Montreal: Mid October: Suggestions Welcome
Our hotel is the HIlton Garden Inn; my ability to walk is limited, can you
suggest fun places either nearby, easily reached by bus, or short taxi ride?
We like everything; I'm more adventurous than hubby. WE always eat
Chinese food in every city we visit, so suggestions for Chinese food would
also be welcome.
Philly CH looking forward to the best Montreal has to offer.
You are all so kind.
the main reason we hope to park our car once and leave it
there is to avoid driving tension in an unfamiliar environment.
My husband speaks a lovely French, we intend to purchase the metro card, and we enjoy taking public transit in any case. Cabs will do the trick when walking won't. But,
driving to a very special site for reasons other than food, as long as we are not talking about in-city driving would be a treat. Once we get the hand of the buses we will be fine.
Bashful, If you feel comfortable driving in a city other than yours and own a GPS I would use your car to get around, we are not NYC. Contrary to popular belief we are not crazy drivers, getting around the city is easy and parking on city streets is even easier.
I would say only Old Montreal might get difficult for a parking spot and even then I always end up finding a spot you just need to be extra careful with the restrictions since the majority of streets in this area have street parking that is reserved for residents. But if you want to go have a bagel at St Viateur for example, take your car it's so much easier and finding a spot will be a breeze, the cost around that area and for most of the city is $3/hour, some areas are cheaper and you can use your credit card to pay. If you go on the side streets you can even find free spots, but again pay attention to residential zoning as our parking signage lends itself to confusion (almost as bad as Boston, almost).
I'd tend to agree with Maximilien in terms of central areas; however there is good food farther out (still on Montreal island). You can even do Jean-Talon Market easily by car if you opt for the (paid) underground car park. You could eat at Petit Alep (Middle-Eastern bistro) at the same time; it is just across the street from the market.
It's a bit of a myth that parking is difficult in MTL, I always drive everywhere in our city and rarely have a hard time finding a spot, you will always find parking especially during the day and even at night.
Yes, I was going to mention the Plateau area around St. Denis/Duluth where APDC is on top of Old Montreal for more difficult spots on a Fri or Sat night but besides that a couple of rounds around the block and you will find something. Heck, I never have troubles finding parking spots around the Bell Center on a hockey night.
Anyway to each their own, I find driving around so much easier to explore a new city.
I think the biggest problem for tourists who drive is a lack of familiarity with the parking system, which I find to be particularly confusing here relative to other cities. I always recommend that visitors park their cars near the hotel and leave them unless planning to leave the metro system radius. Trying to navigate the no stopping/no parking/permit parking zones, especially when the signs contradict one-another or are twisted to point in an ambiguous direction makes it hard to figure out if one isn't accustomed and doesn't speak French. Even in St. Henri I'll often have to circle for 20-30 minutes before finding an available non-metered spot (although this is typically to park for a day or two).
Metered parking is easier, but again the ticketing machines are only in French. And if using a hotel garage one will often have to pay a fee or pay double to remove and repark. All-in-all, it seems easier to me to take taxis/metros for shorter trips and save the hassle. This also allows for worry-free drinking all day long..
There's no doubt that those contradicting signs and arrows can be a handful, but if one stays on the metered streets it isn't too bad. The parking meter machines do actually have an "English" button.
The potential in-and-out parking fees of the hotel are definitely an issue, I have no clue what and if they charge here, I'm sure it varies depending on the hotel.
Either way, as I mentioned previously it really is up to the individual and how comfortable they feel driving around in another city. I just feel you get to cover a bit more ground with a car and can quickly drive from one neighbourhood to another if you have multiple locations you want to visit.
Yeah, I'm going to try the poutine, if for no other reason than
to say to hubby back home, "Was it as good as poutine?"
And, yes, will try Chinese at least once. Here's why: national
differences in approach is stunning and enjoyable. For example, in Toronto we observed two major differences: coffee served with meal, not tea, (sacre blue!), and all courses brought out at once, rather than what we are used to
in States: serially, with soup, appetizer and mains brought serially. (Vive le difference).
When you tell me how to get to the restos you recommend, that is so helpful. Taking public transit everywhere we go
is another part of our feeling at home in new places.
Keep it coming: we're not leaving until the 19th.
To echo some of the replies, don't worry about the location of your hotel and don't worry about not taking busses - as Fintastic mentions, a taxi will be about $10 to get you to the Plateau, Old Montreal, downtowm, etc. No fun waiting for a bus like cattle when on a trip.
I wouldn't go as far to say don't waste your time with Chinese here. Mrs. Porker and I, like you, eat Chinese everywhere we go (tired of jamon or tapas in Madrid, we hit up Chinese, tired of tortillas with everything in Merida, we hit up Chinese, etc etc), so "authenticity" isn't necessarily our criteria. Montreal Chinatown is comapct (a friend refers to it as "Chinablock") perhaps 2 blocks by 3 blocks. You could get a taxi to St. Laurent corner de la Gauchetierre and be about two blocks to any joint there. Theres a few Asian styles represented (Pho, Szechuan, Japanese), but the vast majority is Cantonese. Perhaps choose your style then your restaurant (EaterBob's suggestions a good guide).
What, no poutine?!
$5 will get you a fry with gravy and curds, you gotta at least try it. You might not like it (I don't), but at least you'll have a story for your friends ("Those Quebecers put CHEESE on their fries, then cover it WITH GRAVY!")
Smoked meat is Montreal's Philly cheesesteak. You gotta hit up Schwartz for a lunch (line up too long for you? head across the street to The Main resto and have a Montreal Smoked Meat there).
You might like L'Express, a French bistro
(you'll see a small "FR" on bottom left - drag mouse over it to choose English).
Zinc bar, checker floor, potted palms and garcon waiters, if you squint, you can imagine being in Paris.
If you want a splurge, howsabout Greek taverna seafood? The Milos flagship restaurant is on Parc Ave (they since opened in Manhatten, Las Vegas, Miami, and Athens
Yes, I already suggested Milos. It is Greek seafood of a quality not found in many other North American cities.
But people are under no obligation to try poutine just because it is a local speciality. I hate it, and know many others who think it is a waste of good fries. À chacun son goût. There are so many other things here I'd rather spend the calories on! A flaky, buttery croissant, a delicious local cheese...
Porker, you forgot bagels. The typical bagels from Mile End are an entirely different beast from the cake-like things found everywhere but Mile-End and perhaps Brooklyn...
I hear you, Kpax, and you are being most constructive.
Geography was my worst subject in high school--I just don't get it really. But, as a senior citizen CH, hills are just not my thing. I was picturing that hotel on top of a huge hill, and I would have had a big problem. What a relief to hear
it's relatively flat! And, helping me avoid winding up in the port area which I had imagined being flat... duh... (close to the water, eh?)
Food is very important to me. Big splurge or two is just fine; no budget issues. I love seafood; am most adventurous, but
hubby is more traditional. Quebecois yes, but poutine
is not something I think I'll be trying. Smoked meat, Montreal bagels, French especially, but almost any ethnic ok.
Oh I know: quiet is more important to us than what is perfectly fine for a lot of folks. We don't want to shout to hear each other! And hotel restaurants would be my last choice, except for convenient breakfast, which is included.
Bring it on: open to everything that will be relatively convenient to reach. We do not plan to use our car at all
if we can help it, unless there is an unusual not-to-miss sight
that would require using it.
Let me know when you are visiting Philly, and i'll be happy to help you find what you seek, esp the best Japanese food in 3 states, including NYC. Come see the new Barnes Foundation/Museum.
If you love fish and seafood, there are two fine choices on the Parc bus line (this line is called the 80 outside rush hours and the 435 during those; the latter has a longer route but that doesn't affect you at all between your hotel and your destinations). These are Le Filet http://www.lefilet.ca/ , on Mont-Royal, a short block-and-a-half east of your bus stop (2 minutes' walk, 180 metres) and Milos, www.milos.ca an exceptional Greek fish and seafood restaurant right on avenue du Parc milos.ca You need a good budget for that one, it is NOT cheap!
Montréal is not San Francisco, Vancouver or even Québec City: much of it is very flat. Indeed the hill down from your hotel is small and not steep. Even our so-called mountain is really just a big hill.
Knowing that you are driving, rather than flying, will allow chowhounds to provide you other food and dining destinations outside the city centre, where there is easy parking. You might also want to simply drive to the top of Mont-Royal for the lookout, depending on weather.
You could also visit Jean-Talon Market, where there is underground parking (with a lift, of course).
Thanks Bashful, this information helps a lot. Especially your budget and noise requirements. Many restaurants here I find are relatively loud, especially at the typical Montreal dining hours (8-10). Going earlier can help, but it might be safer to avoid some of our city's most famous establishments like Pied de Cochon, Joe Beef, and even Filet (which I once claimed on CH to be quiet but really is anything but). Other restaurants that are notable for their volume (at least in my mind) include Tuck Shop, Dominion Square Tavern, Holder, and Garde Manger, to name just a few.
For excellent and innovative (though not intimidating) French fare, perhaps consider Cinquieme Peche or Trois Petits Bouchons, both on St. Denis. L'Express, Lemeac, and Laloux all do good classic brasserie/bistro fare, but each is endearing more than exceptional.
If you are energized by the city, keep in mind that some of the recommendations here have late night cheap menus with limited (though still delicious) options. Milos and Lemeac are my favourites. You can also stay budget-friendly by trying some of our BYOs: if you find a decent outlet of our provincial liquor monopoly you can pick up a bottle or two and head for Quartier General or P'Tit Plateau (I strongly recommend the former). One of the best SAQ outlets is just down the hill from your hotel at 440 de Maisonneuve east where one can actually find some great deals on French wine (though not anything else).
Mmm. Helpful. MAybe I should start all over with hotel, as it
seems to be not in the ideal location. Hills are truly not my thing. Much better off staying in a flat area, closer to better
Yes, we like Vietnamese food very much. And, transit cards sound useful, but two busses to get to a restaurant not so great. Taxis fine, but prefer to be closer to the great meal scene. Wine bars, microbrewery not for us sadly.
Looking forward to more resto selections, including a different hotel maybe, better located?
Bashful, you are ATOP the hill, and at the bottom of the Mile-End - Plateau area. As its name states, the Plateau is pretty much flat (there is a tiny slope towards the north, but not enough to make any difference walking, even if you have limited mobility). It seems like a great location. It is only towards Chinatown or Old Montréal that you will have to take a bus, métro or taxi if hills (not steep) are hard on your legs or joints.
I can't think of too many fully accessible modern hotels that would be closer to the many restaurants in the Plateau area. The downtown business area, the old city and the original Chinatown will be beneath the slope wherever you stay.
The Parc bus is a fully accessible one; most buses are accessible now, and you can always check on the timetable.
Yes, perhaps you should stay where you've booked as it will be easy enough to taxi everywhere. This is a very compact town, and I think all of the suggestions thus far are within a $10 taxi fare range. The immediate vicinity does not have a ton of excellent dining options, but it does put you about equidistant from plateau and Old Montreal. There are few hotels further North anyways...
In case it wasn't mentioned already, Montreal does not have a large Chinese population and thus our Chinese restaurants scene is a bit weak compared to many large US or Canadian cities. While there are some good ones mentioned already, this culinary ethnicity is really not our city's forté.
Some of the best restaurants that one shouldn't miss include 400 Coups (nouveau-French just down the hill in Old Montreal), Le Filet (French seafood with asian influences, just up the "hill" above the park), Pied de Cochon (one of Montreal's heaviest and most unique restaurants in central plateau) and Lawrence (Brit-Quebecois in Mile End). These fall into the moderate price range (around $100 per couple before wine & tip). 400 Coups and Pied de Cochon will require reservations to be made well in advance. Also note that if you're coming over the 12-13th weekend it will be Canadian thanksgiving so opening hours could be atypical.
Yeah, I think there is some confusion...Chinatown, Chinatown #2 (e.g. Cuisine Szechuan), downtown, and Old Montreal are all walking distance from your hotel...IF you have few mobility problems. We recommended buses as an alternative to these 10-30 min. walks...so if you need to take two buses, each will be no more than a few minutes. (Still inconvenient needing to wait for buses!)
The highest concentration of restaurants is in the Plateau, which is still only a few minutes by bus or taxi. If food is the absolute foci of your trip, then you might want to find a b'n'b in the Plateau (there are few if no major hotels in the Plateau). If you want access to the Plateau and the attractions in Old Montreal and downtown, then you are well situated. FWIW, you will be able to walk to and through the McGill campus easily from your hotel.
Unfortunately, the southern part of Montreal (like downtown and Old Montreal) are built on the slope of Mount Royal, so it can be a little steep going down and up from Sherbrooke St, where the hotel is located.
If the OP is capable of walking 2 blocks then chinatown two is only one bus (the 24) from directly in front of their hotel for 5 stops or so. the bus comes every 5 minutes during the day and the ride will only be 5-10 mins max. It takes me under 15 minutes to walk.
To the OP: dont bother with chinese food in mtl, you can do FAR better in pretty much any other big city.
Do not change hotels, you are in one of the best located hotels on a flat street and very central as far as restaurants go. Reading the other comments I dont really understand why you said you want to change hotels... it is one of the flattest streets in montreal and the hill nearby is only for half a block and not even very steep... and there are ways around it.
As mentioned earlier, near your hotel Brasserie T and F bar are great down a tiny hill from your place (under 5 min walk/30 second cab) and Pullman is the same distance (for wine) and no hill at all.
The 80 bus is a minute from your hotel and will take you to the mile end and the plateau.
I think you should elaborate on budget and food you want- you said you should stay near good restaurants instead... what does that mean? What makes you think they are next to eachother? A lot of good ones are in the old port but that is the worst place for someone who cant walk well... and a lot are in the plateau which is flat ... your hotel is between them.. are you looking to just stay in the hotel because a couple hotels have ok restaurants..
Seriously though, its montreal- dont waste your time with chinese food!
We have short-term public transport cards for travellers, or for locals not always commuting with them. You can get a one-day or three-day pass, as well as a weekly one, though I'm unsure whether you have to buy an OPUS smartcard for the latter (as of course I have one, and can even load the 747 buspass for the airport on that). Consult stm.info for details (also in English).
If you have walking problems, remember that from Chinatown to your hotel is uphill, and vice-versa.
The bus on avenue du Parc is very frequent, and will whisk you up into Mile-End (western part of the Plateau district).
If you want to walk up St-Laurent for a way, there are nice stone benches honouring Portuguese poets (Little Portugal section from about Roy to Mont-Royal) so you can sit and rest, if you want to enjoy a bit of a walk and lots of interesting cafés and food shops.
Do you also like Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian food?
We have some excellent Middle-Eastern restaurants, above and beyond kebab joints. Both Kaza Maza and Damas are located on avenue du Parc.
According to Google Maps
Coffee: Cafe Pikolo is a 60 second walk from your hotel.
Wine Bar: Pullman is a 120 second walk from your hotel.
Microbrewery: Benelux is a 1280 second walk from your hotel.
Or in plainer language, if you were to hit a home run in baseball you'd have to walk a longer distance.
There is a bus stop almost in front of the hotel for the 24 bus. Take that two stops to Saint Urbain, and then take the 55 bus down to Chinatown. Get off at de la Gauchetiere (four stops). I'm partial to Beijing, Chez Chili, Cuisine Szechuan, Nudo, Pho Bang New York and Sumo Ramen. But other people will have their own preferences.
Then for Sushi, Isakaya is about a 180 second walk from your hotel.
For Indian, Asha is at the corner of Milton (180 seconds).
For Portuguese there is F Bar at Place des Festivals (a 360 second walk, but in the other direction).
And for French Bistro there is Brasserie T! also at Place des Festivals (480 seconds).
+1 on Beijing, Pho Bang NY, and Cuisine Szechuan.
Cuisine Szechuan is not in Chinatown, though. It's on Guy street below Sherbrooke, so you'd have to take the 24 in the other direction (west), or maybe $10 taxi if traffic's not too heavy.
You could walk to Chinatown in only about 15 mins, or under $10 by taxi.
Also when in Montreal, smoked meat at Schwartz on St-Laurent (or The Main across the street if the lineup's too long), and bagels at Fairmount or St-Viateur, on streets of same names, and poutine at La Banquise, are musts. All quite short cabs rides away, or could take 55 bus up St-Laurent for all but Banquise.