Indian: If your idea of heaven comes out of a tandoor, then pop into Le Taj to try the tandoori chicken and naan that are deliciously authentic and straight out of the oven. They tend to underestimate the ability of the Westerner’s palate, though, so ask for extra spicy if you want some real heat.
French: The current darling of the Montreal culinary scene is Au Pied de Cochon, praised by critics, celebrity chefs, and the blogosphere alike. Ignore all that, and see if you can figure out all of the obscure spices that went into your entree. With the creativity, audacity, and humor that the chefs bring to their food here, you’re bound to discover something unusual – and you’re bound to like it, too. Book ahead of time, and save room for dessert.
Chinese: It’s packed with Chinese people, little English is spoken, the menu has sketchy translations (at best), and the smells are to die for — these are the signs that the Chinese restaurant you’ve just entered is going to be goooood, and they’re all true at Qing Hua. Small, strangely decorated, and cash only… but you won’t care once you’ve gotten a taste of their dumplings and soups.
Italian: For both the upscale comforts and the family familiarity of a great Italian restaurant, Ristorante Da Vinci is your best bet. Fabulous service, a lengthy and diverse wine list, and osso buco that falls off the bone — and, of course, the pasta. Ahh, the pasta.
Vegetarian: Relax near the waterfall and koi pond in the back garden at Santropol, where the monstrous sandwiches are some of the best vegetarian combinations you’ll ever eat. If you’re traveling with carnivores, there are a couple of meat options too.
Bagels: There are a few cities in the world that take their bagels very, very seriously, and Montreal is at the top of that list. The battles rage on, but most would agree that Fairmount and St. Viateur are at the top of the fray. Fairmount has some more unusual flavors and accoutrements, while St. Viateur just does the classics really, really well.
Greek: Be prepared when you enter Trinity Estiatorio to be whisked away to the Greek isles. Painted white and decorated like you’re in Santorini, you can almost hear the Aegean crashing against the rocks outside – and the tsatziki sauce and lamb are as excellent as the atmosphere.
[photo courtesy of moriza]