The 14 best spots in Montreal for celebrating right now

As one of Canada’s cultural hearts, Montreal is packed with celebration-worthy restaurants. The city is famous for exquisite French Canadian cuisine, but the dining scene brims with culinary traditions from around the world.

Celebrate an anniversary at an intimate, dinner theater-esque omakase spot downtown. Toast a birthday at a plush Syrian restaurant in Outremont. Celebrate a family reunion at a tapas and paella stalwart where the cava flows generously. And when the temperatures dip, opt for a cozy celebration at an Old Montreal gem that evokes a rustic-chic wood cabin.

While Montreal’s dining rooms tend to skew small (often around 40 seats), there are options for group gatherings, too. Book a table at one of these 14 delectable destinations for any special occasion.

Damas (Outremont)

The tasting menu at Damas. | Credit: Michael Vesia

Easily one of Montreal’s most acclaimed dining destinations, Damas is the place for a plush Persian dinner party. Take a seat in the red velvet dining room (or on the leafy side-street terrasse in warmer months) to kick off your special night. The large dining room is a great setting for group celebrations. The shareable tasting menu is worthy of many festivities, featuring beloved Syrian classics falafel and hummus, plus succulent octopus salad, char-grilled shish taouk (skewered chicken), and more. The à la carte route features meaty braises. Don’t skip the cocktails, which highlight Middle Eastern flavors, including apricot and pomegranate. There’s an extensive wine list, too.

Hoogan & Beaufort (Rosemont)

Ring in an anniversary at this stylish, industrial-chic East Side restaurant. Chef and owner Marc-André Jetté turns out beautiful and balanced dishes that star flame-grilled vegetables, steak, and Nova Scotian red tuna. The tasting menu is a great way to up the ante on any celebration. Impress your date by booking the Hoogan & Beaufort Woodfire Experience, which scores you a perch by a crackling fireplace, with views of the open kitchen. Enjoy Champagne, oysters, and a degustation menu—plus explanations from the acclaimed chef.

Île Flottante (Mile End)

Executive chef Sean Murray Smith, known for a hyper-creative approach to French food, designs ever-changing tasting menus in this Mile End restaurant. It’s a sleek, minimalist space adorned with glass and wood, best for an intimate special occasion. Though it’s not a strictly vegetarian restaurant, produce takes precedence at Île Flottante, while meat and seafood make graceful cameos. Vegetables appear in lesser-seen forms, such as tuiles and granitas. Creative cocktails and extra-friendly service make an evening here especially memorable.

Restaurant Toqué! (Quartier International)

Elegant interiors at Toqué. | Credit: Benedicte Brocard

Chef-owner Normand Laprise is arguably the father of Québécois haute cuisine, and Toqué is the crown jewel of his restaurant empire. Dress to the nines for your special night here—it’s a formal, white-tablecloth place. Toqué’s refined, seven-course tasting menu applies French techniques to Quebec and eastern Canadian produce. Seafood appears regularly, as in Nordic shrimp gazpacho and marinated bluefin tuna; standout meat dishes include black garlic duck. Round out your sophisticated celebration with plates of Quebec cheese with all the bells and whistles, and an optional wine pairing.

Pichai (La Petite-Patrie)

Tucked on St-Hubert Plaza, this Thai restaurant stands out in a city known for French and Canadian cuisine. The popular Southeast Asian spot is a favorite for lively gatherings, with a spicy, shareable menu that showcases Isaac cuisine from northern Thailand. Pichai serves up full-grilled salmon with chile tamarind sauce, mushroom salad, and curry and noodle options made for devouring family style. Balance the heat with Quebec craft beers and a mostly natural wine list. Take note: the dining room is small, so it’s best to book a table or show up at off-peak times to avoid a wait.

Darna Bistroquet (La Petite-Patrie)

This cozy yet sophisticated neighborhood spot—“darna” is Arabic for home—is a special date-night gem. Interiors are inviting, featuring pillow-strewn benches and charming bistro tables. The menu puts creative spins on the cuisines of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Grilled halloumi with peaches, a kefta-spiced lamb tartare, and deeply flavored tajines are soulful and homey. Cap off your celebration with a mint tea mojito or a date espresso martini; Darna’s drinks menu has a penchant for North African ingredients.

Le Club Chasse et Pêche (Old Montreal)

Step into this beloved Old Montreal restaurant for a rustic celebration in the spirit of glamping in the Canadian woods. The food matches the cabin-chic vibe (after all, the restaurant’s name means “The Hunting and Fishing Club”): expect a meaty affair featuring sweetbreads and herby rack of lamb. The hearty, polished plates make the spot an ideal special occasion backdrop during Montreal’s notoriously frigid winters.

Okeya Kyujiro (Downtown)

One of the 20 courses on the omakase menu at Okeya Kyujiro. | Credit: Okeya Kyujiro

This relative newcomer, a 2021 downtown opening, is all about omakase. At $250, it’s a splurge, but chef Takuya Matsuda and his team ensure a captivating and celebratory experience. You’ll receive about 20 umami-laden courses with a spotlight on imported Japanese seafood and Tokyo-style sushi. Service typically starts at one of two fixed times each evening. The minimalist dining room seats about a dozen, so reservations are a must.

Maison Boulud (Downtown)

Spoil yourself and your loved ones with a special occasion meal at iconic chef Daniel Boulud’s Montreal outpost. The Art Déco-accented dining room in Montreal’s Ritz-Carlton hotel has ample space, making it a solid bet for larger celebrations, too. Executive chef Romain Cagnat brings North American and French influences together for a classic yet surprising menu. Dishes such as Niçoise with bluefin tuna confit and quail eggs (or lobster) with a saffron consommé jelly steal the scene. Opt for a seven-course tasting menu. Or celebrate with a distinguished weekend brunch instead, one of Montreal’s best.

Barcola Bistro (Mile End)

Pasta at Barcola Bistro. | Credit: Barcola Bistro

Barcola is a seemingly casual neighborhood haunt. But chef Fabrizio Caprioli’s top-notch takes on northeastern Italian fare make it a formidable place for birthdays, anniversaries, and beyond. Dishes such as chickpea flour pancakes stuffed with pancetta and figs and braised veal with a tomato-eggplant reduction allow primo ingredients to shine. Order the set menu to taste Barcola’s greatest hits. To make it a musical celebration, come on a Friday for the weekly live jazz and cocktail soirée.

Rasoi (St-Henri)

With its vividly painted interiors and a house and R&B soundtrack, Rasoi is one of Montreal’s most festive, celebration-worthy Indian restaurants. The playful menu mixes old favorites with new creations: go classic with the goat vindaloo or experiment with the venison samosa or the “naanza,” a flatbread topped with figs, basil, and paneer. Note: due to Rasoi’s alcohol permit, only guests aged 18 and above can dine at the restaurant.

Helena (Old Montreal)

Renowned Portuguese Canadian chef Helena Loureiro cooks up edible love letters to her homeland at this Old Montreal fine-dining staple. The setting is classy yet convivial, with a dining room that’s well-suited to group celebrations. The menu reflects Loureiro’s experience at Portuguese and Quebec culinary schools. Classic seafood and meat dishes are the name of the game here. Highlights include bacalhau (salt cod fritters), lamb with a port sauce, and a generous seafood platter with garlic sauce.

Elena (St-Henri)

Montreal’s cool kids can be spotted at this trendy destination, deep in St-Henri. Run by two owners from the acclaimed Italian restaurant Nora Gray, Elena is a chic, modern space, perfect for a sophisticated birthday party. A tidy Italian menu (order one of everything if you’re here with a group) includes antipasti, such as fried cauliflower with romesco sauce, an excellent kale caesar, and a small selection of handmade pastas. The true stars, though, are the wood-fired sourdough pizzas. A natural wine list, loaded with funky gems, was made for toasts.

Ibérica (Downtown)

For an exquisite taste of Barcelona in Montreal, look no further than this glamorous downtown restaurant. Catalonia and Valencia are well represented on the menu, with tomato-topped coca (chickpea flour bread) and a selection of shellfish paella. The wood-fired grilled oven was shipped in from Spain, as is the cheese and charcuterie. Sommelier José Lopez curates a predominantly Spanish wine list, complete with cava for that extra special occasion.

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

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