Must Eat Foods inMontreal---First Timer
Many will recommend the big 3 Montreal foods: Smoked meat sandwiches (ideally at Schwartz's), Bagels (from St. Viateur or Fairmont), and obviously poutine (everywhere... check the endless arguments on this board to identify some of the best ones). Because these are things one is supposed to get while here, they're probably worth trying (they're also cheap and none is particularly time-consuming). In the case of each you'll want to eat them hot, immediately after purchase.
Beyond these staples there's much more in Montreal that one won't find easily in DC, but everyone has an opinion. Things I'd recommend:
Cheeses: Quebec makes great cheese, and our laws about raw/unpasteurized cheeses are more lenient than most other places in North America. Go to a cheese shop at one of the farmers markets (Jean Talon or Atwater) and ask for some raw cheese recommendations from the staff. Most employees are great and will let you taste exhaustively. And Jean Talon market itself is a must-see, so thats an added bonus.
Odd meats: I don't know DC laws specifically, but I'd suspect there are meats one can get here that are less readily available there. Things like horse, seal (a restaurant called Cinquieme Peche used to serve this regularly, though maybe not as late in the season as August), and foie gras may be particularly rare in your area. Also I think animal organs are more common on menus in Montreal: places like au Pied de Cochon, DNA, and Lawrence are notable for serving most parts of many animals (like duck gizzards and hearts, calf brains, sweetbreads, headcheese, blood sausage, or even whole pigs' heads). Lawrence or APDC would probably be fine with a fairly calm 5 year old, though an earlier sitting might be best.
Baked goods: Even the many chain bakeries here serve great bread and croissants, so take advantage!
Affordable French food in general: It seems like half of Montreal restaurants are French or at least French-inspired. The price-to-quality ratio of these is far superior to almost anywhere else, so I'd definitely indulge in at least one of these restos. Search around on this board for some ideas. Some also allow you to bring your own wine without a corkage fee, which is also a great deal.
Hope this helps!
I second the recommendation to try Quebec cheeses. Marche des Saveurs du Quebec at the Jean-Talon Market is hard to beat for trying out Quebec food products. Try the Cheve Noir cheddar-like goat cheese for sure! But a variety of good Quebec cheeses can be found in places like P&A SuperMarche stores as well.
On another note: seek-out French style macarons! There is a long thread on the topic on this Montreal board. But one accessible place is Espace Europea on Notre-Dame in Old Montreal
Don't stick to the cultural cliches. Happy noshing!
7075 Avenue Casgrain, Montreal, QC H2S, CA
french bistro, market food on many menus is of interest but depends on your taste preferences, do you like kidneys, brain, tartare, duck; are you wanting good choices of wine with your meal; I wouldnt really bother with fish as you can get that anywhere and we are far from ocean--but if you want fish then go to restos like ferriera, milos which are expensive though, unless you go for special hour specials, Not all these french bistro restos are child friendly so that would be a consideration I presume in your choices. As you can see in postings people have different opinions on same resto so best if you give us an idea of what kind of food and ambiance you like. Menus are often posted on line, (some change their menu so use chalkboards)and many restos tend to post their menus outside resto as well. When our children were young we would often go in evenings to restos which had terraces/patios in the back as just so much easier when they can stand up, move around a bit. I would avoid poutine-unless it is the variation with lobster or foie gras on top! Bagels are fun but bland so I think are overhyped but hard to say this as ex montrealers like to get bags of fresh bagels before they head back to where they now live!. I would check out some of the newer pastry stores and take some treats back to your hotel to enjoy or even better in August you might want to go to these pastry stores for some croissants etc and have a european style breakfast up on the mountain (you can drive up) near beaver lake (really a pond!).
http://montreal.streetviewtours.com/attractions/montreal-mount-royal-park/ The restos wont stand out from DC restos but the prices are fair for quality and variety of the food. I think there are some threads here about restaurants that are childfriendly.
You might enjoy sampling some of the foods at this oldstyle market in old montreal (in front of archeology museum) on the last weekend in August, they have some activities for young children
It would not be enough to fill you up so you could go to one of the restos in old montreal choosing according to the price range you want and avoiding the tourist traps
heres some of the terraces that are popular, and more can be found in threads on this site