5198 Hutchison, Montreal
There is a fun vibe in this atmospheric family restaurant, in which central Asian dishes are lovingly prepared by three brothers more than eager to pop out of the kitchen to talk about the cuisine - and the Sufi poet after whom the restaurant is named. The decor includes Persian miniatures, Uzbek tapestries and filigree brass lamps. Check out the hodja, a smoky eggplant puree with a hint of mint, and the delicate Iranian saffron rice. Most main dishes cost less than C$25 (HK$190).
234 Laurier Ouest
This exquisite little neighbourhood place was once a secret, but word spread and now diners citywide flock here for Pasquale and Anna Marie Ciocca's rustic Italian cooking. La Forchetta began unobtrusively as a take-out place, but clients clamoured for more, so la famiglia Ciocca obliged by putting in a dozen small tables, which are booked every night. The lasagne tartufata (three cheeses and a black truffle sauce) is sensational. Mains cost from C$15 to C$40.
5357 Avenue du Parc
Enjoy Greek seafood cuisine in this upmarket taverna. Owner Costas Spiliadis uses top-quality ingredients for his dishes, and he knows his sources well: olive oil comes from his aunt's trees in Patra, Greece, and fresh oregano from his sister's farm.
Spiliadis talks about seafood the way some people talk about fine wine, and he inspects every fish flown in from Greece. The freshest sea bass, snapper and pompano are grilled simply with lemon and olive oil or baked in a salt crust.
The fashion flock joins business titans at Milos and star-gawkers are known to make sightings here. Mains run from C$35 to C$50.
4088 Rue St. Denis
Lily Sirikittikul grew up in Bangkok in a family of restaurateurs, and, as might be expected, when she moved to Montreal and opened the stunning Chao Praya Restaurant, no one was surprised. But when she followed with a sister restaurant serving a meatless version of all her family recipes, mouths dropped.
Dishes such as vegetarian crispy duck with spinach and soya or faux chicken in a peanut sauce with crispy spinach are both superb and almost indistinguishable in taste and appearance from the meat versions. Main dishes cost less than C$20.
Robin des Bois
4403 St Laurent
With its cosy tables and large windows looking out on to Montreal's hippest street, Robin des Bois (Robin Hood) is a classic French bistro with a Canadian twist. Inspired by the English outlaw, the restaurant 'steals' from the rich by serving upmarket food with prices to match, but gives to the poor by donating all profits to the city's food banks.
How do they do it? All staff members but the chefs are volunteers, many of them local French television or film celebrities. Dishes such as confit canard and galette de morue are attractive and tasty. You'll pay from C$12 to C$24 for mains.