Montreal, I thought you were completely and utterly great. You exceeded my expectations on so many levels and I can’t wait until we meet again. Montreal is super easy to navigate, full of incredibly genuine and friendly people, and has multiple cool neighborhoods in which to explore.
It is also a ridiculously great food city- I ate like a champion over the quick weekend I was here. Next time, I’d do the below, and I’d also add a few more. I didn’t even make it through half of my long to go to list, but you can bet I did my absolute best.
Highlights are below:
Syrian food is probably not most people’s first inclination as to what to eat when visiting Montreal, but this place is a must. Damas might not be on every Where To Eat Right Now article. It might not exude cool, and it might not be where you go to see and be seen. What Damas does do though is get it’s food and it’s service very, very right. Go here, be ready to be charmed by the staff and fall hard for the cuisine, and thank us afterwards.
You know when you go somewhere and it’s beautiful and dreamy and you want to just move right in? This is what happens when you step foot in Saint Parvis, part coffee shop, part restaurant, wholly something really special. For one, it’s absolutely gorgeous. There are plants everywhere; up along the ceiling on the shelves, by the huge glass storefront, in the corners, on the bar, all over the place. The distressed walls are painted in a soft sage green, too, giving the overall illusion of a secret garden come to life in downtown Montreal. The food is designed to match, equally artful and light looking. We had the salmon gravlax over brioche with goat cheese, avocado and beets.
Montreal is known for it’s bagels. Much softer, much sweeter, and also much smaller than our famous New York bagel, Beauty’s Luncheonette’s menu is mostly based around this admittedly very good little staple.
St Viateur Bagel
Immediately following our bagels at Beauty’s, we bashfully walked into St Viateur Bagel and stared. After sufficient ogling on our part, the kind man manning the ovens cranking these incredible smelling things grabbed two piping hot sesame (the bagel staple of Montreal), put them in a brown to go bag, and sent us on our merry way.
Le Vin Papillon
We learned that in Montreal there are two types of bar licenses; the one where you can just have drinks, and the one where you have to have a bit of food with your cocktail. The latter is the way at wine bar gone highly respected food locale Le Vin Papillon, and we were so incredibly happy that it was. We had about an hour before our dinner reservation at sister spot Nora Gray, and so wanted to eat well, but eat light. Recommended to us by Max the bartender was the famous carrot eclair and the simple but delicious artichoke hearts with shaved parmesan and olive oil. We liked all of these things, Max the bartender included.
Feeling like a swanky house party in the Boogie Nights day and age, Nora Gray delivers on so many fronts. While maybe not quite as wild the image this sentence conjures up, you will get the dimly lit corners, the funky music, and an array of very friendly people at all turns. The food is set to match, too- there’s poached lobster, a couple of exceptional pastas, and a first-rate burrata situation you won’t want to miss.
Olive et Gourmando
You know how everyone says “Oh, Montreal! It feels so European!” While a large portion of Montreal really does feel this way, Old City is where it’s most apparent. While you’re wandering this area, and you definitely should, make sure Olive et Gourmando is one of your stops along the way.
La Diperie does it differently. There’s one flavor of soft serve ice cream; vanilla. On top of that you pick a Belgian chocolate “dip” which acts as a base coat; choose from options like dark chocolate, green tea, apple pie, gingerbread, cinnamon and lemon poppyseed. Next up are the toppings; sprinkles, pretzels, oreos, pistachios, coconut, you name it. Just point, and watch your creation come to life.
Dispatch is in Mile Ex, one of those now coined “up and coming” areas that already has a palpable cool vibe very much running through its veins. While the area is mostly desolate still, there are certainly a few spotted staple spots already spread throughout. Dispatch Coffee and neighboring Manitoba Restaurant are some right at the center of the Mile Ex expansion.