Le Vieux Velo
Locals trek from across town to this brunch spot, which is close to a Metro stop (Beaubien) and makes for a good jumping-off point for a day in Petite-Patrie. The coffee and food are unfailingly good, including a few addictive variations on eggs Benedict. Nothing about Vieux Velo is a throwback: It’s run by, and for, the city’s 20- and 30-somethings.
BTW: Expect to wait in line on weekends, but it’s not so bad to people-watch on Beaubien Street with a coffee or kill time at Ex-Voto, the excellent boutique around the corner on Saint-Laurent.
59 Rue Beaubien E, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2S 1R1
This bakery is a dream for gluten-eaters, with dozens of sweet and savory croissants, loaves, cupcakes, brioches, galettes, fougasses and more delights that you’ve never even heard of. Guillaume invents its own flavor combinations, and you’ll appreciate that time waiting in line to pick what you want. Stop here while wandering around Mile End, the neighborhood just north of the Plateau.
BTW: There’s no indoor seating, but a courtyard next door is meant for (warm-weather) Guillaume clients and is especially popular with kids.
5134 Blvd. Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2T 1R8
The only time you’re likely to get a last-minute reservation at L’Express is for lunch — and why not go when it’s a bit quieter, anyway, for an old-fashioned, midday steak-frites? Most visitors to Montreal want a French bistro experience. When residents feel the same way (which is often enough), L’Express is their top choice. Not touristy, it offers good food, strong service and black-and-white tile to remind you that this is still New France.
BTW: Partly because of those beautiful tiles, L’Express can be very loud at peak times. It’s not a great choice for anyone who is hard of hearing.
3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2W 2M4
Ever heard of poutine? If fries, gravy and semi-melted cheese curds don’t sound delicious to you, you probably shouldn’t be in Montreal at all. (Kidding.) Luckily, at Patati-Patata, you can sample the classic dish, stick with a traditional burger or even opt for the homemade tofu burger. This sunny, microscopic hole-in-the-wall where the tables can’t seat more than three has fed generations of young Plateau-dwellers, and it makes everyone feel welcome.
BTW: Order the burger assiette (plate) with half salad, half fries, then ask to convert the fries to poutine. You can also get pitchers of beer.
4177 Blvd. Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2W 1Y7
This upscale restaurant in the neighborhood of Outremont has been voted “best in Montreal” many times, and for good reason: The food is unforgettable. Syrian cuisine is hard to find even in some of the continent’s biggest cities, so the flavors are sure to be new to many visitors; think closer to Turkish, with complex sauces and unusual spices, than Lebanese.
BTW: The local Syrian community has been settled in Montreal for more than a century, growing out of long ties between Syria and France. But the thousands of Syrian refugees who have recently resettled in Canada have sparked a new appreciation of Syrian food.
1201 Ave. Van Horne, Outremont, Quebec, Canada H2V 1K4
This Little Italy pizzeria has a tiny interior, but the popular spot’s row of picnic tables along Saint-Dominique Street saves the day for local families. The takeout window is also inundated with foot traffic for those who choose quick-service and head to one of the many parks nearby with their own tables. The thin-crust pizzas are very good, and there are salad options, a wine list and frozen custard, too.
BTW: People wondering about the name: It’s an initialism made up of the first letters of the names of the owner’s four children.
6827 Rue Saint-Dominique, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2S 3B1
Dominion Square Tavern
It can be hard to find places downtown that have as much character as those in farther-flung neighborhoods. But if you want to stay close to Sainte-Catherine or want a break after a day of museums, the Dominion Square Tavern (founded in 1927) is the place. The interior was renovated recently into a beautiful, cozy brasserie, but it retained a lot of original features. The sensation is one of stepping into another era.
BTW: Despite the elegant visuals, the drinks are average prices. It’s perfect for a 5-à-7, as Montrealers call happy hour, or a nighttime drink.
1243 Rue Metcalfe, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3B 2V5
Vices & Versa
Plan to end up north of downtown one night so you can hang out amid a cross-section of Montrealers at this long-established bar. Francophones, Anglophones, old and young all consider Vices & Versa their local favorite, which can be quite a feat in this city of overlapping languages and identities. This is mostly a beer bar, with a mammoth list of regional options.
BTW: With its three interior rooms, it’s rare to wait for a table here. There’s also a courtyard out back. The bar stretches patio season as long as possible with heat lamps.
6631 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2S 3C5