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Cool Local Weekend Eating & Drinking for First Time Visitors?

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  • nizzy Mar 25, 2011 01:35 PM
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My boyfriend and I are planning a first visit to Montreal from Brooklyn over a long weekend, and are hoping to find good local joints for everything from breakfast to late night bars.

Budget cheap to moderate. Sticking to Old Montreal and the Plateau. He's vegetarian, I'll eat anything. We drink a lot, at both dives and fancy cocktail bars. Love poutine, crepes. Seeking cool, delicious, unpretentious vibes. Any recommendations for brunch / lunch / dinner / bars are all appreciated!

Also looking for hip local Montreal blogs or guides! I know I'm leaning heavily on the call for "cool" places, but a cursory search into Montreal's nightlife just brings up like, jazz bars, and we're hoping to find something younger and louder and cuter and dirtier..


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  1. For vegetarian (vegan, in fact) food that has even carnivores thinking twice, check out Aux Vivres, on St Laurent just above Mont-Royal Ave. Not far away is an Dieu du Ciel, which IMHO is one of the better bars in town.

    Aux Vivres
    4631 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2T1R2, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: davekry

      Yes the "bacon" lettuce tomato sandwich is amazing

    2. For food, these threads on budget eats should get you started:


      You'll definitely want to go to Casa del Popolo. They have good vegetarian sandwiches. At night it becomes one of the best bars and live music venues in the city. I'd also recommend the Copa, which is a good local (somewhat student) bar that also happens to serve really good Indian food with vegetarian options. Both places are on St-Laurent, which is the main nightlife street. It is quite fancy and pretentious near Sherbrooke and gets more divey/organic/hip/better, however you want to call it, the further north you go. (Check out Barfly, le Divan Orange). Generally if you hang around the Plateau (St-Laurent, St-Denis, Duluth, Rachel, Mont-Royal) and Mile-End (Bernard, St-Viateur, Fairmont) you'll come across good bars, cafes, and restaurants.

      If you like beer, Dieu du Ciel is a brewpub that makes some of the best beer I've ever had.

      Check out the Montreal Mirror (www.montrealmirror.com) for all arts and entertainment listings. Midnight Poutine (www.midnightpoutine.ca) can sometimes be a good resource for the goings on around town.

      Casa del Popolo
      4871 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2T1R6, CA

      1. A cool cocktail bar is Le Lab http://www.mixoart.com/lab/index.html

        Poutine in a cool tiny place: Patati Patata ........ or not quite as cool La Banquise

        Patati Patata
        4177 St-Laurent Blvd., Montreal, QC , CA

        1. my fave watering hole is Bily Kun (354 Mont Royal E) which serves lots of local micro brews... crowd is good. Nice happy hour with pints at $4.75. Vices & Versa on St. Laurent near little italy (bit father north from the plateau) has a nice terrasse in the back where you can smoke.. they serve quebec beers only. Dieu du ciel is okay but the crowd really blows. A so so vege cafe le cagibi also has some shows in their back room... they also serve alchohol (with food only)
          Mile End is full of 'hipster' places... the neighbourhood is a brooklyn experience within Montreal.
          As mentioned, Casa del Popolo is a mostly live venue nights... across the street is Sala Rosa which has slightly bigger shows and a spanish resto that is cheap and passable one the first floor.
          Ma'aam Bolduc has good poutine... they're located in the eastern plateau also in that area a bar 'le verre bouteille'... trendy cocktail place 'le distillerie' on mont royal. if you like crepes, there's a very old fashiony place that is okay called Ty-Breiz on Duluth. If like to eat a wonderful brioche first thing in the morning, I find the ones a Boulangerie Les Co'Pains d'Abord to be amazing, they have 2 locations Duluth and Mont Royal.
          I'd spend my days in Old Montreal and cocktail hour on... in the plateau etc.

          Casa del Popolo
          4871 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2T1R6, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: chickenbruiser

            Yeah, try to get to Dieu du Ciel before 9pm. I wouldn't say the crowd "blows" but it gets silly crowded. It's better when you can sit and have a chat over a great pint...rarely possible after 9pm (or even 8 these days??)

          2. you could stroll around the Main (boul. st Laurent) and go to club espagnol (on wednesday dance show) open most days until 11pm, anybody been recently? Not cool/hip more old world but fits in with Main cosmo ambience.

            had weekend brunch recently at le hachoir, photos: http://www.montreal.tv/portail/video/...

            1. As mentioned before, Mile End (north Plateau) is the Brooklyn (or even Williamsburg without the high rises) of Montreal (but including the hassidics). Lots of good suggestion already, I would add the new Waverly bar to the mix (on the corner of St. Laurent & St Viateur). They have no food, but they allow you to bring in your own food (there's Fish & Chips from Comptoir 21 next door, pizza from Tomato, falafel sandwiches from La panthere verte/The green panther or subs from Sous Marin Royal on Bernard).
              For your caffeine fix go to Olimpico or Club Social on St Viateur. Or you can make it a breakfast if you pick up some bagels at St Viateur or danishes from a bakery and eat them there with you coffee like the locals do.

              I suggest you explore Mile End (especially Fairmount, St. Viateur and Bernard) roughly between Parc Avenue and St. Laurent. But even just east of St. Laurent there is Guillaume a small artisanal bakery on Fairmount, Magpie for pizza on Maguire, or Croissanterie Figaro for brekkie/brunch just west of Parc on Fairmount.

              But since you come from hipster central already, do venture out to the plateau, more chic & French than Mile End but quintessential MTL!
              I also second Dieu du ciel, Divan Orange (veggie fare), Billy Kun as watering holes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: estilker

                Couple of added notes about Comptoir 21: the poutine is billed as vegetarian (not vegan), and it's pretty good.

                They also serve a decent if unspectacular veggie burger. What really sets it apart is that it's a homemade patty made from real vegetables -- not an industrial faux-meat product loaded with tofu and/or seitan.

                Around the corner, on St-Laurent (next door to the Waverly) is a Guyanese roti joint, Caribbean Curry Garden. A couple more vegetarian options there.

              2. My picks:

                1. La Banquise on rue Rachel east (just east of St. Denis in the Plateau) for 24 hour poutine, including vegetarian poutine. Warning: Late-night line ups!
                2. Patati Patata for *super* cheap eats and veg-friendly dishes. Poutine gravy is made of chicken broth, however. Warning: Super small space.
                4177 Saint Laurent Blvd. at Rachel, in the Plateau.
                3. Olive et Gourmado for brunch in Old Montreal, 351 rue Saint Paul west. Amazing pastries, sandwiches, coffee. Moderately priced, unpretentious and very cute, veg-friendly.
                4. La Paryse in Latin Quarter (just south of Plateau) at 302 rue Ontario east, just west of St. Denis for burgers and fries. The best burgers in Montreal, including 3-4 types of veg burgers and milk shakes.
                5. Le Cartet for brunch in Old Montreal, 106 rue McGill (NOT the same as rue McGill College, which is downtown). Moderately price, much bigger space than Olive et Gourmado, and you'll have more chance of getting a seat right away.
                6. Agree with Aux Vivres in Mile End/Plateau border for a really great veg restaurant.
                7. Agree with Diel du Ciel in Mile End/Plateau border for good beers (much better than the ubiquitous Les Trois Brasseurs you'll littering the whole city).
                8. Reservoir for beers as well, in the Plateau, 9 Ave. Duluth east, just east of St. Laurent.
                9. Pullman's for a wine bar in the Plateau/downtown, at 3424 boul. Saint Laurent.
                10. If you want to splurge a bit, P'tit Plateau (330 Marie-Anne, east of St. Denis) in the Plateau is great for French/Quebecois fare. Costs are minimized since this is a BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine). There is a SAQ--the province-owned liquor bureau--at the corner of St. Denis and Duluth in case you want to drop by there beforehand; otherwise, any of the depanneurs, i.e. corner shops that sell cheap wines and beers, can do.

                Note: Old Montreal restos are usually not very budget friendly. They are mostly higher-end and if you want cheap foods, they will usually be of lousy quality in that area. However, you can get really yummy eats there for a pretty penny.

                Also, Montreal is not very veg-friendly, especially if you compare it to Brooklyn, so it's worth checking out menus beforehand to find veg-friendly places. Just a FYI.

                Bonne voyage!

                Aux Vivres
                4631 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2T1R2, CA

                Le Cartet
                106 Rue McGill, Montreal, QC H2Y, CA

                Patati Patata
                4177 St-Laurent Blvd., Montreal, QC , CA

                Les Trois Brasseurs
                732 Rue Sainte-Catherine W, Montreal, QC H3B1B9, CA

                3 Replies
                1. re: looosia

                  good list but pullmans is on parc not st laurent

                  1. re: kpaxonite

                    HA, yes, Pullman's is at 3424 avenue PARC. Thanks kpaxonite.

                  2. re: looosia

                    La Paryse and right next door you have Distillirie...great cocktails served in mason jars...very cool spot...but again...also gets pretty packed.

                  3. Lola Rosa on Milton between Lorne and Aylmer is a vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurant that might fit the bill. I believe it is BYOB and the SAQ has the best selection of wine in North America and the corner grocers and supermarkets carry some very drinkable wines. The food is excellent but the crowd is young but not loud or dirty perhaps a place for breakfast. The place your looking for in the evening is probably Cafe Campus on the Prince Arthur Mall Prince Arthur east of St Laurent young loud and unpretentious. Many places to eat on the mall and on St Laurent and the scene at Cafe Campus after.

                    Lola Rosa Cafe
                    545 Rue Milton, Montreal, QC H2X1W5, CA

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Moedelestrie

                      It should be noted that the SAQ is a monopoly and has nothing close to the best wine selection in north america! Wines available at supermarkets are drinkable at best- avoid them. Also lola rosa isnt even open for breakfast..... it is a good spot though...however not byob.
                      Places on St Laurent to check out at night are Blue Dog, Go Go lounge and A Side.

                      1. re: kpaxonite

                        I am only quoting the New York Times with regards to the wines available from the SAQ. It may be a monopoly but it is my monopoly and their buyers seem to find the best wines in the world to bring into Quebec. I am happy to report that my local IGA has an excellent selection of wines as does the SAQ next door and nobody seems to mind the government store competing with the local supermarket it seems to make them both better. Thanks for the correction on Lola Rosa glad I never went there for Breakfast but have many excellent lunches and suppers there .

                        Lola Rosa Cafe
                        545 Rue Milton, Montreal, QC H2X1W5, CA

                        1. re: Moedelestrie

                          Grocery stores all sell the same wine and there's not much competition since the SAQ wins on QPR every single time. The only thing the grocery stores offer is convenience and it comes at a price.

                          1. re: Moedelestrie

                            To import wines one must go through the SAQ and pay hefty fees, the SAQ makes money off the wines being sold at the grocery stores and limits which ones can be sold so there is no competition whatsoever... in the US there is less regulation on importing alcohol ergo the larger variety and true competition between stores and importers alike.

                            It however very good that many byob licenses are issued though and there is never a 'corkage fee' in Quebec.

                        2. re: Moedelestrie

                          In my opinion, I would have to disagree with a Lola Rosa recommendation, especially if you're from Brooklyn and used to high-quality veg food. Haven't been to New York City in a while but the city definitely beats Montréal when it comes to vegetarian food and the only place I would recommend in Montréal for a veg restaurant is Aux Vivres. It's surprisingly the best vegetarian restaurant that I've been to in the past few years, whether the States, Canada or elsewhere. Otherwise, Montréal beats the rest of North America for the hearty, heavy, meaty, and the cheesy.

                          Aux Vivres
                          4631 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2T1R2, CA

                          Lola Rosa Cafe
                          545 Rue Milton, Montreal, QC H2X1W5, CA

                          1. re: looosia

                            Perhaps a mention for Chuchai (veggie thai) on St Denis and Duluth and Crudessence (mostly vegan raw food) on Rachel (and one downtown)as well. Both are in the Plateau.