There’s nothing like summer in Montreal. The city shimmers in the sun and puts on its best bling for Montrealers and visitors to enjoy. There are dozens of festivals, fairs, outdoor events, sporting activities and family outings happening every week but one of our favourites is to actually (finally!) be able to dine and drink outdoors. Here are 10 great restaurant terrasses to grab a bite in the sun or under the stars…
Hidden treasure: Boris Bistro: Behind the remaining façade of an Old Montreal building ravaged and destroyed by fire lies the stunning hidden courtyard of Boris Bistro. Open from 11am to 11pm in the summer, this is absolutely one of the most beautiful – and largest! – terrasses in Montreal with its tall, mature trees that provide shade, its many white parasols, light wood tables and grey stone floors. It’s perfect for a drink among friends (try the strawberry caipi-sake) or to grab a bite al fresco from the French-inspired menu.
Smaller is better: Joe Beef: If you are lucky to be able to snap a table at Joe Beef in the summer, ask nicely if you can be seated in the garden. The best seats at this much-celebrated Montreal restaurant are actually outside in the vegetable garden that is tended to with much love by the staff. Simple wood tables and chairs are scattered under the canopy of the patio and only a handful of people get to enjoy the peacefulness of this urban oasis every night while dining among the Swiss chard, lettuces and tomatoes.
Exotic trip: BarBounya: On chic Laurier Avenue stands BarBounya, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant with Turkish chef Fisun Ercan at the helm. The food is meze – small hot and cold dishes meant to be shared – and the ambiance at the terrasse’s communal, wood mosaic high tables is lively and friendly. It’s the perfect spot to order a few plates to share and a raki – a Turkish, anis-flavoured drink – and do some people watching.
Dinner with a view: FoodLab: FoodLab is located on the third floor of the Society for Arts and Technology, a few steps away from the Satosphere, a giant sphere where musical shows and projections take place. If you didn’t know better, you’d never suspect this top-notch restaurant to also be housing one of the best terrasses in the city. The outdoor space has picnic-style tables, some loungier seats, big white umbrellas, a huge barbecue area set up in one corner for summer grilling and a great view of Montreal’s downtown and Chinatown.
Southern exposure: Icehouse: It’s a tiny restaurant with a tiny cute terrasse on a tiny street in the heart of the Plateau but there’s nothing small about the bold, spicy flavours at Icehouse. Nachos, oyster po’boys, popcorn shrimp, fried chicken and ribs are all worth the line up at the door and so is the bourbon lemonade, although be careful with that one, it’s definitely well spiked and can get you in trouble. The terrasse is a charming slice of Plateau Mont-Royal life and if you want to avoid the line, get there early or late.
Secret garden: Maison Boulud: Did you know that celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s Maison Boulud restaurant located on the ground floor of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in downtown Montreal has a secret garden? The garden is actually the inner courtyard of the hotel and comes with beautiful landscaping and a pond with ducks. Maison Boulud has tables scattered around in the garden, which is especially charming for brunch.
Reinvented classic: Restaurant Laloux: Laloux has been around for 25 years and conjures up images of a classically decorated dining room that immediately transports diners to Paris. The shielded terrasse conjures up more or less that same feeling with its striped awning and white tablecloths. The menu, however, is French-inspired but not classic. It focuses on local, sustainable, seasonable and mostly organic ingredients. Laloux is open for lunch Monday to Fridays and for dinner 7 days a week.
Dinner and a show: Brasserie T! and Taverne F: If you want to feel like you’re in the heart of the action this coming summer, book a table on Brasserie T! or Taverne F’s terrasses. They’re both located in the epicenter of Quartier des Spectacles– THE spot to check out for Montreal’s festival season –and you definitely get the best seat in the house to some of the best outdoor shows, from the FrancoFolies, to Jazz Fest, Nuits d’Afrique and Just for Laughs. Brasserie T!’s menu is an excellent take on classic French bistro while Taverne F is all about Portuguese comfort food with pestiscos (tapas) to share.
Historic charm: Le H4C: Le H4C is nestled inside an old historic building in the heart of Saint-Henri. The renovated bank building has been transformed into a great little spot that foodies have been (justly) raving about. The restaurant has recently inaugurated a beautiful terrasse at the front under the leafy shade of tall trees. It’s the perfect spot to sample one of their great brunches or to enjoy dinner outdoors.
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