Montréal is famed for its bountiful food culture, but might be best known for its uniquely Québécois classics. A legend in its own right, fries-and-gravy-and-more concoction poutine must be tried to be believed – try it with the kids at old-school drive-in Gibeau Orange Julep, Saint-Henri diner Greenspot, famed casual poutine joint La Banquise or the classy and classic burger-and-poutine at La Boulette. Among the city's best smoked meat restaurants, and arguably the most famous, Schwartz’s on Saint-Laurent Boulevard has plenty to look at and lots to eat for kids – if you go during peak hours, try its take-out counter next door to avoid waiting in line. And stop for warm Montréal bagels in Mile End at Fairmount Bagel Bakery or St-Viateur Bagel before heading to nearby Parc Lhasa-De Sela playground.
The majority of Montréal's copious brunch spots are family-friendly, including Le Butterblume and Fabergé in Mile End and Beautys Luncheonette a few blocks south. One of the most popular and beloved daytime-only restaurants in Old Montréal is Olive et Gourmando for its casual atmosphere and inspiring food. By the same team, nearby Un Po Di Piu is open all day and into the evening, with the same attention to creative fresh food.
For quick meals that don't scrimp on quality, try a lunch counter-style café-restaurant such as Comptoir Sainte-Cécile near the Jean-Talon Market, Boulangerie Hof Kelsten in the Plateau, Fanfare Jarry in Villeray or Well in Verdun. If your kids love noodles, go for Japanese ramen or check out Nouilles de Lan Zhou in Chinatown, where they can watch noodles being made. And for something a little different, try Persian restaurant Byblos Le Petit Café near Parc Laurier – many of its small, comforting dishes are perfect for children – and bustling dim sum favourite Restaurant ChinaTown Kim Fung.
Affordable and delicious, Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches are everywhere in Montréal and great for picking up on your way to Montréal's parks and green spaces – find them in Chinatown and downtown at Hoang Oanh Sandwich and BANH MI 79, near the Jean-Talon Market at Marché Hung Phat and in many other spots. Grab a different kind of sandwich at Turkish-German street food restaurant Station Berlin, specialists of the “döner kebab.” Fill hungry bellies with a Portuguese rotisserie chicken sandwich (and natas for dessert) at Ma Poule Mouillée, Romados and other Portuguese faves. Tacos are also an affordable alternative and perfect for kid-sized hands. Falafel and other vegetarian sandwiches make a choice pick at local vegetarian small chains Aux Vivres Resto Végane and La Panthère Verte.
Casual lunches and dinners
Relaxed atmospheres and food choices for all ages, casual restaurants abound in Montréal. Opt for an excellent fish and chips meal at Brit & Chips or Comptoir 21, or a great burger and fries at Chez Tousignant, Frite Alors, Patati Patata (their burgers are kid-sized!) and Burger de Ville – or a burger alongside a seasonal menu of creative and comforting dishes at Nouveau Palais. Enjoy southern comfort food like mac n' cheese and fried chicken at Dinette Triple Crown in Little Italy – with the summer option of taking a picnic, complete with tablecloth, to the nearby park.
And what could be more kid-friendly than dining in a park? Montréal restaurants in parks, such as Espace La Fontaine, combine sublime atmospheres with excellent food for all ages. Another welcoming space for kids is non-profit restaurant Robin des Bois on Saint-Laurent Boulevard in the Plateau, with its festive atmosphere and comforting food. When in doubt, go for a pizza dinner, from BEVO Bar + Pizzeria's terrasse in Old Montréal to Little Italy's Pizzeria Napoletana, GEMA, Vesta in Mile End and downtown, or Heirloom in Hochelaga, not far from nature complex Space for Life.
Cafés, bakeries and ice cream
If you're looking for a quick snack or a sweet treat (it's vacation, after all!), Montréal can't be beat for its variety of cafés, indie coffee shops and bakeries. Among the outwardly baby-friendly cafés, try Melons & Clementines, Biscuits & Confetti and Café 92 in the neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce west of downtown and Westmount, where comfortable chairs, good coffee, tea, snacks and play areas await. Babies and toddlers are also welcome to play at Café Ze Yéti in the Plateau; Caffe della Pace in Outremont; Café Sfouf and Le Milieu in the Village not far from Parc La Fontaine; Bouge Petit café and play space on Papineau Avenue; small but welcoming Arts Café in Mile End; Le Elsdale café-buvette-boutique in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie near Molson Park; and Coco Gallo in La Petite-Patrie-Villeray. Give these fabulous new bakeries a try too for their sweet and savory creations.
In summer, make everyone happy with the best ice cream and frozen treats in Montréal, like Havre-aux-glaces in Jean-Talon Market and right on Sainte-Catherine Street outside Place des Arts. Or take everyone's sweet tooth to the next level at Montréal's chocolate shops.