I have been meaning to write this travel guide for a while but a reader wrote in asking for some recommendations and I finally got my butt kicked in gear to finally write it.
These are for now, all of my favourite places to eat and shop, and I will include mainstream places that are in most major Canadian cities because… well, I like them.
I will update as I see more cool places.
GETTING AROUND WITH A 3-DAY PASS
Get a 3-day unlimited pass from STM or a longer one if you need it.
You will think you can hoof it, but Montreal is full of tiny little (sometimes) steep hills and you might want to backtrack once in a while to see another shop again or something.
Then grab the STM map, print this, or save the image of the map on your phone. I keep this map at all times to refer to.
The main thing is to remember that if you are going on the lines, you need to know which direction.
Orange line? Côte-Vertu is going WEST, and Montmorency is going EAST. It’s simple.
Another thing to note that is that most of the orange line you see that is downtown from about Lionel-Groulx to Champ de Mars is at the BOTTOM of a steep hill.
The green line, from Atwater to about Berri-UQAM is at the TOP of this steep hill.
If you want to get places and think – ugh I don’t want to go to a transfer station just to get to the green line, and think each metro stop is close to each other, they kind of are, but then there’s this mountain goat hill you have to hike up to get to the next green station.
If you have health or knee issues, be aware of this. Walking from Square Victoria-OACI to McGill is an uphill workout for a brisk walker.
OLD MONTREAL (Square-Victoria metro)
- Crew Collective – 360 Rue St Jacques – Very cool place to hang out for a warm drink and a kouign amann (tastes like a sweet cake-y croissant). Very warm, inviting, inside an old bank, and beautifully picturesque. Nice place to sit and chat with a friend.
- Lola Rosa – 727 William St – I’d order the quesadilla here, but to be honest, I tried their food and wasn’t blown away. Their vegan DESSERTS however, are delicious.
- Westrose – 699 William St – Fancy French desserts. Like.. F-A-N-C-Y. Cute spot to hang and chill.
- Dispensa – 696 William St – Great little Italian sandwich hole in the wall shop. Go for their sandwiches, and take the porchetta. The rest (I have tried them all), don’t come close to the porchetta. Desserts are nice too, like their raspberry tarts, but again, the rest are so-so, there are better croissants for instance, elsewhere.
- Joiea Sociale – 645 Wellington St #120 – Their porchetta is to die for. Like.. AMAZING. I would order only that, the meatballs or the spinach fritters, and ignore the rest. Pizza is not good, FYI.
- Le Cartet – 106 McGill St – Expensive brunch and sandwich / food shop, but they have stuff for takeout, so this is kind of cool. Very French fare, all of it is quite good.
- Ikanos – 112 McGill St #1 – GREAT seafood place. Like OMG amazing. I took their expensive seafood platter once with fried zucchini and was blown away. Best place for seafood, and quite reasonable considering the location and price.
- Stash Cafe – 200 Saint-Paul St O – Go here for their delicious pierogies and their beef stroganoff. I tried their soups and other dishes but felt disappointed but then again I don’t eat traditionally
- Maison Christian Fauré – 355 Place Royale – The macarons & sweet cakes are good, but the croissants and pain au chocolat is not excellent for the price. You can get better at Mamie Clafoutis, or even Première Moisson. Cute place to brunch and eat, very picturesque. Christian Fauré is also a MOF (Meilleur Ouvriers de France – if you are into that thing), and you can watch this documentary Kings of Pastry to see how crazy they are)
- Olive et Gourmando – 351 Saint-Paul O – The pastries look great here, croissants etc, but the sandwiches were greasy. VERY cute morning coffee spot though. I’d come here to eat the pastries but I know people who have raved about the pork sandwiches (too greasy for me).
- Mandy’s – 425 Rue Saint Nicolas – Vegetarian salads, but trust me when I say this as an omnivore, they are DELICIOUS. The Wolfe Bowl with mock chicken is SO delicious and filling. Fun little drinks, great vegan desserts, I really recommend eating here, even as a meat-eater. They are a chain and are all over Montreal but this location is the cutest.
CHINATOWN (Place d’Armes metro)
- Mai Xiang Yuan – 1084 Boulevard Saint Laurent – GREAT pork & chive dumplings, fried or not. I eat 2 platters, deep fried, I’d take the shrimp and pork ones.
- Nudo – 1055 Boulevard Saint Laurent – LOVE their braised beef noodles. It is the only thing I order. Be careful, there is a ton of MSG in it if you are sensitive to that.
- Pho Bac 97 – 1016 Boulevard Saint Laurent – BEST pho in town. Best deal too. They don’t just add more noodles in the larger size, you get more meat too. I take the Large when I am hungry, but a Small should do fine.
- Patisserie Harmonie – 85 Rue de la Gauchetière Ouest – The pastry shop on the left is nice, tasty little Chinese desserts. On the right however, I’d totally beeline for the little heater full of buns (baos). I like the pork and coriander ones. They are cheap and super filling and tasty. I can eat about 4 if I am really hungry. I would avoid the dessert buns, I find them kind of gross to be honest, and I’d take a pastry instead.
OLD MONTREAL (Square-Victoria metro)
- Éspace Pépin – 350 Rue Saint-Paul O – Their chosen clothing, bags, shoes & jewellery.. always top notch for men and women.
- Impact Galerie – 209 Rue Saint-Paul O – THE greatest independent, cool, worldly jewellery shop in Montreal. Hands down. I always want everything in there. VERY pricey.
- Lunch à Porter – 355 Rue Saint-Paul O – I love this store because it has everything for bringing your own lunch to work. SO CUTE.
- Boutique U&I– 215 Saint-Paul St O – Affordable clothes that are cute.
- Naif Boutique – 227 Saint-Paul St O – Cute clothes shop, interesting brands, some local.
- Bagnoles et bobinette – 235 Saint-Paul St O – Freaking amazing children’s store. Unique items, cool clothes, this is one of my favourite children’s shops for unique gifts.
OLD MONTREAL (Place d’Armes metro)
- Boutique Singh – 50 Rue Notre-Dame O – Great simple items from India. The jewellery is great.
BOTTOM OF THE ATWATER HILL (Lionel-Groulx metro)
- Atwater Marché – 138 Avenue Atwater – Great quaint market (overpriced produce though if you can shop elsewhere, do it.. they gouge you). I like the shop Les Douceurs du Marché (great wall of sauces and spices), and the cold cuts. This is at the BOTTOM of the steep hill of Atwater.
- Mamie Clafoutis – 2660 Notre Dame O – My favourite mainstream boulangerie in all of Montreal. Their pastries and croissants are great, but I would avoid the savoury stuff / lunch fare and drinks. I prefer Starbucks for the drinks, and lunches are better elsewhere.
TOP OF THE ATWATER HILL (Atwater metro)
- Adonis at Atwater – 2173 Rue Sainte-Catherine O – This is the most reasonable grocery store with the widest range of selection in Montreal for decent quality and price. If you need cheese or bread, or any grocery item in a pinch, I’d come here. They’re right by the Atwater metro. It is at the TOP of the hill of Atwater (a very steep hill).
- Copper Branch – 1500 Avenue Atwater (Alexis Nihon) – Vegan food at its best. I love the Galaxy or the Shiitake Burger. The Crab Burger is also good, their smoothies are awesome, and the Copper Bowl is great. Otherwise, the rest is “meh” food, to be honest.
- Copper Branch – 2183 Sainte-Catherine O – See above.
CONCORDIA AREA (Guy-Concordia metro)
- Kinka Izakaya – 1624 Sainte-Catherine O – Love their fusion Japanese food. I like their fried chicken (karaage) and black cod dishes.
- Maison Prathet Thai – 1235 Rue Guy– Incredible Thai food
DOWNTOWN CORE (McGill Metro)
- Kuu Bistro – 1219 Rue de la Place Philips – The milk pork ramen is delicious here. Haven’t tried anything else. Decently priced.
- Marcus at the 4 Seasons – 1440 Rue de la Montagne – Do entrees only, the apps are waste of money. Crab pasta is phenom.
COMPLEXE DESJARDINS (Place-des-Arts metro)
- Le Gourmet Belge – 150 Rue Sainte-Catherine O (Complexe Desjardins) – Great pistachio eclairs and croissants for a VERY reasonable price. I go nuts for the pastries here. I avoid everything else, but their quiche is not terrible.
BOTTOM OF THE ATWATER HILL (Lionel-Groulx metro)
- Stockmarkt – 2664 Rue Notre Dame O – Think hipster, cool, minimalist clothing. Love the bags. For men and women.
DOWNTOWN CORE (Peel to McGill Metros)
- Simons – 977 Sainte-Catherine O – A Quebec institution and full of reasonably priced, cool pieces. Great for basics or like-designer styles and items.
- Aritzia – 1125 Sainte-Catherine O – Slightly pricier but really minimalist and cool. Practically all my blazers are from there.
- Zara – 1500 McGill College (Montreal Trust) – Trendy fast fashion that is actually not that terrible, it’s better than Forever 21.
- Ogilvy – 1307 Sainte-Catherine O – High-end designer retail department store. I think Holt Renfrew bought them, but Ogilvy is only in Montreal & they sell Longchamps here.
- m0851 – 677 Sainte-Catherine O (Complexe Les Ailes) – The most luxurious leather goods (Rudsak is a cheaper knockoff of them), and they are PRICEY but .. oh so gorgeous pieces. This location is smaller than their bigger one on Sherbrooke.
- COS – 1310 Sainte-Catherine O – From Europe. UBER minimalist, and very simple. Nice if you are missing basics.
- OLAM – 1374 Sainte-Catherine O – This store has the COOLEST clothing from independent labels. I always want stuff from here but have to hold back.
Sherbrooke stops and starts. It starts at Vendôme metro for me, but then it ends before Atwater metro, and starts again near Guy-Concordia metro.
I am listing all the places along that area.
SHERBROOKE WEST (Vendôme metro)
- Pick Thai – 5221 Boulevard de Maisonneuve O – Great Thai food, they are closed mid-day though; check before going. Love their red curry, I’d avoid the Pad Thai (too sweet for me).
- Park Resto – 378 Avenue Victoria – Expensive. Great sashimi appetizer (to die for) and great raw fish but the rest of the food is not worth the price. I mean, Korean fare for triple the price? Nothx.
SHERBROOKE WEST (Vendôme metro)
- Copper Branch – 1245 Rue Bishop – VEGAN FOOD AT ITS BEST. Try the shiitake teriyaki burger or the galaxy one and their smoothies. Avoid the rest.
- La Palette Gourmande – 1486 Sherbrooke O – Has THE BEST yoghurt here from La Ferme Valleé Verte (a local yoghurt company a few hours from Montreal); it is good yoghurt, the best I have had outside of France thus far.
- Aux Vivres – 4631 Boulevard Saint Laurent – A great vegan restaurant. I only like their Dragon Nori rolls with their Dragon sauce (THE BOMB).
- WANT Apothecary – 4960 Sherbrooke Street W – Very hipster, designer minimalist clothing. Their bags are divine but $$$$$$
- Anthropologie – 2130 Rue de la Montagne – I really like Anthropologie, they have the most interesting pieces even for a reluctant bohemienne like myself. Just check out this stunning dress I got from them. Interesting home goods too.
- All Saints – 2138 Rue de la Montagne – I especially like the leather jackets from them, but even their minimalist clothing is awesome. Their jeans are not bad either, quite thick & of good quality though pricey.
- Holt Renfrew – 1300 Sherbrooke St – High-end designer retail department store, but it is not as big as the one in Toronto on Bloor. Has lots of designers, different ones from Ogilvy.
- m0851 – 1190 Boulevard de Maisonneuve O – The most luxurious leather goods (Rudsak is a cheaper knockoff of them), and they are PRICEY but .. oh so gorgeous pieces. This location is nice and big like the one on Saint Laurent.
SAINT LAURENT / MONT ROYAL
- Rotisserie Romados – 115 Rue Rachel E – Great, cheap, FILLING rotisserie chicken meals. Great custard tarts too.
- L’Avenue Plateau – 922 Avenue du Mont Royal E – One of the best places to brunch. Hands down.
- Laloux – 250 Pine Ave E – Classic French fare. A bit overpriced for the portions (obviously) but it was yummy, although I’m spoiled so… it is hard for me to justify the price. If you are only in town for a short time, then go for it.
- Schwartz’s Deli – 3895 Boulevard Saint Laurent – Great smoked meat sandwiches. Get the most fatty, thickest, juciest ones with lots of mustard. Don’t go for lean, PLEASE.
- Cheskie Bakery – 359 Rue Bernard Ouest Get the cinnamon and chocolate babkas.
- Jack Lux – 3678 Saint Denis – A cool quirky home shop of recycled, re-found items. Very cool.
- m0851 – 3526 Saint-Laurent – The most luxurious leather goods (Rudsak is a cheaper knockoff of them), and they are PRICEY but .. oh so gorgeous pieces.
- Clark Street Mercantile – 5200 Rue Clark – Mostly for men but they sell Otter Wax here if you want to re-wax your clothing or make things waterproof.
- Snowdown Deli – 5265 Boulevard Décarie – I love their liver and smoked meat sandwiches but they’re in the middle of nowhere and hard to get to if you are downtown and not willing to make a trip out there just to eat.
OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS BY OTHERS
A dear reader wrote in with more recommendations! Enjoy.
MONT ROYAL (OUTREMONT) / SAINT LAURENT
Cafe Santropol – AMAZING BREAD! Killer tomato sandwich for the win. (But the soup I had was super legit, FYI).
La Banquise – We went here for some epic poutine! Great place, especially at3am. Cash only.