Québec is renowned for its regional foods from le terroir (“the region”). Everything from foie gras toorganic vegetablesis available dans la belle province. Happily, fresh local fare is easy to find at bustling farmers’ markets. Also, there are superb restaurants (more than 5,500 in Montréal alone). I will mention a few of the best restaurants later. Tip: Don’t be concerned if you don’t speak French – my husband Eric and I have lived here 25 years and aren’t fluently bilingual! A smile bridges language challenges and many residents speak English.
Eric’s and my favourite foodie hangouts are Montréal’s vibrant farmers’ markets.
Dating from 1933, this is North America’s largest open-air market during June through October. We love it because of Marché des Saveurs du Québec which sells Québec products. Find maple-wood smoked venison, maple products (Québec is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world), tourtière (meat pies), blueberry and other preserves plus much, much more.
Tip: Maison des Vins & Boissons artisanales du Québec presents liqueurs, microbrewery beers, wine and cider made in Québec. Don’t miss tasting ice cider.
Ice cider is produced from apples which freeze on the trees prior to harvesting and processing. Freezing concentrates the sugars, hence, these ciders are velvety and flavourful. Look for Neige Cidre de Glace (Snow Ice Cider) – our all-time favourite. It is made at La Face Cachée de la Pomme, an orchard found just south of Montréal , in the beautiful, rural Montérégie region.
Atwater, also founded in 1933, is in an historic Art Deco building. Here sample some of Québec’s gold-medal artisanal cheeses, breads, and meats which include dried sausages, smoked fish, and duck confit.
If you’re a cheese aficionado, visit Fromagerie Atwater, an Old-World-style cheese shop. Try Cendrillon, a goat cheese covered in black ash. Equally delicious, Pied de Vent (foot of the wind) is made in Îles-de-la-Madeleine, a windswept archipelago in Québec northof Prince Edward Island. Made from “Canadienne” cows (a rare breed), it’s a truly Canadian cheese!
Tip: Take your camera. Atwater has the largest flower selection in the city so the colours are mesmerizing.
First Nations Gardens at Montréal’s Botanical Gardens
On the less-known foodie path, visit Montréal’s Botanical Gardens (Espace pour la vie) where you can visit the unusual First Nations Garden. Learn how Canada’s native peoples grew the three sisters (corn, beans, squash), and discover medicinal, culturally significant (spiritual), and other food plants such as cedar, hazelnut, maidenhair fern, and lingonberry.
Best restaurants in Montreal
Here are our top picks of the best restaurants in Montréal.
Au pied de cochon
A local hangout for Québec’s heart-stopping indulgence, poutine (poo-teen). What’s that? Take hand-cut French fried potatoes. Put melted cheese curds on top. Pour on homemade gravy. Delicious. Au pied de cochon offers sinfully extravagantfoie-gras poutine. Try it.
Les Filles du Roy at Maison Pierre du Calvet
Perhaps the most historic old inn (1725) in the Montréal’s Old Port houses what we believe is the most romantic restaurant. Choosele terroir gastronomic menu. We first tasted organic lamb from Québec’s Charlevoix region here; it’s particularly tasty because the animals graze on grass that’s salt-enriched, because of the sea breezes from “la mer.” That’s what the Québecois call the St. Lawrence River, whose waters are salty here, where that mighty river widens to eventually join the Atlantic.
Even more upscale, Montréal boasts twoRelais & Châteaux tables: Europea and also, Toqué. At Toqué, discover why co-owner, chef Normand Laprise is considered the pioneer of new Québec cuisine – for which he was appointed a Knight – the highest honour the Québec gives to anyone.
These ideas only touch the surface of fine cuisine and good eats in Montréal… We’ve not mentioned, for instance, the bring your own wine restaurants, the experimental FoodLab, which changes its cuisine monthly…
Foodie events abound here, too: for a complete list of culinary events, workshops and more, visit Montréal Culinary Events and Tours.
Did you know Hugh Jackman’s favourite pie shop is in Montreal?
When in Quebec, it’s worth visiting Quebec City, which is around 250km from Montreal. Read about best restaurants and other things to do in Quebec City.
For more things to do in Canada see Best of Canada.
If you’re looking for Canada’s best natural wonder. Read this.
Gananoque Canada is the gateway to the 1000 islands.
Read this story about a honey farm in British Columbia, Canada.