The food and drink scene in Montreal is just as vibrant and diverse as the city itself. It's a delightful fusion of French and North American influences, resulting in a unique gastronomic experience that draws food enthusiasts from far and wide. From fresh bagels to more hearty meals — to be expected in a city where the average annual temperature stands at a modest 7.1 °C (44.8 °F) — you will find plenty to discover, be it across a plethora of restaurants or sampling local specialties in Montreal's thriving food markets.
But if you're planning on making your Canadian culinary journey a francophone one, be aware: In a twist that often confuses visitors from France, meals have different names in Québécois French. Lunchtime is "dîner’"(not "déjeuner," as in France), while dinner time is "souper" (not "dîner"). And snack-time is "collation" instead of "goûter." You'll thank us later!
Dîner — Bagel etc
No matter where you land in the great Montreal bagel debate, there's nothing quite like digging a warm, fresh bagel out of a brown paper bag from either of the city's top bagel shops, Fairmount or St-Viateur. Features of Montreal bagels that haven't changed for over a century: dense dough, hand-made into rings, dipped into honeyed water and baked in a wood-fired oven.
One place that stands out as a must-go for foodies and brunch enthusiasts alike: Bagel etc. Nestled in the heart of the city, St-Laurent Boulevard, this unique brunch and breakfast spot — a regular stop for Montreal music legend Leonard Cohen, who lived nearby — offers a feast for the senses, combining Montreal's iconic bagels with a creative and diverse menu. From the moment you step through its doors, Bagel etc captivates you with its charming ambiance, friendly staff, and, of course, array of brunch delights.
Montreal-style bagels are renowned for their distinct qualities: smaller, denser, sweeter and baked in a wood-fired oven, resulting in a crispy exterior and a chewy center. Bagel etc takes great pride in its authentic bagels, handcrafted with love and attention to detail. Whether you prefer classic flavors like sesame or poppy seed or adventurous combinations like cinnamon raisin or everything bagels, Bagel etc has a variety of options to satisfy every bagel lover's cravings.
Collation — Osmo X Marusan
Against a background of live DJs playing hard-to-find funk records in a minimalist green space, McGill students and the fashionable downtown scene enjoy steaming bowls of Katsu Curry, velvety lattes, colorful teas and perfectly Instagramable egg sandos.
Its surprising interior space — reminiscent of the Brutalist architectural style — and the oasis of greenery of its hidden terrace are a lovely secret to discover in a relatively corporate district of Montreal. Osmo x Marusan is a cafe, but it's also a social club that seeks to encourage creativity. Many events and pop-up offers are held here on Fridays and Saturdays.
A recommendation: don’t miss out on the matcha and white chocolate chip cookies, or their lovely blue-colored lattes.
One note of caution: the entrance to Osmo X Marusan is easily missed. Partially hidden under a green roof and set back from rue Clark, the entrance is not obvious, and the design that unfolds as soon as you set foot inside the edifice is unexpected.
Souper — Sans soleil
There's nothing better than enjoying saké and a carefully curated vinyl selection. For music lovers, Sans Soleil is the place. In the basement of the restaurant Fleurs & Cadeaux, through a door near the toilets or by going around the building, there's a hidden bar called "Sans Soleil."
You can enjoy the same menu there, but in a more intimate ambiance with an enchanting soundtrack, drawing from the impressive vinyl collection displayed behind the DJ table. After 9 pm, the music turns up, and the cozy space fills with party-goers, enjoying abundant cocktails and sake.
Spotlight Dish: Poutine
It's impossible to visit Montreal without hearing about La Banquise. The restaurant, with bright colors and a 70s vibe, has an eclectic mix of locals and tourists waiting for what are often touted as some of the best poutines in the city — 30 in total, on a constantly updated menu.
Crispy fries topped with cheese curds and hot gravy, this dish is one of Quebec gastronomy's most iconic. Poutine stands out for its all-round usage: restorative after a night out, cheerful after a bad exam, delicious on a cold winter's day — poutine defies time and mood.
Must-try activity: La Belle de Coteau-du-Lac
La Belle de Coteau-du-Lac, a stone's throw away from central Montreal, has the most beautiful sunflower fields.
The spot — suitable and fun for all ages and all people — boasts more than 60 varieties of sunflower in their massive self-picking fields. You can also picnic in the fields, they serve some delicious meals and fresh juices to enjoy in the nature.
Don't miss out on the berry picking they have at La Belle de Coteau-du-Lac as well! Where you can hand-pick your very own strawberries to take home in addition to your freshly picked sunflowers.
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