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Bistros, Coffee, Beer & Pizza

Planning a trip to Montreal & Quebec in August (hopefully air fares will come down between now and then).
I want to fully embrace the Frenchness of the area and I know there are several helpful threads on the food but I’m specifically looking for recommendations on traditional French-style bistros and croissants/coffee. Not interested in bagels or delis.
Hoping to do a Unibroue brewery tour while in Quebec but don’t know if that is available so other beer-centric recs would be appreciated.
Would like to do an article on the trip but would need a pizza stop or two. Is there such a thing as Montreal or Quebec-style pizza? Whether there is or not any favorite pizza mentions would be helpful.
I don’t care if the recommendations are touristy or frequented by locales, only care that they are good.
Also; thinking about getting the Rosetta Stone for French and I’m wondering if I’d be better off just getting by in English or if attempts at speaking French are appreciated.

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  1. Learn this: "Bonjour. Hi." It's standard Montréalais for "I'm being polite, but if I have a choice I'd rather be served in English." Add a "merci" or ten, and you'll be probably okay in English.

    + Paltoquet are the city's best, also their almond croissants; but they often sell out. Smaller than you might be used to - elegant, so good.

    + Try these relatively obscure (and incroyable) sweet French pastries at Mamie Clafoutis.

    + This is not a pizza town.

    + Vices & Versa is the best brewpub bar etc for ambiance. Dieu du Ciel has great beer but I find it too noisy. You can find Unibroue beer at any corner store.

    + If you can afford it, go for an amazing bistro like Bistro Bienville, P'tit Plateau, 5e Pêché (lots of recs in other threads), or do Léméac's after 10pm $22 special.

    Enjoy. Montreal is very special.

    1. Coffee... 2, 3 places ; Cafe In Gamba, Neve and Myriade; all 3 look like a "hip" western coffee houses
      Broissants, ... don't know; I'm not too picky.
      Beer : 2, 3 places : Dieu du Ciel (*), Reservoir, Le Cheval Blanc.
      Pizza : not a montreal speciality, but 2 places : Bottega, Magpie (the new hip place) .
      Bistro : The ubiquitous "L'Express" can be fun for a more "France" experience; other (better) choices : "3 Petits Bouchons", "5eme Peché", Petit Plateau, ...

      Breweries : unibroue is outside of the city, McAusland brewerie is on the island and more accessible if not having a car. I don't know if any of those brewery have tours. (a quick google could not find an answer; you probably need to contact them).

      (*) they brew on site.

      65 Rue Saint-Zotique E, Montreal, QC H2S1K7, CA

      Cafe In
      236 Pl Du Marche Du N, Montreal, QC H2Y, CA

      4 Replies
      1. re: Maximilien

        Mcauslan also has a terrasse during summer, I don't know if it's open during August tough.


          1. re: vanierstudent

            Yes it is usually opened until at least Labor Day, maybe later if weather is still fair

          2. re: Maximilien

            All three of those places brew their beer on-site not just Dieu du ciel.

            It should also be noted that the beer at Cheval Blanc is not the same as the what's sold in deps. The Cheval Blanc bottling operation was bought out years ago and is independant of the brewpub.

          3. Montreal has an important Anglophone influence, but learning some word in French will not hurt.

            I second the recommendation for DDC, the beer is really topnotch. Peche Mortel on tap if you can get it, you will rarely get a more complex stout. Truly a great beer.

            There's a lot of good croissant in the city, one of my fav is Kouign Amann.

            Montreal-style pizza does exist... its fat greasy and they put the pepperoni under the cheese? Not worth it. If you INSIST on trying it, Emilio in the Mcgill ghetto will probably be the best in that category...

            2 Replies
            1. re: vanierstudent

              Great recommandations, merci!
              I may have to check out fat & greasy ghetto pizza just out curiosity.

              1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                To make it easier to find, it's called Amelio's - http://ameliospizza.com/

                201 Rue Milton, Montreal, QC H2X1V5, CA

            2. as vanierstudent said Montreal pizza does exist
              fat and with greasy liquid pooling around the center of the pie... generally huge amounts of super cheap and chewy mozzarella... toute garnie or all dressed is the way to go. I wouldn't opt for Amelio's but for something more authentic like Jojo Pizzaria on Papineau. The big the size, the bigger the pool of greasy liquid and the more slippage you get (everything falling off the dough leaving you holding limp soggy crust). You shouldn't buy by the slice since that defeats the entire pooling effect and possibly the slippage. They are truly wonderful in their own special way.

              201 Rue Milton, Montreal, QC H2X1V5, CA

              Jojo Pizzaria
              6507 Av Papineau, Montreal, QC H2G2X3, CA

              1. napolitana is a montreal institution for pizza - they have lineups out the door on a daily basis. whether it's all that or not is up for debate, but i've had some pretty fine meals there and their gnocchi is some of the best in the city.

                1. Without setting off language debates, I'd say that you can get away with not speaking French in this town but it is polite to know a few standards (as per the response by nikkori), and the ability to read French is imperative (bring your Google Translate on your smartphone). Speaking English will be harder the further east you go in this city, so some of your servers in the Plateau may not be able to serve you in English.

                  As for croissants, even the chains in this city do a great job even though chain restaurants are an unspoken foodie no-no. Still, I and a lot of other Montréal Chowhounds would recommend Pâtisserie de Gascogne which has a small number of locations, though the one you may end up at would be in Westmount on Sherbrooke (the upper-crust Anglophone neighbourhood) or on Laurier in The Mile End (the more-Anglo artist hood). The place is an institution and claims to have introduced certain French delicacies to North America.

                  I second/third Amelio's for Montréal pizza (go to the original location in the McGill Ghetto), as well as Pizzeria Napoletana in Petite Italie.

                  Beers: I second Dieu du Ciel in the Mile End

                  Bistros: L'Express in the Plateau for sure; this place is great because it serves really late! Also agree with Au Cinquième Péché and Les Trois Petits Bouchons, also in the Plateau.

                  Bonne chance!

                  L'Express Restaurant
                  3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA

                  201 Rue Milton, Montreal, QC H2X1V5, CA

                  Pizzeria Napoletana
                  189 Rue Dante, Montreal, QC H2S1K1, CA

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: looosia

                    no french is required at all
                    you will get by without any issue at all - even if you were to go to the east end, which you wont

                    1. re: celfie

                      Bear in mind that if store owners, waiters etc. great you with a "Hello, Bonjour" it is often a test to see which language you speak. A reply of "Bonjour" ,however well intentioned, might get you the French menu instead of the English one adding to your language woes.

                      1. re: celfie

                        It's an issue for sure. Take a stroll on St. Denis and tell me how many menus are in English. That's a touristy area, too. Not speaking French might be the least of his problems. Try getting around the better part of this town without reading it.

                        1. re: Shattered

                          I would be surprised if there are many restaurants with French menus where the servers would be unable to translate for you. And while you will see French menus posted everywhere, many places will have English menus available - and the minute you try a "bonjour", they will know exactly which menu to bring...

                          1. re: cherylmtl

                            I purchased a French language software program so hopefully I'll be ready to communicate to some extent if I need to by August.
                            Booked my flight, interesting that LA to Quebec City with a change in Montreal costs less than just LA to Montreal on the same plane.
                            Another question: we're going to take Canadian rail from Quebec to Montreal. Since we'll have luggage, after we get to Montreal, would taking the metro to the hotel be too chaotic because of crowds?

                            1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                              (borderline chowhoud-ish)
                              The train station is in the center of the city and close to the subway. Crowd is not an issue outside of the "short" rush hour ( in the morning and evening)

                              Depending on where is your hotel, a bit of walking might be needed ( it might be easier and practical to take a taxi instead)

                              1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                Travel planning questions unrelated to food are off-topic, but briefly - unless you're taking the metro in the middle of rush hour on a weekday, crowds probably won't be an issue.