’s your chance. Talk to anyone and they’ll say that Caribbean Curry House is the best in the area. It recently began operating under new management, so let’s hope they keep those standards high!
There are no pictures from my trips to Caribbean Curry House. That’s because I’d eat the food too quickly. When I think of this place, it just fills my heart and mind with so many feelings and memories. It’s such a special place.
What to Eat at Caribbean Curry House
You’ll find an array of homestyle plates at Caribbean Curry House, all served with rice, salad and plantain. You could really enjoy that, but that’s not what I order. They are most famous for their incredible rotis. These consist a filling (chicken, beef, goat, or veggies for example) wrapped up in a delicious flatbread. I’m drooling. I’m actually drooling right now.
The picture above is me at a roti place in Toronto (I’ll have to write about it someday). Do you see that bead of sweat on my forehead? It’s because I ran like mad when I found out there was a Caribbean restaurant in the area. It was good, but it didn’t hold a candle to Caribbean Curry House.
Of everything on this list, this is the one food that I wish I could bring here. There’s nothing like it anywhere near Idaho, so when we were in Virginia recently, I had to hit up Mystic Jamaica (which was very, very good)! There’s no better way to wash it down than with a Champagne Kola or Banana Drink.
Sadly, we have no pics of Miss Italia. Trust me, though, when I say that I’ve loved that pizza place my entire life for good reason. The pies are wood-fired, they make awesome subs, and when we went there on Valentine’s Day in 2015, it tasted exactly like it did in 1980. That’s the thing about these long-standing restaurants in a historic city like Montréal. Consistency is key and (knock on wood) they haven’t let me down yet.
Miss Italia is not on the island of Montréal, but if you’re on the South Shore (my neck of the woods), definitely check it out. They deliver and have two convenient locations.
We love visiting Montréal for the food more than anything else. Maybe one day, we’ll get back there and just feast till we pass out. For now, I’ll just live in my memories!