10.24.2022 – 10.27.2022 || Montreal | Quebec

Montreal is within Canada’s mostly French-speaking Quebec province making you feel like you are in a European city within North America. Montreal is a great city for a long weekend or a short getaway because of the convenience of getting there from Washington, D.C. (and the east coast in general), the main sights are within walking distance of downtown or easily accessible via metro, and many solid food and drink options. Check out where we stayed, where we ate, and what we did in Montreal over our four night stay.

Where to Stay:

Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth: We opted to stay downtown at this Fairmont property that John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their well-known 1969 bed-in that resulted in the song Give Peace a Chance. We booked our stay through Souvenir & Far and got an upgraded room with a view of Mount Royal in the distance. This hotel has a great breakfast buffet (the croissants were delicious), several other food and drink options on site and is steps away from shopping, galleries, sporting venues and the metro.

Where to Eat Lunch:

Time Out Montreal: We started and ended our time in Montreal with lunch at this food hall located in the Eaton Centre. It reminded me a lot of the Assembly Hall in Nashville as they both have a variety of local food and beverage options and live music.

Yokato Yokabai Ramen: Per my Montreal Instagram story, be warned that the fried octopus for an appetizer (not pictured below) will still be moving when they bring it out.

Fairmount Bagel and St. Viateur Bagel are two iconic bagel institutions in the Mile End neighborhood of Montreal. While I still prefer a NYC bagel I declared St. Viateur Bagel my favorite Montreal bagel. I found the bagels in Montreal to be smaller and sweeter than most bagels on the East Coast. I like the smaller size, especially when trying multiple bagel shops but they were a little too sweet for my liking. Pictured below are the classic sesame bagels preferred by most people in Montreal and scenes from Mile End and Outremont neighborhoods.

Schwartz’s Deli is a another Montreal food institution known for their huge smoked meat sandwiches. I don’t eat meat but went along for the experience as it was on the way to the bagel shops. They do have good fries if you need a snack after the walk up St Laurent Boulevard from downtown.

Where to Eat Dinner:

Ryu Peel: We made a reservation at the counter to get an up close look at the sushi chefs at work. We chose the Peel location since it was within walking distance of the Fairmont. Similar to our ramen experience, this was high-quality sushi in a modern, minimalist restaurant setting.

Monarque: In search of an open restaurant on a Monday on Montreal, look not further. In walking distance of the Fairmont we lucked out with a reservation in the bistro side of this French Canadian establishment. It felt like the sort of place that would be our local favorite if we lived in Montreal. We didn’t realize that the charcuterie plate offered is meat on meat on meat (middle picture below) and when asked for some cheese they brought out a burrata salad. This was the only real lost in translation dining experience but we weren’t complaining as it was all delicious.

Where to Grab a Drink:

Bar George: Located inside Le Mount Stephen boutique hotel in downtown this might have been the coolest cocktail bar we’ve ever come across. They nailed bringing together a grand wood-clad décor with a modern twist. A must see when in downtown or after having dinner at Ryu Peel like we did.

Bar Narcarat: Out of the two bar/restaurants located inside the Fairmont hotel this was our favorite. Bar Narcarat is a swanky hotel bar with a live DJ and great cocktails.

Brasserie Harricana: We came across this sleek modern brewpub (that also served a rose cider pictured below) while in the Mile Ex/Little Ital neighborhoods. We initially went up there to check out the Jean Talon market but it was sort of a bust for a late afternoon visit since we weren’t going there to eat a meal or buy produce. Saving this for a return visit if we ever go to the National Bank Open tennis match as the stadiums are close by.

Bar Furco: Got its name because it is located in a former fur warehouse downtown is a great place to check out downtown. I should have taken better pictures to document how cool the inside was but instead I took this champagne in a wine glass selfie.

What to Do:

Mount Royal Park: Upon arriving in Montreal we checked into to our hotel then grabbed lunch at Time Out Montreal. After lunch, we headed straight for Mount Royal Park which is described as a large rock hill or small mountain in downtown Montreal. We walked through Mac Gill University to enter the park and climb ~250 steps under the tree canopy.

Explore Downtown: Montreal is pretty easy to navigate and walking around downtown is a great way to see various squares and kill some time.

Notre-Dame Basilica and Old Montreal: Notre-Dame is one of the most popular sights to see in Montreal. While impressive from the outside it is worth spending some time visiting the inside before heading to explore Old Montreal shops and restaurants.

Montreal Botanical Garden: After checking off all the Montreal neighborhoods, top sights, and self-made food tours we spent the last morning in Montreal at the botanical garden. Our highlights were the Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden (bonsai trees), and a walk through the Arboretum.

The Montreal Canadians had a home game on Tuesday evening at the Bell Centre which was 10 minutes away from the Fairmont. We bought two tickets behind one of the goals and enjoyed the Canadian national pastime and some unpictured poutine (fries with cheese curds and gravy). I made mine vegetarian by swapping buffalo sauce for the gravy. Not a move that I would recommend.

That’s how we spent four days exploring Montreal. Check out how we spent the next two days in Quebec City before we returned home.

Question: What did we miss is Montreal that we should check out next time?

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