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It may not always look it with Montreal rents pushing ever closer to those of Toronto, but this city’s still got a strong reputation for keeping things on the cheaper side.
In a city full of award-winning restaurants, those of us on a budget can still eat at a fancy place on the cheap. It’s totally possible to dine out like a person with a fat bank account without completely draining your actual bank account.
The following selection of restaurants will provide you with a go-to list of places when you’re looking to impress family, friends, or maybe a date — if you want to eat the best the city has to offer without spending too much. You’re going to be spending more than $10, but that’s just the name of the game at places like this.
Consider this your cheat sheet to looking and feeling fancy without spending fancy. We’ve included rough price guides for each place, but drinks, taxes and tips can of course change your bill significantly.
(August 2023 update: we’ve added five new spots to this list, and removed Bonheur D’Occasion because their special (i.e., cheaper) menu is no longer advertised.)
Address: Multiple locations
Why You Need To Go: When the longstanding Montreal location for the steak-frites restaurant Entrecôte Saint-Jean shut down, it spurred the creation of Mignon. Why? Because its owners believed the city still needed a place devoted to table d’hôte menus of soup or salad, plus AAA grade Angus steaks covered in a signature sauce — with unlimited fries. Careful though; it’s cheap enough to draw you in, but good enough you’ll be tempted to spend a bit more to explore the rest of their menu.
Le Petit Alep
Where: 191, rue Jean-Talon E.
Why You Need To Go: This Syrian-Armenian restaurant opened with the mission of feeding the city’s bohemians, so it’s little surprise that they’re keeping things on the cheaper end. It’s a bright and colourful spot to grab a bottle of wine from their huge wine cellar to go with a menu full of aromatic soups, salads, stuffed pita, grilled platters, and mezze like hummus, labneh, mouhamara, and stuffed grape leaves.
Price: $7.50 to $37
Where: 4629, avenue du Parc
Why You Need To Go: Load up your table with a variety of this popular Middle Eastern restaurant’s dishes, split the cheque between yourself and a few others, and you’ll be surprised to find that you barely broke the $40 to $50 mark. From the fatteh with layers of crispy pita, yogurt, tahini and nuts to the kefta brochettes, the menu is huge and at its most cheap when you mix and match a lot.
Price: $9 to $26
Where: 4241, boul. Decarie
Why You Need To Go: A full meal here generally goes for about $30 to $40 a person, and when you consider this Persian restaurant’s generous portions, it’s more than a steal. Hearty stews, brochettes of filet mignon, tea and sweet and crispy baklava for dessert — you won’t just leave full, you’ll leave with enough money for a drink or two afterwards. Best of all, it’s BYOB, so you can save a bit by bringing a bottle of your own.
Price: $30 to $40
Where: 3609, rue Saint-Denis
Why You Need To Go: There’s a reason why it can sometimes be next to impossible to nab a weekend table at this vegan sushi restaurant in the Plateau. They specifically have a section of their menu for ‘deals’ that will combine miso soup, gyoza, or soba salads with platters of sushi so delicious you’ll have a hard time believing that there isn’t a single speck of fish in it. Big props to plant-based chef Christian Ventura for this chic spot to eat dinner.
Price: $18.50 for one person to $44.50 for two people
Where: 3927, rue Saint-Denis
Why You Need To Go: What can be said about this nationally acclaimed classic French restaurant that hasn’t already been said? It made a name for itself decades ago when it fed the artists of the Plateau, and today carries that torch nicely with generous menus of rich food. You can overspend here if you order too much, but thankfully, one or two plates before wine will be enough to satisfy. Recommendations go to the daily specials and essentials like croque-monsieur, quiche, and bone marrow.
Price: $12.75 to $36.25
Where: 1431, boul. Saint-Laurent
Why You Need To Go: If you thought about eating at Bouillon Bilk and got hesitant over their prices, try this cheaper alternative that’s run by the same restaurant group. Plates like späetzle with broccoli or scallops may come off as small, but they’re so flavorful and well-made that you can’t second-guess eating here. It’s perfect for small group dining, where you can try bites of multiple dishes and leave fully satiated.
Price: $6 to $28
Where: 4255, rue Ontario E.
Why You Need To Go: With a table d’hôte menu for $70 that gives you a taste of just about everything you could want from the menu, this now-famous Hochelaga restaurant is a great place to eat fine dining on the cheap. That price point may not sound cheap to some, but the table d’hôte truly takes you on a trip through the menu. Still not convinced? Pick a few fewer plates for yourself and you can bring down the bill.
Where: 5201, boul. Saint-Laurent
Why You Need To Go: When you scan the menu for prices at this Mile End destination for breakfast, lunch and dinner, keep in mind that tips are included. Everything from the kitchen here is delicate and surprisingly filling despite much of the menu being termed ‘small plates.’ If you want something more substantial, grab one of their sandwiches and you’ll be more than good to go.
Price: $13 to $30
Where: 1030, avenue Laurier O.
Why You Need To Go: This French brasserie is an industry favourite for anyone working in restaurants and bars, and for good reason: From Monday to Saturday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. till close, $29 fetches you an appetizer and a main. The menu offers a lot, from terrine and snail puff pastry for starters followed by boudin or coq au vin. There are a few heavier options available as well for just a bit extra.
Where: 3854, rue Ontario E.
Why You Need To Go: This Hochelaga BYOB restaurant is a local favourite for dishes of foie gras, oysters Rockefeller (how much fancier can you get?), pasta and large meat-forward plates. Folks love the fact that this place offers a high-quality alternative to pricier options without sacrificing any important fine dining element, like knowledgeable service. It’s a cozy place too, with an intimate atmosphere worth enjoying on a special occasion.
Price: $20 to $38
Where: 5221, boul. de Maisonneuve O.
Why You Need To Go: This Thai restaurant in NDG is a hidden gem for many with its unassuming location near Vendôme station. The owner and chef Vilay Douangpanya is among the best chefs in the city for Thai cuisine, whether it’s for her classic pad Thai, satay skewers, papaya salad, or bright red curries packed with just the right amount of spice. Once you split a decent selection of dishes with friends or family, you’ll eat well — and that’s including tax and tip.
Price: $5 to $40
Where: 5215, boul. Saint-Laurent
Why You Need To Go: This Turkish restaurant in the Plateau is a big local favourite for its grilled meat, mezze, hummus with lamb, and other rich classics like the scrambled egg dish menemen. For $85, two people can eat from one of two long menus that include dessert and coffee, providing you with more than enough food that’s been expertly crafted. There’s a sizeable selection of vegetarian dishes to pick from, too.
Price: $85 for two people
Ichigo Ichie Izakaya
Address: 360, rue Rachel E.
Why You Need To Go: Japanese cuisine can be pricey from time to time, and while your money’s always going to be put to good use, it can’t get better than at this izakaya. Bring some friends and split plates of tataki, fried karaage, marinated short ribs on hot plates, and other snacks, and it won’t be long before you’ll have a full stomach of some of the city’s best — especially after a sake bomb or two.
Price: $11 to $23
Le Garden Room
Address: 1445, rue Bishop
Why You Need To Go: When it comes to Thai food in Montreal, chef Pamika Sukla is among the best of the best. When it comes to finding the fanciest place to eat her recipes? This is it: Taking over the space that once housed the Brazilian steakhouse Le Milsa, they’ve turned it into an ultra-swanky spot lined with greenery and accents that make its glass rooftop really sing. As for the food, it’s all the greatest Pamika hits, from plates of pad thai and pad see ew to braised beef soup — at a price point where one dish will be more than enough.
Price: $14 to $20
Le Petit Boui Boui
Address: 1498, rue Bélanger
Why You Need To Go: There are tons of places to get Vietnamese food in Montreal, but at this small restaurant headed by Ritchie Nguyen, who trained at Maison Publique, the takes on street food are on another delicious level. The level of care he brings to pho, crispy savory pancakes, papaya salads and more are delicious, served in a slickly designed setting, and cheap enough that you’ll have more than enough left over in your wallet that you can dip into the wine list.
Price: $6.50 to $18
Address: 4084, rue Saint-Denis
Why You Need To Go: This Italian spot cooking specialties from the country’s Apulian region is doing some of the best food on all of Saint-Denis: The menu is full of options like focaccia Barese, covered in smashed burrata and mortadella with chopped pistachio; panzerotti stuffed with cheese, sauce and more; fresh pastas like orecchiette and lasagna, and — get this — a fried octopus sandwich. There’s always a bunch of inexpensive specials to eat up, too.
Price: $10 to $23
Fu Chun Soupe Dumpling
Address: 1978, boul. De Maisonneuve O.
Why You Need To Go: There are a ton of great places for dumplings around Concordia University, but this Shanghainese spot specialing in broth-filled xiao long bao served with mixtures of pork, shrimp, crab, and more — as well as all kinds of noodle dishes with primo ingredients — is extra special. With its price point, it’s easy to bring friends, load the table up with a variety of dishes from every page of the menu, and still have change for drinks elsewhere after.
Price: $6.99 to $29.99
Restaurant de l’ITHQ
Address: 3535, rue Saint-Denis
Why You Need To Go: If you can’t afford to eat at the restaurants helmed by the biggest chefs in the city, then why not go where you can eat the food made by the city’s biggest up-and-coming chefs? L’Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec’s in-house restaurant is the training ground for many future culinary stars and it’s where, supervised by the head instructor, you’ll get service that has something to prove. Starting on August 22 and running through autumn, you can get a three-course menu from Tuesday to Thursday starting at $49.
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