These are the best restaurants in Montreal for locavore family travel. There are so many healthy markets and cafes to visit in this city.
Montreal is one of my family’s favorite places to visit. It’s an easy drive from our home in Massachusetts, but it feels like we’re in a different part of the world. From the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal to the serene landscape of Mont Royal and the Botanical Garden, this Canadian city is full of history and charm. I love breaking out my old French dictionary and stepping into another culture.
The food scene in Montreal is one of the most vibrant ones you’ll find anywhere. With more restaurants per capita than just about any place in Canada, this city has such a diverse collection of places to eat. Many Quebec farms and food producers are nearby, so visitors to Montreal can enjoy all sorts of locally sourced food during a vacation here.
Best Restaurants in Montreal
There are so many renowned restaurants in Montreal, which presents a challenge to families on vacation. TripAdvisor lists over 4,500 Montreal restaurants. Where’s an out-of-towner to begin?
Having visited Montreal several times, I’ve put together a list of some of the best restaurants in Montreal for locavore family travel. We’ve tried some of these places, and the rest are on our list for a future visit. Most are fairly affordable and family-friendly, although there are a few spots that are more appropriate for a child-free, special occasion dinner.
It’s not unusual for restaurants in Montreal to be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so be sure to check their hours before visiting.
Robin des Bois is a unique, non-profit restaurant that supports local charities in Montreal. The waiters and waitresses are all volunteers, and the food is fantastic. Highlights from our dinner there included the vegan rice bowl and the chicken tacos.
Aux Vivres is just down the block from Robin des Bois in the Plateau neighborhood. This vegan restaurant is a casual space with a varied menu and a juice bar. They also offer prepared foods available for take-out, and they have a strong commitment to using local, organic ingredients.
Manitoba has an ever-changing menu that focuses on local and wild ingredients. Even the drinks are made with local plants, berries, and herbs. We stopped by this restaurant on a food tour led by Anne-Marie of Spade and Palacio Tours, and I wished it was time for dinner. The ambiance is rustic and welcoming, and so many things looked good on the chalkboard menu.
The Botanical Garden Restaurant is a beautiful spot to grab a healthy meal when you’re visiting the Space for Life area. This is a counter service restaurant that offers a variety of fresh salads and hot meals. I had a delicious quinoa burger that was surrounded by a colorful salad of local veggies and edible flowers.
Olive et Gourmando is a popular sandwich shop that also serves up hearty breakfast food. This Old Montreal restaurant sources many ingredients locally. Try it during off-peak hours to avoid the lines.
The Green Panther is a vegan, organic restaurant with several locations throughout the city. They focus on locally sourced ingredients, and I heard from more than one local that they have the best falafel in town.
Lawrence is a casual restaurant with a strong focus on supporting small local farmers. Their menu features a variety of salads and sandwiches, and it’s designed to reflect what’s in season. Lawrence is also a very popular spot for brunch.
Toque was one of the pioneering locavore restaurants in Montreal. This fine dining spot is great for a special occasion, as it features a high-end menu full of locally sourced meat and produce. For a slightly more affordable option, try Toque’s sister restaurant, Brasserie T.
Montreal Markets & Cafes
Many Quebec farms and producers come together in the summer at over a dozen farmers markets throughout the city. In addition, some public markets are open throughout the year, but summer and fall are the best times to get locally sourced food here.
There are also many shops and cafes featuring Quebec food that travelers can enjoy while visiting the city. We tend to eat several of our vacation meals at places like these because it’s faster and more affordable than sitting down at a restaurant.
Jean-Talon Market is my absolute favorite place in all of Montreal. This open air market is home to hundreds of vendors selling items grown or made in Quebec. This is where many Montreal residents come for cheese, vegetables, meat, and freshly made sorbet. There are samples of the produce throughout the market, so you can get a taste of those peaches or cucumbers before you decide to buy some.
There are many shops around the periphery of the market that are open all year. We loved stopping for crepes at the Creperie du Marche during our previous visit to Montreal. In fact, that visit inspired me to learn how to make crepes at home. And when we’re looking for gifts or souvenirs to bring home, the Marche des Saveurs du Quebec is the perfect place at the market to find all sorts of packaged Quebec products.
While Jean Talon is the largest, there are other public markets throughout the city as well. The Atwater Market is located in the southwest part of Montreal, and it’s known for its produce as well as its many butchers and delis. The Maisonneuve Market is another popular public market that’s located near the Biodome. It includes vendors selling locally made cheese, baked goods, produce, and more.
Jardins Gamelin is a unique outdoor cafe, garden, and produce market at the Berri-UQAM metro stop. This urban gathering place is also home to several special events and festivals throughout the summer.
Fou d’Ici is a great market in downtown Montreal that sells freshly made breakfast and lunch items. We got take-out for dinner here one night, enjoying a few healthy salads along with their rich macaroni and cheese. The shop sells many high-quality Quebec products.
Food trucks are popular in Montreal, with nearly 50 trucks serving food throughout the city. Street Food Montreal helps people track down what they’re craving with geolocation software. And the first Friday of every month when the weather’s warm, there’s a food truck festival at Olympic Stadium Park.
Montreal Between Meals
It would take weeks to visit all the museums, cultural highlights, and outdoor gems that make up Montreal. We’ve been chipping away at the different attractions each time we visit the city, and hopefully we’ll get to them all some day!
Hotel: A great central place to stay in Montreal is the downtown area. We enjoyed a very comfortable studio suite at the Marriott Residence Inn Downtown. This recently renovated hotel has comfortable beds and plenty of space for families. It’s conveniently located across the street from the Peel stop on the metro. We left our car in the garage and went just about everywhere using Montreal’s impressive subway system.
Museums: There are so many fantastic museums in Montreal. Pointe-a-Calliere is the best place to start if you’re visiting Montreal for the first time. It gives a great introduction to the history of Montreal, and it’s built atop the archaeological remains of the original city. The Science Centre, Biodome, Insectarium, Planetarium, and Botanical Garden are other fantastic places to visit during a family vacation to Montreal.
Family Adventure: Montreal is also home to many exciting family attractions that will keep everyone in the family entertained. We had so much fun at Parc Jean Drapeau, with the water trampoline in the lake at Aquazilla and the Six Flags amusement park, La Ronde. One of the most exciting moments of our summer was when we ziplined over the St. Lawrence River at Montreal’s Old Port. I’m not sure how I found the courage for that one!
For a more relaxing family adventure, don’t miss hiking up Mont Royal and taking in the view of the city from the chalet at the top of the mountain. It’s easy to get caught up with a busy schedule on a vacation to Montreal, but make sure to set aside some unscheduled time to wander around and make new discoveries off the beaten path. Catching a glimpse of everyday life in the neighborhoods of Montreal is a highlight you just can’t plan.
This video shares my picks for five things you don’t want to miss in Montreal:
What are your favorite places to eat in Montreal? I’d love to add your suggestions to my list for our next visit, so please share them in the comments!
Disclosure: We were hosted by Tourisme Montreal, and all opinions in this post are my own. We love this city!