A blog dedicated to the exploration of great food, cooking and restaurants.pub, restaurant, or cafe across which drinks or refreshments are served.
How to Plan Your Bar’s Food Menu 101
When you are starting out on your bar running journey, simplicity is essential when developing a food menu. Ninety-nine times out of 100, your patrons aren’t coming to you for the latest in avant-garde gastronomy. Instead, they want easy-to-understand, familiar items they can snack on while they’re enjoying the beverages you’re pouring.
Yours is a bar, not a restaurant. Your menu should reflect that difference.
You can take any of these menu ideas and match it with your bar to create synergy. For example, if your bar specializes in tequila, you can choose a menu with Mexican flavors that enhances your theme.
An appetizer is a dish that’s served before the main meal in a restaurant. In bars, sometimes the appetizer menu is the only menu. The owner chooses not to offer full-blown meals to patrons, instead giving them a choice of several appetizers to snack on.
Common bar appetizers include these tasty options:
- Deep-fried jalapeño peppers stuffed with cream cheese
- Beer-battered onion rings with a special sauce
- Nachos slathered in cheese, refried beans, beef or chicken, black olives, tomatoes, and anything else that seems tempting to you
- Chips and salsa
- Fried vegetables, like mushrooms, zucchini, or even dill pickles
- Buffalo wings
- Fried mozzarella sticks
Pub grub is the affectionate term for typical bar food, such as wings, onion rings, cheese sticks, burgers, and so on. All things deep-fried (or high in saturated fat) usually fall into the pub grub category. If you’re interested in serving food, this is usually a good place to start. People expect bars to offer this kind of cuisine.
Pub grub menus can include these filling foods designed to please your patrons’ palates:
- Hamburgers: You can create dozens of variations on the basic burger: the bacon cheeseburger, blue-cheese burger, or mushroom-and-Swiss burger, for example.
- Sandwiches: Popular ones include the Reuben, grilled cheese, grilled chicken, and so on. Make your sandwiches big and thick and charge accordingly. Customers typically remember the size, not the price, except in college areas. Students typically want to spend as little as possible to eat a hearty portion.
- Chili: Hearty soups and stews are game-day favorites with bar-goers.
- French fries: Some barkeepers include onion rings and hand-cut chips on their menu.
- Fried chicken tenders: You can list these as an appetizer, an entree, or both.
- Pizza: This dish — deep, pan, or thin — is always a popular item and can make a great profit. Consider including a small, individual pizza on your menu.
Some bars choose to only serve food during happy hour, a period of time designed to draw a crowd with special pricing and promotions. Sometimes the food is the happy-hour draw.
Maybe you set up a free buffet from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday but keep drinks at their regular price. Or maybe you sell two drinks for the price of one (assuming that’s legal in your state), and charge $3 per person for the buffet.
Tapas are snacks or small plates in the Spanish tradition. Patrons can order several tapas to create their own meal or share them with friends. Often provided free in Spain with the purchase of alcoholic beverages, these small plates make an appearance in many bars in this country.
You can provide very simple tapas, like a few olives, complimentary to guests, and make more elaborate offerings, though still small in quantity, available for purchase.
Here are a few examples of tapas coauthor Heather recently sampled in bars across the country:
- Fried new potatoes with chile pasilla aioli
- Bleu cheese lamb sliders
- Cajun shrimp sautéed in a spicy cream sauce
- Crispy cod with potato cakes and lemon aioli
- Manchego cheese croquettes
- Plato de fiambres (plate of cured meats)
- Curry fries
- Pimientos fritos (fried green peppers and coarse salt)
Many “bar and grills” or “grill and taverns” or “grill and bars” have larger menus these days. Owners may start with a pub grub menu but expand their offerings further to include items such as salads, entrees (such as ribs, steaks, and pasta), desserts, and even kids’ menus.
Here are some familiar examples of bars with full-blown menus. Take a look at these websites to get a feel for the breadth and depth of the menu offerings:
- Fox and Hound
- Fado Irish Pub
- Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar
Bars with Great Food: Where to drink and dine
Looking for somewhere to drink and eat well? We’ve got you covered! What’s better than munching on delicious snacks while you socialize over a glass of wine? We’ve also included spots serving generous portions — the perfect accompaniment to a pint from your favourite local microbrewery. Whether it’s for a date, an outing with friends, or simply an alternative to a tranquil restaurant experience, dining at bars is the easiest way to spice up your week.
The bars on this list serve everything from fine wine to creative cocktails, but most importantly, awesome food. For your ease, we’ve divided the list into two categories: menus for those with big appetites, and for those in need of delicate accompaniments to their drinks. Regardless of the style of cuisine you’re looking for, all of these addresses serve inarguably great food.
Perks of dining at a bar? The prices are usually cheaper, the atmosphere is always exciting, and there is no better place to socialize. Our list of bars that serve great food kills two birds with one stone. Not only do these addresses have some of the best bar menus in the city, they’re also all great spots to add to your roster of the best drinking holes. On the list, each establishment is impressive in their own right. On top of having delicious food, they’re all either stylish, lively, welcoming or charming- or a little bit of each.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little more weather appropriate for your drinking and dining needs, check out our list of the best bar patios in Montreal, or our list of the best restaurant patios in Montreal!
- WINE BAR
- COCKTAIL BAR
Projet Pilote is a beautiful bar on Rachel Street, located a stone’s throw from La Fontaine Park. It features great beers brewed on site by brewer Martin Allaire and spirits also concocted on site by owner Guillaume Drapeau. In the kitchen, chef Léon Buser-Rivet offers delicious creations, most of which are vegetarian. Interestingly, a rooftop garden provides some of the vegetables that end up on the plates. The kitchen at Projet Pilote is definitely worth a visit and we dare you not to try every dish after you’ve tasted one! In addition, Projet Pilote holds a craft beer license, which allows minors accompanied by their legal guardians to be on site.
980 RUE RACHEL EST
- WINE BAR
Specializing in cheese and charcuterie boards, Bar Mamie is an excellent address on Beaubien East. The nice selection of wines is worth the detour and the menu of the bar accompanies it beautifuly. In addition to the boards that are ideal for sharing, the kitchen always offers a few dishes that will remind you of your grandmother’s cooking!
328 RUE BEAUBIEN EST
Boswell Brewery is the place to quench your thirst on Mount Royal East Avenue. In addition to offering an extensive selection of beers brewed on site, ciders, and imported wines, Boswell is known for its elaborate fusion cuisine where fresh salads, decadent tartares, meats, and gourmet burgers are on the menu. It’s a place to eat well and drink until late at night.
2407 AVENUE DU MONT-ROYAL EST
Atwater Cocktail Club
Comforting and hearty dishes: The Atwater Cocktail Club bar stands out from others, an affect of its eclectic décor. A fuchsia pink bench, dinosaur head, and mirrors on the ceiling enhance the space, and encourage patrons to let go of their stresses. The original space remains chic. There are a few delicious cocktails, but above all, they serve a shortened version of the Foiegwa restaurant menu! Revisited classics such as the cheeseburger (option to add foie gras), entrecote, chips, snails, frogs’ legs or others. Note that in addition to a fabulous menu, you can enjoy these dishes every day of the week until 2am. Pretty convenient if you live around the area.
512 AVENUE ATWATER
Comforting and hearty dishes: Close to the Jean-Talon market, Harricana Brewery is one of the most beautiful microbreweries in Montreal. We at Tastet absolutely love it! The superb décor was conceptualized by architect Alain Carle. This Brasserie offers you beers brewed on site, ciders at low prices, and a menu inspired by the owner’s mother’s recipes. With well made comfort food dishes, appetizers, snacks, salads and more, you will not be dissapointed if you’re in the mood for some grub. The dishes are always consistent and focused on sharing. Menu highlights include a club sandwich, burgers, guédille, salads, and others. At Brasserie Harricana, we can certainly eat and drink very well.
95 RUE JEAN-TALON OUEST
- WINE BAR
Buvette Chez Simone
Comforting and hearty dishes: This address is a pioneer in the industry of sharing plates served in a bar atmosphere. At Buvette Chez Simone, we’ll find the option of eating a real meal- the perfect way to maintain your sobriety. Buvette Chez Simone is one of a kind, and their execution is always on point. The friendly service, vibrant atmosphere, and the perfectly priced wine menu all contribute to this bar’s great reputation. Small starters, delicious full chicken or half chicken, french fries, salads, cheeses or delicatessen. The menu here is simple and always delicious.
4869 AVENUE DU PARC
- WINE BAR
Comforting and hearty dishes: In a setting that is reminiscent of Berlin’s bars, Furco offers you an impressive array of dining options. Decorated by Zébulon Perron, the establishment is often crowded with downtown professionals, partygoers of all kinds, and lovers of vibrant environments. On Thursday evenings, the place is particularly busy! The menu concocted by chef Joëlle Trottier changes every week, and offers dishes with generous portions that are fresh and easy to share. Especially ideal if you’re looking for delicatessen products.
425 RUE MAYOR
Isle de Garde
Comforting and hearty dishes: Isle de Garde is a superb traditional brewery, best enjoyed while sipping on great beer and snacking on so food. The space is remarkably unpretentious and laid back. L’Isle de Garde offers a series of 24 beers brewed on site. The beer here is always fresh and never disappointing- the Isle de Garde bar is one of our favourite microbreweries. To eat, they serve dishes such as deli and cheese platters, but also items such as grilled octopus, decadent burgers, Tartar and fried zucchini fritters.
1039 RUE BEAUBIEN EST
- WINE BAR
Delicate and delicious snacks: Our friends at Bar Henrietta welcome you to a décor inspired by the taverns of the 1960s. The space is welcoming, refined and absolutely charming. At Bar Henrietta, we love to enjoy delicious and refined small plates! The dishes are of Portuguese inspiration, and the complex and unique flavours are memorable. We highly recommend the yellowfin tuna, cream salad, oven cheese, sausage and chorizo to accompany your wine. The bar has several private imports, your choice among many variants of bubbles, and classic or homemade cocktails (Goldeneye and Betty Flanagan are our favourites). Note that the editor is madly in love with one of the owners of this establishment.
115 AVENUE LAURIER OUEST
Delicious and delicate snacks: Located in the heart of Pointe-Saint-Charles, Knox Tavern is both a bar and a restaurant. The place is on our list of the most beautiful bars in Montreal thanks to its brick and wood interior, as well as its superb illuminated green wall. At Knox, we love to eat comfort food prepared by James Baren (Bremner and Garde-Manger). We also come here to indulge in the Knox burger- one of the best in town! The menu changes according to the seasons, as does the cocktail list.
1871 RUE CENTRE
Brasserie Le Réservoir
Delicious and delicate snacks: Since the trio of the late Hotel Herman joined forces with Reservoir, the brewery has certainly recovered its strength! The kitchen now offers delicious snacks to enjoy in their very relaxed atmosphere. The dishes are just enough to satisfy your stomach while drinking beer or sipping on a glass of wine. The pub on Duluth Street also offers lunches on Thursdays and Fridays at noon. The place has made it back in our list of our favourite addresses once again! A great spot to enjoy a drink in an unpretentious setting, without having to compromise on the quality of food!
9 AVENUE DULUTH EST
- WINE BAR
- COCKTAIL BAR
Delicious and delicate snacks: Philemon become a classic Montreal bar in 2010. This address is always a pleasant place to let loose while indulging with nice bite to eat. The establishment’s short menu is made up of primarily fresh produce; the bar offers trays to share, think cheeses, cold cuts, vegetables, tapenades, and other small snacks to accompany your drinks. Simple dishes made with lots of flavours and spices. There is also a beautiful organic wine list! The stunning setting, once again created by Zébulon Perron.
111 RUE SAINT-PAUL OUEST
Delicious and delicate snacks: Pullman is one of Montreal’s first wine bars… and one of our favourites! More than 10 years after its opening, the bar is still an exceptional establishment. At Pullman, you will find between 300 and 400 bottles of wine, almost all from private imports. The wines by the glass change every week, and all the waiters are also sommeliers by profession. With a splendid interior signed by Braun-Braën, you can enjoy a simple menu that is both very tasty and very well executed. The space is hushed and elegant- chic, yet casual. Our favourite menu items include green beans and grilled cheese. (Restaurant permit, which means you must eat a dish to have a drink).
3424 AVENUE DU PARC
Delicate and delicious snacks: A wine bar on Avenue Mont-Royal! Stylish interior design, mastered by Zebulon Perron. Despite the industrial aesthetic at Bar Rouge-Gorge, the environment maintains a particular sense of intimacy. It is a pleasant place without stuffy etiquette, which simply enhances the enjoyment and relaxation of the experience . At Rouge-Gorge, you will discover good bottles, great drinks, and dine on unique dishes. The menu also rotates through a few seasonal options.
1234 AVENUE DU MONT-ROYAL EST
Delicate and delicious snacks: Tiradito is a great Peruvian restaurant and bar that will surely win over the hearts of whoever visits. The establishment offers a very original concept, where the customers all sit around one communal bar! The servers and cooks work together as they buzz around room, giving a nightly show to the seated customers. Tiradito is certainly pretty, as well as wonderfully relaxed and tranquil. Here, you will eat a Nikkei cuisine (fusion between Japanese and Peruvian gastronomy). The cuisine is colourful and the menu features small sharing dishes. Unique spices with original and very tasty flavour combinations sets this menu apart from the rest.
1076 RUE DE BLEURY
Delicious and delicate snacks: Located in the downtown core, this new Japanese cocktail bar – one of the best in Montreal – welcomes its guests into a uniquely mysterious space. Gokudo is also part of our list of the most beautiful hidden bars in Montreal! Here, you’ll eat very good dishes made by the restaurant Ryōshi, which is located directly at the front of the bar. There are a few small salads, bowls of fish and rice, and a dessert – all very good!
630 RUE CATHCART
Delicious and delicate snacks: We frequently shout out bar Majestique – we undeniably have a real weakness for the place! With kitch decor (just the way it should be), this bar is almost always crowded, primarily by fun-loving Montreal partiers. Le Majestique offers a very interesting list of wines, making it perfect if you enjoy trying out new labels. Here, you’ll enjoy excellent oysters, some of the best fries in Montreal, remarkable baked bourgots, and other delicate dishes.
4105 BOULEVARD SAINT-LAURENT
Comforting and hearty dishes: Newly opened, Bar Saint-Denis has quickly become a landmark for the inhabitents of Rosemont. Whether you want to enjoy a delicious meal, a quiet drink on a weekday evening, or a feast until the early morning, Bar St-Denis is the place for you. Their objective was to create a menu that could be adapted to the desires of the customers: dishes to share, to satisfy a hunger craving, or to snack on after you empty your first wine glasses. The Egyptian roots of co-owner Emily Homsy materialize in each dish they serve, and the result is amazing. Come here and expect to enjoy tasty falafels, lamb tartar, and other dishes of Middle Eastern inspiration!
BEST LONDON RESTAURANT BARS
Wanna grab some delicious drinks and great food all in one spot? Consider this little guide our gift to you. Positively brimming with restaurants and bars that serve tasty tipples while delighting your taste buds at the same time, London’s not in short demand of a brilliant hangout or two. We’ve narrowed down our favourite restaurant bars around the capital to these chosen few, meaning you never have to trudge around town to get a post-dinner cocktail again.
Whether you’re looking for a glass of icy Champagne on a sun-trap terrace or after oysters in a swish restaurant, Madison will have what you’re looking for. Join the spot for views over St Paul’s and one of the most stylish rooftops around.
- St Pauls , St Pauls
- Restaurant Bar , Restaurant , Lounge Bar
Smiths Of Smithfield
With over 60 different types of craft beer, a carefully curated menu of cocktails and serving full English breakfasts, condiment-filled burgers and seasoned cuts of grilled meat all day long, Smiths of Smithfield offers a stellar casual dining experience at any time of the day.
- Lounge Bar , Restaurant Bar , Cocktail Bar
Devonshire Terrace is a stunning restaurant bar on Liverpool Street. With a beautiful interior made for smart dining or comfortable drinking and two great outdoor areas, is it the perfect relaxed setting to impress anyone. The kitchen serves up a delicious modern European menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This classy spot is perfect for impressing a client, date or just enjoying a nice meal out.
- Liverpool Street , City of London
- Lounge Bar , Wine Bar , Restaurant Bar
Tucked away just off the Covent Garden plaza, Balthazar is a theatre-land favourite for those looking after a dinner and drinks set up pre or post show. A London restaurant bar, Balthazar is a classy place to indulge in fine French cuisine and drink from their extensive collection of wine and cocktails.
Whether you fancy a casual drink or an intimate dinner, Nest is the Bishopsgate bar that’s offering you the best of both worlds. Chow down on elevated pub favourites, including burgers and fish and chips, and wash it down with beautifully executed cocktails.
- Liverpool Street , Shoreditch
- Cocktail Bar , Restaurant Bar , Party Bar
The Botanist Broadgate
Promising a mix of modern European and British cuisine, this trendy restaurant takes our pick for its unique decor and forward-thinking menus. Come here for a weekend bottomless brunch, lunch or dinner before head down to The Soda Room cocktail lounge, filled with quirky taxidermy, wacky artwork and tasty tipples.
- City of London , Liverpool Street
- Restaurant Bar , Event Space , Restaurant
One Tower Bridge
Some of London’s best bars and restaurants come together at One Tower Bridge, a Thameside eating and drinking destination. Grab a table in one of the various venues or outside and tuck into offerings from The Coal Shed, Gunpowder, Prosecco House or another of the many spots.