Suggestions for trip in July, from Philadelphia
Northern Chowhounders, greetings! I'm thinking of planning a trip to your fair city in mid-July (after the Jazz festival) when my kids are away and I (finally) have time for myself! Have never been to Montreal but have heard wonderful things. Want to do this inexpensively, but not on a shoe-string budget. So, here are some questions:
1) first off, what neighborhood to stay in? Many people online suggest the Plateau area. Is that a boring area? I want interesting, ethnic, avant-garde, artsy, edgy, so I was thinking the Latin Quarter? Nabs and (cheap, small, unique) hotels would be greatly appreciated.
2) what restaurants should not be missed? I am from Philadelphia where small, quaint, edgy BYOB cafes that serve electic and ethnic food are what I see out. Any cuisine.
3) Finally, was thinking of driving up and just leaving my car in a garage and walking or taking public transportation to get around? should I take a train up? (though I think that would be more expensive).
Thank you for any and all suggestions! Coming to Philly? I'll steer you right.....
what do you want to do here, if you want to be close to downtown there is a student residence on parc avenue (previously a hotel) which becomes a hotel in summer and is close to downtown. There are smaller hotels around the city but hard for us to comment on them as most of CH not staying in hotels here. I would avoid latin quarter for lodgings-this is not like latin quarter in Europe, nothing of interest there and very seedy.. Plateau has never really appealed to me-- I avoid it, dont like to shop there, parking and traffic a problem, shadeless main streets, crowded and kind of rundown, but it does appeal to others probably younger group. If I was tourist I would prefer old montreal or central montreal. Mile end area and upper st laurent may be of interest. You can buy special transportation pass if you dont want to worry about parking in city. There is some free parking downtown especially after 6pm but you have to know where to look and decipher all the signs.
"artsy", "edgy"...that's exactly what the Latin Quarter is not! As others have said, you'd probably like the Plateau. It's where I would recommend if looking for a scene away from most tourists with great restaurants, bars, cafés, and shopping. It's the heart and soul of the city. You can easily get to downtown, Latin Quarter, and Old Montreal via a long but nice walk, Bixi bike, or Metro.
FWIW, I love the NYC-Montreal train. Yes it is very long (upward of 12 hours) but it's a nice way to relax with a good book and great views out of the window (sit on the eastside). However, it leaves NYC only once, in the morning (815am). It's only $70, which is a bargain given the distance.
There are a couple of recent posts from New Yorkers who visited Montreal. They offer some great suggestions for eating.
Train service is crap between here and NY, which is the only way through I believe. Don't bother with it. It is like a 10 hour rail journey just from NY. Not cheap either. Only 5.5 hours by car. Lots of worry-free parking in Montreal, too.
Inexpensive heart-of-action Hotel you might want to think about - never mind their website - Google EXACTLY this: Residence Du Voyageur Hotel Montreal
and click on the Google reviews. You really can't beat the value and location. (Yeah, it's basically Latin Quarter)
I'll let others guide you on the food side, but this hotel is moments from a great local food scene all price ranges, and located just on or off St Laurent street; and a great Portuguese Quarter.
I'd also look at the Garde Manger for one meal in Old Montreal. Chuck, the head chef, won North America's Iron Chef 2 years ago for good reason.
What speed do you drive at, if you can make it from Philly to Mtl in 5.5 hours? It's at least 8, IIRC (and I don't drive slow...). It's not a bad car ride, though, and fairly easy to find parking.
Stick with Plateau, or Old Montreal for the atmosphere (and head to the Plateau for your meals). July is busy here, so make sure wherever you are staying, you have made reservations in advance.
Check the board for plenty of recommendations for restaurants. Max's list is a good start...
The Plateau Area and neighbor Mile-End are the best area for what you are looking for.
There are ton of good food along the main streets (Boulevard Mont-Royal, Rue St-Denis, Boulevard St-Laurent)
Good places (in no particular order) :
Comptoir Charcuterie et Vins :
Comptoir 21 (fish&chips)
La Buvette Chez Simone ?
Le Chien Fumant
La Salle A Manger
Quartier Latin is the University area filled with cheap(er) eateries and bars.