On July 4th, Magic players from around the World will descend upon Montreal for one last shot at the Dragons of Tarkir limited format. It has become somewhat of a tradition for Mana Deprived to produce a guide for visitors who may want to experience all the city has to offer. If it’s your first time here, you may want to start with our previous installments:
Join Martin Brunet and Franky Richard as they share their recommendations in the different categories of interest for our readers. For each category, they’ve also included a team pick that is endorsed by both of them. So without further ado, the top picks for GP Montreal.
If there’s a meal that’s typically associated with Montreal, it’s definitely poutine and you don’t want to miss out on it.
1655 Rue Saint-Denis
Martin: A hidden place in a popular neighborhood. Deep in the “Latin Quarters”, this modest half-basement “Comfort Food” eat-in offers my favorite poutine in town. Ask for the “Hommage à Québec”, an all-star. Just like the Deathmist Raptor, Den protector and Satyr Wayfinder staple trio, this poutine has the three classic ingredients in its upmost quality. However, it is complemented with cocktail sausages and a hint of spicy ketchup that kicks it up a few notches. For those who would like to try something else, the Mac and Cheese is on point. The plate consists of a sensible choice of warm, old and fresh cheese with the classic pastas.
Ma Poule Mouillée
969 rue Rachel Est
Franky: This place is really a Portugese rotisserie and it is simply amazing. It’s also located right across from La Banquise, which is my favorite poutine place in Montreal, but sometime has huge lineups even late at night. Ma Poule Mouillée does one type of poutine, but it’s filled with delicious roasted chicken, chorizo and their awesome spicy sauce. If you fancy something else, you can’t go wrong picking any item from their menu and the prices are ridiculously low. The place might be crowded a bit, but any wait will be well worth it. You won’t regret going there.
Team Pick > Frite Alors!
680 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest
Franky: The specialty of Frites Alors! is their Belgian style fries and they’re a perfect fit for poutine. They offer different options to spice up your poutine, including pulled pork and braised beef. You can also enjoy their fries with one of 17 home made sauces, which makes the perfect side dish for their extensive selection of burgers and sandwiches. Their beer menu is quite decent with lots of local brews and European imports. With 7 locations around Montreal, this place is a sure bet for hungry travelers.
Adult gamers need adult drinks. This is where you get them.
Randolph Gaming Pub
2041 rue Saint-Denis
Martin: I’ve made my market research, and you guys like games. This is the board games joint to go in Montreal. For 5$, you get to have access to hundreds of games. Want to try something new? They have gals and fellas walking around making sure you will find the right game you want to play. The beer and the food is good. If you don’t day 2, or even if you do, head straight to the Randolph and keep playing ’till the end of the night. Be careful however, there might be a lineup.
Le Vieux Dublin Pub & Restaurant
636 rue Cathcart
Franky: This Irish pub is so close to the venue, it would be a disservice to not mention it. If you’re looking for a good pint of beer, you will find it here. Their selection includes Irish, English, Canadian and other European beers. You can also order pub style food from their kitchen before 9:30 pm. Food wise, their specialty is burgers, but they’ve other interesting options as well. You might also be interested in their selection of scotch which is quite extensive.
Team Pick > Bier Markt
1221 boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest
Franky: If you showed up for KYT’s birthday party at the last GP, this is where it was hosted and it’s even closer to the venue this time. The Bier Markt offers more than a hundred types of beer, so if you can’t find one you like, you’ve got “issues”. It’s also a decent place to eat, which makes this a good place to visit after a particularly rough tournament. Every item on their menu has a matching beer recommendation to make things easier for you. They serve the more traditional pub food, but also offer high end seafood and grilled meats. It’s not the cheapest place, but the quality is worth it.
Montreal’s gastronomy is legendary and we thought you’d might wanna know where to go.
Vallier Bistro et comptoir
425 rue McGill
Martin: We’re talking big leagues here. If you come to Montreal, mind as well experience what my lovely town offers best, food. My choice stops at Le Valier. A quality French Cuisine restaurant, you will enjoy great food and wine in the most humble atmosphere. I’ve never felt in a pompous setting there, yet the experience is distinguished and sophisticated. Plan for a budget of about 50$ with a glass of wine because if you aren’t getting wine with your meal, you aren’t doing the full montrealer thing.
3807 rue Saint-André
Franky: I used to work right across the street from this restaurant and they make the best grilled cheese sandwich in Montreal. If you’re looking for great comfort food at a fair price made from fresh ingredients, look no further. Their menu is quite varied and includes tacos, sandwiches, burgers, poutines and even has a decent amount of vegetarian options. A lot of their plates can be customized with a variety of toppings that will turn great into unforgettable. Finally if you need a fancy drink to go with a great meal, their cocktail menu will leave no one indifferent.
Team Pick > Le Boucan Smokehouse
1886 rue Notre-Dame Ouest
Martin: You want meat? You go to Le Boucan. A Texas inspired BBQ restaurant, they got ribs, chicken, pulled pork and all the big plates one would expect in a place that’s all about meats. They even have Bacon Brownies! The shop is a little small, so be ready to be a little tight, and tighter as your belly bulges. This is the place where when you’ll be done, you’ll be staring at the wall in satisfaction.
Best of Verdun
Verdun is an up-and-coming neighborhood, the home of Face to Face Games and tournament organizer Game Keeper.
JoBlo Restaurant Steakhouse
3807 rue Wellington
Martin: Copious. That’s all I have to say. Well, not really. I live right next to this joint and I don’t eat for a day before going there. The burgers are huge, flavourful and rewarding. There are many other plates (poutine and “Pâté Chinois”) that are just as well challenging. The setting is something else as well. The decor and the staff sets a prohibition era experience where you feel like a gangster. Those fat middle-aged gangsters that is. The meats are fresh from the neighbourhood butcher as well. The latter actually taught the cook to make the cuts on site. So when Face to Face Games closes, take a walk and enjoy JoBlo.
Black Strap BBQ
4436 rue Wellington
Franky: When this place opened right across from Face to Face Games, it became an instant classic. They have one of the best pulled pork sandwich in the city and well as kick ass ribs and all kinds of slowly cooked delicacies. My personal favorites are the fried mac ‘n cheese side dish and the chilli cheese fries. The restaurant prides itself in offering authentic Memphis-style BBQ and boy do they deliver.
Team Pick >Benelux Brasserie Artisanale
4026 rue Wellington
Martin: Verdun was a dry city for 130 years. For this period of time, the only way you could consume alcohol in a public establishment was with food. Benelux was the first bar that received a special authorization to sell beer without food. However you should still get the food. The micro-brewery has a rotation of 15 beers that are made on site and have a nice card of quick meals. I suggest the “Peperette” and the “Tex-Mex” Burrito. The backyard patio is the main course. Hands down, one of the nicest in Montreal. It is spacious and comfortable. Don’t be surprised if you meet Frankie and I there after an FNM.
Best cuisine du Monde
A cosmopolitan city like Montreal is also home to a wide variety of flavors, some of which we heartily recommend.
Restaurant Noodle Factory
1018 rue Saint-Urbain
Martin: My Chinatown pick. Cash only obviously. Nonetheless, this small shack offers all the usual Asian food classics but at a discount and a big portion. Most of the time, I give my leftovers to a homeless chap. The Wonton soup is pretty good being complemented with a good amount of rice noodles and top of the big fat ones we like so much. Don’t be intimidated by the line-up because they ship take-out fast.
Thali Cuisine Indienne
1409 rue Saint-Marc
Franky: Welcome to your typical Indian “hole-in-the-wall”. For me going there is very simple, as I always order their combo platter, which lets you pick 3 curries and comes with naan bread, rice and salad. For less than 10$, it doesn’t get much better than this. They also have other options if you know more than I do about Indian food. The place is quite small, so you shouldn’t venture there with a group larger than four unless you’re planning to take out.
Team Pick > Il Focolaio
1223 rue du Square Phillips
Martin: Close to my office, I love bringing friends for lunch there. It is the Schwartz of Oven Baked Pizza. It has the vibe of a restaurant that’s been open for generations, which is in fact the case. Hundreds of pizzas. Flip the table mat menu and you’ll find a suggestion of mine for the Parks & Recreation fans, the Volcano Calzone. An infusion of spicy meats wrapped in pizza dough. A delight. It is fairly close to the venue, and right next to the “Vieux Dublin”. A must.
In Canada, beer is almost a religion. You should have one (or more).
9 avenue Duluth Est
Martin: A little out of the way, but I believe that it is worth the hassle. It’s on the “Main” and close to Schwartz however! We had to dig deeper since we had two guides already and this small micro-brewery is one of my favorite. Never had an issue with the staff, never had an issue with the beer. Food is marginal but great too. Don’t hesitate to share with the waiter your experience of Montreal because they will be very generous with their attention and their knowledge of the real Montreal life. Absolutely beautiful setting as well.
Dieu du Ciel!
29 avenue Laurier Ouest
Franky: This is one of the most renowned microbrewery in Montreal, or heaven for the beer nerds. Besides from the amazing selection of beer they serve, it’s also a great place to go out to experience the Montreal ambiance. People of all ages go there to enjoy craft beer at its best, in a definitely friendly atmosphere. When I’ve gone it was strictly for beer, but apparently they serve good food at reasonable prices as well.
Team Pick > Le Sainte-Elisabeth
1412 rue Sainte-Élisabeth
Martin: The Patio. Oh my goodness the patio. I strongly believe this bar is a safe bet as it will satisfy everyone of your group. If you’re a good chunk of planeswalkers looking for a beer or a drink, head to the Sainte-Elisabeth. The price are good too. You will surely have a great night.
My kingdom for a burger!
1407 rue Saint-Marc
Martin: This, you gotta go. Not because it is a “wow” experience but because this is what Montreal truly offers best, small kickass shacks. Pick’s is Korean owned burger joint that offers the best burger under 10$. Fully customizable, you highlight what you want on a checklist and you give it to the guy how barely speaks either of our official languages. You get in return a juicy, fresh burger with a good chunk of fries (if you ordered them). Plus, the bun, usually unnoticeable, is truly tasteful. I found this little place on r/montreal and did agreed with the thread. It is THE best burger in town.
3820 boulevard St-Laurent
Franky: I must admit I’m a bit of a burger fanatic. There are a lot of burger joints in Montreal, but few of them offer fried chicken burgers. I ended up here when looking for that ultimate fried chicken burger and was not disappointed. They really respect food and you will taste the difference. They’re known for having great mac n cheese which I’ve yet to try and also serve fancy hot dogs. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so check out their Instagram page if you wanna see for yourself. They’ve got crazy things on there such as the ultimate Montreal treat!
Team Pick > La Belle et la Boeuf
1620 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest
Franky: A recently established burger bar chain in Montreal, you should go there if you’re looking for an outrageous burger. They have a few more classic options, but where they truly shine is in the unusual toppings or gargantuan servings. When I was there I had their Calimero which had a fried egg inside and was simply delicious. Their “regular” burgers are huge, but you can go crazy with double, triple and quadruple patties options that normal humans probably can’t get through. It’s also a decent place to try poutine, with exotic options such as foie gras & duck or lobster poutine. It’s really close to Picks, so you’ll have a fall back plan if you head that way.
Best of the Rest
These we couldn’t quite fit in our categories, but just couldn’t leave out either.
Bar Le Mal Nécessaire
1106 B boulevard Saint-Laurent
Martin: A speakeasy style cocktail lounge, they offer fantastic drinks. From the street, you can only see a giant neon pineapple, stairs and a curtain. You will discover a truly amazing place. You won’t find a pina colada on this exceptional drinks card, but if you do, it’s going to be served with fireworks. Nothing is ordinary in this establishment yet it is simple to the core. Good drinks, good staff and good food. The latter comes from a neighbouring Chinese food joint. The music is also well chosen and sets a great vibe. You will have a good time there.
Marathon Souvlaki Restaurant
5365 rue des Jockeys
Franky: For those driving to Montreal, this is a place worth stopping by. It’s the farthest place we’ve recommended, but it’s really worth the detour. On the bright side, they have abundant free parking. For me it’s the ultimate Greek restaurant: every plate comes with salad, rice and fries; the prices are reasonable; the ingredients are always fresh; everything is cooked perfectly and tastes amazing.
Team Pick > Universel Déjeuners et Grillades
2055 rue Peel
Franky: If you’re looking for a good breakfast not too far from the venue, this is the place I would recommend. They serve it all day, along with a regular lunch/dinner menu. It’s a good place to visit if your party is not set on one specific thing to eat as they offer a wide range of meals. Whether you order a burger, a steak or pastas, you’ll be pleased with the end result. It’s a place I’ve been to many times and was never disappointed. Great service, check it out.