I've traveled to five different countries in just six months. I'm incredibly lucky to have been able to do this, and I owe everything to my parents, my friends, and the experiences that NYU has afforded me. In every city I've hit, I wrote an article for Spoon University about where you have to eat, most of the time in less than five days. That's London & Barcelona, Paris, Florence, and now, I present to you, Where to Eat in Montreal in Less Than Five Days.
I hit Montreal with three of my closest friends, the same foodie friends who joined me in London and Barcelona. We went over Columbus Day weekend (and maybe extended the trip by skipping a class or two.) We found the most beautiful Airbnb in the most incredible area – Le Plateau Mont Royal – and spent about four days touring the city framed by fall foliage and eating countless plates of delicious food. Heavy restaurant research went into this trip, more than the typical avid traveler would probably do. Our excessive amount of research paid off extremely well, as you'll see below.
A version of this article also appeared on Spoon University, so definitely check that out while you're looking where to eat in those other incredible cities.
I want to start off this article with the Jean Talon Market – a market similar to La Boqueria in Barcelona, or Reading Terminal back in Philly. Restaurants, fresh produce vendors, cheese mongers, chocolatiers, you name it, you'll find here at Jean Talon Market. I could've spent day after day at this spot, buying groceries to prepare for dinner each night, or just sampling all of what local Montreal has to offer. And now for the restaurants...
This was my day one breakfast. I literally hopped off the plane with my best friend and we hit this spot, immediately ordering Waffles with caramelized apples, a Croque Monsieur with ham, cheese, tomatoes, asparagus and pesto, and Eggs Benedict on brioche with smoked pork shoulder, porcini mushrooms, and boulet sauce. This spot is known for their various types of egg benedicts, but after seeing rave reviews about this waffle, I knew it was a must have. Seriously, the benedicts and that damn waffle (!!!!) are must haves.
I was so excited to land a reservation at this restaurant in the Little Italy neighborhood, and for good reason. This was some of the best pasta I've ever had in my life. After chowing down on the Chef's selection of charcuterie and roasted peppers and tomatoes, my friend and I split Spaghettoni with rapini pesto, caramelized onions, and guanciale and the special Spaghetti alla Chiatarra with carbonara. The pasta was perfectly al dente, neither dish needed salt, and the flavors were each so bold yet complemented each other beautifully. We followed the pasta with Roasted Piglet Shoulder with poached pear and rapini. I would fly back to Montreal just to have this meal again.
With a couple of locations around Montreal, I knew I was never far from having some of the best soft serve. This spot specializes in dipped ice cream to the point where they only serve vanilla soft serve – and the creamiest vanilla soft serve at that – and coat it in a variety of dips, from peanut butter (topped with pretzels and Oreos!) to praline sauce, spiced chocolate, or basically anything else that you can think of. Get it in a dish to get more than more dip!
I went to this bakery every morning after my run. I would get four coffees and some sort of Greek confection, like these almond and chocolate "croissants." I like to think I became very close friends with the adorable Greek husband and wife duo, as I tried to decipher their broken English/half French half Greek accents. From croissants to coconut cake, baklava to whatever the Greek and French croissant hybrid is, everything was 10/10 at Samos.
I was so excited to eat at this restaurant after reading and rereading their menu. I walked into Bouillon Bilk and immediately felt afraid: the stiff waiters, extremely modern straight lines, and over-the-top minimalism really took any aspect of culture or comfort from the ambience. It actually felt cold in there. However, as soon as we ordered probably too strong of drinks for an 11:45am reservation, we immediately warmed up to the spot. Duck Tartare, Sweetbread Tartelettes, Pappardelle, Doughnuts, Cookies, and six other dishes made up for the lack of creativity in the decor. I seriously haven't had food this paired and balanced before. (I dreamt about these apple sour cream doughnuts that night.)
Everyone knows I'm obsessed with donuts. So I did my research and found that Trou de Beigne was one of Montreal's top donut shops. Made with all natural ingredients, coconut oil, and only real fruit and Lindt chocolate, how could they not be? And although I firmly believe that NYC and Philly have the best donut shops, these were pretty damn good as well. Maple Bacon, S'Mores, Apple Crumble, Blizzard, Coconut Lime, and Blueberry (my personal fave) were our six mini donuts of choice, but yes, you can get them in full size as well.
Au Pied de Cochon
I'm not exactly how to talk about Au Pied de Cochon because it was such an incredible experience, from the warm ambience, to the most personable wait staff, to the insane food. The appetizer course was actually my favorite course, with that massive pork shank being shaved at the table and served with duck-fat-fried pancakes soaked in Canadian maple syrup. We also ordered the most delicious mozzarella dish with roasted squash puree. We followed that with the restaurant's specialty, Duck in a Can, the Foie Gras Burger, and the veal special of the evening. Dessert was an insane Pecan Pie, a Maple Crème Brûlée, a Maple Syrup Milkshake, and an on-the-house Pouding Chômeur because I couldn't decide between that and the pie. Specializing in all-things duck (and obviously maple syrup,) this is one of Montreal's best restaurants, and one that is most highly recommended.
I obviously love restaurants with great ambience: warm lighting, dark colors, and cozy seating make a good restaurant great. Lining up (yes, even before they opened!) Le Moineau, or The Sparrow, ten minutes before open, I could already tell from peeking in the large windows that this experience was going to be more than great. The pancakes were clearly the star of the show: Buckwheat Pancakes with apple butter, candied walnuts, fruit, and maple syrup. We actually devoured them as an appetizer course, before moving onto Yogurt & Granola, House-Smoked Trout, Steak & Eggs, and a breakfast sandwich of na'an, eggs, and cream cheese, which we then followed with dessert (yes, we are that kind of extra,) of PB&J donuts and a blueberry croissant.
Confession: I don't really get the hype of poutine. Even eating at La Banquise, a 24 hour poutine spot that had lines out-the-door constantly, didn't help me get why Montrealers are obsessed with these glorified overloaded french fries. It's not to say that I don't necessarily like french fries landed in gravy, cheese curds, maybe some pulled pork, apples and bacon, or peppers, onions, and mushrooms, because who wouldn't like that kind of thing, but what's the whole obsession? (Someone please DM me and let me know.) However, if one is going to consume 10,000+ calories in less than 10 minutes, it should be at La Banquise, with their great Canadian beers and poutines topped with everything you could imagine.
Montreal, like New York, is known for its bagels. They're dense, chewy, slightly sweet, and smaller than any bagel you'll find in the five boroughs (maybe that's why they literally serve 4 as one serving.) With that being said, there's nothing like a New York bagel, but I knew I had to get my hands on Montreal's favorite bagel, from St. Viateur. If I had never experienced the doughy deliciousness that is the NY bagel, I would probably call these dough babies my favorite too. They are sweet, enhanced by the strong sesame flavor, and they're chewy but not like "oh god this is like gum" chewy (we've all had a bad bagel that was like that.) They come lightly toasted – I heard this was the only way to have them – and, paired with cream cheeses like sun-dried tomato or pesto, they make for a great Sunday breakfast.
My name is Alexandra Jade, but you can call me Alex, or Trin. I am a Food Studies major at New York University, and a freelance photographer, journalist, and social media pro on the side. I run the instagram account @twobrunchgirls.