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Must Try Food and Drinks in Montreal

10 min read
CanadaDessertsDrinksFoodMontrealMust TryNorth AmericaQuebec
Article author: michael
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Montreal might not be one of the first places that comes to mind when you think of the world’s best food cities, as Canada in general doesn’t really have a deep culinary history.

Montreal is a multicultural city though, and as such actually boasts a lot of amazing food from different countries and cultures around the world!

However, besides the culinary influence from other countries, Montreal also has some delicious food that is indeed unique to Quebec. Food that I definitely think is worth trying if you’re in town.

– My Must Try in Montreal List –

🧁 Sweets 🍦

As someone with a major sweet tooth, I figured I’d start with sweets! And thankfully, Montreal has a few things to offer in that department. 😁

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is, I think, one of the most iconic Canadian foods. It’s actually more of a Quebec thing than a Canadian thing, but it’s still very much a part of Canadian culture.

Maple Syrup
Image Credit: Kay Hunjan

It’s also one of the most delicious! It’s quintessential on pancakes, waffles, and French toast, but it’s also great in a lot of other things, like coffee, tea, and even cocktails!

Heck, if you’re nuts like me, you might even take a swig straight from the bottle. 😏

Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees. It takes about 40 litres of sap boiled down to make 1 litre of syrup, and it takes a lot of time and expertise to get it down to the perfect consistency.

If you have young kids, and haven’t had maple syrup before or you’re planning to be in Montreal or Quebec in early Spring, I recommend giving a sugar shack a visit. It can be a fun way to learn about the process of making maple syrup, and you’ll get to try some fresh syrup on snow, which is a real treat!

Pouding Chômeur

Admittedly, I’ve only had Pouding Chômeur once or twice after some Quebec-French colleagues of mine told me it was delicious and convinced me to try it one night at a work dinner. Tell you what… I’m glad they convinced me to try it, because they weren’t lying!

Pouding Chômeur
Image Credit: Geneviève Desroches

It’s also a very Quebec thing, so it’s easy to find here on restaurant dessert menus that have Quebecois food.

Pouding Chômeur is very simple - it’s basically a white cake batter that has maple syrup poured over before baking.

During the baking process, the cake rises, and the maple syrup sinks to the bottom, infusing the batter, and creating a unique maple layer at the bottom.

You’ll probably also get it drizzled with a maple syrup sauce on top, and maybe even a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

It’s frikin delicious, but be warned, it’s super sweet!

Queues de Castor (Beaver Tails)

Now you might be thinking, “Beaver tails can’t be sweet right?”. And you might also be thinking, “Hey, that’s really cruel!”. But don’t worry, beaver tails grow back quickly, like lizard tails.

But of course I’m just kidding! I’m really talking about the pastry, not the actual tail of a beaver. 😂

Beaver Tails
Image Credit: beavertails.com

Now BeaverTails aren’t originally a Montreal thing, as they originated in Ottawa, Ontario. But they’re still a common sight here, being seen at festivals and other events, and damn if they don’t taste delicious!

Oh, they’re also now headquartered in Montreal. So yeah, definitely a Montreal thing! 😎

BeaverTails, or Queues de Castor as we call them here, are a fried dough pastry that’s stretched out to look like a beaver tail, and then topped with a variety of sweet toppings. I believe originally it would have been just cinnamon and sugar, but now you can get all sorts of things on them, like Nutella, Reese’s Pieces, and even bacon!

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Tarte au sucre (Sugar Pie)

Tarte au sucre is another classic Montreal dessert that’s very Quebecois. It’s a simple pie made from a shortcrust pastry, and filled with a mixture of cream or milk, eggs, brown sugar, and surprise … maple syrup!

Tarte au sucre
Image Credit: 5ingredients15minutes.com

While tarte au sucre wasn’t invented here in Quebec, Quebec’s version is different from other versions across Europe and North America.

If you’re familiar with pecan pie, it’s very similar, but without the pecans. The filling is so luxuriously sweet and creamy, and the crust is so buttery and flaky, it’s a match made in heaven!

Tarte au sucre can be found on the dessert menus of some restaurants, but it’s such a part of Quebecois culture that you can also find it in grocery stores pretty much all year long.

Similar to Pouding Chômeur, it’s delicious but very sweet, so be warned!

Savoury 🥓🥓

Now that we’ve filled up on dessert like a sane adult, let’s move on to the savoury stuff …


Now, you might need to brace yourself for the following statement … Montreal bagels are better than New York bagels! 😎

And I’m not the only that thinks so!

In fact, I’d wager Montreal bagels are the best bagels in the world! Granted I think I’ve only ever had Montreal and NYC bagels, but still, they’re amazing! 😂

Montreal Bagels
Image Credit: Gary Perlman

Montreal’s bagels are thinner, slightly sweeter, and denser than New York’s.

They’re also boiled in honey water before being baked in a wood-fired oven, which gives them a unique flavour, and crispy crust.

The two most famous bagel shops in Montreal are St-Viateur Bagel and Fairmount Bagel, and they’re so popular that it’s not unheard of to see a line out the door!

You can get them plain, or with a variety of toppings, like sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or even chocolate chips. And while you can find St-Viateur and Fairmount bagels in grocery stores around the city, they’re best fresh from the bakery.

Just note that you can also find the less authentic bread-style bagels for sale in grocery stores, which are nowhere near as good.

Soupe aux Pois (Pea Soup)

Soupe aux Pois
Image Credit: Isabelle Boucher

While you’re not likely to find pea soup on the menu of any Michelin star restaurants (don’t quote me on that though!), it’s a wonderful classic Quebecois dish that’s worth trying.

I’d say it’s definitely a comfort food, and it’s perfect on a cold Quebec winter day with a nice crusty bread. It’s a hearty soup, generally with a thick and creamy texture, and the flavour is rich and savoury.

It’s usually made with yellow peas (whole or split depending on preference), water or broth/stock, cubed or diced smoked ham, carrots & onions, and seasoning.

I think I’ve probably only had it in restaurants a few times, so I can’t recommend any specific places. Mostly, I’m quite ashamed to say, I eat the bought-from-a-grocery-store canned variety. But it’s still pretty damn good from the can, ok?!! 😳


Now of all the food you’ll find in Montreal, poutine is without a doubt THE most famous Quebec dish of all. And for the record, it’s pronounced similar to “poo-teen” (English pronunciation) or “poo-tsin” (French pronunciation), not “poo-tin” or “poo-tie-ne”.

Image Credit: Camelia Boban

It’s also probably the most controversial among Quebecers themselves, as there’s a lot of debate about what makes the best poutine. That said, your basic poutine is made with french fries, cold or room-temp cheese curds, and covered in hot brown gravy.

In fact, poutine is so popular here that we actually have an annual Poutine Fest that takes place through a number of areas in Quebec, as well as a Poutine Week competition, where restaurants from around the city compete for the best poutines!

Smoked Meat

While poutine is arguably the most famous Quebec dish, smoked meat is probably the most famous Montreal dish.

Smoked Meat
Image Credit: chensiyuan

Montreal smoked meat is similar to New York pastrami, but it’s made with brisket instead of navel, and it’s smoked with a different blend of spices.

It’s usually served on rye bread with mustard, and sometimes with a pickle on the side.

There are a number of restaurants in Montreal serving up delicious smoked meat, with one of the most famous being Schwartz’s, which has been around since 1928. It’s so popular that it’s not uncommon to see a line out the door, especially during lunch hour!

Tourtière (Meat Pie)

Tourtière is a traditional Quebecois meat pie that’s usually served during the Christmas holidays. It’s a savoury pie made with ground pork and/or ground beef, or even wild game in the Saguenay, Lac-Saint-Jean area.

Image Credit: Craig Dugas

It’s made with a flaky pie crust, and the filling is usually made with savoury ground meat, onions, garlic, and spices.

It’s also usually served with a side of ketchup, although it’s so full of flavour, you really don’t need to add any condiments.

Tourtière is a dish you’re more likely to find in restaurants here that serve traditional Quebecois food … the more rustic, comfort food type places. You can also find it in grocery stores around the city pretty much year round, but of course nothing beats a fresh backed one, either from a good restaurant, or baked at home.

🥂 Drinks 🍺

Thanks to our European heritage, most Quebecers love their alcohol, and can definitely hold their own when it comes to drinking. 😏

Beer, Wine, & Cocktails

Now I’ve clumped beer, wine, and cocktails together here, because it’d be way to long to list them here separately. There’s just so much selection on the alcohol front in Montreal. From craft breweries, to wine and cocktail bars, there’s something here for all tastes.

That said, beer is probably the more “Montreal” of the bunch, as Quebecers not only love their beer, but it’s damn cheap here too! So cheap in fact, many Americans, as well as people from Ontario, will come to Quebec just to buy beer.

Beer in Montreal
Image Credit: Luiz Eduardo

Montreal has an annual beer festival called Festival Mondial de la Bière, which takes place in late spring/early summer, and features over 100 breweries from around the world.

If you’re not here in time for the festival though, downtown Montreal, as with most things, is where you’ll find the most selection. There are tons of bars and pubs that have a great selection of beers on tap, and even more in bottles.

You can check out mtl.org for a great list of some of the best microbreweries in Montreal, and montreal.eater.com has a fantastic list of some of the best wine & cocktail bars in the city.

Orange Julep

Ok, so full disclosure here… I think Orange Julep is pretty gross. 🤢

It’s a very sweet orange drink that’s become synonymous with Montreal, partly due to the giant orange sphere that serves as the Orange Julep restaurant off of Decarie boulevard.

Orange Julep
Image Credit: Jean Gagnon

Although the actual recipe is a bit of a trade secret, Propos Montreal claims to have found the recipe.

It’s basically a mix of orange juice, sweetener, skimmed milk powder, vanilla, and pectin.

It’s definitely a Montreal thing, and it’s worth trying at least once (and probably only once!). I just wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not a fan of super sweet drinks.

The Gibeau Orange Julep is also a fast food restaurant. So if you’re looking for some greasy grub to go with your super sweet drink, well, I guess you’re in luck. 😂

Ice Cider - Honourable Mention

Ice Cider
Image Credit: domainepinnacle.ca

I can’t really say for sure whether ice cider is actually a common drink here or not, as I’ve only had it maybe once or twice. And as I noted above, Quebecers really love their beer, so that takes precedence over everything else!

Ice cider doesn’t have a deep history though, having only been invented in the late 1980s. It’s made from apples that are left on the tree until they freeze, and then pressed while still frozen.

Despite the lack of history, it’s definitely a Quebec thing though, and it’s worth trying if you can find it.

In fact, Domaine Pinnacle, a Quebec ice cider producer, is the world’s largest producer of ice cider, producing over 600,000 bottles a year!

Well, that’s it for my list of must try food and drinks in Montreal.

I hope you enjoyed it, and better yet, I hope you get to try some of these delicious foods and drinks for yourself if/when you visit Montreal!

Until next time,
michael 😀

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