Alright folks, no frills, no spills. Let’s cut straight to the chase:
LEMEAC (1045 rue Laurier Ouest; http://www.restaurantlemeac.com/fr-CA/Menus.aspx?CatID=13) – This is an excellent “special occasion” place, but it’s pretty fancy so don’t show up in jeans! It’s not really affordable on the grad student budget UNLESS you come after 10pm, in which case you can get an appetizer and main course with all the fanciness for $24.
L’ATELIER (5308 Boul St. Laurent) – Save your pennies, kids! This place is pricey, but so, so worth it. There are lots of places that I have been to that serve really great, fresh, original food, but L’atelier gets my vote because it’s small and intimiate, and the service is good. I have tried several things off the menu and haven’t been dissapointed once, but the pig cheek (I know, right?!) is spectacular, and so is the chocolate cake.
L’ACADEMIE (4051 St. Denis; http://www.lacademie.ca/) – All the fancy food, without the fancy price. The concept of this restaurant is that they hire Academy trained chefs that still need experience before being placed at 4 or 5-star restaurants. So, you get really great food, a great atmosphere, and it’s all affordable. Best part: bring your own wine! Try the gnocchi and the curried mussels with fries, but you can’t go wrong no matter what you order.
VIEUX PORT STEAKHOUSE (39 Saint-Paul Street East) – Sure, go to this beautiful Old Port resto for the steak. But even better, go there for the decadent Sunday brunch! What better way to start a Sunday than with the massive spread of lovely light and scrumptous foods they serve up, followed by a walk around the harbour and Old Montreal? Win!
COCO RICO (3907, boulevard Saint-Laurent) – For those on a tight budget, this is the place to get the best, “get down, get down” tasty birds. NO ONE makes fall-off-the-bone, crispy skinned, perfectly seasoned Portuguese chicken like this place. One fellow even wrote in his blog that he poked his girlfriend in the hand with his fork to get the last piece. And the potatoes will melt in your mouth. You get the point. It has a reputation and is quite acclaimed, so expect a bustling atmosphere and poor service.
LA PARYSE (302 Rue Ontario Est) – I know there’s a line, but wait! It moves fast, and dear heaven, the burgers and home-made milkshakes are good! The tables are equipped with crayons and paper, so feel free to scribble a game of tic-tac-toe or your best “from-memory” sketch of a three-toed sloth while you wait for your order.
PATISSERIE DE GASCOGNE (237 Avenue Laurier Ouest; http://www.degascogne.com/) – This place is a traditional-style bakery, and you can purchase a lot of things here, such as soups and sandwiches. But that’s all just a bonus, because hands down, it’s the best place I’ve found for croissants in the city. Their creme d’almond croissant takes the prize. Get there before 10am, and you’ll get them while they’re hot!
BEAUBIEN BAGELS (828A Avenue Beaubien Est) – Montreal bagels are just better. And you can get them at a variety of places, but I like this place best (even though it is a bit of a hike, but right off the Beaubien metro station!) because of the friendly service. Best of all, they’ll give you a tour and a five minute demonstration of how bagels are made. Sooo neat!
AUX VIVRES (4631 Boulevard Saint Larent) – If you believe in positive energy…this place has good vibes in excess! The menu is totally vegan, and they do a great job with fresh, healthy, and creative food. If you like this place, also try Lola Rosa (close to campus [545 rue Milton] , all vegetarian)
ROCKABERRY (4275 St Denis; http://www.rockaberry.ca/) – Just the pies. Don’t go for anything else. They’re worth it. It’ll be busy, but whatever you try will be amazing. Keylime will blow. your. mind.
JULIETTE ET CHOCOLAT (377, av Laurier O; http://www.julietteetchocolat.com/chocolat.php?lang=en) – For those with a sweet tooth (or several), this is the place for you. Even from outside, you are drawn in by the mouthwatering aroma of their famous, home made, creamiest milk chocolate hot cocoa. Try something with their salty caramel, such as the trifle (my personal favorite), this is quite possibly the substance that I crave most regularly. There is one on St. Denis, but it is very tourist-y and there is always a wait. Whichever location you go, the treats will be worth it, and the service will be terrible.