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From its smoked meat sandwiches and poutine to its charcuterie boards and meat pie, Montreal isn’t exactly positioned as an international vegan and vegetarian destination — but the tides have turned on plant-based dining and sustainable living in La Belle Province. Montreal is at once a student town and a renowned culinary destination, so it only makes sense that the city has adopted a much more vegetarian-friendly reputation over the past decade.
The largest city in Québec is well-positioned for weekend trips — it’s only an hour drive from Vermont or about a 90-minute flight from New York — and offers more than enough plant-based wining and dining opportunities to leave you stuffed well into the next week. Below, we’ve created a sample itinerary to make your planning as easy as possible. Here’s where you’ll want to eat, stay, and play in Montreal.
Vegetarian Montreal Guide: Where to Stay
There are plenty of five-star and boutique hotel experiences across the city—but Boxotel will be your best bet if you’re hoping to keep your carbon footprint low. The original-concept address is perfectly located in the Quartier des Spectacles neighborhood which makes it easy to walk around downtown, the Plateau, the Old Port, and Chinatown, without needing to grab an Uber or take public transit. Boxotel was also awarded the Prix Distinction Tourisme Montréal for its eco-friendly commitment and practices which include passive solar heating, thermal cooling, and more thoughtful innovations. 175 Rue Ontario E, Quartier des Spectacles; boxotel.com
Vegetarian Montreal Guide: Eat & Drink
Looking for classic French and Montreal-inspired fare but don’t want to risk running into meat-based sauces and broths? Head to LOV! This strictly vegan fine dining restaurant offers plant-based takes on classic dishes like poutine, croque monsieur, and even ‘beet’ tartare. The elegant space also has an impressive wine cellar that is packed with vegan-friendly organic and natural wine and spirits. 1232 Rue de la Montagne, Quartier Concordia, and other locations; lov.com
Disclaimer: Vin Papillon is not a strictly vegetarian restaurant — but the little sister to Joe Beef is well-worth the visit if you’re hoping to get a taste of the internationally-renowned culinary experiences that Montreal has to offer. The vegetarian-friendly wine bar offers decadent, locally-sourced and seasonal dishes that take vegetable cooking to the next level. The menu is always rotating but mainstays include the mouth-watering smoked carrot eclair, shaved celery root, and of course, a huge selection of local Québec cheeses for dessert (if you have room!). 2519 Notre Dame Ouest, Little Burgundy; vinpapillon.com
Nilufar is one of the most universally well-loved restaurants in Montreal, and you’ll see why as soon as you drop in. Co-owner Nilufar Al-Shourbaji is one of the kindest people you’ll meet in Montreal and will almost certainly remember your face the next time you’re in town. Her ability to make everyone feel like the most important customer in her restaurant is only made sweeter by the fact that she also serves the city’s best falafel. The vegan-friendly falafel wrap will run you less than $3, but we recommend adding the price of another falafel to your bill if you have the means; Al-Shourbaji’s ‘falafel-it-forward’ program makes it possible for Montrealers in need to order a falafel wrap for free, no questions asked. 1923 Saint-Catherine St. W., Shaughnessy Village; restaurantnilufar.com
Gibeau Orange Julep
The Orange Julep, opened in 1930, is a must-visit in Montreal — but especially if you’re into plant-based fast food. The four-storey orange structure is impossible to miss and is considered a summertime mainstay for locals. The unique indoor-outdoor space serves up classic Québec ‘casse-croute’ fare, including vegetarian-friendly poutine, veggie dogs, and veggie burgers that should all be washed down with an order of the classic frothy Orange Julep (think of it as a homemade version of the Orange Julius). 7700 Decarie Blvd, The Triangle; orangejulep.ca
The bakery culture in Montreal is comparable to France or Italy in terms of quality and finesse, but it can be hard to find plant-based options in the city. That’s where CAFFETTIERA comes in. This Italian espresso bar has some of the best coffee in the city — but it also serves vegan-friendly Italian and French pastries including croissants and cornettos. The colorful space also serves a variety of Italian-inspired vegan sandwiches on fresh ciabatta as well as natural wine and artisan cocktails. 2055 Stanley St., Downtown; caffettiera.ca
Montreal might not have access to the same variety of seafood that makes a traditional sushi restaurant stand out — but that doesn’t matter when you’re eating plant sushi! All-vegan Sushi Momo is extremely well-loved and respected by omnivores and herbivores alike for its beyond innovative and decadent take on sushi. Expect creative rolls ranging from jackfruit and avocado tataki to shitake mushroom and vegan kimchi, as well as a healthy selection of organic sake and Japanese beer. 3609 Rue St-Denis, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal; sushimomo.ca
Le Nil Bleu
Think of Le Nil Bleu as a happy medium between fine dining and comfort food. The sophisticated Ethiopian restaurant is not entirely vegetarian but it does offer a strictly vegetarian (vegan on request) tasting menu served on injera bread. The menu tends to rotate but typical dishes include atakilt wat (Ethiopian cabbage), yemisir wot (spicy red lentils), and more savory vegetable-based fare. 3706 Saint Denis St, Plateau Mont-Royal; nilbleurestaurant.com
Nothing beats Chand Palace when it comes to decadent and satisfying fare at a beyond budget-friendly price point. The well-loved Indian restaurant serves up one of the best vegetarian-friendly thalis in the city for less than $10 per person. The cozy restaurant serves classic Indian drinks like Thums Up cola and a variety of lassis, but you can also bring your own wine or beer at no extra cost. 989 Rue Jean-Talon O, Park Extension; facebook.com/chand-palace
Vegetarian Montreal Guide: Things to Do
The Atwater Market is located at the intersection of the trendy St. Henri and Little Burgundy neighborhoods and is a must visit on a sunny weekend morning. The small market is situated right next to the Lachine Canal park and is packed with everything you could need to build a great picnic — from locally-sourced produce and vegan cheeses to organic wine and sweets. As such, it’s not uncommon to see hoards of locals grabbing snacks and wine for a lazy day on the waterfront. 138 Atwater Avenue, St. Henri; marchespublics-mtl.com
Mount Royal Park
Looking for an easy way to get some movement and nature in between all that eating and drinking? Head to Mount Royal Park. Located right in the center of the city, this sprawling outdoor space was conceived and executed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted — the very same man who designed Central Park in New York — and features over 692 acres of nature and hiking trails. Pro tip: You’ll want to try to make your way to the very top of the main trail if you want to catch those unobstructed Instagram-worthy views of the city below. lemontroyal.qc.ca