A guide to Montréal’s best bakeries and pastry shops
In the last few years, Montréal has seen a boom in artisanal boulangeries (bread bakeries) and pâtisseries (pastry shops). From specialized cupcake stores, designer donuts and dainty French pastries to more traditional buttery baked goods, croissants and crusty baguettes, the city has it all. Here’s a breakdown of all sweet things Montréal has to offer, organized by neighbourhood, so that you may always find your way to the closest flaky, gooey or crispy delectable snack…
Plateau Mont-Royal’s pleasing pâtisseries
Plateau Mont-Royal is the neighbourhood with the highest concentration of boulangeries and pâtisseries in Montreal. 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, Boulangerie Les Co'Pains d’abord (three locations) and Fous Desserts, which are all within walking distance so you can go on a croissant crawl and judge for yourself.
Another contender in the croissant debate is Pâtisserie 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 their famous kouign amann, an addictive layered butter and sugar cake from Brittany. Mamie Clafoutis on Saint-Denis 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. D’Liche specializes in the confection of the tiny iced cakes in original and classic flavours.
If it’s macarons you’re looking for, no need to look further than Boutique Point G, the definite winner when it comes to this delicate confection that has been all the rage for the past few years. 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 révelos (cake pops). Come summertime, look for the CRémy Mobile food truck, which will be delivering their 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.
La dolce vità
The Little Italy neighbourhood of Montréal has its share of traditional Italian pastry shops like 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 caffès 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 Petite Patrie, Pâtisserie Bicyclette is a neighbourhood spot serving old fashioned desserts such as rustic pies, cakes and cookies. If you’re a doughnut fan, Trou de Beigne, one of the best artisanal doughnut providers in Montréal has taken up residence in a fun and colourful space with nine doughnut flavours on display at all times, including some of their classics as well as seasonal ones. David Ferguson, chef and owner of Gus restaurant, has partnered with Kathy Daehler and Ciaran Tierney to open Lou, where you will find fantastic cakes, crispy chocolate chip cookies, scones, pastries and the irresistible Gus bread as well as their fantastic chocolate cake with Bailey’s cream cheese icing. Their specialty, the Chelsey buns, are available every Saturday.
The area also has a lion’s share of critically-acclaimed bakeries; including Le pain dans les voiles and their 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. Their promise is fresh and warm bread straight from the oven any time of day. A little further east, 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 their homemade bread. One of Boulangerie 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. Scandinavian-inspired Automne Boulangerie is the new addition from chef Seth Gabrielse and award-winning bread maker Julien Roy to the Rosemont bakery scene. This bakery celebrates local Canadian grains and pays particular attention to the flours used in making its array of delicious products (try their fig and anise one). 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 their vegan cannoli have got the city talking!
Buttery goodness in Outremont
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’s buttery croissant, which have been declared the best in the city by some. If you are looking for something more traditional, Jewish Boulangerie Cheskies has been celebrating the neighbourhood’s cultural heritage with its excellent chocolate babka and rugelash.
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.
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. When it comes to cakes, the Mile End has two addresses to check out: Cocoa Locale and its exquisite and dainty artisanal creations with a touch of vintage; and Dolce & Gâteaux, for all your gourmet cupcake needs.
At Farine & Vanille, on Parc Avenue, you will find pastries such as pumpkin brioche, fantastic breads, croissants and the delectable Mexican conchas, a sweet bun with a sugar shell topping. Also located on Parc Avenue is the newly opened 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.
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 & 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 Stéphanie up the street is the place for you to indulge without worrying.
Further down towards the Old Port you’ll find Maison Christian Faure, the best French-style pâtisserie in town. 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 one 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 are 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.
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. Another cupcake store is Dolce & Gâteaux, serving gourmet and elegant cupcakes.
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 in Westmount. 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.
Sweet spots of the southwest
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.
Rosetta, an Italian family run bakery, pastry shop and pizzeria, is also a must stop. Everything is made fresh daily in their kitchens with recipes handed down from Rosetta herself.
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.
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.
The second and much anticipated location for La Bête à pain is 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.
A rainbow of flavours in the Village
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.
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.
Mayssam Samaha, blogger
Mayssam Samaha is a food and travel writer and blogger. She travels the world in search of the next culinary discovery. From Iceland to South Africa, she’s already visited over 30 countries and there’s nothing she enjoys more than wandering around a farmers’ market in a foreign city.
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