Montreal for Foodies
French-influenced culinary scene north of the border.
A European ambience mixed with modern skyscrapers and a French accent make Montreal a romantic place to rendezvous. The city’s culinary scene has also expanded, meaning that you can still canoodle over classic French fare but also order more experimental dishes, making it a delightful sojourn for food lovers.
1 Le Marche Atwater
Close to the bike paths along the Lachine Canal, Le Marche Atwater pieces together a farmersâ€™ market atmosphere from a mix of pastry shops, chocolatiers, and flower stalls. Built in 1933 and designed by father and son Ludger and Paul Lemieux, the Art Deco-style market was a government economic-stimulus project during the Great Depression. Atwaterâ€™s outdoor plant, fruit, and vegetable stands lead indoors to wine shops and bakeries. Grab-and-go options include blueberry juice from Alma Fruits Distribution, steamed pork buns at Satay Brothers, and sweet and sour cashews from Les Noix du MarchÃ©.
2 Le Marche Jean-Talon
Once you have the gourmet accoutrements from the Les Touilleurs kitchenware store, cab it up to Little Italy and this enormous food market, which is the cityâ€™s culinary epicenter. Here, you can stop by the William J. Walter boucherie forâ€”count â€˜emâ€”more than 50 kinds of sausage; at La Fromagerie Hamel you can sample from dozens of raw-milk, unpasteurized cheeses that you wonâ€™t find stateside. Before you leave, pick up a packageâ€”or three!â€”of sugary, leaf-shaped bonbons dâ€™Ã©rable (maple candy) at the farmersâ€™ stalls in the center of the market.
3 Chez L'Ã‰picier
For eight years, chef Laurent Godbout has been putting a delicious spin on classics (try his pan-seared sea bass with squid-ink risotto, scallops, and a chorizo cream sauce) in this Old Montreal dining roomâ€”and he hasnâ€™t missed a beat yet. The tables are draped in white linens, but the vibe is delightfully unpretentious, aided by the attached lâ€™Ã©picerie (grocery store), which stocks local gourmet products. Pick up a souvenir jar of artisanal olive oil or Godboutâ€™s own maple vinegar on your way out.
4 Place d'Armes HÃ´tel & Suites
Consisting of three combined 19th-century office towers, the hotel features boutique-style rooms that mix historic details from the buildingsâ€™ past (soaring columns, exposed bricks, arched windows) with sleek, contemporary interiors. The rooftop bar, Aix la Terrasse, is one of the cityâ€™s hottest nightspots. But Le Place dâ€™Armes is more about substance than style. The in-room amenities are plentiful, including gas fireplaces, LCD-screen televisions, Aeron-style desk chairs, and bathrooms that have rain showers and oversize Jacuzzi baths. Add to that a spot-on team manning the concierge and front desks, and you have a remarkably well rounded hotel.
Room to Book: Though they have an unmistakable air of masculinity (gunmetal-gray carpeting and black wood furniture), the Deluxe Suites are worth the $150 upgrade for the extra sitting area and enormous bathrooms. We like those in the old Scottish Life building, which are a bit more intimate than those in the Banque du Peuple and Alexander Cross buildings next door. Beware of rooms ending in -17 on the eighth floor of the Scottish Life building; they sit next to the Aix la Terrasse entrance, which can be loud on weekend nights.
Â Doubles From $218, including breakfast and wine-and-cheese cocktails.
5 Maisonneuve Market
Designed by Marius Dufresne and completed in 1914, the five-story Maisonneuve Market is located in its namesake district. Although historically a daily market,Â from the 1960s to 1995 there was a police office and cultural center in the Beaux-Arts building. The large plaza in front has a fountain and Canadian artist Alfred LalibertÃ©'s statue, La FermiÃ¨re. The bronze figure is a 17th-century farmer, alluding to the areaâ€™s long history as a market. Vendors range from grocery to gourmet, like the Fromagerie Maisonneuve cheese stand, Boulangerie PremiÃ¨re Moisson bakery, and Aux ChampÃªtreries, which sells Quebec-made products.