Money - Montreal

Before 2010, the ATM was the best source for least amount of fees - was easy to find a bank with less than 1% tacked on fees.

No more - now just like credit cards, most banks typically charge 3% currency conversion fee in addition to a fixed foreign ATM use fee.

For the infrequent traveler, any choice is fine - even with 3% costs plus fees you lose just 3-4 cents per dollar, so exchange cash (comparison shop before settling on a place), or use a credit card (no fee for Capital One, 3% for nearly all others), or use a ATM (0-3% fees) - whatever is more convenient.

Credit Cards: The Capital One credit cards do not yet charge any extra fees for credit card transactions. Now that the free ride on ATMs is history, credit cards may be a good deal even for smaller transactions of $20 or more, certainly credit cards are now the better choice for larger transactions such as hotel stays - no need to lug around too much cash. Other than Capital One, all other credit cards seem to charge at least 3% in fees.

See Foreign Exchange Fees Going Up for more details on both ATM and credit cards.

ATM: Daily limits are usually $400 to $500 and this depends both on the bank owning the ATM machine as well as the bank where the account is kept. And most banks charge a $2 fee or more for foreign ATM cards. Carry two ATM cards and have a backup plan since the likelihood of ATM card use denials is quite high.

Best option is to use ATM cards from credit unions or investment accounts such as E*Trade (0-1% or so actual fee charged) and they may also provide ATM fee refunds. This may end up being better than the so-called 0% conversion fee cards.


Food Rating: 4 stars/4 Value Rating: 3 stars/4

2077 Ste-Catherine W, 514-937-0156. On Ste-Catherine, just west of Rue du Fort.

This Turkish restaurant has a unique window display of the cooks making lavash - basically huge chappatis/tortillas.

The appetizers - Mezze platters - are good enough for a meal, many choices to pick from, and come with a freshly made lavash bread. The appetizers include Baba Ghannouj - charbroiled eggplant puree with pomegranate paste and roasted vegetables, Hummus - chickpeas puree with tahini, lemon, garlic, olive oil, Muhammara d'Alep - pomegranate paste with mixture of walnuts, pine nuts, pepper.

The borek - Turkish feuillette - is excellent. These are flaky phyllo dough pastries filled with feta and spinach or beef and potatoes along with a splash of hot spice - really good. The spinach and feta borek is a great accompaniment to main dishes like Manti, or to a sampling of the mezzes. With a main dish, you can request an half-order of borek so you have chance of finishing it all. 2015 update: They heard me! Now the borek is half-size - a single large square instead of two, so it is now the perfect accompaniment to Manti. 2015 Manti and Borek picture.

Le Petit Alep

Food Rating: 4 stars/4 Value Rating: 3 stars/4

Street View 191 Jean-Talon Street East in Montreal - walk West towards St-Laurent from the Jean-Talon metro station. Phone: +1-514-270-9361.
Open Tue-Sat for lunch and dinner.

2013: Le Petit Alep Official Website is now online with details and the whole menu.

Great food and excellent ambiance in the converted garage that houses this cafe.

Syrian/Armenian food.
Filet-mignon with a special spicy sauce - Chiche Kebab Terbialy. Absolutely the best, this is always a safe choice.
Pureed eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon - Métabal.
Chicken in tahini - Poulet Trator.
Grilled Pita sandwich - Pitas grillés poulet. Chicken, mayo, garlic, with a nice kick - hint of spicy red-pepper?

For pictures, including a picture of the menu, visit the travel gallery Le Petit Alep in the Montreal album section.

The terbialy sauce is a nice, medium-to-hot spicy sauce,
and it makes the difference, best on the beef kababs (medium-rare), but also available with shrimp.

And then there are the weekday daily lunch specials with great soups -- just remember to get there during lunch Tuesday through Friday.
Kebbe Labanie (Kibbe Lebanese) - large meatballs in yogurt, garlic, mint sauce.
As they describe it: "boulettes de bœuf, blé concassé, noix, souce yogourt, ail, menthe".
Filet de sole Amandine
Soupe Harira - tomatoes, beef, fennel, cardamom - nice spicy soup.

Montreal Restaurants Map

The Restaurants & Food Markets - Montréal posting describes all these restaurants.

Google Earth users may be interested in the KML File for these locations.
Microsoft Live Search Maps is also a good way to view the KML file data.
If the map does not display below, this link may work: Google Maps - My Maps - Montreal Restaurants

Schwartz's Jewish Deli

Food Rating: 4 stars/4 Value Rating: 4 stars/4
Schwartz's Deli 3895 St-Laurent Blvd. Tel: +1-514-842-4813
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9am-12:30am, Friday 9am-1:30am, Saturday 9am-2:30am

[Schwartz's Logo]The number one restaurant in Montreal, as far as I'm concerned, is Schwartz's Jewish Deli on Boul St-Laurent! As I write this paragraph sitting in Boston, I am reminded of the taste of those excellent smoked meat sandwiches -- tender, succulent meat that falls apart easily with the touch of a fork, the exquisite mild pepper spices... accompanied by a black cherry soda or hot tea, it is truly an unique experience! Take a seat at the bar-stool at the deli counter, and enjoy the food amidst the hustle and bustle. The interior of Schwartz's is kind-of run-down, but that, with the extremely busy waiters, and the tables where you will find yourself doubled up with strangers because space is so tight, is what creates the unique atmosphere of enjoying smoked meat at Schwartz's.

The protocol: order a medium (sandwich is understood), black cherry, pickle, and french fries. My exact order is a medium, hot water + tea bag, and a pickle (no fries).

The medium is a medium-fat sandwich. Lean is available, but what is the point? Fatty is available, but if you eat here 3-4 times a week, that would be foolhardy. They also have plates, with bread served on the side, but the sandwich is better with the meat warming up the bread, which tastes nicer.
Most people drink the Black Cherry Soda with it. But black tea without sugar or milk is definitely healthier (not that anyone comes here to eat healthy food!).


Recent updates go to this Montreal as a tourist Google+ Collection.

There is no city that is more inviting, fascinating, friendly, and exciting, than the city of Montreal.
From its museums, to its parks, to its bustling tourist areas like Ste Catherine, St Laurent, and St Denis, there is never a dull moment in Montreal. Even after visiting so many times, I always end up discovering something new on each visit. It does help me a lot that English is spoken everywhere here, since it takes all the fun out of traveling if one can't communicate with the locals.
(Of course, like France, Quebec is not very fond of English. Once in a while, out in the suburbs, you'll bump into someone who will rail at you for not speaking French. But the majority seems comfortable speaking English.)

In addition to being a major cosmopolitan city with many different communities living together, and having a collection of awesome ethnic restaurants, the people of Montreal are very friendly, and Montreal is also a very safe city -- there are no regions I am afraid of being in at any time of the day or night -- as long as there are other people around, I feel totally safe. Drunks are the only problems you may encounter.

Food in Montreal is always what gets me back there. I've eaten in numerous places; even when I'm on my own exploring restaurants, when such a policy is bound to end in tragic results in other cities, it is hard to escape bad food! Amazingly, even with just randomly choosing a restaurant, I have usually encountered excellent cuisine in Montreal.