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May 17, 2012 08:58 PM

Good eats and drinks for first time visitor


My mom and I are coming to Montreal for 3 nights in June to celebrate (well, not so much) my 40th birthday. It is our first trip to Montreal, and I would love suggestions where to snack, dine and drink as well as the best places/areas to shop and browse for fun food things.

Some parameters: I am a vegetarian so places with a few veg options - or the flexibility to let me compose a meal of starts and sides - are best. (I actually don't like vegetarian restaurants generally so no need to recommend.) I also have a huge sweet tooth, particularly baked goods, so would love to hear the best places to go. I am partial to "farm to table" type restaurants and an atmosphere that is "cool" but not clubby-type trendy. I would like to have at least a coffee or cocktail in a place that has some historic charm. I am not sure what Quebecois food it veg friendly?

We haven't chosen a neighborhood where to stay yet; I was leaning toward Old Montreal just to experience the history...or Downtown to spend a little less. I would love to hear suggestions, though, for other neighborhoods that might offer more of an experience to eat, drink and soak in Montreal.

And my mother is a very young and fun 68 so no need to water down the suggestions! :)

Hope this request doesn't come off as too particular; I just didn't want to be too general :)

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  1. To get this out of the way, Montreal restaurants are not particularly veg-friendly. Quebecois food is even less so (lots of pork and duck). That said, most places are relatively accommodating if there's nothing suitable on the menu. Really, you're wise to peruse this board a bit to see what's out there - others will suggest that you do.

    My favourite restaurants are Lawrence, Chien Fumant, Cinquieme Peche, Tuck Shop, le Filet, DNA, Club Chasse et Peche, etc, but these are fairly meat-oriented.

    Pied de Cochon is the typical quebecois suggestion. It is very meat-heavy, but even the veg options are good in my opinion. Certainly not light, but I like them.

    You might be happiest checking out the markets (Jean Talon and/or Atwater). They are larger than most and are particularly nice in June. Really it's hard to beat JT in terms of browsing for fun food things.

    I don't really know what you're looking for re: historically charming drinks. One of the more interesting places to me is Dominion Square - you can read up on its history, though maybe you could just stroll old montreal until you find a place that looks suitably historical.

    For hotels, you'll be happy in old montreal. Downtown is fine (nothing is very far in this town), but its also not very inspiring. You could try looking into B&Bs in the plateau, but it might just be simplest to stick to your initial inclination. People rave about Petit Hotel, amongst others.

    1. Montreal does Middle Eastern food very well. If you do a search for that on this board (include Turkish and Greek in your search) you are sure to find a ton of places that will be able to serve you excellent vegetarian dishes and you might not have to settle for sides.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hala

        I second all that has been said. It's not really a veg town. We like our salads here served with a big hunk of bone marrow :-)

        For market driven cuisine, check out Le Renard in the plateau area.

        Damas and Petit Alep are higher end Lebanese/Syrian places and offer a lot of very tasty vegetarian options.

      2. If you enjoy fish in all kinds of permutations you might enjoy chuck hughes 2nd resto Le Bremner, its across from historic Bonsecours Market (no longer a market). If you`re a bakery fan, I would skip the desserts in restos and go visit some of the wonderful pastry shops, some have places to enjoy desserts on premises. L arrivage in archeology museum is nice for breakfast especially if you book one of the small tables on their narrow balcony as you get view of old port area. An extra plus is their permanent exhibits will be free access after May 17 in honour of 370th birthday of Montreal. It will really satisfy your quest for historic aspect of Montreal.

        1. Thanks so much for all the suggestions! Looking forward to trying as much as I can.