719 Rue William, Old Montreal
Step into Mélisse and you’ll feel like you’re in LA: light wood; a bright, high-ceilinged space; and lots of plants. (Also LA-like: eating on the patio, weather permitting.) Breakfast and lunch are light and focus on seasonal produce (tartines, salads, satisfying egg dishes), while dinner is full of shareable plates, like grilled veggies and charcuterie, plus more substantial items, like grilled pork shoulder peppered with cherry tomatoes and pistachios. The 100 percent organic wine list is short but brilliant.
1023 Rue Ontario E, Gay Village
eWhen Antonin Mousseau-Rivard opened his restaurant, Le Mousso, in 2015 in Ville-Marie, it was an instant hit, resonating with a tasting menu full of novelties (deconstructed borscht, lamb tartare with green peas and grated goat cheddar, sponge cake with shallot ice cream and apple vinegar) and a super cool, minimalist dining room. And this year, Mousseau-Rivard added another component with the adjacent Le Petit Mousso—a more casual (and far less expensive) version with à la carte bar snacks for walk-ins.
Le Vin Papillon
2519 Rue Notre-Dame O, Little Burgundy
In Little Burgundy, the team from the always-packed Joe Beef and Liverpool House have created a veggie-friendly restaurant that even the most salad-averse locals have grown to love. It helps that Le Vin Papillon doesn’t treat produce in a typical way. You’ll find smoked carrots that act as a stand-in for brisket, hearty wood-roasted cauliflower, and squash fried in brown butter with muhammara (a Middle Eastern red pepper and walnut spread). The list of natural wines is extensive, curated by one of Montreal’s best sommeliers, Vanya Filipovic, who can tell you exactly what will taste best with your dinner.
1391 Rue Saint-Jacques, Downtown
Some Montrealers swear that Nora Gray is the best Italian restaurant in the city, and you’ll probably be convinced once chef Emma Cardarelli’s seasonal creations arrive at the table. These include a sublime buttered asparagus ravioli with duck heart Bolognese, a lemon farfalle with zucchini flowers and poppy seeds, and simple (and supremely fresh) summer salads with pistachio and Pecorino. The dining room—full of cozy black leather booths—is small-scale and intimate, and the perfect place to enjoy a bottle of red (or two) with a few friends.
1844 Rue Amherst, Gay Village
Win Butler and Regine Chassagne are Montreal natives, though you probably know them better as members of the rock band Arcade Fire. What you probably didn’t know is that they’re also restaurateurs—they opened this Haitian bar and eatery in Ville-Marie in 2016 (Chassagne’s parents are from Haiti). As you might expect of a restaurant named after a type of French-Caribbean rum, the cocktails here are home runs. We’d go for the Kokonut, made with rum, coconut cream, and a mix of tangerine, lime, and passion fruit juices. And if you order only one thing from the food menu, make it the pain patate. It’s a rich, sweet potato cake soaked in sugarcane sauce, baked with nutmeg and cinnamon, and sprinkled with rum-macerated raisins and perfection.
95 Rue Jean-Talon O, Mile Ex
Part craft brewery and part comfort-food tavern, the brick-walled, warmly lit Brasserie Harricana in the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie neighborhood was made for freezing-cold Montreal nights. Aside from more than twenty varieties of beer and cider on tap (including several gluten-free options), the menu offers Quebecois classics, like duck confit croquettes and beer-braised ham bone. Vegetarians also have plenty of options, including the roasted carrots with thyme and honey, pan-seared mushrooms, and a hearty fattoush salad.
5090 Rue Notre-Dame O, Southwest
A new Saint-Henri restaurant from the owners of Nora Gray (a local favorite in Ville-Marie), Elena specializes in wood-fired thin-crust pizza. But unlike so many pizza spots in town, this one stands out for its edgy design sensibility. There’s a long marble bar flanked by turquoise-topped bar stools, velvet seating that softens an otherwise industrial space, reclaimed wood-plank floors, and modern art pieces that could hang in a modern art gallery. We love the classic margherita pie here, though the non-pizza items (tagliatelle with braised beef ragu and Parmesan, a kale Caesar salad with radicchio and tahini dressing) are just as good.
1595 St. Laurent Blvd., Downtown
In Ville-Marie, Bouillon Bilk is something of an anomaly in Montreal. The stark, black-and-white interior might feel more Manhattan than Quebecois, and the food is fittingly elegant if a bit austere. Entrées—like the striped bass with almonds, zucchini, mint, lardo, and grapes or the duck with French beans, raspberries, fava beans, and oyster mushrooms—are presented like works of precious art. Luckily, it all tastes as good as it looks.
551 Rue Saint-Martin, Little Burgundy
What was once a nineteenth-century stone church rectory in Sud-Ouest is now one of Montreal’s buzziest fine-dining restaurants. The farm-to-table concept is familiar, but Candide sets itself apart with a tasting menu of beautifully presented dishes, with the vivid colors of each ingredient on full display. The menu changes monthly, but you’re likely to find a mix of jewel-like edible flowers, tomatoes, and eggplant; electric-orange carrot medallions; snow-white crabmeat; and bowls of ripe blueberries and raspberries among the various small plates. The wine list is one hundred bottles deep, and the sommelier, Emily Campeau, is a trusty guide for pairings.
257 Rue Prince, Old Montreal
Housed in a former foundry and arguably one of the chicest reservations in the city, Le Serpent’s industrial-looking dining room is outfitted with modern art installations, making for a particularly unexpected experience (exactly what you’d expect from the team behind Le Club Chasse et Pêche). In keeping with the minimalist aesthetic, the Italian-inflected menu of pasta, fresh catch, and meat-centric dishes is streamlined and unfussy—a testament to chef Michele Mercuri’s knack for restraint.