8 downtown Montreal restaurants that deliver an in-person experience we’ve truly missed!

3 minutes

Stéphane Deslauriers

Un jeune cliente partage un cocktail avec une amie dans un restaurant

It bears repeating: one of the reasons restaurant owners in downtown Montreal have managed to adapt so beautifully to the pandemic context is because of their delicious takeout menus. But let’s be honest, some restaurants offer a on-location dining experience that’s just as important as the quality of their menu. In these establishments, the vibe, the decor, the impeccable service and the fresh flavours come together to forge unforgettable culinary moments. This week, we’d like to pay a glowing tribute to some of the restaurants finally inviting us back to their table with a list of 8 dining experiences worth discovering or rediscovering as the world opens up.

Le Cathcart: there’s something for everyone in the heart of the city

Located in Place Ville-Marie, Le Cathcart offers an appealing mix of flavours in a vast 35,000 square foot space that’s filled with greenery and bathed in natural light. You’ll find Japanese cuisine, as well as Mexican, Cantonese, Lebanese, and Montreal dishes on offer beneath a magnificent glass ceiling. It’s the perfect place to plan a business lunch, casual after-work drinks, or a weekend meal between friends. Later in the evening, as the week nears its end, the slick foodcourt also becomes a bar that’s very popular with downtown’s young movers and shakers. After a single night out at Le Cathcart, you’ll be hooked!

Anticafé: the ideal apartment-style café for working or studying downtown

Have you heard of the Anticafé? In this expansive space located in the Quartier des Spectacles, the food and drinks are free once you pay an affordable hourly fee. Upon arrive, you’re asked to register and clock in. When you’re ready to leave, the amount you pay depends on the length of your stay. The maximum daily fee is $6.95 plus tax, and you can use the space however you like. You can study, plan meetings, play board games, and even have a nap after snacking on cookies and drinking coffee all day. It’s quite an extraordinary concept!

The Labo Culinaire: one of downtown’s most beautiful rooftop terraces!

Adjacent to downtown, in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, the Labo Culinaire is perched on the top floor of the Society for Arts and Technology, an industrial building dedicated to immersive experiences. The menu is made up of local and mostly organic ingredients that vary by season and includes a wide variety of natural wines. The terrace offers a breathtaking view of downtown with magnificent images projected on the buildings surrounding the SAT. Combining gourmet, refined, and responsible cuisine with a perfectly artsy vibe, your dining experience here will stimulate all your senses.

Chef Lee: another gourmet heavy hitter in Shoni Village

With the arrival of Chef Lee in June 2021, the Shaughnessy Village neighbourhood adds yey another star to its roster of unique cuisine options. Inspired by the dishes served in the streets of Shanghai, this restaurant offers up simple and delicious meals as well as bite-sized delicacies in a very casual environment. As a bonus, you’ll be just a few steps from the Canadian Centre for Architecture, so why not combine the two?

Seoul Chako  : a warmly lit dining room, remarkable décor, and amazing cuisine!

Just around the corner from Concordia University, it’s impossible to miss Seoul Chako’s striking facade. For several years, this spacious restaurant has served up all-you-can-eat grilled meat to a steady clientele of students and young professionals. This restaurant, which owes its great reputation to its laid-back vibe and friendly, courteous servers, needs no introduction. Here’s a little tip though: act fast and reserve your table now. Although there’s a lot of seating available, you could have to wait over an hour when it’s busy.

Avesta: a secret gem and purveyor of Turkish cuisine

Has the pandemic prevented you from travelling? Why not get your tastebuds travelling with fine Anatolian cuisine? Also in Shoni Village, Avesta lovingly prepares Mediterranean delicacies known as mezes, including the famous lahmacun (flatbread with garnishing) and menemen, which often serves as a delicious breakfast in Turkey. What’s best: everything is prepared fresh and on the spot! The lunch menu for four, which includes kebabs, kofta, lahmajoun, and a salad, is a great, simple option for lunch with your colleagues. Let yourself fall under the spell of this lesser-known culinary destination.

Rosélys: lavish cuisine in a luxurious setting

Inspired by the city of Montreal’s flag, the Rosélys offers French sophistication with a British twist. The Queen Elizabeth’s restaurant serves as a tribute to our cultural heritage. The spacious dining room, which seats 145 people, is adorned with a phenomenal ceiling, opulent accessories, colourful booths and seating arrangements, and more. Since the restaurant is open morning, noon and night, the Rosélys’ menu has you covered, no matter what time it is. If you’re a fan of brunch though, it’s served only on Sundays, from 10 am to 3:30 pm. The Rosélys is a must for anyone who enjoys eclectic and chic bistro-inspired dining experiences.

 This pandemic has forced us all to change our dining habits, but thanks to the scaling back of health measures, this is a great time to discover or return to our beloved downtown’s restaurants and support restaurant owners as they get back into the swing of things. We hope to see you there !