Canada has a number of coffee chains that predate Starbucks. A.L. Van Houtte dates back to 1919 in Montreal while Timothy’s Coffees of the World was launched in London, Ontario in 1975 and Second Cup got its start in Toronto in the late seventies.
Are they better than Starbucks? Who knows? Not being a coffee gourmet, I think you have to have rocks in your head to pay the prices that these places ask for a cup of coffee. My definition of a good cup of coffee is one that’s free.
Incidentally, it’s Tim Horton’s Donuts that has the most loyal/ardent fan base among coffee drinkers in Canada. Tim Horton’s coffee has a unique taste which I put down to a special addictive additive of some sort which causes the susceptible to swear by the stuff!
Schwartz’s is a must. Buy a whole brisket and bring it back. Get there before 11:30.
Try L’express Bistro on Rue St. Denis. Great wine choices by the glass, real bistro food, no nonsense waiters, low fat stuff unavailable.
Bens is worth a trip just for the view. Another deli. They will have your order on the table before you have a chance to hang up your coat. Check out the yellow gravy on some pommes frites.
Food courts in Montreal are called Marche. These are not your average food courts. Enjoy Coq au Vin with buttered noodles and a glass of Cotes du Rhone inbetween shops. A slice of marjolaine to finish.
Dress well or you will feel out of place. This is not a sweat pant and baseball cap backwards town. Go to bars late. No one goes out before midnight. Dance clubs are great, people have fun. Work your french from high school. Have a great trip!![:D][:D]
Head for the Plateau. It’s a very French part of Montreal with lots of great places to eat. Don’t forget Fairmount Bagels for the famous Montreal water bagel — a chewier, but in many respects more satisfying schnack than its NY cousin — open 24/7 too. AL van Houtte is a better coffee bet than Second Cup — less patriotism.[;)]
For a fancy dining, but chic experience, try Toque (pronounced Toak-ay) — run by a great chef, and the prices aren’t bad if you are converting to $US[:I]
Concur fully with Schwartz’s but Second Cup better than Starbuck’s? Na-na.
I recall when I moved to then Starbucks-deprived Halifax and was told about Second Cup, my wife and I betook ourselves hastily. One of their baristas (no, they don’t actually go as far in their attempt to look like Starbucks as to call them that!) proudly slit open a bag of their Columbian beans and let me sniff. Used as I was to the same denomination from Starbuck’s I inhaled and…nothing. Might as well have been old grass clippings. Second Cup surivives in Canada because there are enough closet nationalists who’ll drink the brew of this Canadian owned chain,in spite of Starbuck’s superiority.
Now, back to Montreal – for honest to God, shores-of-Brittany crepes head for Creperie Bretonne Ty-Breiz on Rue Rachel well east of the Main (what they may still call Boul. St. Laurent. I’d take a pass on Ben’s which for all it’s tradition, is so far past its prime as to now evoke in some old Montrealers nothing but a sense of loss.
Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwiches (on St. Laurent). Better than any New York pastrami. Great place. Cafe Bretonne for French onion soup(on St. Denis). Ben’s for old times sake, an old old old deli in downtown (I think on Peel). The great statium food during an Expos game. Expos are doing well and the stadium is kind of cool: good food, good Canadian beer, not overpriced, great seats, wacky 70’s architecture. They have a chain of good coffee places, better than Starbuck’s, called Second Cup. There’s just so much good food there. A strange Quebecois food they have everywhere is fries with gravy and cheese called "poutine." They even have it at McDonald’s. There’s actually an Orange Julius on St. Denis. Enjoy!
I am going on a long trip to Montreal next week. It’s only my second time there, and wanted to know if there are any places I shouldn’t miss.
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