Number One: Have a Local.
Find a restaurant, pub, coffee shop, café, tea house, bar or shop that you return to often during your stay.
On our first trip to Montreal we spent a piece of each day in a restaurant called Modavie in the Old Port. At lunch it attracted local business people but in the evening it was geared toward tourists (particularly Americans). Day or night the atmosphere was enjoyable – more cozy than cutting edge. Sometimes we ate a meal. Sometimes we just popped in for a drink. There was a spacious wood bar in the center of the room and they had live jazz each evening. The staff was professional and friendly. They quickly recognized us as regulars and were willing to share their insights – some in the guidebooks and some not.
Each time we came Lorenzo, in particular, clued us in to things we should check out. We found some great places on his recommendation. On the final day of our week-long June trip we mentioned that we were so taken with Montreal we wanted to buy a home. Lorenzo gave us a parting bit of advice: “before you buy, come in January.” Seven years and a condo later we’re still dining at Modavie. Lorenzo is still welcoming us and filling us in on happenings since we last were “home.” We regularly recommend Modavie to our visiting friends, so our relationship is both good for us and good for business.
Over the years we have adopted local spots from Montreal to Mendoza, and from Basseterre to Barcelona where they welcomed us back like old friends; even if it was only for a long weekend.