6 must-try restaurants in Montreal right now

Montreal is in the midst of a highly anticipated restaurant renaissance as tourists and diners return in full force for the first time since the pandemic shutdown. Enthralling 2022 debuts include an upscale Peruvian-Japanese spot, a Filipino restaurant with a speakeasy, and an elegant steakhouse in Old Montreal. Here are six restaurants fueling a newfound vibrancy to Montreal’s culinary landscape, all worth a visit—and a reservation—right now.

Pubjelly (Old Montreal)

Roasted carrots with whipped ricotta at Pubjelly. | Credit: Pubjelly

Pubjelly, which debuted in February, is a casual spinoff of the luxe grill-and-raw-bar restaurant Jellyfish, located right around the corner. Wine, oysters, and pizza al taglio (Roman-style pizza with rectangular slices) are the focus here; the oysters all come from the Canadian Maritimes and include cooked and raw options. As for the pizza, a small selection of white- and red-based options feature high-end ingredients such as confit potato-pancetta or bone marrow-mushroom. The wine list is extensive, and there are solid cocktails and Quebec craft beers on offer, too. Grab a seat in the swanky interiors outfitted with leather booths, light wood tables, and plenty of seating at the bar.

Seiyuan Restaurant (Old Montreal)

Located directly across from Montreal’s scenic Old Port, Seiyuan is among a new crop of restaurants that have helped redefine this area as a culinary destination for locals. The restaurant, which opened in February, features Cantonese- and Hong Kong-style dishes such as char siu duck and pork. A highlight here, though, is the $35 four-course menu offered Thursdays and Fridays. The dishes are chosen by the chef and include a choice of soup or salad, an appetizer, a main, and a dessert. Grab a seat in the stylish and warm interiors featuring Chinese screen prints on the walls and lantern lights overhead.

Le Butterfly (Old Montreal)

Tartare at Le Butterfly. | Credit: Le Butterfly

A small-but-mighty wave of steakhouses arrived in Montreal over the past year, including the elegant Le Butterfly in Old Montreal, which opened in July. The menu leans French with highlights such as seven cuts of top quality American beef, served with classic sauces such as béarnaise or three-peppers. Other rich, hearty dishes and sides include soupe à l’oignon, creamed spinach, and a variety of tartares. Grab a seat at one of the plush banquettes in a chic dining room where the walls are lined with tiles.

Nikkei (Plateau)

Named after the cuisine it’s serving, Nikkei—which debuted in June—is one of the rare Montreal spots dishing up Peruvian-Japanese food. Highlights on the tapas-style menu include a Japanese curry featuring aji amarillo chiles and pan-fried scallops, a chirashi bowl with the spicy, citrusy leche de tigre marinade, and grilled mushroom and lotus root in a ginger sauce. The dark, sleek interiors offer up plenty of space to eat indoors at booths, tables, and at the bar. It’s the kind of place you’ll want to linger a while with a pisco cocktail or sake.

Marcella (Old Montreal)

Marcella’s pasta pomodoro. | Credit: Marcella

Marcella, which opened in May, feels like a nonna set up shop in the heart of cobblestoned Old Montreal. With eggplant parmigiana, house-made sausage, arancini, and classic pasta options such as pomodoro and carbonara, its menu reads like a greatest hits list of Italian cuisine. As a counterpoint to the traditional menu, Marcella’s beverage program is modern and creative, featuring botanical gin drinks and options such as a limoncello spritz. The interiors are cozy yet stylish, with velvet banquets, and framed pictures on the stone walls.

Tadhana (Westmount)

Restaurateurs Eric Lazaro Magno and Ryan Oabel have built a small Filipino culinary empire in Montreal in recent years. Tadhana, located on a leafy Westmount street, is the latest and fanciest addition to it. The restaurant opened in March, and has a menu with small plates alongside a handful of mains such as a meaty sisig and an oxtail ravioli with bagoong (a fermented fish paste) and peanut sauce. The colorful restaurant, featuring pink and orange-accented walls, is accompanied by a speakeasy-style basement bar, pouring out tropical cocktails with plenty of rum and brandy.

Tim Forster is a freelance writer and editor focusing on food, culture and technology.

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