Apr 15, 2013

Montréal's best restaurants: a very personal list

Maison Publique
by Alexandra Forbes

I get the question "what's your favourite restaurant in town" so often that I figured I shouldn't postpone any longer listing some of my top restaurant choices. Of course it's very silly to try to rank places: I have a different favourite for each occasion. So, without giving this much thought, stream-of-consciousness style, here are my current darlings:

1- Joe Beef
For a fun-filled, white Burgundy-fuelled night out, it's always my top choice. As my friend P-A tweeted yesterday, "there are restaurants, there are meals. And then there are those where time stops".

2- Park
To satisfy my sushi cravings, when I don't want to go very far (I live a few blocks away). I avoid sitting at a table at all cost: a seat at the bar, across from chef-owner Antonio Park, is a million times more fun if you're into food.

3- Nora Gray
Same advice here: the bar is so much more fun, because that's where co-owner Ryan Gray holds court. And does he ever know his wines! Fun, casual, great Italy-inspired menu, sexy dimly-lit room (sometimes too noisy).

4- Grumman 78
Best for dinner with kids, if you, like me, run away from "family-friendly restaurants". In a refitted garage lit with Christmas lights, in a very relaxed and cool ambiance, you'll eat a Montreal re-reading of Mexican pub grub.

5- Club Chasse et Pêche
My favourite dining room: sexy, romantic. In fact, it's my favourite restaurant for a date night. Never ate a bad dinner here.

6- Ferreira Café
The best fish and seafood in town. The best service, too. At lunch, the vibe is very expense account, at night, much less so.

7- Kazu
My favourite hole-in-the-wall, always my first choice for a Downtown lunch.
1862 Sainte-Catherine St W 

(514) 937-2333

8- Mangiafoco
If you're in Old Montreal, this should be your choice for lunch. Pizzeria and mozzarella bar frequented by locals, owned by a guy that is passionate about food, wine and all things Italian.

9- Maison Publique
Top place in the Plateau neighbourhood. My advice: don't feel like you have to go for the meat-centric dishes that made its fame. I actually find that the strongpoint at this restaurant-that-looks-like-a-gastropub is the spectacular seafood. Best crab I've ever had in town was here, for example.

10- Au Pied de Cochon
It's been so written up, so praised that it's almost become a cliché. Still, if it's your first time in Montreal, don't even think of skipping it.

All addresses and phone numbers, and exact location on the city map (except for Kazu) are here, in this "Montreal HEAT MAP".

And last, but not least, a few places I forgot to mention, definitely worth the detour:

Best steakhouse by far. And not as staid as some Montrealers think. Owner Lenny Lighter is very hands-on, and it shows: impeccable service, great wine list.
3961 St. Laurent Blvd., tel. (514) 845-3509

Best Italian by far - the real deal. Speaking of far.... that's the only problem, it's way up near the Jean-Talon market, which is why I don't go there as often as I'd like to. Partners Aniello Covone and sommelière Alyne Russo really know their stuff.
236 St. Zotique St. E.; tel. (514) 273-5776

Funnest oyster bar, even though master shucker Daniel Notkin has left....
479 Rue Saint Alexis

(514) 303-0479


  1. Howdy!

    Interesting how your list and my list don't correspond all that much... The only one's of yours I'd include on mine are Au Pied de Cochon and Club Chasse et Pêche.

    However, I would put (in alphabetical order) Les 400 Coups, Bouillon Bilk, Hotel Herman, Lawrence, La Porte, Le Renard and Le Sinclair.

    Then on the cheaper tip (a la Kazu and Gruman 78) Amelio's, Binerie Mont–Royal, Brisket's, Brasserie Capri, Chez Ma Tante, Dic Ann’s, La Flammée, Plâts De Pates Hong Mère, Lasalle Drive–In, Grilladerie Nostos, Pataterie Chez Philippe, Pho Lien, Rotisserie Portugalia, Smoke Meat Pete's, La Tornade and Yuki Ramen.

  2. Hi Zeke, what would the world be like if we all had the same tastes, right? I don't like Le Renard at all, and I'm bothered by the bare-bones loudness of Bouillon Bilk. 400 Coups is great, and Hotel Hermann... I LOVE the vibe, the look - but food is irregular. As for your cheaper tips, I don't know most of them, so.. duly noted!

  3. What about Toqué ?

  4. I would have ad Toqué too !

  5. Au Pied de Cochon is the worst one actually!

  6. Oh yes, Moishes. Definitely a go-to for steak cravings. I will try to take your advice the next time I’m in Maison and try the seafood or the crab if it’s available. Thanks for the list! Would definitely hit the ones I haven’t tried before when I find myself in Montreal again.