Montreal Eating and Drinking Guide

montreal food and drinkMontreal is a culinary mecca, with a wide variety of food options ranging from diners and fast foods to low-cost ethnic restaurants to "haute cuisine". The city was even considered as one of the best dining cities in North America apart from San Francisco and New York.

Meanwhile, the legal drinking age in the city is 18, but it is not strictly enforced.

Here is your guide in eating and drinking in Montreal.

Jewish-inspired cuisine – The city’s large local Jewish population has contributed local specialties, which includes smoked meat sandwiches, crusty bagels, even an "all-dressed" pizza (with only pepperoni, mushrooms, and green peppers on top), and split pea soup.

Poutine – No visit in Montreal is complete with at least one plateful of poutine, a unique dish consisting of French fries drowned in gravy and topped with curds of white cheddar. Other variations include adding chicken, beef, vegetables, or sausage, or replacing the gravy with tomato sauce (called poutine italienne).

Bring your own wine – Most restaurants in Montreal allow you to bring your own wine. Just check for the "apportez votre vin" sign in the window. It actually saves you a lot of money. However, if you brought wine in, you are not allowed to buy one there; conversely, if the restaurant is licensed to sell wine, you can’t bring your own. You can also bring beer instead of wine, but you need to ask first.

Separate or together? – Separate bills or "addition"-where the waiter provides separate bills for each diner in the group-are common in Montreal. Before ordering, you may be asked "ensemble ou séparément?" (together or separately?).

How much to tip – Service charges are not included in the bill, so tipping is very much practiced here. The standard tip is roughly 15%.

Never call a waiter "garçon" – It’s a insult to wait staff when you call them "boy" or "lowly-ranked". When addressing waiters, call them by either "monsieur" or "mademoiselle".

Buy wine, not beer – Wine is part of Montreal culture, and wine shops are almost everywhere. When planning to have a dinner party, or simply a drinking spree, wine is much more recommended than beer (which is available in convenience stores and groceries). The latter is often of poor quality, and you need to check the brewery name for good quality beer (like McAuslan and Unibroue).

Go bar hopping – Montreal has three main bar strips: the trendy and expensive Rue Crescent, which caters to tourists and English speakers; Boulevard Saint-Laurent, which mostly have French-speaking clientele; and relatively downscale and linguistically mixed Rue Saint-Denis. However, there are also good bars away from these streets, so if there’s a line forming in a certain bar, simply look for a another.

Gay-friendly – The city has many gay and lesbian bars much like San Francisco. In fact, every Canadian Thanksgiving (or Columbus Day in the United States) has a "Black and Blue" circuit party, which attracts thousands of clubbers and shirtless men. Most popular gay clubs can be found in the Gay Village, located on the eastern stretch of Sainte-Catherine and easily accessible by the Beaudry metro.

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