Perhaps incredible food isn’t the first thing you think of when planning a trip to Montréal. It should be. Not well known to most Americans, Montréal is a hidden foodie gem. Seth and I made our trip to this wonderful city a culinary adventure while also living like the locals. Armed with Instagram and a few Pinterest posts, I spent each night planning out which cafes and restaurants we would visit based on what the locals shared.
Cantinho de Lisboa
Our first cafe stop was actually by accident, but it was an accident with a delicious outcome. We were headed to Olive et Gourmando, which we learned to be closed for a couple of weeks. Across the street sat Cantinho de Lisboa, so we took the chance and went inside. It had a charming atmosphere, bright yellow with giant roosters posted on one wall and local goods scattered throughout the store. The waitress said we made a great decision when we both got the porc mariné (a marinated pork sandwich). She wasn’t kidding. Pork, cheese, aioli and yellow and orange tomatoes made the best blend of flavors.
Toi et Moi cafe
Then we hit up Toi et Moi cafe where Seth got a Croque Monsieur and I had Eggs Benedict. Can I please go back just for this one meal? The Hollandaise coating the Eggs Benedict was the bomb and every corner of the plate was filled with something yummy, including roasted potatoes and fresh fruit.
At Cacoa 70 in the Gay Village, I had the best hot chocolate ever. We both got the Peru, a slightly bitter chocolate with nodes of dried fruit. It was on point. The dish came with a giant goblet coated with chocolate on the bottom and chocolate on the sides. It got all over my face, but that brought me little worry as I downed the drink and warmed up from the snowy streets.
Shawarma and Pizza, Pizza Plus
There were a couple of times we had food delivered to our AirBnB (shout out to Coco’s place). We had Shawarma one night – so good with pickled beets, tender meat, tzatziki sauce and more – from Shawarma and Pizza. Another night, we American-ized the Canadian dish of poutine by getting it on a pizza from Pizza Plus. GREAT DECISION. Probably Seth’s favorite.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Montreal without some macaroons. We picked ours up at M Cafe. I got tiramisu (favorite, tasted like ice cream), lime basil (true to its name and awesome), lemon (mmm..lemon squares, anyone?), salted caramel, chocolate and raspberry.
We also adventured to the cafe Tommy, partly because many folks our age hung out there and partly because so did Rihanna. We had the butternut squash soup paired with a roast beef and cheddar sandwich. Both were delicious and the atmosphere (books, desks and tables, art) reminded me of local cafes back in Oxford, MS. I also had my first cannoli – yum!
Once when we were desperate to get warm, we slid into Kantapia, a Korean restaurant. They gave us kimchi and potatoes soaked in soy sauce “on the house” (still thinking about those potatoes). We had fried dumplings as an appetizer and I got Raymun avec fromage (Ramen with cheese…and egg and veggies) for my main meal. It had a wonderful spice to it and warmed me up for more time out on the town.
One morning, we walked to Schwartz’s deli to eat the smoked meat sandwich, as recommended by the late Anthony Bourdain. Layers of smoked brisket sat between two slices of rye bread slathered with mustard. It was so good and the restaurant has been a staple in Montreal for so long that it even has it’s own musical (no joke). The atmosphere reminded me of Bill’s Hamburgers in Amory, MS.
One night, we decided to dine in pitch black at O.Noir restaurant where blind waiters guide and serve you. The whole idea is to experience what it is like for those who are blind while awakening your other senses of taste and smell. Seth got a surprise appetizer and loved it! It turned out to be scallops, something he would have never tried had he known. His lobster pasta was also great and I had a delicious time experiencing the flavors of my balsamic glazed shrimp with bacon, cucumber salad with fresh lime sour cream and an avocado puree. I topped it off with a delightful dark chocolate terrine.
If you ever venture to Montréal, I definitely recommend all of the places mentioned!