The city also offers some of Canada’s most inventive restaurants, so roll up your sleeves and prepare to devour plate after plate of foie gras and fromage.
Located on Saint Laurent, Schwartz’s is Montreal’s landmark eatery. With over 80 years of tradition, this Montreal classic is the oldest deli in Canada. Celine Dion recently bought in to the business and her photo hangs across from the take-out deli counter. The restaurant always has a notorious line snaking out onto the street, so be prepared to make a few friends while you wait.
Schwartz’s specializes in Jewish smoked meat, which is prepared by marinating beef brisket with a secret blend of fine herbs and spices for 10 days. The most popular item on the menu is the Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich served on sourdough, which is best paired with a massive dill pickle and a few squirts of mustard.
Culinary magician Chef Normand Laprise is often referred to as the Godfather of Montreal’s haute cuisine machine. Many of the city’s top chefs have one thing in common: they have put in time under the tutelage of Chef Laprise. The kitchen at Toqué! is regarded as one of the top in the country, and an incubator for culinary creativity.
Toqué! does an exceptional job at creatively showcasing the culinary landscape of Quebec. The menu is regularly updated to showcase the bounty of the season. Highlights from the winter offerings include Smoked Duck Margret (cranberry compote, apple, celeriac) and a sweet finish of “Fudge” (olive powder, whipped cream, maldon salt).
Chef Martin Picard’s food has been praised by food writers and gastronomes across the country, with his biggest fan being the always entertaining Anthony Bourdain, who declared it as one of Canada’s best. Au Pied de Cochon has a cult following of foodies who come back time and time again to enjoy Chef Picard’s carnivore-centric feasts.
Leave your vegetarian friends (and calorie counting) at the door. Chef Picard’s menu is famous for its overindulgent offerings. On my particular visit, highlights included a decadent Foie Gras Poutine and French Toast topped with goat cheese, cranberry and seared foie gras.
Located in the heart of Old Montreal, L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel is one of the hippest restaurants in the city. This history of the building alone is worth a visit—built as a two-story house by a French soldier in 1688, it is North America’s first inn, and later became the first establishment to be granted a liquor license under British rule. Recently, the property was purchased by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte and pop star Garou, who have transformed the space into a mesmerizing ode to contemporary art.
Under the stewardship of Michelin-starred Provencal Chef Eric Gonzalez, Auberge has successfully solidified itself as a culinary hot spot. Menu highlights include a generous Charcuterie Board and Potato Gnocchi (squash, trumpets, apples, endives, Brussels sprouts).
Montreal’s most iconic brunch can be found inside the country’s flagship Birks jewellers. Birks Café is located up a flight of stairs overlooking a wild assortment of diamonds and rare jewels. The prix fix brunch offers a uniquely refined feast for those craving a little early morning decadence.
Brunch starts with a sparkling mimosa flute and foamy latte. Our five-course brunch included a selection of croissants with raspberry jam, poultry liver mousse with port jelly and plump poached eggs (béarnaise, diced thyme and rosemary potatoes with crispy bacon).