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Aug 17, 2011 09:17 AM

Recs needed for pubby places in Montreal

I'll be in Montreal fairly shortly and have a few places in mind to eat. What would be helpful though is know of any pub sort of places which do decent food and get a good beer, as I won't want to eat fancy every night, but it would be nice to still enjoy tasty food in more relaxed surroundings.

Any recs would be appreciated.

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  1. Anglophone-friendly pubs with good grub are Hurley's, The Irish Embassy, & The Olde Orchard pub. You'll be able to find menus & addresses for all of them with a quick google.

    (I do not mean to offend anyone with the phrase anglo-friendly, I am simply steering him to where I'd go for maybe some company and conversation at the bar.)

    As for the more Francophone brewpubs, I'll let someone else steer you in the right direction. I don't get out enough, LOL.

    1. Does it have to be a pub?

      Montreal is less known for it's pubs then it's cafes or bistros. Think of them as a pub only with natural lighting and less heavy furniture: relaxed atmosphere, good food.

      But if you really want pub food (ie fries, burgers, chicken wings): McKibbins, Hurleys, Ye Olde Orchard, Old Dublin... All are good places.

      Ye Olde Orchard
      5563 Av Monkland, Montreal, QC H4A1E1, CA

      16 Replies
      1. re: SourberryLily

        Thanks for the recs so far, no am happy with relaxed cafes and bistros - am just looking for decent relaxed places with a nice atmosphere and somewhere you can just drop in, rather than book up in advance.

        Francophone places are fine as I speak enough French to get around.

        1. re: Adam_In_London

          Francophone, Anglophone... there is no such thing in Montreal. The only place where that would matter are in bars where they play francophone music. Any establishment in this city will have staff who can at least get by in english or french (except perhaps ethnic places where they speak neither).

          Here is some more to add to your list:
          -Brit & Chips, name says it all. It's Old Montreal borderline downtown, so likely near whatever hotel you're staying at.
          -Aux Vivres (vegan, but can turn even meat lovers around)
          -Nouvelle Boulangerie Montreal (inside Complexe Desjardins), crazy amazing sandwiches and salads. You wont find cold cuts in these, no sir!
          -St-Viateur Bagel
          -The Main or Schwartz for smoke meat

          There are many recommendations on these boards if you search for "casual" or "solo" or "bistro".

          1. re: SourberryLily

            uh, while i agree with SourberryLily's intro, take her of recommendations with a grain of salt - several of these places have zero or next-to-zero seating... They're not exactly "pubby".

            More in line with your question, I recommend The Sparrow, Nik's, any of the Frite Alors chain, Nouveau Palais, Burgundy Lion, Else's...

            1. re: SourberryLily

              Im on your side sourbelly at east for the most part...most bistros in the city don't require a reservation anyway...but sending a Londoner to Brit and chips nay

              1. re: SourberryLily

                francophone anglophone lines to exist if you attempt to speak english east of st-denis
                i've heard ici c'est quebec more than i am comfortable with

                1. re: SourberryLily

                  Pubs are tricky in Montreal: the decent ones either have (almost) no good food (like Dieu de Ciel), or are expensive with little beer selection (Dominion Square Taverne).

                  I agree with others on Sparrow. Helm and Reservoir are also excellent options, and the food is good for the most part. Griffintown is always an option (the one closer to rue de la montagne is the one with beer). Or Icehouse if its not too busy: things can be affordable or expensive depending on your choices. The drinks are great, though the beers on tap are pretty lame.

                  1. re: Fintastic

                    laurier gordon ramsay also has a decent beer selection

                  2. re: SourberryLily

                    Many of Sourberry's recs don't even have alcohol licenses.

                    1. re: Shattered

                      Read on the OPs other comments to understand my other recs.

                      As for pubs, well there are two kinds of pubs named in this thread. Often, we talk of pubs in Montreal as drinking holes, microbreweries or places that serve more then the generic Molson Labatt. With the distinction that to be a pub they offer some meager selection of food items to satisfy the SAQ's requirement for the liquor liscence. Food is an afterthought in these places. IE: Benelux

                      Then there are pubs that are essentially the same, but have a full menu. These casual places have many tables and seating, and most patrons order a full meal with their beer. In the US, these are very common, and i assume they are in England as well. There are some of these in Montreal but not so many. Here, for a casual meal we have bistros.... IE McKibbins

                      I believe the OP is a business traveller who doesn't know when he'll get off work and just wants a place to lay back, have a meal and relax other then his hotel room. I don't think alcohol is a deal breaker for all of his evenings.

                      1. re: SourberryLily

                        umm he asked for a place with beer.

                        1. re: C70

                          McKibbins is a bistro?! Had I known... sometimes I drink more upscale than I knew, lol

                            1. re: SourberryLily

                              "Here, for a casual meal we have bistros.... IE McKibbins"

                              you wrote that. and we have plenty of pubs.

                              1. re: C70

                                Reread that paragraph but pretend "Here, for a casual meal we have bistros" is in brackets. She is describing a particular type of pub, à la McKibbins. The note about bistros is not describing McKibbins.

                                1. re: kpzoo

                                  Yes, exactly :P The paragraph was about Pubs. Not because "bistro" was 2 words before that it means McKibbins is one. Unless you're a reporter, you can't take things out of context ;-)

                                  1. re: SourberryLily

                                    "Unless you're a reporter, you can't take things out of context" = one of the best line of the week, I'm gonna borrow that...

                1. re: celfie

                  hi Adam in London, I would recommend Reservoir on Duluth, Dominion Square Tavern on Metcalf, Else's on Roy (, and bars (where you won't necessarily be eating) would be Bily Kun and Plan B on Mont-Royal. I definitely second Burgundy Lion mentioned by Celfie and have had the food there which is great. Vice et Versa ( is also a lot of fun, in a great neighbourhood and you can get food as well as tasting menu of local beers that you won't get in London (either UK or Ontario...).

                  1. re: deborahm

                    Second Vices et Versa - great selection of beers, nice simple food (pates and cheeses, some simple pizzas) and a lovely terrasse, if you can find a seat!

                    I will disagree with some people here who are recommending the Burgandy Lion - I like it for its "British-ness" but I don't think you would rate it if you are living in London. Also, in my opinion, the food has gone downhill dreadfully in the past six months (particularly the breakfasts - my boyfriend still likes the crumpets, but the rest is just very, very average)

                    1. re: unlaced

                      That's too bad about Burgundy Lion--I haven't been there in awhile and must say that the last time it was during a soccer game so it was a great atmosphere. I also agree that for someone from London it's not going to be novel. I would also like to suggest Dieu du Ciel on Laurier. Also, here is a Guardian top 10 list and it is also pretty reliable, particularly for Dieu du Ciel, le Saint-Elizabeth and Quincaillerie:

                      Enjoy our city!

                      1. re: deborahm

                        I have to say that I've always found BL to be incredibly overpriced for everything. The food (salads especially) can be good, but its pub food. Beer prices are well above par. Personally I've always found that the place feels inauthentic and artificial: not the British pub you find in most other places in the world. Its tough to explain what I mean, but its reinforced by the abundance of douchebags there almost any time of day. Some staff is ok, but often they are unresponsive and unprofessional: my last times there (both were on quiet sundays) servers simply did not deliver things that were ordered (drinks, bills, etc.) and spent considerable time sitting with friends and trashing other employees.
                        I'll go there for soccer, but its not recommended for much else.

                        1. re: Fintastic

                          the food prices are simlar to those at the other pubs in town. the food is also better

                          1. re: Fintastic

                            Agree with Fintastic. BL is very pricey for what you get food-wise, and beer prices are more like downtown than a neighbourhood joint, which it is. But worst of all, it's just brutally loud anywhere you sit if it's even moderately crowded. They really didn't think it through when they made a huge open concept right in the middle of the place.

                            My friends in the hood never go anymore, and would rather walk downtown or all the way to St Lo. So that kinda says it all.

                            I also found the service underwhelming the few times I've been.

                          2. re: deborahm

                            Funny that that Guardian guide came out four years ago but is still pretty accurate. Not much has changed, I guess. (Though since when is Billy Kun a microbrewery?) Good recs there for the Montreal flavour.

                            If you're expecting a pub in the British sense or even a bar in the American sense...we just don't do that kind of thing here. There are very few places that have that kind of homey, grab-a-stool, ambiance. It becomes even rarer if pairing that with decent food. You can approach something like that downtown (on Crescent and Bishop, e.g. the aforementioned Hurley's)...but that's also an area filled with tourists and high beer prices and doesn't exude the Montreal vibe one finds in the Plateau. Generally, things are a bit different here so I wouldn't bring any preconceived notions of what a pub or bar should be. Have fun!

                          3. re: unlaced

                            I agree and the beer selection is pretty poor imo.

                            I go ocassionally out of convenience because I live a few blocks away, but would not leave the neighborhood for it.

                            Le Chien Fumant is kind of gastropubby; same for Taverne Dominion Square and Griffintown Café... if you're putting food above all else.

                            Old Orchard serves good burgers, fish & chips, etc. It's more of a student hangout.

                            The better drinking holes don't really put much focus towards food. I guess there's Else's where you can get some conventional and avergae tasting pub grub with good local ales. I've never eaten at Réservoir, Dieu Du Ciel, Amère À Boire, Saint-Bock , Cheval B... or any of the better local brasseries. Other than the small courtyard at Burgundy though, and some decent salads & apps, I see no real reason to go out of yoru way for it.

                            1. re: OliverB

                              Normally, I'd recommend L'Amère à Boire without hesitation...but last time I did so, several responders said the food has gone downhill, which is a major shame. It's been a while since I've gone so I can't comment personally. I assume the beer (microbrewery) is still of high quality. It would be a good spot for the lone traveler, as it's an attractive and welcoming space. Perhaps, OP, give it a try if in the neighbourhood (latin quarter...St-Denis south of Sherbrooke), though keep your fingers crossed on the food. (Surely some items are still good?) Trois Brasseurs isn't so bad if desperate but avoid Le Saint-Sulpice. Else's is a good rec for the lower Plateau. Dieu du Ciel is a must visit for the beer but eat beforehand. Generally, I'd suggest looking around the Plateau (St-Laurent, Mont-Royal, Duluth, Rachel Sts) as opposed to downtown and the Latin Quarter.

                              1. re: foodinspace

                                Last time I was at Dieu du Ciel (roughly a year ago? can't remember for sure) I had one of their pizzas. It was very good for pizza in Montreal. Wouldn't go there just for that, but it was an above-average bar snack/light meal (assuming they still make it).

                                1. re: Mr F

                                  I went a few weeks ago, they were in the process of changing their menu.
                                  We ordered some pizzas and a panini. The pizzas took 2 hours to get htere. The panini never arrived.

                                  They told me they were having trouble with the new menu because their had no kitchen. They cook everything in little mini ovens behind the bar. I love their beers, but i wouldn't go there for food.

                                  1. re: SourberryLily

                                    Ouch. Anything taking two hours is a serious problem. Thanks for the update.

                                2. re: foodinspace

                                  I love L'Amere a Boire, but I go there for the beer, hardly the food. Still, a shame to hear the small menu isn't so good anymore....

                            2. re: deborahm

                              Dominion Square Tavern is a lovely room and the food isn't bad, but given the jacked-up downtown prices, I'd say it's only a reasonable option if you're already in the neighbourhood for other reasons. Not worth a detour.

                          4. Maybe try Patati Patata on St-Laurent and Rachel... it's not a pub, rather a teeny tiny diner, but if you're alone you shouldn't have to wait long for a table. Cheap, good food and you can get beer on tap.

                            Patati Patata
                            4177 St-Laurent Blvd., Montreal, QC , CA

                            1. I might recommend Le Pourvoyeur on Jean-Talon, right next to the marché. Their food selection is a little more extensive than some other places mentioned here, including some excellent fries, and the location next to the marché makes for great people-watching. Upstairs offers a great view of the neighborhood, too.

                              It's also always been a decidedly mixed crowd (age/gender/profession/native-tourist) whenever I've been there and quite welcoming.


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: michaelmas

                                We went to pourvoyeur and with all the hype associated with it, found our experience rather disapointing.
                                Food is not better than any other pub: its hotdog, poutine and burgers;
                                They missed the great opportunity that they are in the market to bring in more local food, mostly what seem to be frozen french fries and veggies;
                                Mernu doesn't seem to change: why people still have fixed menu one may ask?
                                Service was ok at most, nothing made it memorable in my opinion.

                                Our other concern was also that they had a "Ladies Night" were woman are confined to the room on the upper floor and then men go 'a l'abordage' at 11. No gold star for originality over there. It actually feel its not of our era to do so.

                                Dont spend too much time there, go to vice et versa instead...