Iconic Restaurants in Montreal
It seems like every day, there’s a new restaurant popping up in Montreal. It’s no surprise, our city is famous for its delicious food, and we have an amazing culinary scene. But while the trendy, Instagram worthy restaurants make their way, be reminded there are some institutions that just can’t be beaten. From smoked meat, bagels, poutine, steamies, and more, these spots below are iconic restaurants that capture the true essence of Montreal:
Gibeau Orange Julep
An old school drive-in with classic diner food – it doesn’t get any more nostalgic than this. Hermas Gibeau first opened this landmark in 1932, but the iconic, three-story orange was built in 1945. Gibeau initially opened the restaurant in order to serve his signature drink – The Orange Julep. It’s a frothy and creamy orange juice beverage that's tastes like a creamsicle in a cup – egg whites and milk are known to be part of the secret recipe. In addition to the infamous orange drink, they serve classic “casse-croûte” eats, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, and poutine. You can take your food to go and pig out in your car or eat at the picnic tables on site. It is open all year round until 3 AM during the summer months, with reduced hours in the winter.
Fun Fact: Back in the day, they had roller skating waitresses!
Location: 7700 Decarie Blvd, Montreal, QC H4P 2H4
Hours: Everyday from 8:00 AM – 3:00 AM (Reduced hours during winter)
Website: Gibeau Orange
This renowned deli, which is the oldest in Canada, has been serving delicious smoked meat since 1928. It was founded by Ruben Schwartz, a Jewish immigrant from Romania. They prepare their smoked meat the old-fashioned way by using a secret blend of herbs and spices and marinating it for 10 days – the same way they have been doing it for the past 90 years. The smoked meat is smoked daily and no chemicals or preservative are added. It is no surprise that locals and tourists, including celebrities, keep coming back to this world-famous deli.
Note: They take cash only!
Fun Fact: Céline Dion is the majority shareholder
Location: 3895 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC H2W 1X9
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 8:00 AM – 12:30 AM
Friday & Saturday, 8:00 – 1:30 AM
Fairmount & St-Viateur Bagels
There is nothing quite like a good old Montreal bagel. Fairmount bagel was the first bagel bakery to open in 1919 by Isadore Shlafman. They are made the same way since the beginning – hand rolled and baked in an old-fashioned wood-burning oven. Isadore’s grandchildren are managing the business today, using the same traditions and methods they learned from their grandfather. St-Viateur Bagel, which is just around the corner, has been open since 1957, and it is also a family-owned business. Their bagels are made with 100% natural ingredients, and each bagel is hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, and cooked in a wood-fired oven. Whichever you decide to go to, these famous bagel shops are delicious and a must try in Montreal!
Location: 74 Avenue Fairmount O, Montréal, QC H2T 2M2
263 Rue Saint Viateur O, Montréal, QC H2V 1Y1
Hours: Open 24 hours
Open 24 hours
Wilensky’s Light Lunch
This established lunch counter has been around since 1932 and not much has changed since they opened. It is still owned by the Wilensky family, has the same old-school décor, and serves the same famous plate they are known for – The Wilensky Special. This is a sandwich with all-beef salami and all-beef baloney with a bit of mustard on a deliciously grilled roll. Keep in mind these two rules though: Don’t ask for your sandwich without mustard and don’t ask for it to be cut in half! They have been making it the same way for over 80 years and don’t plan on changing it. They even have an old-fashioned soda fountain, which they use to make their homemade drinks. Their most popular is the cherry cola, which customers say is the best in the city. They also have a variety of other flavours including pineapple, orange, grape, cream soda, chocolate, root beer, and strawberry.
Fun Fact: They have no tipping. Any extra change left by a customer is put into the Heart and Stroke Foundation box.
Location: 34 Avenue Fairmount O, Montréal, QC H2T 2M1
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
This well-known restaurant in NDG has been around since 1944 and they have a legendary reputation as the #1 rotisserie in Montreal. They select fresh, plump chickens and slowly roast them in custom-built brick ovens over hardwood charcoal. The results are chickens that are cooked to perfection; crisp and golden on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside and served with their famous dipping sauce. Not much as changed since they opened, and like any other iconic restaurant, that's what keeps people coming back. Great tasting chicken, generous portions, and a cheap price – you can’t get any better than that!
Location: 5456 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, QC H4A 1V9
Hours: Sunday – Wednesday, 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Thursday, 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Friday & Saturday, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
La Binerie Mont Royal
If you want the ultimate experience of Québec comfort food, you have to eat here! This charming, counter-style restaurant located in the Plateau serves up traditional Québécois dishes. We’re talking baked beans, homemade creton, paté chinois, tourtière, pouding chômeur, and more! It’s the true taste of Québec on your plate and right into your stomach. Léonide Lussier founded the restaurant in 1938, but Jocelyne and Philippe Brunet took over in 2005 and became the new owners. Even though it changed hands, everything remained the same. Whether you want breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can find a variety of authentic meals, so there’s no need wait for Les Cabanes à Sucre!
Fun Fact: La Binerie was the setting of Yves Beauchemin’s novel and film Le Matou, which was filmed at the restaurant.
Location: 367 Mont-Royal Ave E, Montreal, QC H2T 1R1
Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday, 6:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Thursday & Friday, 6:00 AM – 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Saturday, 7:30 AM – 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Sunday, 7:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Dic Ann’s Hamburger
This is a classic burger joint in Montreal that has been around for years. The duo behind this concept, Dominic and Ann Potenza, had a vision of opening up a shop that served original style hamburgers with their own special hot sauce. The couple moved to Montreal from Rochester, N.Y and opened up the first Dic Ann’s in 1954 at the corner of Crémazie and Papineau. Over the years, their success led them to open up 13 more locations throughout the province. So what’s so special about these burgers? Dic Ann’s burgers consist of an extremely thin patty pressed between 2 pancake-like buns. It is then topped with their secret tomato-based spicy sauce and served with a wooden stick in order to pick up the burger. It’s definitely different from the typical burger, but their success proves that it’s delicious and one of a kind!
Location: Multiple locations
Hours: Varies depending on location
Montreal Pool Room
Founded in 1912 by Dako Filipov, a Bulgarian immigrant, this classic institution serves Montreal style hot dogs and poutine. A Montreal hot dog isn’t boiled or grilled; it is steamed and served on a steamed bun (also known as “steamies”), and this joint is known to have some of the best in the city. There is nothing fancy or gourmet here; just a good old greasy spoon serving up hot dogs for over 100 years. Make sure to get your steamy all dressed with onions, relish, mustard and coleslaw. Also, don’t expect any pool tables, they don’t actually have any anymore.
Location: 1217 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC H2X 2S6
Hours: Everyday from 10:00 AM – 4:00 AM
Website: Montreal Pool Room
This local establishment is the place to go for an honest, greasy breakfast, perfect to cure any hangover. This hole-in-the-wall has been around for over 40 years and was founded by Tony Koulakis, who moved to Montreal from Crete, Greece in 1954. His two kids, Nick and Nicky have now taken over the restaurant. The menu isn’t huge, but the food definitely hits the spot. Their signature dish, called the “Mish-Mash, is an omelet that consists of eggs, potatoes, red peppers, pepperoni bacon, sausage, ham, salami, tomato, onion, and cheese. They are also known for the “Creation,” which has eggs, bacon, cheese, salami, tomatoes and lettuce on your choice of a variety of bread, and served with a side of delicious hash browns. The restaurant has limited seating so expect to wait in line, as there are only 11 seats at the counter! Although they are known for their breakfasts, they also serve some of the most delicious burgers.
Location: 5843 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, QC H4A 1X4
Hours: Everyday from 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Website: Cosmos Snack
Au Pied de Cochon
Do not come here expecting to get any healthy food whatsoever! This renowned restaurant is another iconic spot for French cuisine, but with an upscale twist. When I say upscale, I don't mean fancy dishes and small portions. I’m taking rich, heavy, gluttonous meals like foie gras poutine and duck in a can. In fact, you will find foie gras incorporated in many of their indulgent dishes. Chef and owner Martin Picard is the mastermind behind this restaurant, which he opened in 2001 with the idea of ditching all gastronomic trends out the window. Although the food is heavy and excessive, it’s a fun and unforgettable experience that you must try – your liver will forgive you.
Location: 536 Avenue Duluth E, Montréal, QC H2L 1A9
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 5:00 PM – 12:00 AM
More Iconic Restaurants Mentioned in Montreal Directory
Other Iconic Restaurants to Check Out:
Snowdon Deli: Open since 1946, this Jewish deli serves up Montreal-style smoked meat, sandwiches, and more.
Lester’s Deli: An old school diner serving over 60 years of delicious smoked meat sandwiches and hand cut French fries.
Mr. Steer: One of the oldest burger restaurants in Montreal, opened in 1958.
L’Express: From duck to steak tartar, this Parisian-style bistro has been serving classic French food since 1980.
Marven’s: This family-owned Greek eatery has been around since the 70’s, and it is a cult institution for Greek cuisine. (Note: They’re known to have the best calamari).
Joe Beef: Established in 2005 and known as one of Canada’s best restaurants, this popular institution serves delicious steaks and seafood.