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FIRST TIME VISIT TO MONTREAL - WHERE TO EAT FOR ONLY 3 NIGHTS?

We are visiting Montreal for the first time from San Francisco for 3 nights beginning on Sept. 30th. What are the most popular restaurants now? We want to have top food and decor but no pre-fixe menus. Would love to hear from Canadian Chowhounders to learn about what we can't miss for our first visit.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Try these threads:

    (not another) review my list- 5 jours en Montreal!
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/864794

    5 days in Montreal - help us shorten our restaurant list!
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857142

    Help me narrow, please
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/862631

    By Way of Thanking All Chow'ers: My Views of Your Recommendations
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863293

    Top mid priced restaurants in montreal
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/862645

    2 people, less than a week, (at least) 93 suggestions
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/860463

    Montreal Food Questions.. Newbie
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/861593

    1 Reply
    1. re: EaterBob

      Thanks a lot Bob. This is really helpful...

    2. Here are a few suggestions of more recent places that are generating a lot of buzz, broken down by budget and location:

      $
      The Main: Icehouse (Southern, Casual)

      $$
      Downtown: Deville Dinerbar (deli, trendy)
      Old Montreal: Osteria Venti (Italian, quaint), BEVO (Italian, touristy but nice location)

      $$$
      Downtown: Dominion Square Tavern (French, charming/historic)
      Old Montreal: Barroco (Market cuisine, trendy), Bar & Boeuf (French/Quebecois, trendy)
      Little Burgundy: Joe Beef (Market cuisine, talk of the town)
      Griffintown: Nora Gray (Italian, lots of buzz)
      Westmount: PARK Restaurant (Japanese/fusion, best kept secret)

      1 Reply
      1. re: 514eats

        I think there are more interesting choices.
        Lunch
        Club chases et peche
        Olive and gourmando
        Dominion square tavern
        Lawrence or sparrow
        Dinner
        Le filet
        Club chases et peche
        Salle a manger
        3petits bouchons
        Tuck shop
        Lawrence
        Ice cream
        Les givres
        Havre des glaces
        Ken Coba
        Bakery
        Olivier Potier- the most beautiful bakery in Montreal
        We were just in SF and had some incredible meals. You are very lucky!

      2. 1. DEFINATELY: Do not miss Au Pied de Cochon-if you can watch Tony Bourdain's video on this incredibly unique restaurant that is very much Quebecois style-try through You Tube. Do not miss the resto-but you will need to get reservations in advance. Very heavy meet and rich suaces and fois gras are part of the show.

        2. LA PORTE: An incredibly chef from Brittany with great seafood and presentation skills.

        3. OLIVE AND GOURMANDO: Great breakfast sandwich, coffee, croissants.

        4. OLIVE PORTIER: Pastries from a Parisian trained chef.

        5. LAWRENCE: Very cool gastropub experience. Great brunches too.

        6. MILOS: Great seafood from the original MILOS in Montreal. They are also in New York and Las Vegas, but this is hte original.

        7. LE FILET: The casual version of a high end restaurant-fund and sort of "tapas" style.

        3 Replies
        1. re: foodlovergeneral

          #4 is Olivier Pothier on Sherbrooke West

          sorry to correct your spelling : it is a noteworthy place, I agree totally.

            1. re: superbossmom

              Thanks for correcting it; my apologies for my bad spelling.

          1. I have been to Montreal many times and my favorite eating thing to do there is graze my way through the many food courts in the underground city. Start early, about 11:15 when all of them are set up to feed the thousands of office workers who lunch there---everything will be fresh and beautiful. Many of the vendors are international immigrants so every ethnicity's food is represented. You can keep up this sport for hours on end. (If you haven't yet been to Montreal---somebody figured out that if the underground city---a zillion shops, businesses, hotels etc--- were laid out in a straight line it would be 29 kilometers long so we are talking about a LOT food courts with one mall fading into the next, and there's a whole special bunch at the train station). Do not miss this. If you're from the US---we have nothing to match it.

            13 Replies
            1. re: Querencia

              Sorry Querencia, I would have to respectfully disagree. I would never recommend Montreal's food courts to anyone.
              When I first arrived here, I was getting to know the city and ended up in the Eaten Centre food court. I saw the line at Thai Express, and thought, "Fantastic, there is good, cheap and cheerful Thai food in Montreal!" I lined up with the rest, purchased my food, took one long look at it, took three or four bites, and took it back. It was not fresh and beautiful, it did not taste like any Thai food I have ever eaten, it was awful.

                1. re: unlaced

                  Perhaps some of Querencia's visits took place in the mid 90s when Faubourg was at its peak. I remember being impressed with the choices when I visited in 1995 and 1996. Unfortunately, Faubourg is not what it once was, and it's now a mostly vacant, depressing space.

                  Some friends have been very impressed with the Satay Brothers Singaporean food stall at the Atwater Market. Quite a few visitors like noshing while visiting the Atwater and Jean Talon Markets, and the experience is a little like visiting Faubourg was, when it was at its peak, in that you've got lots of interesting choices offered at reasonable prices.

                  1. re: prima

                    the exception would be the food court under the scotia bank theater that has a handful of counters with overflowing bounties of delicious looking food. of course lunch time is when to go.

                2. re: Querencia

                  I have to agree with unlaced - our food courts (with the possible exception of the now-closed? Faubourg) are overwhelmingly mediocre, repetitive, uninteresting, and overpriced. I would never, ever send a visitor there.

                  1. re: kpzoo

                    Agreed - It would be sad for anyone to judge Montreal's food by eating at Food Courts.

                    1. re: ladymcbet

                      I thought Faubourg was reopened after the exterminators were supposedly successful in eradicating the cockroaches. Pity if it's still closed, miss Bangkok.

                      1. re: eatwell

                        Great - glad to hear Faubourg has reopened. I was worried about Grumman '78.

                        1. re: kpzoo

                          Not sure about the state of the Faubourg but Grumman confirmed in a recent tweet that their outlet at the Faubourg has permanently closed.

                          1. re: unlaced

                            Ah - just spotted this:
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8258...

                            Very sad. I hope they find a new/better/non-cockroach infested location.

                        2. re: eatwell

                          Was at the Faubourg yesterday, so not closed. A few places were closed, but probably just because it was saturday.

                          1. re: Glaff

                            Might as well shut it down. Don't know anyone who would be willing to eat there after the cockroach infestation.

                        3. re: ladymcbet

                          I can't believe that someone's visiting Montreal for the first time and food courts even come into the conversation at all! Food courts are not a measure of the food scene of any city! They are merely there for the lunch crowd!

                    2. La banquise is pretty good
                      and queue de cheval is pricy but awesome

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: bobertdeniro

                        Not that I was ever a fan to begin with, but I'm curious to know if you've tried Queue de Cheval since the partners split up and it moved to its temporary location at 1234 Montagne. Is it the same menu? Prices?

                        1. re: causeimhungry

                          no i moved to the states a few years ago
                          last time i tried queue de cheval was about 4 years ago
                          i was not aware of this change

                        2. re: bobertdeniro

                          I think that a steak/seafood place like queue de cheval might not be so unique for someone from San Franciso, good as it's reputation may be. Great Alberta AAA beef is quite good, but the U.S. has amazing beef as well. The U.S. has so many great steak houses.

                          1. re: foodlovergeneral

                            you are right.
                            I have been to Gary Danko's in San francisco that charges about 150$ per person
                            and I do believe that i liked the food and service at queue de cheval
                            but you are correct. there are plenty of places in the states with good seafood and steak.

                            I was just replying to the thread that says good places in montreal
                            since ive tried qdc, i thought id add it

                        3. I don't know which restaurants would be the most popular these days, but my top 5 in Montreal if I only had 3 days would include:

                          Au Pied du Cochon
                          Lemeac
                          Laloux
                          Ferreira Cafe (Portuguese seafood)
                          Milos (best Greek resto I've found outside of Greece, nice decor/space)

                          I've also enjoyed dinners at Europea, L'Express (Parisian-style bistro), La Porte (classic continental French bistro, owned by a family from Brittany) and Toque.

                          I brought my relatives from the Bay Area to Milos and APDC, and they loved both restaurants.

                          I've got Lawrence (for brunch), 3 Petits Bouchons, 5eme Péché, Joe Beef and Mas (in Verdun) on my wishlist.

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: prima

                            Weighing in as a long time bay area resident: I was in Montreal about a year ago, should have posted more then when I could remember more details, but time got away from me. That said, of those on your list I tried Laloux and Ferreira Cafe. I had a great meal at Ferreira Cafe and even contemplated going back a second night, it was that good. Wonderful service as well.

                            Laloux, on the other hand, fell flat for me. Again, can't remember details but didn't impress. I was at Laloux on a weeknight early in the week and it was close to empty, and I suppose it could have been an off night, but for me, it was a miss. All I can really remember was walking out and thinking, 'eh...plenty of better places in the same price range or cheaper in San Francisco'.

                            Edited to add: we did try the underground food court one day when we were pressed for time at lunch during a conference. Serviceable, but nothing I'd send someone to for the food, and I've seen plenty of similar places in the US (maybe not underground, but not sure that was really a benefit on a pretty July day...)

                            1. re: prima

                              I am a former Bay Area resident. I would NOT do Milos-good fish restaurant, but you can go to Milos in Las Vegas or New york where the sister restaurants are as good or better than the original. And it's not exactly Greek-it's more Canadianized/Amercianized Greek. When Milos opened a resto in Athens, I remember my Greek Athenian friends finding it absurd-how could an expensive Americnaized fish restaurant compete with the local fish place that comes in with a daily catch and simply cooks fish cheaply over some coals? And such a restaurant would have, perahps, some saganaki (not at Milos) or some home grown olives. So it's not exactly Greek as in Greece. But it's a very nice restaurant, but not so unique for a Bay Area person-Though knowing that, it's quite good for fresh seafood cooked well with good service, and well prepared food. Kind of pricey.

                              Laloux, Lemeac, L'express-good bistros-but perhaps not so special for someone from Bay area. Definately would go to Lawrence for interesting and unusual gastropubl brunch. Between Fareira and Milos-I think definately Milos.

                              I would definately go to La Porte-I wouldn't call it bistro-and skip Toque-very overated "haute" cuisine, but spotty as to quality and service-though great on wine. Don't know about Europea, but I doubt it's stlyle competes well witth the great offerings in SF.

                              1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                foodlovergeneral,
                                My Bay Area relatives do not visit Las Vegas, New York or Greece often, nor do I, so Milos is a good choice for us when we visit Montreal. I haven't found better horiatiki, fried eggplant, fried zucchini or grilled octopus outside of Greece, and the atmosphere is very nice. It is better than any of the half dozen Greek restaurants I have tried in the Bay Area in the last 5 years. If you've dined at a psarotaverna in Athens or Piraeus in the last decade, you know that excellent fish does not come cheap in Greece these days, and that the very best psarotavernas in Piraeus and Athens charge prices that would be comparable to the prices at Milos in the Athens Hilton. Milos is not competing with the economical tavernas serving pre-frozen calamari, farmed Thai tiger shrimp and saganaki, so it doesn't make sense to compare Milos (in Montreal, Las Vegas, NYC or Athens) to an economical neighbourhood taverna. I am not sure why you are so critical of what I wrote, when you also recommended Milos earlier in this thread.
                                http://milos.ca/restaurants/montreal/...

                                If you haven't been to Europea, maybe you shouldn't doubt that its style would be of interest to someone from the Bay Area. I never wrote that Europea's "style competes well with the great offerings in SF". All I wrote was that I've enjoyed dinners at Europea. Maybe you should try it before you knock it.
                                http://www.europea.ca/

                                I've enjoyed good food and good service at Toque. Obviously, it's quite possible that your experience was different than mine. http://www.restaurant-toque.com/en/

                                I mentioned restaurants that appeal to me, and would appeal to my friends and relatives who live in the Bay Area. Whether they appeal to you is another matter. The OP asked for Chowhounds' suggestions, not for a critique of other Chowhounds's suggestions.

                                Your mileage may vary.

                                1. re: prima

                                  Nice reply.

                                  For the record, we're experienced Montreal diners and we love Milos if one can afford it.

                                  Toque is overrated though, sorry.

                                  1. re: 514eats

                                    Thanks for the heads up re: Toque. No worries. It's good to know what a local thinks. ;-) I realize Toque isn't as popular as it once was. I had a good dinner there, with very good service, maybe 18 months ago.

                                    1. re: prima

                                      There's a lot of Toqué-bashing on this board, which I feel is completely unjustified. I have had dinners there three times in the last 18 months, each time with tasting menus that allow a broad sampling of the kitchen's offer, and it has always been a totally outstanding experience, and have confirmed that Toqué is, at least for me, Montreal's best table.
                                      On the other hand, I find that some places that constantly get raves here, like APDC and La Porte, are very meh - APDC in particular is massively overhyped, and a classic example of a restaurant having too much media coverage for its own good.

                                      1. re: johnnyboy

                                        APDC is fun. Why not send tourists there?

                                        1. re: johnnyboy

                                          Toque is not as enjoyable as similar restaurants in NY or other major cities for me. I also had dismissive service there the first time I went. The second time, I called ahead and told them I would give them a second chance, and they were quite careful that our service was good. The somellier was very good and we had good wine each time. Both times one of the main dishes was poorly prepared-in one case overcooked, in another case undercooked.

                                          On the other hand, APDC is extremely unique. Nothing in NYC, Chicago, L.A., London, Paris, Rome, Milan, San Francisco to compare with it. Not a gourmet experience wiht high level of skill, but extremely fun, rich, and creative. Good wine list.

                                          La Porte is a highly skilled chef with great ingredients. I would choose him over Toque any day of the week at the high end of food. Aparantly the Zagat raters agree with me and that is a good number of individuals who tend to know high cuisine. In fact they put APDC slightly above Toque as well.

                                          1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                            If you want to talk about bad service, I don't think Toque would make you wait at the door for 15 minutes despite you having a reservation, and they certainly wouldn't let 20 minutes go by without taking your order, as has happened to me on my last visit to APDC. They are overbooked and they don't care, because they'll get punters no matter what. As for the food, they just lather on the lard, butter and sugar, and give you twice as much food as you need - basically, the easiest way to get people raving.
                                            As for Zagat's, I don't usually rely on other people to tell me if I like my dinner. Is it really the Zagat's raters agreeing with you, or rather you agreeing with them ?

                                    2. re: prima

                                      I'm planning a small birthday at Milos and was thinking about doing the tasting menu. Their website said it was 75$. Does anyone know how much it cost with wine paring and if its worth it? Or is it better to just buy a bottle that I like.

                                      1. re: prima

                                        I did recommend Milos, but not for someone traveling from San Francisco who wants a great experience something DIFFERENT. Sorry you are so touchy about dissent. But Milos is not so unique. It's a good restaurant, but if I were from a coastal town, I would not go to a fish restaurant at an inland town.

                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                          I'm recommending Milos as a Greek restaurant that happens to offer excellent seafood. I'm not recommending Milos merely as a fish restaurant. No Greek restaurants in the Bay Area are at the same level as Milos.

                                          For fin fish, I prefer Ferreira to Milos, and what I like the most at Milos are their shellfish, calamari, octopus and vegetable dishes. The lamb also looks very good at Milos, and I plan to try it on my next visit.

                                          If I was looking for seafood in Montreal, I'd be just as likely to go to APDC or Joe Beef, as Milos or Ferreira. Some of the seafood at APDC comes in daily from the Gaspe and East Coast , and this might be of interest to someone from the Bay Area. Ferreira and Milos source much of their seafood in the Mediterranean, so the choices at Ferreira and Milos are going to be different than the choices found at most seafood restaurants in the Bay Area.

                                          1. re: prima

                                            yes the seafood at PDC is fantastic. i highly recommend indulging in one of the trays, there's a few sizes that have slightly different offerings depending on what you wanna spend, but man it's good. it was far and away my favourite part of my last meal there which i found overall too rich (i had been there before and know what it's like) and also expensive (because my idiot friend ordered the foie gras sushi special without asking about the price and it was like fifty bucks or something). but yes get the seafood.

                                            1. re: disgusti

                                              While the seafood platters at PDC are wonderful, they only offer them in the summer AFAIK, so the OP won't have the opportunity to try them.

                                          2. re: foodlovergeneral

                                            Hi Hounds, sorry to interrupt the chow talk, but we'd like to remind everyone to comment on the chow rather than on other posters. Diverse opinions are great for the board as are passionate and opinionated inputs, but we'd also like to remind all chowhounds to agree to disagree in a friendly manner.

                                    3. A good friend of mine just wrote a great article on where to eat in 48 hours in Montreal, lots of excellent recommendations included:
                                      http://www.ottawamagazine.com/restaur...

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: Plateaumaman

                                        Thanks, I just read your friends article. Actually, I think it's a little week. Nice fun restaurants, and a few "best in breed", but if you only have 2-3 days, I think there's better ideas.

                                        1. CHLOE'S CHOCOLATES: Great choice for best chocolates in town. Good recommendation.
                                        2. Rhubarbe-the writer alluded to it being the BEST in town. I think it's way up there, but Olivier Pottier cheffed at L'aduree in Paris. Doesn't get much better, and his pastries are amazing short of Paris.
                                        3. Salle a manger-reviews look a bit mixed on this, and not so stellar.
                                        4. La Charcuterie? I wonder. Maybe hip-but is it great?

                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                          If you've never been to Salle a Manger, you shouldn't critique it - it is indeed quite good. Le Comptoir (not La Charcuterie) is also worth a visit. The article was for a 2-day visit, and considering the OP is asking about a 3-night visit, it's a nice guide to use as a basic template.

                                        2. re: Plateaumaman

                                          thanks for the article, I thought it was a good overview, lists something for everybody and I liked the details of what she recommended in the different places. I see I still have some to try.

                                          1. re: mangoannie

                                            You cant go wrong with:

                                            Pied du Cochon
                                            Joe Beef
                                            Nora Grey
                                            Kitchenette
                                            Club Chasse et Peche
                                            Garde Manger
                                            Salle a Manger
                                            and my favorite new comer: Chien Fumant
                                            Douze Vingt-et-Un (Steakhouse 1221- top calibre steaks)
                                            Schwartz's
                                            Ramados

                                            1. re: EatOutMTL

                                              Solid list but I would replace 1221 with Queue de Cheval (the original), and add Gibbys.

                                              1. re: 514eats

                                                Yes, add Gibby's, but 1221 is the Original Queue de Cheval, isnt it This is a list of where to eat today, so gotta have 1221 Rene-Levesque no matter what the name, its a stunning restaurant.

                                                1. re: EatOutMTL

                                                  gibby's is not very good
                                                  queue de cheval is non-existent at the momemnt

                                                  1. re: catroast

                                                    Actually they still exist, they are located inside the 1234 club on de la Montagne

                                                      1. re: catroast

                                                        They've been open at that location since mid-end Aug. on a temporary basis until their new restaurant is ready (at 1181 de la montagne)

                                        3. Where did you end up dining, JENNYBEEAY?

                                            1. Ya!
                                              I want to know how it went as well!