first I need to say THANK YOU chowhound quebec!! I moved here in December and this forum has been incredibly helpful and useful on so many levels. It is the first place I look for advice.
I noticed that there are a bunch of vegetarian threads, but I want to pull it all together and make one thread for everyone's favorites... instead of hunting through food-specific threads to find mentions of vegetarian food at certain restaurants. I hope you will all contribute.
One thing that I find surprising about Montreal is that vegetarian choices in restaurants are few and far between. Does everyone really eat meat as the focus of every single meal?! I am also surprised that the saq stores do not carry any french liqueurs (st germain, benedictine, etc). And not surprised that frites alors fries are fried in animal fat - that seems to be the rule not the exception in Montreal.
Alas - Here are some of my favorites from the last few months:
1) Ba Le
this place is only open during the week until 7pm and not at all on sat or sunday, so it made it difficult to try... but it is worth getting there. It is the best vietnamese vegetarian food I've had in Montreal. The owner is actually vegetarian. This means you can be assured that your pho broth is animal free. They also have fantastic veg spring rolls and tofu lemongrass - she will even make you a vegetarian bun! It's fresh and fast and extremely affordable.
Ok - I know this will cause some debate and maybe discredit me in your eyes as I've been following the pizza threads - but i really like Bottega. The pizza is pretty close to vera napoli style and it's not terribly expensive. Their margarita is pretty stellar and that's usually what I order. Sure it's loud, doesn't have the best atmosphere and you really need a reservation, but the pizza is really that good.
Granted, this restaurant is not particularly interested in vegetarians... but they do occasionally have something meat free and delicious on the menu. I'd rather have one amazing choice than 12 terrible ones (sorry fans of aux vivres). Watch their twitter, try it out when there is a veg option.
4) Chu Chai
It took me a while to warm up to this place. For what it is, it is a bit on the expensive side... and I'm not a huge fan of fake meat. However, their noodles are pretty great (and actually spicy!). After going deep into their menu, I've settled on a few dishes that I think they do really well. The appetizer TAO‐HU DAN is wonderful - the sauce du chef is really flavorful. The choo chi curry tofu is one of my favorites. This is a lukewarm recommendation, after a lot of trial and error I have found some things on the menu I really like.
I will admit that this place pleasantly surprised me. I thought I was going to hate it - we only ate here because we were starving and found out the hard way that Ba Le is closed on saturdays! However, I am a fan of vege pate - and most of the things we ordered seemed to run along these lines. It was delicious and fresh and I loved it.
6) tasting menus
this seems to be a big topic on chow hound. i read over the threads to try to decide where to take him. Cinquieme Peche seemed to be big at the top of people's lists... but they weren't friendly on the phone - they only have one veg choice and we were looking for something a little more elaborate - that said, I would like to try this place sometime.
So I moved on to thinking about Montee de Lait and DNA. Both restaurants were extremely friendly about doing a veg tasting menu with a reservation. We ended up selecting Montee de Lait due to its proximity to our plans post dinner.
They had 2 vegetarian appetizers - both of them were stellar. Interesting, complex flavors - we loved both of the options. Then for the main course, they opted to take a lot of the veg platings from their other dishes and combine them into one plate for us. This seems to be what most restaurants in France do for vegetarians, and I've had some fantastic meals this way so we went for it. It fell really flat however - we lovingly dubbed this course the mayonaise course. We did the cheese course for 2 and then dessert. They only had 6 choices of cheese - all from Quebec. I was surprised about this, I thought I read on here that they had an extensive cheese selection. Desert was pretty standard but it was good.
We had excellent service and fantastic wine. If I go again, I would skip the main entree all together and split a desert.
I hope this thread is helpful to someone and I can't wait to hear about other peoples favorites... particularly restaurants that aren't specifically vegetarian but do offer interesting choices.
65 Rue Saint-Zotique E, Montreal, QC H2S1K7, CA
4088 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M5, CA