Montreal is an amazing foodie destination with a fascinating culinary food scene. From North American-style diners where you can sample Montreal’s famous smoked-meat sandwich and poutine to restaurants that will take you on a trip to France, Italy, Syria Korea, Afghanistan, Haiti or Ethiopia, get ready for innovative menus, fusion food, and authentic world cuisine.

New to Canada? Start with our tips on dining, and enjoy your meal!

Book ahead!

Montrealers are serious about food and trendy places are often packed. Booking isn’t required but it saves time and energy—nobody enjoys wandering around the city looking for a table when it’s -20⁰C. Note that you can book ahead in both bars and restaurants.

Expect over-enthusiastic waitstaff

You’re probably familiar with the grumpy and snotty French waiter stereotypes—well, across the Atlantic, waitstaff speaks French but the attitude is completely different. Expects big smiles and personal service. In fact, the opening line is often “Hi, my name is XYZ and I’ll be your waiter/waitress today!” Your glass of water will be refilled regularly and you’ll probably hear “is everything okay with your meal?” half a dozen times.

Part of it is cultural. Canadians and Quebecers tend to be friendly and pretty relaxed. But it’s also worth remembering waitstaff tends to “act nice” to get a better tip.

restaurant montreal

Tipping is not optional

Canadians usually don’t tip as much as Americans but unlike in Europe, tipping is not optional. Not tipping or leaving spare change on the table is a major cultural faux pas.

A 15% tip is the minimum, 18% is common especially at dinnertime. Note that many restaurants charge an automatic 15-18% gratuity for larger groups (eight people or more).

Tipping isn’t expected for takeout or fast food, even though you may be prompted to enter a tip (entering “0” is acceptable in this case!) when paying with a debit or credit card.

Menu prices don’t include tax and tip

Eating out may look very affordable but don’t forget that menu prices don’t include sales taxes and tip. The federal tax is the same everywhere in Canada but provincial/territorial tax varies. Read Canadian Sales Tax 101 for more information.

Generally speaking, add 15% for taxes and a 15% tip to figure out how much you’ll pay for your poutine.

Check splitting is okay

It’s frowned upon in some countries but in Canada, splitting the check isn’t a cultural faux pas. In fact, waitstaff often asks if you need separate checks (which can be awkward if you’re a couple… don’t worry about it!).

Brush up on your French

Don’t think for a second you can just head to McDonald’s or Starbucks and get familiar food—well, the food will be familiar but the menu won’t, because Quebec translates what the rest of the world usually leaves in English. Your “quarter pounder with cheese” is a “quart de livre avec fromage” and “chicken nuggets” are “morceaux de poulet McCroquettes.”

Don’t be scared, though. Quebecers value their language but there are not cruel, they will help you out. Basic greetings in French are always appreciated (“bonjour,” “bonsoir”), and so is “merci” (“thank you”).

Note that the three main meals are “déjeuner,” “dîner” and “souper”—most French from France find it confusing at first as well, because it’s different in France!


En PVT au Canada de novembre 2021 à 2023, je répondrai à vos questions avec plaisir. Pour le premier trimestre 2024, direction l'Amérique latine !

I moved from France to Canada on a WHV from November 2021 to 2023, followed then by spending the first quarter of 2024 in Latin America! Happy to answer all your questions.

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