Updated: 1 day ago
With only a day or two in Montreal, visitors can easily rent a car and check out the best foodie spots in the city. Boasting markets, sugar shacks and wineries near Montreal's humming metropolis, you can find everything for a full day of tasting local produce and fruits of the land.
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Markets To Visit in Montreal
Jean Talon Market
7070 Henri Julien Ave, Montreal, Quebec H2S 3S3, Canada
Most impressive on my first visit many years ago, I had memories of sampling freshly shucked oysters and taking home duck pate and stinky cheeses. It seemed overwhelmingly huge to me, and I felt it would take hours to complete a full tour of it.
Instead, upon my second visit (perhaps due to the late winter season), it was less grandiose and more of a simple produce market, good for an in and out grab for fresh flowers or additions to a picnic later in the day. Which, by the way, is a good idea if you plan to visit some of the wineries below. Buy some cheese, pate, fresh bread, fruit and jams to bring along with you.
Neighboring Montreal's Little Italy barrio, it could also be paired with a nice Italian lunch, or you can take an organized tour to go beyond the market.
Note that there is easy parking on site so there is no need to hunt down street parking.
350 Rue Saint-Paul E, Montréal, QC H2Y 1H2, Canada
This place is totally overrated and made for tourists. The indoor market offers a coffee shop, a Native American goods store, and more than a handful of "I Love Montreal" souvenir shops. Overloaded with maple candies, white and red tshirts and underpants with moose on them, it was a Canadian nightmare to walk through.
However, given that it is possibly one of the most famous markets in Montreal and central to the downtown historic district, it is worth a stroll through if not for anything more than a respite from the elements and a bathroom break.
Marche Atwater (Atwater Market)
138 Atwater Ave, Montreal, Quebec H4C 2H6, Canada
The true star of Montreal's market scene is the Marche Atwater, or Atwater Market. Spilling into outdoor kiosks, the interior of Atwater Market was a refreshingly more "local" market than the previous two.
With easy parking, we popped in and out of produce stalls, butcher shops, fromageries and dry good stores. It took a good hour to browse all the wares, and we definitely paused carefully for reflection at the pastries and French items at the cafe inside.
If you only have time for one market in Montreal, make the Atwater Market the one.
Sugar Shacks and Wineries Near Montreal
In an area called Saint Joseph Du-Lac, discover a complete change in scenery from Montreal's often gritty urban streets just 40 minutes from Trudeau airport.
Already aware of Quebec City's Ile de Orleans offering wine routes, sugar shacks and other foodie fun, I knew that Montreal must surely have a similar scene, and Saint Joseph Du-Lac didn't disappoint.
Locals told us that the wine route is completely bonkers and backed up with traffic in the summer months, so we were pleased to have the back roads of farm country mostly to ourselves, save for the many journeying bicyclists doing the same thing as us.
Snow was melting from the previous week's epic and historical ice storm, and the sun was warm. It was a perfect day in Montreal's wine country.
Here's three places we would recommend again:
405 Rang de l'Annonciation, Oka, QC J0N 1E0, Canada
Unsure what a sugar shack is, we ventured there first in search of maple syrup, maple fudge and well, all things maple. We expected perhaps a tasting room or operating farm, but instead were surprised to find a huge restaurant and take away cafe.
In the restaurant, diners booked well in advance to indulge in a multi-course brunch for the ages. This gargantuan feast has stiff competition in the area, but we weren't really sure what the typical sugar shack meal consists of.
Apparently, get your cholesterol meds ready, because it includes a lot of meats like bacon, sausage and ham, a pea soup, baked beans, breads, pickled things and specialty pork rinds called "oreilles de crisse". Top it all off with the house made maple syrup, and you've got yourself a typical sugar shack meal.
For those unfortunate enough not to have a reservation, the small outpost at the front of the restaurant sells jams, syrups and other maple spreads and products to take home. We really enjoyed sampling a few from the cashier and took home some maple caramel to dip apples in at home.
This particular sugar shack also had a super cute outdoor area where families were cooking s'mores by a big firepit, and others had opted into a takeaway picnic meal from the restaurant. Hosting events in their busy seasons, we felt that this was a hidden gem in Montreal for families and would definitely return.
1473 Chem. Principal, Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, QC J0N 1M0, Canada
Vergers LaFrance was at first glance a grocery market full of bicyclists purchasing french bread and take away ciders, but then I spotted the tasting counter in the back of the store.
My goodness, they had everything. We tasted wines, ice wines, ciders, gin, vermouth and so on. The samples were free and free-flowing, and we tried nearly all of them. We luckily had my trusty VinGardeValise wine suitcase with us, so we loaded it up with as much as we could bring home.
Aside from being a market and tasting room, the property also has a cafe onsite. Next door and nearby are additional properties owned by Domaine LaFrance including a distillery/cidery and orchards.
This well-rounded stop on our tour around Saint Joseph Du-Lac was excellent, and worth repeating.
2007 Chem. Principal, Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, QC J0N 1M0, Canada
La Bullerie is a lovely modern estate with vines on site. Offering a full service restaurant and what seemed like wedding planning services while we were there, we visited on a beautiful day for sampling wines indoors or out.
Being Floridians, the open exposure to the sun forced us indoors, but the Canadians were soaking in every morsel of warmth from the rays that day. The view over the vineyard is so peaceful, but inside we also had a lovely time.
The proprietor brought both samples to try, even though we were going to share one tasting, and they seemed endless with more pours than what was advertised. She did a great job explaining in her best broken English (French is often a first language in Montreal), and we enjoyed ourselves greatly.
With warm hospitality and reasonable tasting prices, this is also worth your visit.
Where to Eat
Take a food tour to taste what Montreal's melting pot of cuisines is all about, or just take my word for it - these restaurants are divine options for a short stay in Montreal.
42 Avenue Ste Anne, Pointe-Claire, Quebec H9S 4P8, Canada
Situated about 10-15 minutes from the airport, Le Gourmand is a classic over-the-top cute little French bistro. With pre-fixed and a la carte menu options, the quality matches the quaint cobblestone building - exquisite.
Prepare to dress a little nicer and spend a little more, but it is worth it.
1 Saint-Paul St W, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 1Y6, Canada
Don't leave Montreal without trying Modavie's jazz brunch. The Maitre D'Hotel, Lorenzo Baldassarre, instantly made me and my family feel at home. Their warm yet industrial space is adorned with art nouveau paintings and all the vibes you need for a cozy afternoon brunch after exploring Old Town Montreal.
I sampled several Canadian cocktails, handcrafted by our server, while listening to a darling trio croon and pluck while we dined. Their steak tartare stole the show for me, though their signature lamb dish certainly didn't disappoint.
Make a reservation online in advance, but be aware there is a hefty cancellation fee if plans change.
5849 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, Quebec H4A 1X4, Canada
This adorable space features homemade pastas and a market full of Italian dried goods, gelato, and other prepared foods that are easy to take home. They had easy street parking in a hip looking neighborhood.
Call ahead in the afternoons - the kitchen closes between lunch and dinner shifts.
362 Notre-Dame St. East, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 1C7, Canada
I discovered this place quite by accident, as it was near to our parking garage in Old Montreal. My kid was yelling "I have to poooop!" so I ran to the nearest friendly looking cafe.
A polite patron, I told them I'd order something as soon as the crisis was over. I am SO glad I did. The whole cafe is casually covered in critters from the Japanese film, My Neighbor Totoro so color me surprised when my green tea latte came out with the little guy carefully etched in foam by their barista.
Those dining in, not clogging up the cafe counter like myself, were enjoying hot meals - crepes! - and similar Totoro concoctions in cleverly crafted coffee drinks.
We had just returned from Japan the day prior (we were on a long layover/stopover) so this of course warmed the cockles of my heart and it was a pleasant, repeatable stop.
975 Romeo Vachon Blvd N, Saint-Laurent, Quebec H4Y 1H6, Canada (Inside the terminal)
I was really happy to find such a beautiful restaurant inside what was otherwise a standard airport terminal. Just steps from the international departures entrance, this brewery and gastropub was not only gorgeous, but it was delicious and affordable too.
Vintage wooden snowshoes hung from the ceiling, which boasted a large antler chandelier. Game board tables added an air of charm to the lounge space adjacent to the dining room, where I had some nibbles and cider before boarding my flight.
The fireplace roared with radiance and heat and the atmosphere was honestly intoxicating (or was it the cider?).
We tried several items, but the game changer on the menu is their braised duck drumsticks. Coated in BBQ sauce made from one of their signature beers, maple syrup and a smoked sour cream, this dish had all the wow factor I needed to look forward to our next visit through YUL.
Sample several other Montreal breweries before heading to the airport on this great tour for beer lovers.
Where to Stay
Offering a bar, restaurant, cafe, meeting rooms and an executive lounge, this convenient hotel is located in the terminal!
It is easy in, easy out and if you rent a car (which you should here), you can even park it at the airport for free in the same space you rented it from.
In truth, we found Montreal to be a pretty unpleasant city. After literally just arriving back from pristine and clean Japan, the city graffiti, garbage, and poorly maintained roads really made us feel Montreal was going to be a bust.
But thankfully, due to these amazing finds and hidden gems in Montreal's lesser known neighborhoods, we had a really great and relaxing time. Stay just a day or two before venturing on to quintessentially cute Quebec City, where you'll get a better dose of historic French charm than in Montreal.
In the meantime, enjoy some wine, a typical meal at a sugar shack, and check out some markets in Montreal. Being a hub for Air Canada's many international routes, this is a good place to keep in your back pocket for a long layover or stopover, and now you know how to keep entertained next time you go, so have a bon voyage!