Mark Twain referred to Montreal as a city “where you couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window.” These days, that brick would hit a terrific place to eat. With so many intersecting culinary cultures — French, English, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Irish, and more — and an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients, Montreal is the ultimate food lovers’ town.
Start your day at Le Gros Jambon, a retro diner at the edge of the Old Port district where it’s hard to resist the fist-sized glazed doughnuts. Comfort food is the overarching theme here with several varieties of “macaroni au fromage,” hot dogs, lobster rolls, and burgers with foie gras. ($7-$18, 286 Notre-Dame West, 514-508-3872, www.legrosjambon.com)
Have it your way at Poutine-ville where they serve this classic dish (french fries topped with cheese curd and brown gravy) with a seemingly endless variety of add-ons and sauces including mushrooms, grilled zucchini, braised beef, three-pepper sauce and, yes, corn dogs. ($7-$16, 1365 Ontario East, 514-419-5444, www.poutineville.com)
Sometimes the hype is right. At the acclaimed Joe Beef the focus is on Canadian food made with local ingredients served in a casual, welcoming, boisterous environment. If you can’t get a reservation, try to squeeze in next door at sister restaurant Liverpool House. ($31-$50, 2491 Notre Dame West, 514-935-6504, www.joebeef.ca)
Located in the exhibition level of the the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Bistro Le Contemporain serves experimental dishes that sound precious but are surprisingly tasty. After gobbling low-temperature trout confit with herb sponge cake, yogurt, and mujjol caviar, one diner commented: “It may be the best thing I’ve ever eaten, and I eat all the time.” ($15-$25, 185 Sainte-Catherine West, 514-847-6900, www.macm.org/en/general-information/restaurant)