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Montreal food tour

Hi everyone! In May I will be spending a weekend in Montreal and I'd love to go on a self-guided food tour along the lines of this one from the New York City board:
What I'm looking for is for you guys to help me plan a walk of a couple miles through some nice parts of Montreal with, of course, delicious food along the way! I'm not looking for sit-down meals, but rather places that are easy to stop by and grab something small. I'd like to try a good variety.

I'm from NYC and this will be my second time in Montreal. My first trip was last year and I went to: L'Express, Fous Desserts, St.-Viateur Bagels, Juliette et Chocolat, some other bagel places, La Banquise for poutine, Olive & Gourmando for muffins, Muvbox for a lobster roll, Jean-Talon market for produce, et Le Marche de Saveurs for a lot of maple stuff. I loved everything except Muvbox. I don't dislike any foods in particular and I do speak French if that makes a difference. I don't have any budget in mind but I imagine most food tour stops would be of the cheap eats variety.

Rotisserie Romados, Patati Patata, Schwartz's, Oliver Potier, Le Grand Comptoir, La Goulette all sound appealing, but they're kind of scattered all over the place.

I would like my route to include:
- A croissant place (the ones I had at Fous Desserts were good, but I wasn't blown away.
)- Some macarons or ideally a kouign-amann (these are hard to come by in New York)
- A pub or somewhere to stop for a lunchtime beer
- Something savory- my list already has too many pastries on it.
- What other small bites should I add? Things unique to Montreal? Things I won't find in New York? (I've read some other threads on this but I'm not sure which places might be good for a food tour as opposed to sit-down meals.)

Thanks in advance for your help! :)

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  1. A walk up Saint Laurent from the river to Jean Talon would do you fine. Starting out in Old Montreal, going through Chinatown, the Plateau, Mile End up to Little Italy. For the most part there will be things to eat on every block (in between Bernard and Bellechasse you might have some difficulties). Most of it extremely good.

    And if you wanted something organized there is always this:

    1 Reply
    1. re: EaterBob

      If you MUST have something to eat between Bernard and Bellechasse, there is always Adriatica bakery.

      I second the suggestion of walking north on St-Laurent from the river, exploring a little between Parc and St-Denis on perpendicular streets.

      Some personnal favorites on the way:

      Chinatown, there seems to be a new barbeque joint there on Gauchetiere
      Charcuterie Hongroise or Fairmount for some classical Eastern Europe butcher fare and hot cold cut/sausages sandwiches
      Schwartz for smokemeat if you havent experienced it yet
      Librairie espagnole for some iberian products if so inclined
      Fairmount Bagel
      Kouing Amann, for croissant and kouing amann on Mont-Royal

      Final Arrival at JT Market. Without stopovers it's about a 60 to 90 minute walk. With stopovers, you could easily be looking at a leisurly walk that could fill (and you) up for most of the morning and the afternoon.

    2. I think you should try a few of the smoked meat places, just search for "smoked meat" on this board and you'll come up with at least one thread debating which ones are best.

      1. a couple of places to look into.

        - Grumman's 78 (see recent thread) for tacos (check their web thing, they might have a food event while you are there).
        - Boulangerie Guillaume for bread, croissants and other nice baked goods.
        - Point G or La Maison du Macaron for macarons.
        - Le Dieu du Ciel (from 3pm on week days or 1pm on week-ends) for beer or Le Réservoir for beer (and light lunch/brunch)
        - You might be able to get a kebab to go at Lallouz (??) (I think there another kebab place not too far from JTM market).
        - There's a new pretzel store on St-Laurent, just for kicks you could try it out and compare with what you have in NY.


        1. Personally, the one experience I had at the Dieu du Ciel pub was not so hot... preferred Vices et Versa for a beer stop. (http://www.vicesetversa.com/ - on St laurent near Beaubien). Close enough to Jean Talon - worth a second visit, go to eat not to shop.

          Dunno if this guy is still doing tours? http://montrealtours.blogspot.ca/
          Regardless, there is some good stuff on the website. (More on the cheap-eats side of things)

          3 Replies
          1. re: deadchildstar

            Didn't like Dieu du Ciel? Sacrilege! Just kidding, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But mine is that their beer is the tastiest in all of Canada so I'd recommend a stop, though the earlier in the day the better as it gets pretty crowded. Vices et Versa is good - has a better patio - but isn't a brewery. If you want to taste several from different Québec breweries, then it is a good option...though none of them will be as good as Dieu du Ciel anyway (for sweeping overgeneralization's sake). L'Amere a Boire is my second choice for microbrew. A visit to Benelux is worth it if you want to include a visit to McGill University on your walking tour; it's very close at the corner of Jeanne-Mance and Sherbrooke. Enjoy!

            1. re: foodinspace

              I like their beer but found the brewpub experience unpleasant! For a place to sit and enjoy a drink - not my first choice.

              1. re: deadchildstar

                i have a love hate with them. on nice days they have a terrace that is open until 11pm

                i end up there quite often but it is so terribly noisy inside that it is unpleasant.

          2. montreal is a small city - if you've got the stomach for it, you could hit every place you've mentioned by foot in a single day --- I regularly walk from Concordia to Van Horne --- it takes about 40 - 50 min. You could also get a bixi if you want to be quicker.

            1. A walk up St Laurent is a good idea, (about 6 km to the market). I suggest a stop for amazing homemade soft serve ice cream at Kem Coba which is just a block west of St Laurent.

              1. Here is a link to an old thread, in which a much loved hound posts about a Mile End bakery. It is a little out of date - Guillaume has now opened in the neighbourhood, as has Patisserie Rhubarbe, and those two should definitely be on your list. And I would never recommend Toi et Moi cafe on Laurier for food - their drinks are ok (some interesting smoothie options) but their breakfasts are some of the worst I have eaten in Montreal. Other than that, this classic post would be an excellent starting point!


                2 Replies
                1. re: unlaced

                  Thank you all so much for your wonderful, helpful posts so far! This is shaping up to be a great day of eating! (Maybe I'll even extend my tour into two days! ;)

                  Walking up St Laurent sounds like a great idea. Plus little detours as needed (especially now that I know there exists a bakery called Kouign-Amann! It is now imperative that I stop there and sample their namesake.) Unlaced, thanks for that link - I think I'll definitely incorporate at least one or two of those places, plus Guillaume for sure. I'm still in the process of reading through croissants threads too.

                  I would love to revisit the Jean Talon market. What do you guys recommend I eat there? Last year I tried a lot of local fruits/veg and also got some local honey to take home, but I didn't see that much food besides produce. What should I be looking for?
                  ETA: I looked at this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/806458 But it's from last year, and I'm sure some vendors and recommendations will have changed. Any updates?

                  1. re: brighton312

                    at JTM, there are some guys selling sandwiches in the covered section, there usually have 2 kinds (or 1 kind and something else to go )

                    They've had duck sandwiches,, ...

                    Next to them, there are some girls selling macarons and brigadeiros (that I haven't tried yet, but mean to).

                2. Wow, that's very dedicated food tourism. Will have to ask you for a list when we go to NYC. I would definitely head to Point G for macarons, Kouign-Amann for croissants and kouign-amann although I love, love their tarte tatin and their pain au chocolat (or chocolatine), so that's a lot to enjoy in that one place. Frits Alors isn't too far from there for some frites with mayonnaise, L'Barouf for a beer maybe? I also love Lallouz at lunch for their lamb kebabs or the pogo-merguez and fries. It might be worth a trek out to Poutineville for their smashed french fry poutine, maybe that Australian tourtiere place. Schwartz is good fun even for the most blasé of us locals. Romados isn't too far from Kouign-Amann or Patati Patata actually, so all that is walkable for snacks. You could go in a circle and also hit Sabor Latina (used to be Supermarché Andes) for their empanadas, tamales and pupusas. It's all walkable except for Poutineville and the Aussie pies, now I think of it. When I last went to Manhattan I made a Google map of restaurants I wanted to try so I could plan my walking tour that way, worked out well.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Plateaumaman

                    Oh my, Plateaumaman, I'm hungry now. ;-)

                    BTW, I think the Aussie pies is walkable on the route up St-Laurent that others were suggesting - just make a small detour from St-Laurent onto Parc via Mont-Royal. Link for the benefit of the OP & other out-of-towners: http://ta-pies.com/en

                    And while on Parc you could also zip over Cocoa Locale just up the street for amazing cupcakes and other deliciousness.

                    Then walk back over to St-Laurent to resume regularly-scheduled programming...

                  2. Hi brighton,
                    I love the idea of walking up St. Laurent from the river, however...
                    The river front here is "Old Montreal", quite scenic, but perhaps not so many "small bite" places. A few blocks away is Chinatown. Personally, I love Chinatown, but compared to NYC, it pales in comparison. Then theres a few blocks (uphill) from Chinatown to Sherbrooke. Again, IMO not a whole lot.
                    With this said, if you must cut some of the leg work, I'd suggest starting at Sherbrooke and working your way up.
                    There's plenty of nooks and crannys (food and shop wise) here on up and lotsa watering holes.

                    Besides whats already been mentioned, perhaps check out Slovenia, Le Bifteque (cheap beer dive), La Vielle Europe, La Cabanne de Portugal (have a beer while waiting for the line at Schwartz across the street to die down...), CocoRico.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: porker

                      Well...Brighton needs to work out a little appetite before hitting all of those places...Hence the "easy" start!
                      Maybe a little brownie at Olive and Gourmando to get the ball and the belly rolling?

                      1. re: sir_jiffy

                        Might as well wash it down with a glass of wine at Marché de la Villette, kitty corner to O&G - get the day started right!

                        1. re: porker

                          I work in Old Montreal and try to avoid Marché de la Villette like the plague. It tries much too hard to look like a Parisian bistro/market while serving barely passable food. If they spent less effort on the look and more effort on the food they would be far better off.

                          1. re: eat2much

                            Perhaps, but a visitor having a glass of wine would adore the place...

                    2. If you want to have a bite of Portuguese you may want to give it a try at the Café Triangulo or Café Central. Both are Duluth East. Triangulo is is on the second floor of (20 Avenue Duluth Est) so easy to miss. Café Central is on the corner with St Dominique. They all have specials of the day but at the Triangulo you may nibble at grilled octopus, a good grilled chouriço or whatever thay may have that day. Friday is salted cod (bacalhau) day at Café Central... Saturday you may h=get white beans coked with chouriço, pork ribs and beef tripes ...
                      As a nice beer / snack place L'Amère à Boire on St. Denis (south of Sherbrooke) has probably the best choices of locally micro-brewed stuff.

                      1. Not exactly near one another, but:

                        Olivier Potier for an amazing Paris Brest and unique (delicious) Religeuse plus top notch Macarons.

                        Rhubarbe for Macarons (limited flavors but perfect texture) and the best St. Honore I've had outside Paris (possibly better than those in Paris)

                        Kouign Amann for - well - Kougin Amann and an incredible Almond Croissant (Better than the best in New York.) The KA is not the traditional crisp one but a large pie with a softer texture but lovely in and of itself. It won't top Dominque Ansel's KA in NYC though.

                        Cannot recommend Au Pied de Cochon or Joe Beef either for "unique to Montreal" - there are no restaurants I've been to in the US that cook with that sort of disregard for what is "proper" and the end result is simply delicious and a total "experience."


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: uhockey

                          Thanks for the pastry recs and the New York reference points. Dominique Ansel's KA is exactly what I had in mind - I imagine it's hard to top that one, but I'm looking forward to trying a different style and seeing how it holds up.

                          1. re: brighton312

                            Below are pictures of each - the first from Dominique, the second form Kouign Amann Montreal.


                        2. To cover more ground, you could consider renting a bicycle from the very easy to use bicycle system BIXI:

                          If you are comfortable on bicycle, there is a public bicycle system called BIXI that costs $5. This charge enables you to un-dock and re-dock bicycles from the system for a 24-hour rental period. You need a credit card. You remove a bicycle from a station, ride to your destination, and find a nearby station to park/dock your bike. The stations are within a few blocks of all the places you will likely go. After your meal and when you are ready to continue, you go to a station and pull out a new bike.

                          Food recommendations:
                          `Grumman 78' for a Banh Mi taco (Located in the Faubourg on St Catherine and Guy)
                          `Cheskie Bakery for a russian chocolate babka
                          `Schwartz for a smoked meat sandwich
                          `Kouig Amann on mont royal
                          `Dieu Du Ciel pub. You can try many beer in sample size format, Try the beer called Peche Mortel(amazing smooth coffee stout)
                          `Portuguese chicken at either Romados (classic) or Rotisserie Serrano on St. viateur for a portuguese chicken sandwich
                          `If you are looking for a spot in between bernard and jean talon I would suggest Depanneur Le Pick Up. It is like a bodega(depanneur in Mtl). They are popular for the pulled pork and veggie pulled pork(actually good!!)

                          For an idea of where my tastes and suggestions come from.. In NYC I really enjoyed shake shack, Momofuku's cereal milk ice cream and the birthday cake truffle, and gruppo pizza to name a few.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: benila

                            Believe me, I made very extensive use of the Bixi on my last trip! My favorite way to get around. I am a fellow admirer of the birthday cake truffle. Would love to try Peche Mortel, sounds fantastic!