Thanks so much for all the recs; we had a blast on our trip to Montreal! Bagels + smoked meats + boat spa = a VERY good time, and we’ve rounded up a few highlights below.
We stayed in an apartment sandwiched between La Petite-Patrie and Mile End, two vibrant neighborhoods with lots to offer including bars, cafes, restaurants, and the amazing Marche Jean Talon, a bustling public market founded in the 1930’s and still going strong today (think Pike Place, but more chic).
Vin Mon Lapin - natural wine with hyper-local + seasonable small plates… Which we know sounds very Portland, but it was so tasty.
Elena - very cute + hip Italian spot with pizza, pasta, and beautiful salads, plus a fun Italian wine list.
Pumpui - authentically delicious Thai with take-out options, but we loved sitting at the outdoor tables watching the world go by.
Kazu - amazing Japanese food, but get in line early because this place is ALWAYS busy.
Wolf & Workman - a very British pub in a cool old building with a lovely patio. Two words: Scotch Egg.
Pizzeria No. 900 - classic Neapolitan pies with multiple locations. We’re pizza freaks and this stuff was delicious!
Rent a bike! - Over and over again, we found biking to be as fast as taking a cab, and the city is really built for it. There are many, many protected bike lanes, and rentable Bixi Bikes are EVERYWHERE, making Montreal a total biker’s paradise.
Rent a boat! - We loved wandering around the canal district, and one day we decided to have an impromptu picnic on the water. It was a treat to cruise around on a boat eating sandwiches and drinking wine, and really gave us that “are we still in N America?” vibe in the best way.
Visit the Jardin Botanique de Montréal - Who doesn’t love a botanical garden?! This one felt especially cool, because alongside the expected formal European-style gardens, it includes a First Nations section dedicated to the area's native flora (and it felt a lot like Oregon). Very cool to see.
Take a spa day on the river! - BOTA BOTA is a decommissioned ferry sitting in the St. Lawrence River that has been converted into a 3 story spa. A bit unusual?? Sure, but also a very fun and relaxing way to spend a few hours after wandering and biking around an unfamiliar city for days. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
Mont Royal Park - This is an incredible park in the city with really wonderful paths and hiking trails that you can take to the top of the mountain and get an incredible view of the entire city.
Museums - Montreal’s art museums are great too, and we recommend checking out both the Musee des Beaux Arts and the Canadian Center for Architecture.
MORE FOOD STUFF
Marconi - Former Au Pied de Cochon chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly and his American partner Molly Superfine-Rivera opened this spot in Little Italy a few years ago and it is still one of the best bites in the neighborhood. Thought-provoking tweaks to familiar dishes and unparalleled ingredients equates to one of the most enjoyable dining experiences in town.
L'Express - A beloved institution since opening in 1980, L’Express is truly transporting. Unfussy, chic, and absolutely delicious, it’s the Parisian bistrot of your dreams, and there’s almost nothing better than passing the time with an order of rillettes and a glass of bubbles.
Montreal Bagels - boiled in honeyed water, baked in wood fired ovens, and smaller and more dense than their NYC counterparts– are one of the great culinary treasures of North America. There are two famous bakeries (within walking distance of one another!) so it’s easy to compare and contrast the subtle differences between those from Fairmount Bagel with those from St. Viateur.
Drogheria Fine - Near Fairmount bagel is a tiny storefront called Drogheria Fine that, hear us out, just sells one thing: jars of homemade tomato sauce. Well, they also sell one single prepared item to go, homemade gnocchi cooked in that same tomato sauce and served in a Chinese-style take-out box, but the gnocchi really only exists to sell the sauce. It truly is all about the sauce, which is the kind of charmingly odd obsession we can get behind, especially when the result is this delicious.
Schwartz’s Deli - Schwartz’s appears on literally every list about food Montreal, and rightly so. Like Katz’s in NYC or Langer’s in Los Angeles, this temple to smoked meats has become a beloved institution, and no visit to Montreal is complete without a medium-fat sandwich slathered in mustard with coleslaw, fries, and a pickle on the side.
Established in 1933, the Marche Jean Talon is one of the largest open air markets in North America. Overflowing with local produce, meats, cheeses, and complete with an outdoor oyster bar (!) it’s one of our favorite places to visit whenever we’re in town.
Also founded in 1933, but on Montreal’s west side, Atwater Market is another famous market hall bursting with all manner of foodstuff. There are butchers, cheese and wine shops, fishmongers, and bakeries selling all sorts of local and imported foods.