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.
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.
2175 Rue de la Montagne, Downtown
A thoroughly unique concept, Maison Cloakroom has taken the idea of a secret speakeasy to the next level with its tailor/barber/bar space. After an appointment with the tailor or a treatment with the barber, the option for a stiff drink or craft cocktail is right on-site. However, weekends see guests bypassing the suits and shaves and heading straight for the Mad Men–style bar. All beverages are made to suit the tastes of the drinker and many of the tinctures and tonics are made right behind the bar. All of the above lends to an elevated drinking experience in one of the city’s most beautiful spaces, an ideal spot for an intimate one-on-one drink with a friend or lover.
Dominion Square Tavern
1243 Rue Metcalfe, Downtown
A throwback in the best way possible, Dominion Square Tavern turns out all the classic cocktails topped up with a range of homemade tonics. The tavern space is pure old-school nostalgia—dating back to 1927—with wood-beamed ceilings, tile floors, and plenty of decorative flourishes like leather stools, chandelier lighting, and mirrored walls. While the classic bar food is good, it’s the drinks that take center stage: mint julep, Tom Collins, or a royal gin fizz—mixed to perfection by bartenders who really know what they’re doing.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
1380 Rue Sherbrooke O, Downtown
Founded in 1860, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art has since acquired more than 41,000 artworks spanning the mediums of painting, sculpture, photography, and the decorative arts. The museum itself is enormous, and the art is divided for display purposes between four pavilions—international art, world culture, Canadian Art, and design. Upcoming exhibits include a comparison-based show of Picasso works and non-Western artists, and a collection of paintings depicting court life under Napoleon. Aside from the collections, the museum offers some interesting educational and health initiatives, like art therapy programs, workshops for toddlers, and painting classes for seniors.
1300 Rue Sherbrooke O, Downtown
With 180 years of fashion history under its belt, Holt Renfrew is to Canada what Bloomingdale's or Saks Fifth Avenue is to America—a storied luxury department store with a designer roster that hovers in the hundreds (from Mother denim to Margiela and everything in between). Special-touch services like on-site tailoring and monogramming are a lovely throwback to the store’s royal past (Queen Victoria was a fan).
1228 Rue Sherbrooke O, Downtown
As far as Ritz-Carltons go, the Montreal location is OG. (A bit of trivia: Opened in 1912, it was the first property in North America to bear the Ritz-Carlton name.) A four-year, $200 million renovation resulted in 129 slick, revamped rooms, which feature the creature comforts you've come to expect from the hotel group (marble-lined bathroom, city or garden views, heated floors, a soaking tub). Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Maison Boulud offers chef Daniel Boulud's refined take on French food with an emphasis on locally sourced Quebec ingredients. The greenhouse is open year-round and is a picturesque spot to take in a meal and the action on Sherbrooke Street. Afternoon tea is kind of a thing here, too, and there are two seatings in the Palm Court, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (Reservations needed.)