Montreal Jazz Festival eats?
I'm heading up to the Montreal Jazz fest for Boston for the first time this weekend (Friday night thru Sunday afternoon, a regrettably short trip). I'll be staying at the Hyatt, which I understand is pretty much in the middle of all the activity. I'd love to have some Chowish experiences while I'm there without spending a fortune or encountering massive crowds. Is there anything at the Festival itself worth munching? Any Montreal must-have food experiences? Breakfast recommendations not too far from hotel? And while I'm peppering you with questions, I'd love to bring home a bottle of Havana Club rum (unavailable in the USA) and maybe a couple of bottles of other alcoholic beverages not so readily available south of the Canadian border. Any great liquor stores in the vicinity? Thanks!
For good alcohol, go a little bit west on Ste-Catherine St. to the SAQ Signature store (677, rue Ste-Catherine Ouest) it has one of the best selection of, mostly, expensive wines and alcohol.
For food, there have been lot of post recently about jazz fest vs. food, just look them up.
for a couple of suggestions, close to the site, Pullman (wine bar with small plates); for other suggestions, you will have to travel a little bit (up on St-Denis or St-Laurent, or up to Laurier St., or down to the old-montreal;
all depend on the $$ and the ethnicity of the food.
There's also a new-ish sandwich place on St-Laurent (between Maisonneuve and Ontario sts) that I think is called "Provision"
just to clarify for the OP, "SAQ" stands for Societe des Alcools du Quebec, the provincial liquor stores. It's the only place to buy hard liquor in the province. Thay also have wine and select beers, usually imports. Beer and crappy wines are available at supermarkets and corner stores as well.
As C70 notes, the SAQ is the 'state' run liquor/wine outlet. Its a monopoly and as such, most stores are somewhat standard. The 'signature' store does have more selection, the 'express' somewhat less (but open later). I think Havana Club is pretty common to all stores.
There's an SAQ in the basement complex of the Hyatt, Complexe Desjardins. Its a 'classique' outlet and should have the rum.
Hint: while in Complexe Desjardins during the Festival, collect $50 worth of receipts and you can get a free Jazz Fest T-shirt from their info kiosk (my cheapo friends simply pick extras off the floor ;-/)
The Jazz site itself doesn't have a whole lot of interesting chow (read hot dogs, etc). Coming from the states, you might want to try poutine (fries/curd cheese/gravy).
Chinatown is two blocks south and one east from your hotel (you can get there underground if you wanted). Dim Sum on Sunday is nice, or dinner at Beijing before walking back to the festival is fun (both great value).
Nyks Pub & Grill a block west from your hotel on Bleury below St. Catherine is somewhat chowish.
Many would say Schwartz is a Montreal must. Montreal smoked meat about 13 blocks from the hotel (although 4 of them are quite steep...). I'd suggest this for a lunch.
In the same neighborhood is Beauty's, a Montreal breakfast institution for 50 years.
I second porker's recommendation about Nyk's on Bleury - they have excellent microbrews on tap (personal fave: Coup de Grisou) and generally tasty dishes at reasonable prices. I'm actually heading there tonight ahead of the Stevie concert.
Otherwise yeah - head south to Chinatown or even further south to some spots in the Old Port; Holder and Vauvert are good on McGill and more affordable, while spots like Garde Manger, l'Orignal, and Club Chasse & Peche are good and more pricey.
From my experience during previous visits, I'd say that the bun bo hue at Pho Bang on St. Laurent in Chinatown (weekends only) is one of the best versions of the soup anywhere. Niu Kee is the best restaurant I've ever been to in Montreal Chinatown. I'll be going there on Saturday before a show at Club Soda.