“I cannot go to Montreal without stopping at Beauty’s, my favorite place for breakfast,” says F&W’s Gail Simmons, who travels to the Canadian city to visit family. At Beauty’s, Simmons likes to get an over-the-top omelet called the Mish-Mash. Here, she shares more insider’s picks like a gastropub with a Southern twist and a heavenly cookbook store.

By Alex Vallis
Updated March 31, 2015

In this Article


Joe Beef
Photo courtesy of Joe Beef / Alain Lefort.

Go-To: Joe Beef

David McMillan and Frédéric Morin are ambassadors of French-Canadian cuisine, and every time I eat at Joe Beef, it’s new and exciting. There’s always a young, loud and lively scene, and in the summer, I love sitting in their back garden, among the eggplants and tomatoes. McMillan and co-chef Morin change the menu often, fusing their zeal for local ingredients with an unbounded passion for foie gras, game meats, cheese and wine. joebeef.ca

Local Bistro: La Salle à Manger

At this Quebecois bistro, classic French food gets a modern, creative twist, like crispy fried frog’s legs with chipotle mayo and poached foie gras torchon with gnocchi, brown butter, sage and lemon. The food is so fresh and always seasonal, earthy and satisfying. Plus: Almost everything is made in-house—from pastas and bread to the cured sausages hanging in the glass meat locker. lasalleamanger.ca

Over-the-Top Breakfast: Beauty’s

I cannot go to Montreal without going to Beauty’s, my favorite place for breakfast, where I have the Mish-Mash omelet with hot dogs, salami, eggs, green peppers, and onions, and the best banana bread in the world. It’s legendary! beautys.ca

Super Classic: Schwartz’s

No trip to Montreal is complete without a trip to Schwartz’s 100-year-old deli. I have the classic smoked meat (medium lean), French fries, pickles and a diet cherry cola. And I always get a few kernutzel (Jewish beef pepperoni sticks, a Montreal specialty) to take home with me. schwartzsdeli.com

Gastropub: Le Chien Fumant

This place is small and very cool, serving hearty fare with an eclectic, often Southern twist, like glazed Chinese-style pork with collard greens and fried polenta. For fun, the bartender has been known to muddle cocktails with the baseball bat hanging above the bar. lechienfumant.com

Brooklyn North: Lawrence

For quirky brunch/lunch and dinner in the Mile End area, this corner spot is a hangout for local hipsters and has a following among the restaurant industry set for its ambitious, creative food. In the morning they have ultrabuttery baked eggs with celery root and bubble and squeak—mashed potatoes fried with tangy cabbage like an extrarustic hash brown. At night, they serve interesting dishes like cauliflower agnolotti and grilled ox heart. lawrencerestaurant.com

Middle Eastern Fix: Damas

An outstanding Syrian restaurant in the Mile End neighborhood, Damas has a warm atmosphere with embroidered pillows and beaded hanging lamps. The menu is full of sharable meze like warm hummus with spicy lamb and pistachios, plus flavorful grilled dishes. For dessert, try their sweet cheese-and-semolina dough bundles stuffed with cream and covered in orange flower syrup. restaurant-damas.com

Vintage Diner: Nouveau Palais

What was a 70-year-old run-down diner is now revised, maintaining many of its old-school details like vintage booths. The food is simple but top quality, and great for kids too. Try the Lumberjack sandwich (made with pancakes instead of bread, fried eggs, cheese and bacon), a perfect egg salad sandwich, or their delicious matzo ball soup. nouveaupalais.com

Gail’s Montreal Shopping Picks

Les Touilleurs

The most beautiful kitchen store ever is on Laurier Street in the Plateau area. The products are so unique, with everything you could want as a cook, plus lots of well-curated tools by local artisans. lestouilleurs.com

Appetite for Books

This is a heavenly cookbook store where I could waste away a week if I was allowed. It also has a kitchen for classes and private events. appetitebooks.ca