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The Plateau, Old Mont. - trendy, fun, casual restaurants?

Hello! My husband and I are heading from Chicago to Montreal on October27th for three days. We'll be visiting my sister-in-law who is in college, so we will be staying over around the Crescent St. area where we always stay, but have never been impressed with any of the food.

We've been to Montreal twice before, but never had a good chance to enjoy the restaurants because we've always been with family, and no one ever wanted to venture out of the neighborhood to eat, so we were stuck out of obligation! We've been forced to eat some awful food at an Irish pub on Crescent, been to Queue de Cheval for dinner on both visits (liked it the 1st time, hated it the 2nd time), then just snacked our way through some unimpressive cafes. The only place we were able to pick on our own, and look so forward going back to, is St. Viateur Bagels, thats the only good impression of food in Montreal we have because we were never able to make it out anywhere else!

I've been doing some searching on the boards and am at quite a loss for some places to eat! We noticed a few trendy, modern looking places walking around the Plateau/Mont Royal/St. Denis area, but its been a year since our last visit so I can't remember any of the names, but those are the kind of places we are looking for for dinner one night. We don't want anything romantic, but just some good food in a fun atmosphere to go to with my brother and sister-in-law (who are 27 and 21, we are 30). We love kitschy and cozy cafes, good places that locals go to -- nothing expensive, stuffy, or dressy, just some moderately priced hidden gems. We'll have a car, so distance from where we are staying won't be a problem, but would like to stay within the city.

Also looking for a good rec for a place for either dinner or lunch in Old Montreal. I just think its so beautiful and have been wanting to go and sit and have a good meal at a cute place there.

Thank you!

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  1. I should have added a price range --- looking for around $30CAN and under (i.e. looking at the Globes prices, they seem a little high), and we aren't picky, we'll eat anything, but preferably no Chinese.

    1. Get your quintessential bistro experience at Au Petit Extra, 1690, rue Ontario East.

      For lunch in Old Montreal, there's Olive et Gourmando (closed Sunday), and Le Cartet for brunch.

      1. 30$ and under will do for a fine main course at most of the independent, respected establishments, but add an appetizer, and wine and there's no way! There are some great bring-your-own-wine resto's on the plateau (and given that wine is usually at least double the price in restaurants here, that saves you a bundle), but to have their full course meals will run 35-50$ per person- and usually worth every penny! I have been to les heritiers (lesheritiers.com to se the menu) and La Colombe, both excellent (yet quite different). These are truly neighborhood places, lots of charm and regulars.
        Brasserie Holder in old Montreal is also very good (about 25$ a plate, but the bar bill can add alot)...for a cheap lunch, don't forget Swartz' smoked meat!

        1. Sorry I should add, avoid at all costs, Prince Arthur St!!! Looks quaint, but the food...AUGH.

          1. kitchy and cozy cafe, awesome sandwiches!

            Cafe Santropol http://www.santropol.com/

            1. Try Ail y'ail y'ail. On St. Laurent north of Mont Royal. Tapas restaurant with some very innovative dishes (poutine w/seafood). Very reasonable and very fun atmosphere.

              1. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some hidden gems in your price range:

                Old Montreal - for breakfast, brunch or lunch:
                Le Cartet great - brunch
                Olive & Gourmando, brunch or lunch (closed Sunday though), fantastic bread, good soups, unbelievable brownies
                (I think someone has already covered these)

                Plateau:

                Breakfast / brunch
                Bagels etc - St. Laurent & Marianne. Great kitch atmosphere. good breakfasts, esp. eggs benedict (& the usual varieties, florentine, smoked salmon) served on bagels. Delicious spuds.
                L'Anecdote - Rachel & St. Hubert. Somewhat less kitchy than bagels, but still old-diner style. Usual breakfast stuff, burgers too if you want lunch.
                Cafe Art-Java - Mount Royal & St. Hubert. Not kitch atmostphere, but the best coffee in town, and nice breakfasts.

                Inexpensive Lunches:
                Soupsoup: coloniale (which is just east of St. Laurent but I can't remember intersection - a few blocks north of roy) - Good soup (as in the title) and sandwhichtes. Typical boho spot of the plateau, but great for a nice, filling, warm-up lunch that isn't fast food!
                Art Java (see above).
                Santropol, was mentioned by someone above.

                Dinner:
                Italian: Il piato della nonna - St-Laurent, nothing special, but packed with locals, menu changes daily.
                Bistro: L'Express - St. Denis. standard bistro fare. nothing particularly special, but it is constantly cited as the most typical of french bistros. Decent prices on french wine.
                Lemeac - Laurier. Pricier than your $30 a head range, but they have an after 10pm table d'Hote at around $20, that definitely makes it worth the wait.
                Spanish: - La Sala Rossa - St. Laurent. I don't know if brick spanish cultural centre without a sign qualifies as "kitch" but the for inexpensive tapas it can't be beat. Crowd may be a bit younger than you like, though. Filled with plateau hipsters on the weekend, going to see the latest new band playing in the hall upstairs.
                BYOW: a great way to go to stick closer to your price range. There are several discussions on this board. Do a search.

                Drinks and nibbles:
                Bu winebar (St-Laurent): you can definitely have a nice glass or two of wine (or an interesting bottle). Menu for noshing is small, but good quality and you can easily make a meal of it.

                1. For SoupSoup, it's located on Duluth. I'll also add Café Byblos for breakfast or brunch. Located on Laurier east between Christophe-Colomb and Papineau.

                  1. I have often found SoupeSoup mysteriously closed when trying to get into that place.

                    I suggest Chez Jose for an excellent Portuguese brunch, lunch, coffee, whatever. They do a great seafood soup with mussels. I think they close a bit early for dinner, though. Their pastries, empanadas, fruit smoothies, coffee, are all excellent. Very crazy decor with posters put up all over the walls and ceilings.

                    1. A nice portuguese restaurant that fits more than your budget is restaurant Jano (3883 St Laurent- a few streets north of des Pins). It is a family run restaurant that serve traditional and inexpensive Portuguese grills. You will not be disappointed.