So you’re on vacation in Montreal and you want to eat the best poutine in the city, right?
If you ask a few locals, Uber drivers, or even just consult the web you’ll soon be headed towards La Banquise on Rue Rachel.
La Banquise is a quaint little restaurant in the Le Plateau-Mont-Royal borough of the city. Between Yelp and TripAdvisor it has stacked up nearly 2,000 reviews and a solid 4-star rating. Since 1968, they’ve been serving up poutine anyway you like it 24 hours a day. From basic, to smoked meat covered, to vegan style, they truly offer a poutine for every palate and even offer other entrees such as burgers and salads.
But there’s one little problem with La Banquise that people will forget to tell you… there is ALWAYS a line outside the door!
Waiting for a crowd to get seated isn’t a big deal in most establishments. However, because La Banquise is a little small, and Montreal winters offer freezing temperatures, you can find yourself in a sticky predicament pretty quickly. And let’s be honest, waiting an hour in the cold for anything can put expectations on your experience that might be hard to live up to.
However, I managed to get in and out of Montreal’s best poutine restaurant in less than an hour, without waiting in line, and had the best poutine experience of my life!
7 Tips To An Amazing Experience At La Banquise
- Dress Appropriately If It’s Cold
If you can’t go when it’s warm, and you must visit in the cold, dress in multiple layers. Don’t underestimate the drop in your body temperature when you’re standing still for a long period of time. Pack on the layers, gloves, scarves, and a good pair of warm boots. It’s also a great idea to invest in a few packs of HotHands Hand Warmers to have as an emergency backup.
- Go At Odd Hours
Eat poutine for breakfast. Really. Using Google Map’s handy “Popular Times” feature I was able to see that business is pretty slow for the restaurant between 6AM and 9AM. I swung by around 8:15AM and had the place almost completely to myself outside of two other patrons. I had no wait and easily got in and out.
- Call Ahead
Call before you actually head to the restaurant (phone number: +1 514-525-2415). While their staff can’t tell you exactly how long the wait will be, they can tell you whether or not the line is long, short, or non-existent. This will free up some time by allowing you to wait until the wait is a little shorter.
- Have A Friend Wait In Line
Ask someone in your group to do everyone else a solid and wait in line for a table while the rest of you grab a drink and play some games at the nearby Bar La Quincaillerie. Then pay for that friend’s poutine and by them a cup of hot tea to help bring their frozen fingers back to life.
- Take It To Go
One of the main attractions of La Banquise is that it’s open 24/7. That makes it a perfect, and crowded, spot for late-night food after a night out on the town. But is eating your meal at the restaurant going to make it taste better? Probably not. That means you can call the restaurant and place an order to-go about 20-30 minutes before you are ready to pick it up. Then you can head back to your hotel and chow down.
- Take Cash
You can pay with a debit card, but not a credit card. Also, your debit card needs to be issued by a Canadian bank. That said, cash is your friend when it comes to La Banquise. Whether you hope to get in and out quickly, or stay a while and chat, it will be convenient to put cash on the table when the time comes to pay. This is also helpful if you’re going in a large group.
- Be Flexible & Persistent
On my first attempt to eat dinner at La Banquise the line was so long my friends and I ended up at a different restaurant down the street. The second attempt lead me to a fondue place down the street. On the third attempt I struck gold! My persistence and open mindedness lead me to a poutine breakfast that I’ll never forget and those memories are why I love to travel.Have you been o La Banquise? What was your experience? Tell us in he comments below.