3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC H2W 2M4, Canada

L’Express, on rue St-Denis in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood, opened in 1980 and has about it the air of a beloved institution. Indeed, with its timeless style, it feels even older than it is. This popular spot serves classic renditions of bistro fare—steak tartare, bone marrow, onion soup—into the early morning hours (2 a.m. except for Sundays, when it closes at 1 a.m.). When the kitchen ventures into new territory, the results are impressive. The spaghetti with mushrooms is unconventional in its presentation (topped with a healthy serving of arugula)—one of those dishes you try on the road and then want to re-create at home. Reservations recommended.

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Classic French

Thanks to its thriving expat community, Montreal offers what is probably the most incredible French cuisine outside of the Hexagon. So, save on the airfare and order a tartare, a confit de canard, or an entrecôte and pretend you’ve landed 6,000 kilometers to the east in the heart of Paris. L’Express is perhaps the most quintessentially French bistro in Montreal. A flawless 30 years of experience certainly contributes to the reputation. What started out as a risky business—the co-founders were theater actors without a penny to their names—turned out to be one of Montreal’s biggest success stories. The food doesn’t come cheap, by Montreal standards, but the quality is consistently exquisite, thanks to chef Joël Chapouille’s expertise. His specialty is expressing pleasure in preparing a classic dish even the one thousandth time. Good food really doesn’t get old. My go-to dish is the poached salmon. Unbeatable.

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