Husband says he wants to do Montreal and Quebec City for 8 days next Aug/Sept for our family vacation.

What are some of the ways to explore that area and it’s food, that doesn’t feel “too American”? … Not that there’s anything wrong with that!.

I found this

Don’t worry, it won’t feel American at all!

I find Old Montreal (the old town) a little touristy and gimmicky, as a place to stay. I usually stay at the Omni on Sherbrooke, which is an old retrofitted Four Seasons, with massive rooms, and get a room facing to the mountain. I don’t like the breakfast at the Omni. The benefit of staying at the Omni (or Sofitel- more luxurious hotel with smaller rooms but a better breakfast) , is that it’s a short walk to the Musee de Beaux Arts, short taxi to the residential neighborhoods with the more interesting restaurants and not a touristy neighborhood. There’s a AAA rate / CAA rate that I usually book. The Omni Loyalty programme is with joining, if you’re not extremely loyal to another hotel. (I join loyalty programs whenever they’re offered)

It’s also a short walk to the mountain and parks.

In terms of where the interesting neighborhoods are, many of the restaurants that are mentioned on this site are located in areas such as Little Burgundy, the Plateau, Mile End, Outremont.

Montreal is very diverse, if you’re interested in seeking out foods you can’t find at home, beyond the smoked meat, bagels, bistro, Joe Beef, APDC. I can recommend Damas for Syrian food. There are some Haitian restaurants. I’ve gone out for Russian food in Montreal. Greek food and Portuguese food are strong in Montreal. Seafood in Montreal is better than it is in Toronto.

My meals in Montreal are typically focused on foods I can’t get in Toronto.

There are Airbnbs, proper Bed and Breakfasts ( gîtes), small inns and some small hotels in some of these neighbourhoods. I have stayed at a small Inn in the Plateau for an extended stay. It was more of a 2 star experience in terms of comfort.

I would still recommend staying in a hotel with more amenities, which will typically be in the business district, or in Old Montreal.

When you stay in Quebec City, I would recommend staying within the old part, and I’d it’s your first time, it might be nice to stay at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, for the old fashioned Canadian Pacific Hotel experience.

I stayed at a 4 star just outside the old town in Quebec City last time, which had a lot less Americans, and more Francophones, and gave more bang for the buck, but it’s nice to stay in Quebec City’s Old Town for a short stay.

I always recommend people visit Ile d’Orléans, a small island a short drive from Quebec City, when they visit. Nice farms, places selling jams, cheeses, cider, ice cider (alcoholic)


There’s a lot of great information here from HOs traveling to Montreal and area. Try a search, or I’ll find and link some of the threads later.

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This thread was started by our resident Montrealer, @Captcrunch .

This site helps find restaurants connected with local Quebec ingredients and dishes. There’s an application process to belong to this group.


I was in Montreal for five nights last year, not as a tourist. I was moving my son into an apartment, which involved a certain amount of shopping and moving furniture. I had a car and got to see a variety of neighborhoods.

Montreal is a fascinating and surprisingly shabby city. Even in the summer, you can feel the toll the long damp winter cold takes on the streets and buildings.

With its French and American roots comes disparate communities: Various degrees of French-speaking, Haitian, Moroccan, West African, Vietnamese, and Hasidic.

Eating can be very expensive. Just buying produce can set you back. The famous dish of poutine owes part of its popularity to the fact that it 's cheap. There is one place to go for poutine that is tremendously popular, La Banquise, where you can expect a wait to get in. We didn’t wait and went to another famous place, Greenspot, where it was dreadful. (it is currently ranked 3rd in the Time Out guide to poutine in Motreal). The parks in Montreal usually have seating and tables so you can gather and eat outside. We got carryout and ate in a park at about 11pm.

In the stores you will find that as much produce as possible is Canadian. The stores themselves are Canadian. It is not an extension of the US! Dairy is excellent, and raw milk cheese is available in the markets.

The Hasidic community in Mile End is fascinating. St Viateur for bagels is famous. A must. There are two locations about two blocks from each other on St Viatuer. There is also a very good bakery, Boulangerie Cheskie. Ask for what’s right on the back counter, usually unmarked. Nearby, Cafe Depanneur has musicians all day long (usually a guy with a guitar singing in both French and English) and serves an excellent macchiato. Go into a bank, and you will see quite the scene of Hasidim transacting business. It is a sight.

Go to a friperie, a thrift shop. I went to the Friperie Renassiance Verdun, but there are others. Verdun is an interesting neighborhood with a pedestrianized street. Notice on the side streets the houses have twisting, turning metal staircases on the outside so you can walk directly up to a separate residence on the second floor, typical for Montreal. These are treacherous in winter!

I posted on HO about my eating experiences which included all the communities I named above. It was a mixed bag, and even places that look dirt cheap are surprisingly costly:

The most touristic thing to do , I hated. Vieux Montreal is not that nice, and it is lousy with tourists. It is mostly one long street. I found the whole scene repulsive.

Walking up the Grand Staircase of Mont Royal is a fun activity. It’s 537 stairs. It took me about fifteen minutes with a lot of stopping, especially to take pictures. The St Joseph Oratory of Mont Royal is an unusual site, YMMV. Despite the looks from the outside, it is modern inside.

The Botanic Gardens are vast. The arboretum alone would take a long time to see with many groves of trees you might not otherwise see in the States. The Alpine Garden is my favorite spot. Not far from there, the Hochelaga neighborhood is the most French-speaking neighborhood of Montreal.

Quebec City, specifically the Old Town, is one of the most beautiful cities of the world. I spent a week there, twice. The best thing I ate were the croissants at Chez Temporel. I think you can get them all day. So many beautiful streets to wander, great for kids too. During the summer there is an explosion of activity, especially buskers. I would go in August rather than September. Or if you stradle the two months, go to Quebec City first because the activity will die down in September.


Which American roots are you talking about?

Are you talking about English roots?

General Wolfe et al?

The historic gastronomy of Quebec is mostly based on French, First Nations and English customs.

The Irish, Jews, Italians, Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Chinese and other groups came later.

Then the Greeks, Portuguese, Vietnamese, West Indians, Haitians after that. Of course immigration policy in Canada dictated which groups came when, and whether the groups spoke French often had an influence on whether the immigrants settled in Quebec.


I’d recommend staying in the Plateau, excellent neighborhood with tons charm and lots of great restaurants.
Check out Sonder, they have about 5 properties , pretty much all over the city. I’m put off by AirBnB and a lot of the hotels in Montreal are either really expensive or not in the hoods where I want to stay.

Sonder | A better way to stay.
I was originally booked at the Plateau location ,but something happened at the last minute , so the switched me to the downtown property ,which was nice, but not my thing.


Thank you @Phoenikia ! I wass hoping you would respond. So much useful information, and what looks like links to perfect threads!

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Will do; thanks. I guess i just needed a little direction.

Thank you! I wasn’t too sure about this plan, but then husband mentioned the botanic garden!

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Great to know! Thank.

From the NYT this week, should be a viewable w/o a subscription,



North American.


It has a nice gift shop. I’m still using a sun hat I bought there in 2011!

Some local vegetable seeds are sold there, too!

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I will post places I like, as I think born them until your trip.

I like Beauty’s, a luncheonette (diner/coffee shop) for breakfast. I get the blintzes. The website no longer is active but the restaurant is in business. Expect a line on weekends after 11 am.

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If you’ve never been, I’d recommend it. Just don’t order the “duck in a can”, very gimmicky. Sit at the bar and order some daily specials instead.


If you like foie gras make sure you order the “cromesquis”, which are little cubes of foie gras. Definitely sit at the kitchen counter; I got one of the chefs to tell me what I had to change in the cromesquis recipe I have to make them work. They also give you tastes of stuff being made.


Unfortunately, that is exactly what we did. And I was under the weather & should’ve canceled the whole damn meal :sob:

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