21 Best Foods in Montreal – What & Where To Eat

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Best Foods in Montreal: There are plenty of great reasons to visit this beautiful city. But one of its biggest draws has to be the variety of delicious food!

As Canada’s food capital, Montreal has everything from savoury snacks and comfort food to baked goods and sweet treats. It’s home to some of Canada’s most iconic dishes and has the best French food you can eat outside of France.

If you’re visiting for the first time, you might be wondering what the best foods to try in Montreal are? Well, you’re in the right place, as they’re all listed here.

How do I know these are the best? I’ve lived in Canada for over 5 years and I’ve visited Montreal several times. Plus, I love food! So read on for everything you need to know about the best foods in Montreal.

21 Best Foods in Montreal

1. Montreal Style Bagels

As Montreal’s most famous food and the biggest rival to New York’s version, Montreal-style bagels are a must-try when visiting the city.

Montreal bagels are crunchy on the outside, dense on the inside, slightly sweet and are baked in a wood-fired oven. They come in different varieties, are delicious to eat on their own and make a great base for a sandwich.

A traditional St-Viateur Bagel sandwich with a slice of lemon on top and two slices of rock melon on the side. This is one of the best foods in Montreal.

For the best bagels in the city, visit St-Viateur Bagels. This family-run business has been a local favourite since the 1950s. They have multiple locations in Montreal, including several bagel cafés, where you can dine in and enjoy one of their popular bagel sandwiches.

Their flagship bakery can be found in Mile-End. But their Mont-Royal café is almost as popular, and has indoor and outdoor seating so you can stop for lunch.

I highly recommend the traditional sandwich, which is filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, onion and tomato, for the perfect balance of flavours.

2. Smoked Meat Sandwich

Another must-try Montreal classic is the city’s iconic smoked meat sandwich. And the best place to try one is Canada’s oldest deli – Schwartz’s Deli, in the Jewish Quarter.

Schwartz’s Deli is a local landmark which has been selling the famous sandwich since 1928. And it is without a doubt the best smoked meat sandwich in Montreal!

Their famous smoked meat is beef, but they also sell other meats such as turkey and salami.

A close up of a Montreal Style Smoked Meat Sandwich on Rye bread, which is a classic Montreal food.

The smoked meat is prepared the old-fashioned way, in-house, using the original recipe. The meat is marinated for 10 days in a secret blend of herbs and spices, before being smoked overnight and hand-sliced, per order.

The meat is deliciously juicy, tender and has a slightly smoky flavour. The sandwich comes with a very generous helping of meat, served with a touch of mustard on rye bread, to hold it all together. The bread works perfectly to hold it all together, letting the meat shine as the star of the show!

3. Poutine

When you think about Canadian dishes, the first one which usually comes to mind is Poutine. And originating from Quebec, it’s actually one of the most popular foods in Montreal.

Canada’s most iconic dish comprises a generous serving of crispy french fries topped with cheese curds and rich gravy. This is the ultimate comfort food and there are many different variations of it to try.

It’s not hard to find an excellent Poutine in Montreal, and this is the best place in the world to try it!

A bowl of poutine, which is one of the classic foods in Montreal, made up of french fries, cheese curds and brown gravy.

The most famous spot to have poutine in Montreal is La Banquise. Although quite a touristy eatery, they make one of the city’s best poutines and have a long menu of variations with interesting toppings.

Some of Montreal’s other notable poutineries include Chez Claudette, for an old-school classic (which is arguably better than La Banquise). The century-old Montreal Pool Room is a true local spot offering a traditional greasy-spoon experience. And, for a gourmet poutine, the restaurant Au Pied de Cochon is worth a visit.

4. Dinner at a French Brasserie

As the largest French city in Canada, Montreal is guaranteed to have excellent French food. With a variety of traditional restaurants and brasseries, you can indulge in French classics like French onion soup, steak tartare and canard confit.

One of the best places to enjoy a typical French meal in Montreal is L’Express. This brasserie has been an institution in Montreal for over 30 years. With seating options at a long wooden bar or in the checkered-floor dining room, and with opening hours until 2 am, it feels like something straight out of Paris.

A table set for two, with a bread basket, a jar of gherkins, and a bottle of red wine with two wine glasses.

The food here is absolutely delicious, with a wide range of traditional French dishes, a specials menu and en extensive wine list. And, in true French fashion, to start you will be brought bread and butter, and a jar of cornichons (gherkins) to snack on.

One of the best dishes I’ve tried on the L’Express menu is their steak frites. The tender hanger steak is cooked to your liking and served with shallot butter and crispy fries. And, to start, they are known for their chicken liver pâté.

5. Crêpes

With its strong French influence, there’s no surprise that crêpes are one of the foods you will find in Montreal. This ultra-thin pancake, originating from Brittany, can be served as both a sweet snack and savoury meal.

Throughout Montreal you will find numerous crêperies (pancake houses) and restaurants serving different variations of this traditional French food with the toppings of your choice.

For a sweet treat, it’s hard to go past a simple Nutella crêpe. And for a hearty classic, try a crêpe filled with eggs, ham and cheese. A great place to try both sweet and savoury crepes in Montreal is Spanel Crêpes & Gourmets.

A French crepe filled with Nutella being folded over on a hot plate, before being served.

6. Tourtière

Tourtière is a traditional French-Canadian meat pie from Quebec. It can be enjoyed at any time of year, but it’s often eaten on Christmas and New Years Eve.

This hearty meat pie is usually made with ground pork and beef, but it can also be made with veal and game meat. The meat is blended with a mix of spices and potatoes, and baked in a traditional butter pie crust.

Despite being one of Quebec’s traditional dishes, Tourtière is actually not that common to find on restaurant menus. Although there is one place you are guaranteed to be able to try it in Montreal.

Long standing restaurant La Binerie in Mont Royal is famous for their homemade Tourtière. If you’re looking to try this traditional dish, this is definitely the place for it!

A traditional home made Canadian meat pie, missing piece, sitting on a white and blue striped tea towel.

7. Pouding Chômeur

Sweet and simple, pouding chômeur is a delicious dessert engrained in Quebec’s history. This spongy brown-sugar cake is cut into squares and served warm, in true comfort food fashion.

Pouding chômeur actually translates to “unemployed pudding”. This Montreal food dates back to the Great Depression and is made from basic pantry items such as flour, brown sugar and, traditionally, stale bread.

This is another specialty which La Binerie Mont-Royal is best known for. Although one of the most frugal foods in Montreal, this sweet cake is satisfying, comforting and definitely worth a try!

8. Real Butter Croissant

One of the most typical French foods, is the classic croissant. With the heavy French influence in Montreal, there are Boulangeries (bakeries) dotted all around the city. Therefore it’s no surprise that it’s easy to find an authentic real butter croissant here!

A small white table with a takeaway coffee cup and a single croissant on a plate, which is one of the best foods in Montreal

In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with a traditional plain croissant. But, for chocolate lovers, you will also find some delicious Pains au Chocolate (chocolate croissants) in Montreal, as well as other favourites like almond croissants.

9. French Pastries

Croissants aren’t the only pastry to indulge in when visiting Montreal. The city’s various Boulangeries also make other delicious French pastries such as macarons, millefeuille and tarte au citron (lemon tart).

Several rows of small round french pastries, some with raspberries on top.

10. Wilensky’s Special 

If you’re looking for a light lunch in Montreal, there’s no better place than Wilensky’s. This long-running and historic Montreal luncheonette is a family run business which has been serving diners since 1932.

Wilensky’s is most famous for their lunch special – an all-beef salami and baloney sandwich, served on a piece of parchment paper. The sandwich comes with a touch of mustard, on a toasted cornmeal bun, and there is the option to add cheese. Although simple, this special is delicious, satisfying and most importantly, quick!

This is very much a no frills eatery, with a basic menu, no plates, no tipping and counter seating. For the full experience, order a glass of old fashioned soda to wash down your sandwich!

A round toasted sandwich, a glass of red soda and a sliced pickle, from Wilensky's, a long-standing Montreal eatery.
The Wilensky’s Special from Wilenskys.com

11. Steamé

One of the best foods in Montreal is actually a fast food staple, known as a steamé (or steamie). You will find these sold at fast food restaurants, greasy-spoons and diners throughout the city.

So what is a steamé? It’s a Montreal style hot dog. The classic ‘all-dressed’ version comes with toppings like mustard, relish, onion and cabbage, such as coleslaw or sauerkraut.

The most famous and best place to try a steamé is the Montreal Pool Room, which has been serving the iconic hotdog since 1912!

12. Chocolate

In addition to being known for its European cuisine, baked goods and smoked meat, Montreal is also Canada’s chocolate capital. Between the Chocolate Academy in Montreal’s east-end, and the numerous chocolate shops dotted around the city, Montreal is a chocolate lover’s dream.

Some of the most notable chocolatiers in the city include Chocolats Privilège and Chocolats Andrée. Or, if you prefer to drink your chocolate, visit Suite 88 Chocolatier to try one of their famous hot chocolates.

And, for the ultimate chocolate experience in Montreal, take a chocolate tour with tastings included!

A chocolate maker pouring a bowl of melted milk chocolate onto a tray to harden.

13. Orange Julep

The Orange Julep is a long-standing roadside greasy-spoon restaurant and one of the city’s most recognizable buildings, dating back to 1932. (Although you can’t actually go inside, as the restaurant is take-out only). But the giant orange sphere is impossible to miss and is definitely a sight worth seeing.

And the iconic building is not the only reason to visit. The eatery’s signature drink – also named the Orange Julep – is must-try for anyone visiting Montreal. To locals, it’s a mix of pure nostalgia and chilled tasty goodness. Whereas to visitors it’s an unusual mix of flavours which you will either love or hate!

The exact recipe for the signature drink is a secret. But what we do know is that it includes orange juice, milk powder and vanilla extract. This results in a refreshing and non-acidic juicy and creamy drink, which is served perfectly chilled.

A large orange sphere shaped building, known as the iconic Orange Julep which sells fast foods in Montreal.

Of course, if the signature drink isn’t up your alley, the Orange Julep also sells other fast food favourites such as poutine, burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches for you to enjoy.

14. Maple Taffy

Simple but delicious, maple taffy (known as “tire d’érable” in French) – is essentially just a maple syrup lollipop.

It’s made by pouring hot maple syrup on a layer of fresh, clean snow, causing it to rapidly cool and solidify. The syrup is usually poured in a line and then rolled onto a wooden stick as it cools, which can then be eaten like a lollipop.

Originally, maple taffy was an indigenous tradition. But it was embraced by French settlers in Quebec, making it a popular treat in the province today.

Seven popsicle sticks with frozen maple syrup on the ends, known as Maple Taffy, laying on a bed of snow

Although you will find maple taffy throughout Quebec, it’s a staple in the winter months in Montreal. And there’s something special about sampling it in the city, especially around the festive season. The best places to try it are at outdoor public markets like the Jean-Talon Christmas Market and the Christmas Village at Atwater market.

15. Roasted Chicken

Although Montreal is known for its French culture, it also has a big Portuguese influence. As such, one of the most popular foods in Montreal is actually Portuguese roasted chicken.

One of the best roast chicken meals you can find in Montreal is at Ma Poule Mouillée. This tender chicken is cooked over wood coals giving it a smokey flavour. Portions are huge, the sauce is delicious and it comes served with perfectly cooked fries.

And if you’re looking to mix things up with different flavours, you can also find a wide variety of other internationally inspired chicken restaurants in Montreal.

You can try Pakistani tandoori chicken at Le Coq de L’Est 2015, Lebanese grilled chicken at Poulet Mankal, Peruvian chicken sandwiches at Serrano Bar-B-Q, and caribbean flavours at Agrikol, to name a few.

A close-up of 3 skewered rotisserie chickens, perfectly browned and ready to eat, which is one of the most popular foods in Montreal.

16. Coffee

As a heavily European influenced city, Montreal has a big coffee culture. So, although technically not a food, coffee still deserves to make the list of the best foods in Montreal.

In particular, stop at Montreal’s best coffee shop, Café Olympico. What makes it the best café in town? The vibe, the people, the food, and of course the high quality coffee which is roasted to perfection.

This Italian inspired café has three locations, including one less than 2-minutes from St-Viateur, so you can grab a coffee to enjoy with your bagel.

Café Olympico keeps things simple with a traditional Italian coffee menu, including espresso, caffee latte, cappuccino, macchiato and caffe crema. They also serve a range of authentic Italian pastries to satisfy your sweet tooth.

17. Chocolate Babka

A number of Montreal’s iconic foods are of Jewish heritage, such as bagels and smoked meat sandwiches. But this isn’t all. One of the best Jewish foods in Montreal is chocolate babka, in particular from Cheskie’s Bakery.

Babka is a brioche loaf with layers of a chocolate or cinnamon filling. It’s rich, decadent and satisfying. And nowhere else in Montreal makes it quite like Cheskie’s. It’s sweeter, denser and has more filling than a traditional babka, but this is what makes it so good.

A tray of chocolate babkas from Cheskie's, perfectly browned and drizzled in chocolate, which is one of the best foods in Montreal.

Although Cheskie’s makes cinnamon babka and a wide range of other pastries (which are also delicious!), it’s really their chocolate babka which they’re known for. It’s so moorish that you will want to stock up as it’ll all be gone before you know it!

18. Brunch at Beauty’s

Brunch has become a weekend tradition in cities all around the world, and Montreal is no exception. However, for a truly authentic Montreal brunch experience, the only place to go is Beauty’s Luncheonette.

This locals favourite is an institution in Montreal. Serving delicious and hearty no-frills plates of food, from pancakes to potato Latkas and omlettes. Or if you haven’t yet had a chance to visit St-Viateur, try the the beauty’s special – a smoked salmon sandwich served on a St-Viateur bagel.

And to drink, try one of beauty’s fruit smoothies, milkshakes or fresh orange juice!

19. Ice cream

As my most recent visit was in summer, I can’t neglect to include ice cream on the list of best foods in Montreal. With ice cream shops, chocolatiers and bakeries selling this cold treat all around the city, it wasn’t hard to find excellent home made ice cream, sorbet and even frozen yoghurt here.

A hand holding a mango flavoured ice cream in a waffle cone, with pink flowers in the background.

And the quality was similar to what you would find in Europe. Instead of the soft serve you will often find throughout North America, Montreal’s ice cream was authentic, decadent and full of flavour. So, if you’re visiting in the warmer months, this is definitely something worth indulging in!

20. Burger

Another fast food favourite in Montreal is the classic burger. You can easily find an excellent burger in the city. There’s everything from greasy-spoon cheeseburgers to higher-end restaurants serving gourmet sandwiches made with local Angus beef and all the toppings.

But for a classic Montreal burger experience, there is no better place to visit than Dic Ann’s. This quintessential Montreal chain has been serving locals for nearly 70 years.

What sets a Dic Ann’s burger apart is the uniquely thin patty and bun, topped with hot sauce. It’s probably unlike any other burger you’ve ever eaten.

The idea behind these exceptionally flat burgers was efficiency – it cooks fast and can be eaten quickly. The menu is simple and you won’t be granted any modifications with your order, so don’t bother asking.

But although the concept is simple and efficient, Dic Ann’s doesn’t compromise on quality. There’s a reason why this burger chain is a locals favourite!

21. Rockaberry Pie

Finally, on a list of foods in Montreal, if you have a sweet tooth you can’t leave Montreal without trying a pie from Rockaberry.

A chocolate dome shaped pie with white webbing on top from Rockaberry, one of the most popular restaurants in Montreal.
Boston Cream Pie from Rockaberry.ca

Known for their homemade pies which are baked in-house every day, most locals would agree these are the best pies in the city. They have plenty of classic and original flavours to choose from. There’s everything from Boston cream and key lime pie, to bananalicious, oreo cheese and millefeuille.

You can either buy a whole pie to take away, or stop in to try a slice. They also have lunch and dinner menus, if you prefer to have something savoury before ordering dessert.

Final Thoughts – Best Foods In Montreal

Montreal is definitely Canada’s foodie city. If you’re looking to sample Canada’s best food, then you should add Montreal to your itinerary.

And no matter your taste, there’s something for everyone when it comes to foods in Montreal. From decadent sweets, European specialties and baked goods, to the best smoked meat, fast food classics and delicious staples. You won’t go hungry in Montreal!


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