A culinary destination that rivals the gourmet capitals of the world, Montréal is said to have the highest number of restaurants per capita in North America after New York City. It was Toqué – helmed by master chef Normand Laprise – that catapulted the city to the top culinary ranks, and since then numerous home-grown chefs have captured the world’s attention, from Martin Picard of Au Pied de Cochon to Guillaume Cantin, who took over the reins at Les 400 Coups.
Montréal’s ethnic diversity is amply displayed by the variety of cuisines available. The city has its own Chinatown just north of Vieux-Montréal, a Little Italy around Jean-Talon Métro (near the excellent Jean-Talon market; w marchespublics-mtl.com) and a Greek community whose cheaper restaurants are concentrated along Prince Arthur; for more traditional Greek cuisine, head further north along avenue du Parc.
Most prominent of the international restaurants are the Eastern European establishments dotted around the city. Opened by Jewish immigrants, their speciality is smoked meat, served between huge chunks of rye bread with pickles on the side. Another Montréal speciality is poutine, fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds, generally served in diners and snack joints. Montréal comes a close second to New York as the bagel capital of the world; they’re sold everywhere from grimy outlets to stylish cafés. Montréal’s coffee scene has always been robust, but a new wave of coffee shops is bringing even more innovative variety to the caffeinated city. The city has also long embraced the concept of apportez votre vin (“bring your own wine”), with a wide variety of lively “BYOW” restaurants.