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 the hotels. However, there are still a few great restaurants in Montreal that will be open on Christmas Day and serving up special holiday feasts.
Just to be safe, you should call before heading out to your restaurant of choice and double check to make sure it will be open as schedules have been known to change. If all else fails, you can also consider hotel restaurants, which are open every day.
You can enjoy a traditional favorite, Montreal smoked meat, at the flagship store for this local fast food delicacy, Schwartz's, which will be open on Christmas Day with hot smoked meat available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Schwartz's is known for its smokey, sweet-meets-salty sandwiches stacked with a dozen or more slices, prepared in a distinctively Montreal style.
Charcuterie is the standout at Hambar Restaurant in Old Montreal, which will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight on Christmas Eve and Day. Hambar typically serves up a special holiday brunch both days from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. that features the charcuterie bar's signature scallops, the Hamburger Hambar, and beef tartare with spicy mayo, fried quinoa, and fries. Reservations are recommended, especially during brunch, since seating at this hip spot is limited.
If you're a fan of jazz music, try a holiday meal featuring a live jazz performance on Christmas Day at Modavie in the Ville-Marie neighborhood of Montreal. Enjoy a specialty lamb from a table on the top floor with a view of the musicians or even book a special holiday party in the private room for up to 85 friends and family members. On Christmas Day, the full menu will be available until midnight, but reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited during the busy Christmas season.
One of Montreal's top steakhouses, Gibbys, will be open on Christmas Day and serving up its Razzie award-winning New York slab steak all evening. Although the restaurant has been criticized for being a tourist hotspot with lackluster service, the fish is still heralded as some of the best in the city. Located on the corner of St. François-Xavier, below St. Paul, on Place D'Youville, Gibby's Steakhouse is easily accessible via the Square-Victoria Metro, which will also be operating on a limited holiday schedule on Christmas Day.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you'll love the three special meals at Le Renoir, a French restaurant in downtown Montreal, including four services of Les Soirées de Noël and Le Brunch de Noël on Christmas Day.
The Christmas dinners has included in the past: a three-course prix fixe meal starting with scallop tartare, radicchio, citrus endives, olive oil foam, and squid ink chips as an appetizer. The meal typically continues with a choice of veal filet or roasted John Dory, served with either celeriac and spinach carpaccio with artichoke and black truffle sauce or with braised parsnips, black trumpet mushrooms, and champagne sabayon.
Afghan cuisine — think a cross between Indian and Middle Eastern — is in short supply in Montreal, but Khyber Pass is at the helm of this specialty cuisine. A solid, charming, affordable bet on any given day, this Afghani restaurant will be open on Christmas Day from 5 to 11 p.m. and encourages guests to bring their own wine to enjoy over dinner. However, you'll need to plan ahead and get your bottle on Christmas Eve since the city's liquor stores, known as the SAQs, will close for the holidays on Christmas Day, lest you end up with dépanneur wine.
Located inside the luxurious Old Montreal hotel, Le Saint-James, XO Le Restaurant is a French-style modern bistro that will offer guests a four-course holiday meal on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day starting at 6 p.m. The holiday menu typically includes an assortment of canapes to begin; an appetizer of parsnip soup with wild mushrooms, smoked egg yolk, coffee, goji, and macadamia nuts; foie gras terrine to continue; seafood tempura for the first main course, turkey wellington for the second main course, and a dessert of chocolate mousse.
For something different on Christmas Day, try southern-style smokehouse barbecue — including everything from pulled pork to smoked meats, beef ribs, and brisket — at Diablos BBQ, which will be open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight on Christmas Day this year. Featuring Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisines, the menu is chock-full of tacos, burritos, fajitas, smoked beef, fried chicken, gourmet cheese macaroni, and an extensive selection of Bourbon.
Established in 1985, Le Taj Indian Cuisine has been a staple of the downtown Montreal foodie scene for decades and you can stay warm by the clay oven and enjoy traditional Indian dishes served buffet-style this Christmas. Traditional favorites from the regular menu include a selection of naan bread; a variety of chutneys; seafood specialties like fish Xacutti and Bombay shrimp curry; lamb specialties like korma, dahl, and lamb vindaloo; fish and beef specialties; and a variety of tandoori dishes.