The duo behind Montreal’s decadent Joe Beef reveal the best places to eat, shop and ski on a holiday-season visit to their city.
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Co-chefs David McMillan and Frédéric Morin (left).

Best Shopping Street: Sainte-Catherine Street

There’s nothing like that day when you decide to get a babysitter and go out with your wife to do the holiday shopping on Sainte-Catherine Street. Hopefully, it’s gray out; hopefully, there’s a light snow; and hopefully, when you’re done shopping, you can have lunch at L’Express (below).

Household Gifts: The Bay

It’s one of Canada’s oldest retail stores, and it was founded back in the fur-trading days along Hudson Bay. Today it’s a chain owned by an American company, but it’s cool because alongside ordinary kitchen goods like a hand blender, they still sell traditional items like the Hudson Bay blanket, a virgin-wool blanket with colored stripes on a cream background.

Outdoorsy Superstore: Canadian Tire

We think they started off doing oil and tire changes, but today they sell everything. All the cool things, like hunting gear, camping, hockey, gardening, cross-country skis, axes, chain saws, seeds, flowers. And most of it is inexpensive. We always bring American friends to Canadian Tire and they can’t believe it doesn’t exist in the US.

Iconic Bistro: L’Express

We love L’Express 52 weeks a year. It’s the greatest restaurant in the world. In the three weeks before Christmas, there’s a funny vibe there, like people are trying to drink up the good stuff because they know they’ll be drinking the light stuff at the holidays. But it’s one of the jewels in Montreal’s crown. It’s a classic French bistro—Balthazar was copied from L’Express, according to their admission to us several times.

Iconic Indulgent Meal: Au Pied de Cochon

You’d be nuts to miss Martin Picard’s Au Pied de Cochon. It’s one of those restaurants that shines most in winter, when you can pull off eating that way. Wake up early and walk all over the city: up the mountain (Mont Royal, which gave Montreal it’s name), down Park Avenue, through Chinatown, through Old Montreal, but don’t eat anything. Then go to Au Pied de Cochon. The duck in a can is crazy, and so is the boudin tart. Just tell your waiter, “I want to eat three or four Au Pied de Cochon classics.”

Elegant Dinner: Maison Boulud

Daniel Boulud just opened Maison Boulud in the new Montreal Ritz, and we could totally see that place being magical during the holidays.

Best Ingredient Shopping: Montreal Public Markets

Around the holidays the Jean-Talon and Atwater farmers’ markets are where people pull out the biggest vegetables, the imported Italian foods, the truffles, the lobes of foie gras, and the ambiance is fun.

Nearby Ski Trip: Mont Saint-Sauveur

Within 40 minutes of Montreal there are 10 great ski hills; we like to go Alpine skiing or cross-country skiing. The closest resort to Montreal is Mont Saint-Sauveur, and they have night skiing, which is supercool.

Holiday Break: Le Château Montebello

About an hour and a half outside Montreal, this Fairmont hotel used to be a private lodge. It’s so beautiful and whimsical in the winter, it’s got a gigantic flagstone fireplace in the middle of the lobby that’s open on five or six sides. They also have little cottages in the forest you can rent.

    By Frédéric Morin and David McMillan