Top 25 Montreal restaurants

Salle Climatisée

The Top 25 Restaurants in Montreal Right Now

An evolving list reflecting what we’re into and where we think you’re guaranteed to get a good meal.

Below is a list of the Top 25 Restaurants in Montreal Right Now, an evolving selection of places we love to eat at. It’s by no means definitive, it’s just a reflection of what we’re into at the moment and where we think you’re guaranteed to get a good meal.

The Top 25 Restaurants in Montreal Right Now

1. Salle Climatisée

Montreal’s undisputed coolest restaurant is somehow also the home of the most classic and restrained take on the new wave of French fare. Helmed by a trio of Maison Publique alumni, the food is unequivocally simple and lets the rock-solid cooking and superb ingredients do the heavy-lifting. Think perfectly poached char with squash, leeks vinaigrette with two sauces or a beautifully browned cabbage “millefeuille” — all cooked impossibly well. (6448 St-Laurent)

2. Beba

Brothers Ari and Pablo Schor’s exceptional Argentinian restaurant in the heart of Verdun. Far from a South American steakhouse, Beba’s menu is representative of the food the brothers grew up eating: a mix of Spanish and Italian-influenced fare. Uncomplicated and honest cooking mingles with a cleverly composed wine list in a small and intimate setting. Easily one of the best tables in the city. (3900 Éthel)

3. Mon Lapin

Marc Olivier Frappier and Vanya Filipovic’s Little Italy eatery has been one of the most celebrated restaurants in town since opening back in 2018. Having doubled the size of the dining room in 2020, Mon Lapin is more accessible than ever before. The food here is a poetic mixture of French and Italian cooking penned in Frappier’s unmistakable and ingenious style. As the undisputed queen of natural wine, Filipovic’s list is expertly curated and chock-full of classics and quaffable curiosities. (150 St-Zotique E.)

4. Bar St. Denis

Having taken over the space formerly home to a dive bar of the same name, Bar St. Denis is one of Montreal’s most underrated restaurants. Owned and operated by Au Pied de Cochon alumni Emily Homsy and David Gauthier, Bar St. Denis is best known for its stunning ceiling, solid beverage program and menu of subtly esoteric yet utterly delicious dishes. (6966 St-Denis)

5. Pichai

The Thai curry shop in Little Italy, owned and operated by Jesse Mulder, Jesse Massumi and Xavier Cloutier-Guerard, is a sit-down counterpart of Épicerie Pumpui. Opened mid-pandemic, the trio added a new chef (and third Jesse) to the mix in Jesse Grasso (former of Vin Papillon and Toronto’s Black Hoof). Grasso’s menu is a mixture of Isaan (Northern Thai) staples and thoughtful riffs on traditional Thai dishes that blend local produce with imported Thai ingredients. The food is fragrant, unapologetically spicy and damn delicious. (5985 St-Hubert)

6. Patate Malette

On Montreal’s south-shore in the far-west enclave on Beauharnois is one of the city’s best-kept câsse-croûte secrets. Open since 1956, this family-run snack bar has been serving pitch-perfect hot-dogs, burgers, and poutines for over 65 years. While all the staples are excellent, Malette’s claim to fame is it’s poutine which features handcut fries and squeaky curds bathed in a dark brown gravy administered directly from a stainless steel kettle. (41 St-Laurent, Beauharnois)

7. Schwartz’s

Probably the world’s most famous smoked meat joint and a tourist destination in its own right. Perennial line-ups, surly staff and cramped seating are considered part of its charm. Repeat after me: Medium-fat, with mustard and a half-sour. (3895 St-Laurent)

8. Gia

The latest restaurant from the people behind Elena (and Nora Gray, before that). Following in the group’s matriarchal naming practice, Gia is a reference to Italian winemaker Giovanna Borsa of Tuscany’s Pacina. This time ‘round, chef Janice Tiefenbach is trading in pizzas for charcoal-grilled arrosticini — small skewers of lamb, beef or whatever bits of delicious meats are sent over from local butcher Phil Viens. Smokey, flavourful and altogether delicious, the bounty of Gia’s grill is best enjoyed with a glass of something good from the restaurant’s instantly iconic “wine island.”  (1025 Lenoir)

9. Chalet Bar-B-Q

An alpine-kitsch rotisserie chicken institution in NDG since 1944. Entirely unironic and without an ounce of pretension, this ski-chalet-themed restaurant is beloved throughout the city for its smokey, spit-roasted birds (sold by the piece or as complete dinners) and for its Chalet Bar-B-Q sauce, a proprietary spiced brown gravy that is without equal. (5456 Sherbrooke W.)

10. J’ai Feng

Part Chinese grocery, part take-out counter, J’ai Feng is a newly minted Chinese staple by way of celebrated culinary personality Anita Feng. Feng’s cooking has introduced an increasingly open-minded clientele to a new variety of homestyle Chinese cooking. An excellent resource for top-quality and hard-to-find Chinese ingredients, but its biggest draw is whatever’s on the lunch menu that day. (43 Beaubien E.)

11. Hélicoptère

Opened in June 2018, Hélicoptère remains one of the best arguments for making the trek out to Hochelaga. Run by partners David Ollu, Natacha Lehmann and Youri Boussièrs Fournel, all formerly of Bouillon Bilk, Hélicoptère’s compact, vegetable-focused menu is always exceptional. Though undoubtebdly more casual than the ultra-finessed Bouillon Bilk, it packs the same expert sensibilities and masterful technique, just less gussied-up. (4255 Ontario E.)

12. Petit Alep

A casual Syrian/Armenian restaurant serving snack-sized versions of fattouche salad, muhammara and stuffed vine leaves. If you make the trip, make sure to try the kebbé nayé (beef tartare) and the saucisses d’Alep. Feeling like a splurge? Alep has one of the best (and best-priced) wine lists in town. (191 Jean-Talon E.)

13. Boom J’s

A no-frills Jamaican restaurant serving some of the most famed jerk chicken, plantains, wraps & beef patties in the city. (2026 Wellington)

14. Bistro la Franquette

After a string of wildly successful pop-ups, le Fantôme alumni Louis Deligianis and Renée Deschenes opted to open their version of a classic French bistro. Simple, straightforward dishes are cooked with masterful precision and Deschenes works the room with warmth and knowledge. A special point of attention goes to pastry chef Olive Park whose desserts help to put Franquette in a league of its own. (374 Victoria)

15. Ma Poule Mouillée

Ever in a (arguably winning) battle with Romados for the title of Montreal’s most beloved Portuguese chicken restaurant, Ma Poule Mouillée serves some of the best chicken in town. Their charcoal-roasted, Piri-Piri glazed birds approach Montréalais-Portuguese sainthood. Make sure to try their poutine, loaded with shredded chicken and thick slices of smoked chouriço. It’s the best of both worlds. (969 Rachel E.)

16. The Willow Inn

After parting ways with le Bremner in 2019, all eyes were on beloved celebrity chef Danny Smiles’ next move. After the pandemic squashed the chef’s Roman-style restaurant project in Saint-Henri, Smiles packed his bags and headed 45 minutes out of town to take over the culinary program at Hudson’s historic Willow Inn. Think St. John meets your local pub with Smiles’ unmistakable fingerprints. Elegant dishes in an old-world dining room overlooking the Lake of Two Mountains — pretty hard to beat. (208 Main, Hudson, QC)

17. Restaurant l’Express

The bistro that needs no introduction. Open since 1980, l’Express is perhaps the city’s most beloved dining institution. Classic French fare like steak frites and rognons de veau are served in the generously lit, Luc Laporte-designed dining room. Open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Tuesday to Saturday. (3927 St-Denis)

18. Le Super Qualité

Serving up a diverse range of dishes from across India, this nouveau spot is as scrumptious as it is cool. The unbeatable lunch combos come served in convenient and compact tiffin sets. Try their homemade salty lemonade or the medicinal cocktail. (1211 Bélanger)

19. Falafel St. Jacques

The best falafel in Montreal since 2016. Run by an Israeli-Palestinian duo (Israeli owner Ronan Baruch and Palestinian manager Saleh Seh) the Ville St-Pierre lunch counter — now with outposts in Lachine and Ahuntsic — has developed a loyal following thanks to its signature take on the Middle Eastern staple. Though falafel is the main draw, the fully vegetarian menu also features a plant-based shish taouk and shawarma. (345 St-Jacques, 1299 Notre-Dame, Lachine and 323 Chabanel W.)

20. Tacos Don Rigo

Don’t be fooled by the kitschy bandito-style Western decor — Pierrefond’s Tacos Don Rigo is dishing out some of the best Mexican food anywhere on the island. The tacos are masterfully classic, the burritos are hefty and rich, but the quesabirria (a fried taco filled with shredded stewed beef) is a showstopper. Lineups aren’t uncommon but Don Rigo is well worth the wait and the commute to the West Island. (4740 St-Jean, Pierrefonds)

21. Mano Cornuto

Griffintown’s finest neighbourhood joint. Run by alumni from le Bremner, Garde Manger, Foxy and Taverne Monkland, Mano Cornuto is all about simple pleasures. Fluffy focaccia sandwiches, a couple of handmade pastas and some charcuterie-laden salads take up the bulk of the menu. On the bar side, think Italian classics: a negroni, an amaro spritz, an ice cold Peroni. Mano Cornuto is where you’d go to watch the Inter Milan game and the spot you double-park in front of as you dash in for an espresso. (988 Ottawa)

22. Phở Tay Ho

A top contender for Montreal’s best pho and easily Nguyen Phi’s top rival. The phở is great but don’t sleep on the bùn and the rare beef salad. (6414 St-Denis)

23. Café Osmo X Marusan

Since 2021, the Notman House’s iconic subterranean café Osmo has joined forces with fast-casual Japanese lunch counter Marusan and celebrated record shop la Rama for a lunch experience unlike any other in town. Set to a background of live DJs playing hard-to-find funk records, a mix of McGill students and the fashionable downtown crowd mingle over steaming bowls of Katsu Curry, velvety lattes and perfectly Instagramable egg sando. (51 Sherbrooke W.)

24. Chez Téta

A sensationally good nouveau-Lebanese café on Rachel East. Téta, whose name comes from the Lebanese word for grandmother, is about two things: coffee and manoucheh. The sumptuous Lebanese flatbreads are served straight from the oven and can be had with a variety of toppings — a special shoutout goes to the Lahem Bi’ajin (ground meat with peppers and tomato). There’s a smattering of dips and salads but Téta’s other main draws are the pitch perfect third-wave and potent Lebanese coffees, as well as its tastefully swank dining room. (227 Rachel E.)

25. Damas

A veritable institution in Montreal’s fine-dining scene. Run by chef/owner Fouad Alnirabie, Damas is known for its elaborate and sensationally delicious 10-course tasting menus. Moving beyond simple kebabs and mezze (although they do have them and they are outstanding), Alinarabie’s menu runs the gamut of land and sea and can include, at any time, expertly prepared lamb, octopus or succulent shrimp fragrant with Aleppo pepper, garlic and tahini. The food’s only equals are the ornate and spectacular dining room and the wine cellar, which holds some of the city’s rarest and most coveted bottles. (1201 Van Horne)

For more on the Montreal restaurant scene, please visit the Food & Drink section.