© Alison Slattery
Plateau-Mont-Royal’s pleasing pâtisseries
The Plateau-Mont-Royal is the neighbourhood with the highest concentration of boulangeries and pâtisseries in Montréal. Considered one of the hippest areas in the city, this predominantly francophone hood counts a lot of French ex-pats as residents. This may be why so many boulangeries have opted to set up shop here, often competing for the title of best croissant in town within a few blocks of each other. Among those are Boulangerie Mr. Pinchot, Bakery Les Co'Pains d’abord (three locations), Fous Desserts and Croissant Croissant, which are all within walking distance so you can go on a croissant crawl and judge for yourself. For some of the best cupcakes in Montréal, head to the adorable Les Glaceurs.
Another contender in the croissant debate is Au Kouign-Amann on Mont-Royal Avenue East. The almond croissant there is great but people flock to this tiny spot specifically for a slice of its famous kouign amann, an addictive layered butter and sugar cake from Brittany. Le Toledo’s display of beautiful pastries, including seasonal fruity ones, is irresistible. It also makes great breads and its exquisite flan has garnered a delicious reputation among pastry lovers. Mamie Clafoutis on Saint-Denis Street is also another great spot for croissants, breads and baked pastries like the near perfect cannelés or the nutty pistachio and almond pavé with cherries. The Plateau also has its share of cupcake stores.
© Crémy Pâtisserie
If it’s macarons you’re looking for, no need to look further than POINT G, the definite winner when it comes to this delicate confection that doesn’t seem to go out of style. Classic flavours like chocolate and lemon share the beautiful store with seasonal sensations such as violet and honey and a Valentine’s Day cherry confit made with local cherries. Crémy Pâtisserie is a well-known and well-loved sweet spot specializing in donuts, brownies and a homemade version of a Joe Louis. Come summertime, look for the Crémy Mobile food truck, which will be delivering its sweet confections all over the city.
Located on a stretch of Laurier Avenue East that is becoming more and more trendy, Pâtisserie Rhubarbe is a local favourite. The desserts here are elegant, dainty and although based on French classics, always created with a slight twist that makes them extra special. The tarte au citron is especially delicious, so are the éclairs that are adapted to each season. Just around the corner is Le Fromentier, a great boulangerie where you can buy great bread as well as cheeses and charcuteries to go for an easy picnic in nearby Laurier Park.
© Alison Slatter
La dolce vità
The Little Italy neighbourhood of Montréal has its share of traditional Italian pastry shops like Pasticceria Alati-Caserta, where the ricotta-filled cannoli have become famous across the island. They are filled just as you order them to prevent them from going soggy and are just perfect to eat in the little park across the street with a strong Italian espresso from one of the many cafés around. Other pastry shops are also present in this neighbourhood, some with an Italian influence like La Cornetteria and its flaky cornetti (Italian-style croissants) or cronetti (their version of the cronut) and some with a more rustic and traditional feel, like the adorable Mlles Gâteaux, located in the heart of Villeray, just a few blocks north of Little Italy and serving excellent desserts like a decadent carrot cake with pineapple and carrot confit.
Further south in La Petite-Patrie, Trou de Beigne is one of the best artisanal doughnut providers in Montréal. It's located in a fun and colourful space with nine doughnut flavours on display at all times, including some of its classics as well as seasonal ones. Not far from there, David Ferguson, chef and owner of Gus restaurant, has partnered with Ciaran Tierney to open Lou, where you will find the irresistible rosemary-infused Gus bread as well as their fantastic chocolate cake with Bailey’s cream cheese icing. Mille-feuilles, choux à la crème, babas au rhum and other French classics vie for attention at Pâtisserie Madeleine on Beaubien Street East, in the heart of La Petite-Patrie.
© Alison Slattery
The area also has a lion’s share of critically-acclaimed bakeries, including Le pain dans les voiles and its award-winning baguette and delicious croissants and pizzas. Joe la croûte, another excellent spot located within the Jean-Talon Market, will surely win you over with the Mythique, a crispy roll containing black olives, sheep’s milk’s cheese, garlic flower and sea salt. If you prefer sweet to savoury, the Troubadour (apricots, hazelnuts, sea salt) is also an excellent choice. Louise is a French-born bakery that has taken up residence on Saint-Laurent Boulevard across the street from famous Italian grocery store Milano. Its promise is fresh and warm bread straight from the oven any time of day. A little further east, Boulangerie de Froment et de Sève offers many breads that you can buy to go or enjoy at the on-site bistro. Give the maple butter croissant a try or enjoy one of the many sandwiches prepared on homemade bread. One of Les Co'Pains d’abord’s three stores is located on Masson Street in Rosemont. This artisanal bakery has been known to make one of Montréal’s best croissants. Not far from there is another one of the Mamie Clafoutis shops and a great stop for flaky wonders. Automne Boulangerie is a Rosemont bakery with a Scandinavian flare that makes amazing bread, pizza and pastries (try the ham and cheese croissant). It’s the stunning creation of chef Seth Gabrielse and award-winning bread maker Julien Roy. Fanfare Jarry, a bakery/restaurant located on Jarry Street, makes French-style breads, pastries and great desserts in a bright and luminous space. Boulangerie Jarry, on the corner of Jarry and Saint-Denis Streets, mills its own flour in-house and makes exquisite breads and pastries with it. Boulangerie Jarry also serves light lunch options and diners are invited to sit at the handful of tables in the light-filled space.
If you’re looking for vegan delights and think you must content yourself with mediocre offerings, head straight to Café Dei Campi! The Italian café offers a charming atmosphere in which to consume the delectable cookies, brioches, muffins, pizza and breads created by the pastry chef and co-owner. Everything here is delicious, but the vegan cannoli have got the city talking!
© Susan Moss
Buttery goodness in Outremont and Park Extension
Outremont is well known for its many leafy parks, its mansions and its many restaurants along Van Horne and Bernard Streets. It’s also known for the excellent breads and baked goods found at Mamie Clafoutis, famous for its nut and blue cheese baguette or its Mamie Choc, a decadent mile-high chocolate cake. Just a few doors down, take a bite of Le Paltoquet: Pâtisserie’s buttery croissant, which have been declared the best in the city by some. If you're looking for something more traditional, Jewish Boulangerie Cheskies has been celebrating the neighbourhood’s cultural heritage with its excellent chocolate babka and rugelach. Also on the traditional side, Afroditi Bakery 1971 is a family-run bakery and pastry shop that’s been serving Greek (and French-style) specialties since 1971. If you have food allergies and are always on the lookout for a dairy, peanut, gluten, egg, lactose or any-allergen-free dessert, you're in luck with Pâtisserie Petit Lapin, the cutest pastry shop in Outremont.
© Alison Slattery
Babka and baguettes in the Mile End
The Mile End is the trendiest neighbourhood in Montréal these days. It’s no wonder then that some of the city’s sweetest addresses are found in this hip area. Boulangerie Hof Kelsten and its owner, baker extraordinaire Jeffrey Finkelstein have had some of the best restaurants in town on their client list. One bite of the rye and caraway seed bread will have you converted and a slice of the chocolate babka will have you hooked.
Of course one of the most famous bakeries in Montréal is Fairmount Bagel Bakery, located in the heart of the Mile End. Fairmount has been doling out fresh warm bagels to adoring fans in 15 different flavours, 24/7, for the past 100 years. There’s nothing quite like the very Montréal experience of biting into a warm-from-the-wood-burning-oven bagel straight out of the bag.
Brioche à tête, a small establishment on Fairmount Avenue, serves flaky pastries and delicious desserts. The chocolate brioche is a must and the croissants have been declared among the best in the city.
© Susan Moss
A few doors further on Fairmount Street is Kamenista, a Greek family-run pastry shop and caterer that’s been open since 1967. Kamenista serves homemade specialties and custom-designed cakes.
Boulangerie Guillaume, just a few blocks up the street, has become a staple for its excellent breads and flaky pastries. The array of breads can be dizzying but the cheddar and fig baguette or L’Écolier – a chocolate bread – are always a great choice. Also located on Parc Avenue is Pâtisserie Lawrence V. Known for its custom-made cakes, this is also a great spot to grab a flaky mille-feuilles or a buttery tart. When it comes to cakes, Mile End has one address that tops the cake: Cocoa Locale and its exquisite and dainty artisanal creations with a touch of vintage.
© Olive et Gourmando
Dessert and Old-World charm
You can easily walk from one end of Old Montréal to another while eating your way through its many fantastic pastry shops. On the far west side, Olive et Gourmando has been serving some of the city’s best baked goods for the past decade or so. You can’t really miss it; it’s the spot with the line up outside. The chocolate and banana brioche is a must, as are the cheese croissants, brownies and cookies. If you’re gluten-intolerant, you’re in luck! Cookie Stéfanie, up the street, is the place for you to indulge without worrying. Stunning home decor and fresh bread go hand in hand at Maison Pépin, where a whole side of the beautiful store has been taken over by L’Amour du Pain.
Further down towards the Old Port you’ll find Maison Christian Faure, an impressive French-style pâtisserie. Pastry chef and Meilleur ouvrier de France (MOF) Christian Faure creates elegant classics and seasonal desserts at his pastry shop, café and pastry school all rolled into one. The praline Paris-Brest is the best you’ll ever taste this side of the Atlantic and the chocolate soufflé is exceptionally decadent (for in-store consumption only).
A couple of blocks down is the adorable cupcake store Les Glaceurs and even further east is Bar à beurre where you will find an array of mini cakes, macarons and homemade breads. If you're on the lookout for something more exotic, Pâtisserie Harmonie in Chinatown offers several pre-packaged options like sugar-coated donuts or their version of pig-in-a-blanket.
© Les Glaceurs
Downtown and Westmount confections
Downtown is not necessarily the first Montréal neighbourhood that comes to mind if you’re trying to locate your next sweet fix but a couple of spots are unique to this area and make it worth the trek. If you’re a cupcake fan, then you’re well served in the downtown core. One of Les Glaceurs’ four locations is in the heart of downtown where they serve some of the best cupcakes in Montréal. Whether you’re in the mood for something healthy like a kale frappé or something decadent like a hot chocolate topped with a brownie, Tella’s Santé ou Sucré has your back.
Colourful Pâtisserie Petit Lapin comes to the sweet aid of those who are plagued with severe food allergies that wouldn’t normally let them indulge in sweet treats. For having tasted their allergen-free cupcakes, I can assure you that they rival any "real" ones in taste and texture. Renowned chefs Antonio Park and Bertrand Bazin have teamed up to open Café Bazin, a 20-seat café-bistro and pastry shop. Don’t miss out on the excellent bistro fare for brunch or lunch and on the exquisite pastries, especially the chocolate and coffee tart. La Meunerie Urbaine, in Monkland Village, grinds its flour on site in its own mill, which produces some of the city’s most excellent breads. Chez Fred, an artisanal bakery and pastry shop making some of the best croissants in town, remains a favourite among a legion of fans and followers.
The newly opened Time Out Market (on the first floor of downtown’s Centre Eaton de Montréal is a mecca for delicious food options in Montréal. Among the 16 restaurants present at this chic food hall, you can get a substantial sugar fix from Olive et Gourmando and Hof Sucrée, Hof Kelsten’s sister spot.
© Sweet Lee's Rustic Bakery
Sweet spots of the southwest (Little Burgundy/Saint-Henri/Verdun)
The west part of Montréal has been seeing a renaissance of sorts for the past couple of years. This includes the revival of retro desserts like donuts at Léché Desserts, a designer shop with decadent flavours like peanut butter & jam, chocolate mousse or strawberry shortcake when Québec strawberries are in season.
The west part of Montréal has been seeing a renaissance of sorts for the past couple of years. Rustique Pie Kitchen delves in the art of old-school desserts, in this case “a country pie stand in the city”. From blueberry to cherry to banana cream, the flavours change with the season. It is recommended to taste several of the mini-pies and to buy some for the road, you’re going to want one later.
Verdun’s Audacieuse Vanille’s desserts are vegan, gluten-free and soy-free, and made with organic and fair-trade ingredients when possible. The tiny store has but a handful of seats, which you can reserve for lunch or a sweet afternoon tea.
If you find yourself in Verdun, Boulangerie Rustique Sweet Lee’s makes homey desserts like brownies and muffins but their specialty is the stuffed croissants, like the raspberry or lemon blueberry. They share a space with Café Saint-Henri so you can enjoy your pastry with a great cup of coffee.
© Michaël A. Bandassak
Patrice Pâtissier located in Little Burgundy just below downtown is easily one of the best pâtisseries in Montréal. Pastry chef and owner Patrice Demers has a huge following and his fans swear by his financiers (brown butter cakes), his kouign amann (layered butter and sugar cake originally from Brittany) and his chou à la crème which are stuffed when you order them. If you decide to sit and order dessert, go for Le Vert, a decadent and now famous dessert involving green apples, pistachios, olive coil, cilantro and a yogurt and white chocolate cream.
Mamie Clafoutis also has a shop on this very gourmand stretch of Notre-Dame Street in Little Burgundy.
You'll find La Bête à pain in the heart of Griffintown. The exceptional breads and pastries are baked on site in the state-of-the-art facility and lunch and bunch are also served here.
© Alison Slattery
A rainbow of flavours in the Village and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve
The newly opened Arte e Farina has mastered the art of Italian pastries. The pannettone is an absolute must around the holidays but anything you get from here will surely hit the spot, including the delicious pizze.
Further east around the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood, you’ll find a bread and pastry baking institution, La Fabrique ArHoMa and its sister store – ArHoMa Boulangerie Fromagerie located even further east. The breads have been proclaimed the best in the city and the pastries, including tarts, mousses and cakes, are just as good. Further east in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Les Gourmandises de Marie-Antoinette offers French-style pastries, chocolates and macarons.
Hélico is a lovely new spot opened by three Bouillon Bilk alumni. Croissants, cookies, brioche and kouign amann are all made fresh daily on the premises, along with great lunch fare. The decor is airy and cheerful and makes lingering around this orange-coloured café very easy.
Sachère Desserts specializes in gourmet and refined desserts and pastries made with high quality ingredients and lots of attention to detail.
At the Bouffe Dave Plant Food lunch counter, you’ll always find an array of homemade desserts, from lemon bars to muffins to cakes, made with high quality ingredients.
© Susan Moss
North is where it’s at
Travel north into Ahuntsic where you will find La Bête à pain, one of the best sweet spots in Montréal. All the breads here are exceptionally good, so are the pizzas with their daily toppings. The cannelés – crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside – are truly exceptional. Run by two young pastry makers, Fabrique Caramel is an adorable establishment that makes elegant cakes, chocolates, petits fours and sweet tables. You can also customize your cake by choosing from its different base, icing, toppings and decoration options.
Further east are two delightful shops worth visiting. Sweet Isabelle makes artisanal shortbread cookies and cupcakes, which you can learn how to decorate masterfully on site. On the next block you’ll find yet another one of Mamie Clafoutis’ shops for all your bread and pastry needs.
At Saint-Laurent’s Madame Cannoli, you can create your own perfect version of the classic Italian treat by choosing among the 300+ possible combinations of filling, toppings and drizzles available at its cannoli bar.