The restaurant situation in Montreal on Christmas Day can be a drag, with foodies concurring that choices are few and far in between outside of Chinatown and hotels. So I did a bit of digging.
It's not pastrami. It's not corned beef. It's Montreal smoked meat. And Schwartz's is the flagship for the local fast food delicacy, a smokey, sweet-meets-salty sandwich stacked with a dozen plus slices, prepared in that distinctively Montreal way. Open on Christmas Day with hot smoked meat available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (map).
More on Montreal smoked meat.
Charcuterie is the standout at this Old Montreal haunt. And the scallops. Open Christmas day from 11 a.m. to midnight. Also open for brunch December 24, 2016 through January 1, 2017 (map).
Live jazz with your Christmas dinner? Get the lamb if you can. It's their specialty. Open Christmas Day from 11:30 a.m. to midnight. The jazz picks up by 8 p.m. Ask for a seat on the top floor if you want a view of the musicians (map).
One of Montreal's top steakhouses gets mixed reviews. Despite its shortcomings --yes, it's touristy, and yes, the service can be lacklustre, professional though-- I personally like it at Gibbys. That could have something to do with the fact that I order the right dishes. According to an ex-employee who asked to remain anonymous, the filet mignon is passable but otherwise, he advises avoiding the steaks of all things, with a special razzie award for the New York slab. He says it really doesn't make the cut. And out of left field, he goes as far as to claim that the fish, of all things, is the best in the city. Open in the evening on Christmas Day, from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. (map).
- Auberge Saint Gabriel
One of Old Montreal's leading destinations --and if you believe the rumors, a haunted one. High-end magic but without being stuffy (map).
- Le Renoir
I've only heard flattering things about French restaurant Le Renoir's brunch, served 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Day. Special holiday season table d'hôte offered from 5 pm. to 10:30 p.m. Reservations recommended (map).
- Khyber Pass
Afghan cuisine --think a cross between Indian and Middle Eastern-- is in short supply in Montreal, with Khyber Pass at the helm. A solid, charming, affordable bet on any given day. And it's a bring your own wine restaurant, a welcome relief for the wallet. But plan ahead and get that bottle on Christmas Eve before the SAQs close for the holidays, lest you end up with dépanneur wine. Open in the evening on Christmas Day, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (map).
An Old Montreal celebrity magnet, many are the household names who've stayed at Le Saint-James, Conde Nast Traveller's October 2015 Reader's Choice award winner. It's not difficult to understand why. The common areas alone are sumptuously comfortable, adorned in luxury and wood-paneled opulence. The hotel's restaurant decor proposes more of the same (see photo on this page). Open Christmas Day, XO offers a four-course brunch involving maple glazed salmon with roasted ham foam and squash puree from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner options include goose confit and foie gras meat pie and cheese curd stuffed turkey from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (map).
Southern-style smokehouse BBQ is Diablos' game, from pulled pork to smoked meat, beef ribs and brisket. Keep things casual and carnivorous on Christmas Day. Open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight (map).
- Chez Lévêque
Imagine Parisian service... with warmth. This lovely, happy, chatty French brasserie fills up fast though, so if you intend on supping here Christmas Day. Call and book a table asap. Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (map).
- Le Taj
Craving Indian? Thalis, paneer-stuffed naan, copious vegetarian options... Le Taj has got your back (and stomach). Open Christmas Day evening from 5 p.m.to 10:30 p.m. (map).
- Le Pois Penché
Solid downtown Montreal Parisian style brasserie. Deep pockets will salivate over the seafood platter. Open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (map).
In addition to these Montreal restaurants, the following Montreal restaurants are, last time I checked their online reservations schedule, open Christmas Day, be it all day or as of the evening, all solid bets in my honest opinion which cover the gamut of casual perfection (think Syrian cuisine at Damas, one of the city's best restaurants) to upscale haute cuisine (hint: Boulud):
- Chez Queux
- Maison Boulud
- Chez Alexandre
- Bevo Bar + Pizzeria
- Casino de Montréal
- Vieux Port Steakhouse
Just to be safe, call before heading out to your restaurant of choice and double check. Schedules have been known to change. And of course, if all else fails, consider hotel restaurants outside of the ones I've mentioned. They're open every day.