It's no secret Montreal is a foodie mecca, but the seemingly endless number of choices in the city can be overwhelming to visitors who don't know where to start. Romantic meal options in Montreal are just as numerous, with cute and intimate bistros on practically every street corner.
That also means there are options for every occasion, every palate, and every budget. Whether you want a casual night out with appetizers and live music or an elegant sit-down meal prepared by a distinguished chef, treat yourself and your partner to Montreal's romantic and creative culinary scene.
You'll find fine French cuisine in a down-to-earth, come-as-you-are locale one block south of Mont-Royal Avenue in the Plateau. You'd be lucky to fit more than two dozen people in the small yet charming open-kitchen dining area. It's a bring-your-own-wine restaurant, too, a bonus considering how well-executed the dishes are, from duck magret to fall-off-the-bone lamb. A lovely spot when you want to treat a carnivorous loved one to high-end cuisine without the dress code and a hefty price tag. Think tables d'hôtes with salad or soup and coffee or tea, all for under 40 Canadian dollars.
L'Express has been a Montreal institution since it opened its doors on St. Denis Street in 1980, a French bistro of your dreams. Go for your own pot of unlimited gherkins, the bottomless breadbasket, the loud but elegant crowd, and of course, the wine. The wine list is so long that you'll probably need help choosing from one of the expert sommeliers on hand.
Visit if you're in the mood for a stylish yet unstuffy Paris-like ambiance with ace service, wine at any price point, and excellent food. Try the steak tartare with fries, taste the salmon, and take a few risks, like with the tender and sweet calf liver steak.
The dress code is all over the map and it is a little noisy, but this place still reeks of romance.
Lyon native Daniel Boulud, the Michelin-starred chef who launched more than a dozen lauded restaurants in New York City and the world over, opened Maison Boulud in Montreal's prestigious Ritz-Carlton Hotel in 2011; it's been a smash hit ever since.
The decor, the service, and the impeccable plating at this swanky downtown destination located in the heart of Montreal's Golden Mile district justify the hefty check you'll receive at the end of the meal, anticipate spending CA$300 for two at the very minimum, not even yet counting in the wine.
As for the dress code, it's "casually elegant, no jacket or tie required."
Because who doesn't want to be treated like royalty? Enter Europea, a fine-dining establishment in Montreal's downtown Golden Mile district by renowned chef Jérôme Ferrer.
As with Maison Boulud, you will pay dearly for your meal, but consider it an investment in an experience, a memory unlikely to fade anytime soon. It's been named by TripAdvisor as the best restaurant in Canada and one of the best in the world, so you can rest assured that your money is being well-spent. The chic interior of the restaurant heralds the equally haute presentation of the food, which is nothing short of artistry.
Don't skimp on the duds. Dress code is "business chic," so look the part.
Hoogan et Beaufort opened with a bang in late 2015. Its owners are none other than Les 400 Coups' former chef and sommelier, Marc-André Jetté and William Saulnier.
Located in the Angus Shops area, a revitalized railcar manufacturing complex, Hoogan et Beaufort features industrial stylings, high ceilings, and exposed overhead beams courtesy of the building's not-so-distant past. Also equipped with a wood oven, Hoogan et Beaufort is a place where you bring the food-obsessed loves of your life who want to experience creativity unbridled, the vanguard of Quebec's market cuisine movement. It's a joint for folks who relish new flavors and casual, chatty atmospheres over traditional dishes served in the formal ambiances often associated with fine dining.
From suckling pig and braised lamb to dry-aged Prince Edward rib steak and oysters, dinner for two can easily reach CA$200.
Food and drinks are served at all hours of the day, but if you're looking for the live music experience, you'll have to visit either for dinner or weekend brunch. The vibe feels like a cozy Parisian bistro, and the real-time jazz is the final touch to transport you and your partner back in time to the artistic bars of Montmartre. If you're looking for a romantic setting but without the high-cost meal, you can also sip on wine or an aperitif before dinner, when Modavie also has live music from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Junichi Ikematsu is arguably at the top of Montreal's crop of sushi chefs. He is a formally trained Japanese sushi chef who is a master of the craft in the form of classic sushi and sashimi fare done right within the confines of his Laurier West restaurant, Jun I.
Ikematsu forgoes the fancy plating and over-the-top presentation, preferring to let the quality of the fish speak for itself. Count on spending a little over CA$200 for two, with wine and tip included. There's no dress code, but look clean and presentable to fit right in.
Sharing from the same communal plate while eating with your hands has a way of bonding people together, at least for the span of a night, which is but part of Nil Bleu's appeal, arguably Montreal's best Ethiopian restaurant.
There's something for everyone on the menu too, including vegan and gluten-free options. The tasting menu for two at CA$60 is what many return for, with its variety of lamb, chicken, filet mignon, chickpea, split peas, lentils, and veggie samplers served with injera, a gluten-free spongey sour flatbread which serves as a scooping utensil and subtle flavor backdrop. Low lighting contributes to the intimate, romantic ambiance.
For an added bit of romance, make a reservation for Friday evening when live performers play Afro-jazz to accompany the meal.
Normand Laprise, co-founder and once executive chef of Toqué!, practically defines Quebec gastronomy. Laprise is a pioneer of Quebec haute cuisine, meticulously plated dishes brimming with locally-sourced ingredients, wild concepts, and stunning flavor combinations.
As with Europea, Toqué! is one of Canada's finest tables, with both representing the country's only two Relais et Châteaux members, a France-based international fellowship of luxury hotels and restaurants that's remarkably fussy with regards to whom they let into their circle.
Not that Toqué! is fussy, as the service is quite friendly and down-to-earth. And you don't absolutely need a jacket and tie to walk through the door, but do dress smartly. Count on spending well over CA$300 for two, the tasting menu is over CA$150 per person, without wine. But even then, to go full-on epicurean, you'll want those wine pairings, which range from CA$80 to more than CA$200 for anywhere from five to seven glasses, each carefully chosen to match every course of the tasting menu. Or keep it simple with one bottle as recommended by the sommelier. Don't be afraid to ask for an affordable one.
Located right by Montreal's largest convention center, Palais des Congrès, Toqué is sandwiched between Old Montreal and Chinatown which makes for a pleasant after-dinner walk, provided the weather cooperates.
Montreal's best Greek restaurant is also the city's most sensuous, if only by cursory virtue of its white curtains grazing surrounding windows like a scene out of a romance novel.
Then there are the fish and seafood dishes, ultra-fresh fish and seafood caught just hours earlier. Milos is not cheap, but you get what you pay for with personable service, elegant ambiance, sizable portions, and food quality so remarkable that even the croutons could be made from bread flown in from Greece. Milos is consistently ranked not only as the city's top Greek restaurant but as one of Montreal's best dining experiences across the board.
For a more affordable option, try Milos' lunch menu or late-night menu, which includes a choice of starter, main, and dessert for a fixed price.
Montreal bistro and French brasserie Les Enfants Terribles has six locations in and around Montreal. But for the purposes of romance, you'll want to make a beeline for its Au Sommet PVM location. The view is to die for, given it's one of Montreal's highest restaurants, 44 floors above ground level.
The ambiance is smart casual and the food ranges from comfort fare to elegant Quebecois cuisine, with a menu that regularly changes to incorporate the freshest, in-season foods. All budgets could work here, from CA$50 for two if both parties stick to the simpler mains and go easy on the booze, to CA$200 for two for multiple courses with wine and tip.
Experience cuisine took from the south of France, given a Spanish twist, and served inside a restaurant that feels like an enchanted grotto. The paella is one of their star dishes and is filled with squid, shrimp, scallops, blood sausage, chorizo, and even lobster.
Known for its cocktails as well as its well-executed dishes and top-notch service staff, Barroco's dimly-lit, castle-like ambiance oozes date night. The restaurant also only admits customers over the age of 18, making it even more ideal for an evening of romance. Dinner for two here can easily exceed CA$250 with wine and cocktails. There's a mild see-and-be-seen vibe too, so keep those duds smart.
For years since its 1989 opening, La Colombe was Montreal's best bring-your-own-wine restaurant. The competition has since wised up yet, but it is still in the top three for value, service, and quality.
A small bistro on the Plateau, this small dining room serves fine French cuisine for a steal, with a daily fixed menu that includes a soup, main course, dessert, and coffee for CA$45. Or splurge on one of the biggest pieces of seared foie gras you could hope to be served in this city for CA$24.
Quaint is an understatement as the restaurant only takes two sittings per night, so reservations are essential. Le Colombe has an elegant yet down-to-earth feel, and since there's hardly anyone else in the restaurant with you, diners can dress up or dress down as they see fit. Consider this a prime date destination for an upscale atmosphere but with a reasonable price tag.
Auberge St. Gabriel is actually the oldest building in Montreal, erected back in 1688. It's also the oldest inn in North America, with a liquor license that was granted in 1754. It's even rumored to be haunted.
Not that ghosts are especially romantic, but Auberge St. Gabriel has all the makings of a sensual if eccentric destination, from the entrance's giant whale spine to two stuffed headless moose smooshed together with a lightbulb in the center. There really is nowhere else in the city quite like this place, a juxtaposition of old and new, rustic and chic, old-school standard and off-the-wall whimsy.
For the purposes of romance, make a beeline to the dining room or terrace in the summer for a meal combining French and Quebec market cuisine, everything from spit-roasted meats to elegant foie gras to a Swiss fondue meal that comes with charcuterie. Anticipate spending in the upwards of CA$200 for two with wine.
Because is champagne ever not romantic? Maison St. Paul specializes in sparkling wines either by the glass or the bottle, and while the menu is primarily of the French varieties, you can also find Spanish cava, Italian prosecco, and a large selection of wines. If you order the right bottle (ask), staff will hand over the house saber, offering you and yours a quick tutorial on how to whack open your bottle of bubbly with a sword without wreaking havoc.
As is typical with sparkling wines, the prices vary drastically, from CA$16 for a glass of cava up to CA$2,500 for the premier bottle of champagne. The food is a shareable mix of Asian, French, Italian, and Quebec influences. Case in point: Try the high-end pho with scallops, shrimp, muscles, clams, octopus, tempura crab, lobster, and filet mignon.
The venue turns into a club vibe after midnight, so if you wanted to stick around and dance, it's entirely feasible. It's a great spot for double or triple dates, so you can all share a bottle or more, and then stay into the night.
Romantic restaurants usually focus on premium cuts of steak or freshly caught seafood, but LOV is a plant-based restaurant with a fun menu, and you don't need to be vegan or vegetarian to love this restaurant.
LOV has a few locations around the city, with one centrally located in Old Montreal. You can order a meal for yourself like the black bean patty burger, or order a variety of starters to share, with standouts like the kimchi fries, sweet potato gnocchi, or the quinoa fritters with Tumeric mayonnaise. Round out your healthful meal with one of their organic beers, a glass of wine, or a freshly-made house cocktail.