Marche Jean-Talon or Marche Atwater?
If we can only make it to one market, which should it be? We're going to be in Montreal at the end of June and we want to visit a market but which one?
I guess we're looking for unique and interesting things to buy, not so much prepared foods to eat, as we are having brunch beforehand. So, good cheeses, bagels, preserves, exotic fruits and veggies to take home with us.
Ease of access is also a consideration. We would like to have brunch at Lawrence on Blvd. St. Laurent, so I guess Jean-Talon is closer/easier to reach by Metro?
Yes, definitely JTM. Atwater has the advantage when it comes to butchers, and I actually prefer Fromagerie Atwater to anything at JTM, but its produce section is almost useless.
Plus, from JTM you'll be within striking distance of Lawrence and St. Viateur/Fairmont bagels. Although there's a not-so-pretty stretch in the middle, it shouldn't be a problem to walk from the market down St. Laurent to these establishments. Unless you have mobility issues it will be easier than walking all the way to and from the metro. It could also be nice to explore Bernard St., St. Viateur St., etc. anyways.
Marché Jean-Talon without a doubt. Much more lively and diversified.
For cheeses you have Hamel, Qui lait cru and Fromagerie La Moutonnière (only selling their cheeses). If you're going on a weekend you also have Buckland near Qui lait cru that also sells only their cheeses.
Preserves : You need to go at the Marché des saveurs. It's a shop only dedicated to Québec products. For jams look for Simon Turcotte, they are pretty amazing. Société Orignal have started doing products for fine food store. (they usually work with restaurants, across North-America). If you're interested... beautiful, rare and high quality products.
For the best fruits and veggies : Nino, Chez Louis and Birri. I also really like the organic stall on the corner near Qui lait cru.
Other favorites :
- The nuts stall near the main entrance behind the juice thing. High quality and original mixes.
- Around this time, you might still find the guy doing Rhubarb juice. It's quite unique and delicated. I wouldn't know where to send you for that though... I don't remember where it is.
I doubt you'll find better or different exotic fruits than you can find in Toronto.
IMO Jean-Talon is best for two things:
- seasonal local produce, but you have to use your common sense to pick out the phonies... if a stall has obviously non-local or out-of-season things like citrus fruits or cheap Chinese garlic, chances are the "local" produce either isn't local, or is the same quality and provenance as in any supermarket.
- artisanal products like charcuteries (Les Cochons Tout Ronds), cheeses or the wares at Marché des Saveurs
Yes, there are high-end greengrocers like Nino and Louis, but surely you can get all the same stuff just as easily in Toronto.
Jean Talon, if for no other reason then it is larger and more bustling. Atwater is also interesting, but nothing beats Jean Talon on a nice weather weekend afternoon. JTM is also flanked by lots of culturally diverse stores and restaurants. I think that it would be a more interesting experience for a tourist --- unless of course you'd like to stroll along the Lachine canal, which is also pleasant on a nice weekend - only there are fewer consumer options.