A couple weeks ago someone asked me how I could possibly not have anything up on Montreal?! It’s true, I’ve been 7 weeks in Montreal over the past two years for work (which is nothing compared to some of my colleagues) but never really wrote anything up despite hitting up quite a few decent restaurants!
- Montreal in the winter is NOT enjoyable. Thankfully, they have about 21 miles of underground tunnel that gets you “as close as possible” to where you need to be. This however makes for the awkward, “what kind of jacket do I bring” question because a jacket warm enough for outside Montreal will make you sweat like you’re in Bikram yoga if you’re going through the tunnels.
- Montreal is an AMAAAAZING city to walk around in the summer – very Europe-esque. (Yes, I generalized the whole continent right now).
- Poutine is the non-healthiest amazing thing you will eat here. People are shockingly polarized about this. It’s either amazing and you must have poutine at every meal, or the thought of it literally makes you want to vomit (and vomit looks like poutine. or vice versa).
I’ve always stayed within close proximity to the Old Town area, with the exception of the week leading up to Formula 1. More on that later. I’ve also never repeated a hotel in Montreal (ok maybe once I did).
- InterContinental: great location and it’s connected to the underground so points there. There’s a Starbucks in the mall in the building so it’s a nice quick way to get coffee in the morning without having to go outside.
- The W: another good location and very typical W. I don’t like the fact they don’t have coffee makers in room.
- Le Petit Hotel & Cafe: Located on Rue St Paul (oldest street in Montreal!), super cute boutique hotel where the rooms have exposed brick and stone.
- Epik Hotel: Located directly across from Le Petit Hotel & Cafe, another super cute boutique, also with rooms with exposed brick and stone. The service at this hotel was seriously top notch. I showed up on the evening I was expected to check in, and when I walked through the door the front desk said “Hello, Stephanie?” Umm, yes that is me! On the last day, I left my suitcase and came back for it before my flight. When I walked through the door, a woman who I had not seen at all my entire stay looked at me and immediately said “Are you here to pick up you suitcase?” WHAAAT?! This hotel also has a restaurant in it with delicious Italian food. There’s also the cutest little terrace that is open during the summer months!
- St Paul Hotel: I think there’s a trend. I love staying on Rue St Paul. This hotel reminds me of the W, and the restaurant inside it is fantastic.
- Hotel Zero1: The week leading up to Formula 1, I lagged on booking a hotel and this was the only one remotely within walking distance that wasn’t $800 a night. It’s right in Chinatown, and a super modern hotel with amazing floor to ceiling windows where you get a clear view of the Montreal skyline. Plus, it’s steps away from Chinatown which means cheap eats for dinner are readily accessible!
Joe Beef and Liverpool House
THE restaurant(s) that Montreal is known for. While it may be tough to get last minute reservations, try the DINR app. Last minute available usually becomes available but probably only for tables of 2 or 4, nothing larger. We managed to snag a reservation for 4 people just a few hours before dinner for same day dining.
The menus are the same at both establishments, written in French on a giant chalkboard when you walk in. Beef, lobster spaghetti, duck and lots of drinks and a really creepy bathroom.
To get here, we actually took a nice stroll from Old Town along the water towards the Burgundy District. Note, only attempt this in the summer when the weather is amazing. Like many other cities, there’s a lot of investment in restoring old abandoned buildings, to the point we had to stop once in a while to determine whether the building was truly restored or if it was a brand new building made to look like it was restored!
Did you know that Arcade Fire opened up a Haitian restaurant in Montreal? Well they did and it is DELICIOUS! Everything I tried was delicious (except the fish, not that it wasn’t delicious, I’m allergic. Everyone RAVED about it though). It’s almost a mix between no-frills, boutique and local. What we ate: Mais Moulu et Legumes, Pulet aux cajou, Poisson Frit Entier, Griot for a snack.
Tommy is located a corner away from the Basilica (worth a visit even if it costs 5 CAD, I mean, Look!!)
And look at how adorable Tommy is! They have Nutella cronuts AND avocado toast!!
Le Petit Dep
Someone explained this place to me as “the convenient store that has the best pistachio chocolate croissants!” In my head, I was literally thinking something outside a gas station that happened to have croissants in the corner and it could not be more different. They serve coffee (out of the cutest little walk up window from Rue St. Paul), have gourmet candy, prepared foods, unique Montreal souvenirs/snacks and of course, the pistachio almost croissants. OB.SESSED. The best part is this place is right next to Hotel Epik and right across from Le Petite Hotel. So bad for your waistline. Oh well, what diet when you travel? #youonlyliveonce #butonceisenough
La Banquise // Poutine!
Poutine. If you’re going to Montreal, you need to try poutine (I think). Also if you’re going to try poutine, there’s only one place to do it. La Banquise.
Cash only joint, open 24 hours and place of all drunken deliciousness. Or sober. I mean, we powered through (with a few alcoholic beverages whilst eating).
I mean, how could you say no to fries, cheese curds and guacamole?! #californiabornandraised #guaconeverything
For the week I stayed at Hotel Zero1, I became quite well versed in Montreal’s cheap Chinatown eats.
You may have seen a video on Facebook going around about the amazing hand pulled noodles made in Lanzhou. Well, you can get your own version in Montreal on the street level of a grocery store. Note: Do not get a large. Just, do NOT do it.
Restaurant Sai Gwan
A little random location, but OMG the wonton noodle soup is delicious and 6 CAD. Ummm, done. Cash only.
Bao Bao Dim Sum
If you’ve ever wanted to eat cute dim sum that looks like Sanrio characters, just come here. The Hello Kitty one was good (custard), the green Kerroppi looking one was not. It was green tea on the outside but it tasted like how the Westin smells! The Daan Taat’s here well DELISH!!
La Capital Tacos
There is nothing Chinese about this place, except for the fact the tacos are served on Asian plates. It doesn’t matter though, everything here is on point. And they have guacamole. Done.
Others perhaps worth noting:
- Schwartz’s Deli: For however many times I’ve been, I still have not made it here. Half a reason might be that I just don’t wait in line for food. #hangry #foodproblems
- Au Pied du Cochon: If you want duck in a can!
- Fiorellino: slightly tucked away but a gem of an Italian spot. Great pizzas, pastas and desserts!
- Majestique: If you are craving a 12 inch hot dog.
No trip to Montreal is complete (maybe, if you’re semi outdoorsy anyways) with out a trip up to Mont Royal. Unless you go in the winter. Definitely do not hike up in the winter.
There are no bad walks in the fall in Montreal.