2491 Rue Notre-Dame O, Southwest
A nineteenth-century eccentric with a heart of gold, Charles “Joe Beef” McKiernan is something of a local legend, so it makes sense that one of the city’s best protein-centric restaurants be named after him. The snug, dimly lit dining rooms border on kitschy (chalkboard menus, the occasional taxidermied bison head), but the wine selection and menu are as serious as it gets: steaks, Cornish hen, or lobster spaghetti if meat isn’t your thing, washed down with a glass of good, biodynamic red. Fair warning: Reservations are hard to come by, so plan ahead.
Arthurs Nosh Bar
4621 Rue Notre-Dame O, Southwest
This family operation is an homage to Jewish deli comfort food, but done in a way that feels entirely fresh. Here, you’ll find all the requisites—organic gravlax, matzo ball soup, schnitzel—in addition to riffs on the classics (latkes smorgasbord, challah grilled cheese) served in a beautiful, brightly lit space and complemented by a bar and on-site herb garden. Not surprisingly, it's good for brunch, but expect a wait, as it doesn’t take reservations.
994 Rue Rachel E, Plateau-Mont-Royal
Poutine is the official, unofficial dish of Canada, and this color-happy, super casual restaurant does it justice. While the poutine formula (fries + cheese curds + gravy) is simple, here, variations (all thirty of them) run the gamut from the Galvaude (chicken and peas) to the Veganomaniac (vegan cheese and gravy). It’s open twenty-four hours a day, so expect the place to get rowdier the later it gets.
Le Club Chasse et Pêche
423 Rue St. Claude, Old Montreal
Le Club, as it's known among regulars, is one of those places that consistently churns out high marks, making it just as popular with visitors who come to Montreal for the outstanding food scene as it is with locals who are looking for a special night out. Start with seared scallops with a lemon confit, then try catch of the day served with smoked Yukon potatoes, and finish off with a maple syrup parfait—obviously—that includes a decadent red berry sauce and dark chocolate. The sommelier will gladly help you sift through the considerable wine list. (There's also a gluten-free menu upon request.)
1045 Ave. Laurier O, Outremont
-Since its 2001 opening, Leméac has steadily grown to be one of Montreal's best restaurants. Come here for classic French comfort food, like steak frites and cabillaud (cod), as well as an extensive (and pretty intense) wine list. Save room for the cheese plate or one of the dozen of homemade desserts made in-house each night. In true Parisian-bistro style, the interiors are warm and it's always packed with a good mix of locals and tourists. There's a terrace that's perfect for an outdoor Sunday brunch in the spring or summer.
5201 Blvd. St. Laurent, Plateau-Mont-Royal
While this upscale restaurant focuses heavily on meat, there's a handful of vegetable-centric sides and dishes. It's one of Montreal's most popular restaurants, and for good reason: The tight menu of traditional Canadian food delivers, as does the attentive staff. Plus, it offers one of the best brunches in the city.
Dinette Triple Crown
6704 Rue Clark, Mile Ex
Our love for perfect fried chicken knows no bounds, which is why we were instantly taken by this hidden diner in the Villeray-Parc Ex neighborhood: The team serves up some of the best we've had—crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside—with a limited menu of sides including killer mac ’n’ cheese, buttermilk bread, and hushpuppies. (You'd almost think you were in the South.) The food's indulgent, but it's every bit worth it.
1638 Rue Notre-Dame O, Southwest
Dylan Solomon and Éric Girard, the principals behind popular the Montreal bakery/café Olive & Gourmando, opened Foxy a couple of years ago to high anticipation—and they did not disappoint. The sleek, dark space hosts a talented team that makes mostly everything in-house, from the yogurt to the bread to the ice cream, with local ingredients. The main star here is the fire pit in the kitchen, on which most of the vegetables, proteins, and pizzas are cooked, lending a rich smokiness to the dishes, including the insane apple pie with burnt caramel ice cream.
Olive & Gourmando
351 Rue St. Paul O, Old Montreal
Many would argue that Olive & Gourmando offers some of the best sandwiches in Old Montreal—and we agree. The O&G grilled cheese alone has us swooning with its thick caramelized onions and Gouda with house-made ketchup. The team at this charming neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot is devoted to rich dishes (think: shirred eggs and ricotta tartine), paninis, homemade soups, salads, and baked treats. There are no reservations here, so come early before the rush (or if you're in it, order a coffee and scone while you wait).
408 Rue St. François-Xavier, Old Montreal
Chef Chuck Hughes's first restaurant has a supper club vibe: A dimly lit sign leads you into the dark, exposed-brick interior where the scene is always packed and a bit loud (a mix of local foodies, devoted Hughes fans, and tourists). The food is rich (the lobster poutine is a mainstay) with a heavy French influence. What tops off this popular restaurant is its impressive wine list.