Europea, 1227 rue de la Montagne (tel. 514/398-9229): For the full treatment, order the 10-course menu degustation. You'll see why chef Jérôme Ferrer was named Chef of the Year in 2007 by his colleagues and why the accolades keep coming, year after year.
Toqué!, 900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle (tel. 514/499-2084): Chef/owner Normand Laprise has been thrilling gourmands for years. In dishes of startling innovation, he brings together diverse ingredients that have rarely appeared before on restaurant plates. New menus come out frequently.
Best Classic French Bistro
Plateau Mont-Royal's most Parisian spot, L'Express, is where you come to see what the Francophone part of this city is all about. From the black-and-white-checkered floor to the grand, high ceilings to the classic cuisine, this is where Old France meets New France. Another good bet is Leméac in the chichi Outremont neighborhood.
Best Restaurant to Eat So Much Food at You Can't Move
As the name -- "The Pig's Foot" -- suggests, Au Pied de Cochon is mostly about slabs of meat, especially pork, seafood, and foie gras. The PDC's Cut, weighing in at more than a pound, is emblematic.
A standard-bearer since 1997, Plateau Mont-Royal's Aux Vivres packs in vegans, vegetarians, and the meat eaters who love them.
Best Guilty Treat
Poutine is a plate of French fries (frites) drenched with gravy afloat with cheese curds, and it's the bedrock of Québec comfort food, if not the national hangover remedy. La Banquise, near Parc La Fontaine's northwest corner, offers upwards of 25 variations and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The city has eight outposts of Eggspectation, and they all do brisk business serving funky, creative breakfasts with loads of egg options. The menu is extensive, prices are fair, and portions are huge.
Best Smoked Meat
There are other contenders, but Chez Schwartz Charcuterie Hébraïque de Montréal, known simply as Schwartz's, serves up the definitive version of regional brisket. A new takeout-only counter has opened just next door, a practical option after you see the sit-down lineup that snakes its way down the street.
If you're looking for tasty burgers, downtown regulars convene at m:brgr, where the beef is sourced from famed Moishes steakhouse. Connoisseurs, however, should stop by the Quartier Latin's La Paryse.
Even native New Yorkers give it up for Montréal's bagels, which are sweeter and chewier than those produced south of the border. (The secret, they say, is dipping the dough in honey water.) Both St-Viateur Bagel & Café and Fairmont Bagel are the places to assess the comparison.
Best Restaurant, Period
Chef Normand Laprise and partner Christine Lamarche keep Vieux-Montréal's Toqué! in a league of its own. This dazzlingly postmodern venue is now a deserving member of the gold-standard organization Relais & Châteaux. Laprise fans should also try his more casual spot Brasserie T in the Quartier des Spectacles, which in summer boasts a happening patio.
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