Shhh! Discover Montréal’s best kept hidden gems

Cicchetti
Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant

This article was updated on July 3, 2023.

Throughout this site we tell you all about Montréal’s greatest hits and amazing bits. But what about the city’s hidden gems? The ones even WE keep to ourselves? Here’s a growing list of our favourite small, neighbourhood, off-the-beaten-track spots, where we love to go hang, grab a meal, soak up the vibe and generally live like a local. Welcome to our best-kept secrets.

By Isa Tousignant, Mark Hamilton, Robyn Fadden, Mayssam Samaha, Laure Julliard, Richard Burnett, Audrey Santerre, Lynn Habel, Martine Venne, Esther Bourgoin, Jo Caboche, Clara Lehr, Emili Bellefleur

L'Entre-Pots Masson - Brunch

Hidden treasure restaurants

At L’Entre-Pots, on Masson Street, they bake their own bread, everyone’s handsome, and they’re home to the amazing Bene-Olé: a spin on eggs benedict that involves back bacon, cheese curds, pickles, spicy sauce and Hollandaise.

Le Sain Bol is a small restaurant tucked away on Fabre on the Plateau that has three to six things on the menu only, a great atmosphere and free almond milk chai latte when you walk in. It feels like home!

Sammi & Soupe Dumpling, on Sainte-Catherine Street West near Concordia University downtown, has a great cucumber chili salad and lamb and coriander dumplings that will make you want to cry! Watch the sweet ladies making the dumplings as you order them.

Get delicious dumplings and hand-pulled homestyle noodles at La Maison De Mademoiselle Dumpling on Plaza St-Hubert — it started as a tiiiiiny joint and was so beloved it stretched to next door.

Comptoir Sainte-Cécile is part neighbourhood store, part lunch counter, part best-kept secret for hungry Villeray residents. It’s a great spot for brunch, too. Try the fresh herb pancake with salmon gravlax.

 

Larry's - Brunch

 

Everything at Larrys is delish, from morning to night — start the day with a coffee and a great scone, end it with wine and lamb meatballs.

Crazy Falafel in Saint-Laurent is THE spot for the best French fry pita bread sandwich in town – with all the toppings, of course.

People cross the city for the halloumi sandwich at Mile-Ex spot Dépanneur Le Pick-Up, a mix of rye bread, fried cheese and zingy, creamy purple cabbage coleslaw.

One of the best Italian restaurants is a little spot called Luciano, where the handmade pasta — like the fresh ricotta gnocchi — will fill you with love.

Get your Indian food fix at Restaurant Malhi, tucked away on Jarry Street deep in Parc-Ex. Don’t leave without trying the chana samosa.

For a top-tier poke bowl with a stunning view on Canal Lachine, there’s no better than KROOD. In summer, pick up your purchase and enjoy it as a riverside picnic before stocking up at Atwater Market.

The best casse-croûte you never knew about is Corvette. It’s only open till 4 pm, but if you’re in the mood for burgers and steamés or toastés that taste exactly like they’re from a country roadside shack, head tpo this place in Villeray.

Samosa lovers, Classic India awaits! It’s nothing to look at — it doesn’t even seem open half the time! — but it’s a local secret for samosas with incredible spicing, a generous mix of veggies and thin, crispy dough.

In summer, the terrasse behind the bistro Auprès de ma Blonde is a relaxing haven for quiet meals, complete with trickling fountain, foliage and birdsong.

 

 

Pasticceria Alati-Caserta - Bakery and pastries shop

Secret sweets

The best cannoli in town are at Pasticceria Alati-Caserta — the old-school Italian bakery on Dante Street has all sorts of other classic treats too, from biscotti to meringues.

Find delectable cakes and cookies, including the best carrot cake in town, at Mlles Gâteaux in Villeray.

Crèmes Boboule is a Verdun ice cream shop dating back to 1979 that may not yet have made the lists of best vegan ice cream in the city, but it should. Their tofu, oat and coconut-based vanilla soft-serve is the best dupe for the real thing. Try the butterscotch swirl.

Need a Homer Simpson hit? Stop into Bernie Beigne in Mile End for their Simpsons donut (but don’t leave without trying the apple fritter, too, which is the size of book).

Cheskie’s on Bernard is well-known for its rugelach (small sweet Danishes) and babka, but try it’s little cheesecake cups: small pastry cups filled with delectable cheesy filling.

Imported cookies, chocolates, caramels, jams and confectionaries from all over Europe are available at Gourmet Laurier, in Outremont. This epicurean shop is also fantastic for savoury treats.

Nestled by Mount Royal at the meeting point of Côte-des-Neiges and Queen Mary, Duc de Lorraine is a French bakery where you’ll want to order everything.

Sara is a tiny Ski Lankan ice cream shop in Parc Ex (open from 5 to midnight on summer nights) whose lineups are worth it for the falooda (a sundae of sorts layered with fresh fruit, ice creams, jellies and syrups). Try the frozen mango lassi, full of fresh mango and scoops of vanilla ice cream.   

 

 

McKibbins Irish Pub

Hole-in-the-wall drinkeries

The tiny, cozy speakeasy in the basement of McKibbins Irish Pub on Bishop Street is home to legendary gravel-voiced Montréal barkeep Kevin — even other bartenders come here post-shift.   

Nothing beats an aperitif on the terrasse at Cicchetti, in Mile Ex — and enjoy some of the excellent Venetian style tapas while you’re at it.

Saddle up to the small bar at Notre Dame Des Quilles: it’s queer, trans, charming, and there’s pizza and bowling. Awesome.

For great live music or a chill drink with friends, Ritz P.D.B. comes complete with pool table and pinball. And the drinks are yummy.

Grab a summertime beer on the waterfront at Marché public de Pointe-aux-Trembles, where crowds gather for both the farmer’s market and the fun times.

Le Plongeoir is a back-alley wine bar in Mile End that features a pool table and a menu featuring sliced ham, bread and pickles. Need we say more?

For a mix of highly satisfying next-level snacks, microbrewery beers and recherché wines that lean toward the weird and wonderful, look no further than Rosemont’s Mitch Deli.

It’s small, but it’s wonderful. With room for just 10 people at a time, El Pequeño bar is a teenie joint from the drinkerie royalty behind Coldroom. Grab a Cubano and a cocktail and see why it was named among the Top 50 bars in North America.

 

Canal Lounge

 

Clink glasses in a hyper romantic setting: on a moored boat by on the Lachine canal. Canal Lounge the perfect spot for an unforgettable date.

The Milky Way may be award-winning, but it always feels intimate. Besides the killer cocktails, we go for the incredible interior design and that lush, moody vibe.

Discover the hidden terrasse at the Messorem micro-brewery, right by the Canal bike path, the perfect spot to savour their signature “smoothie beers” — thirst-quenching fruity brews that will refuel any cyclist.

Riverside is a summertime treat: it’s an unexpected outdoor club in an industrial area between Pointe St-Charles and Verdun. It’s always a blast!

 

 

Café Myriade - Mont-Royal

Hideaway cafés

Head to the Saint-Denis Street location of the small chain Myriade for its big breathy space, its stylish white-painted brick and its cute terrasse. And the cookies. Oooooh boy the cookies.

A simple espresso shot or a creamy caffe latte served in a glass all’Italiana is just the thing at the tiny corner Café Vito in Villeray.

The Saint-Henri café headquarters in the industrial/condo sector just off Parc Jarry are vast, handsomely designed with concrete and artfully painted walls and quietly relaxing.

You’ll find Italian style coffee and great sandwiches at Baristello & co. on Jarry Street. Try the meatball sub — you’ll fall in love!

Go to Café Dei Campi for the great coffee, the quiet and bright space and the great pastries that are vegetarian to boot.

The quietest of the three locations in the Café Larue & Fils franchise is the one on Saint-Zotique Street. It has the same good coffee, but you’re more likely to find a table to get some work done.

Café Méchants Pinsons shares a back door with Le Sain Bol. It has scrumptious yummies, no wi-fi, and it’s perfect for people-watching Laurier Avenue passersby.

 

 

SAT Fest, Immersive film festival

Off-the-beaten-track experiences

See a film in the dome of the Satosphere, the Society for Arts and Technology’s semi-circular projection room, and your mind will be thoroughly blown.

The Phi Centre VR cinema is where the latest advances in virtual reality fuse with artistry and the unexpected, all inside a VR headset.

Head to MainLine Theatre for always-entertaining English-language plays, dance performances, parties and quirky-queer events like the Montreal Slowdance Night and the Strip Spelling Bee.

The Musée des pompiers de Montréal is a firefighters’ museum located in Mile End where you can see the city history through photos and vintage equipment and vehicles. 

At Le TAZ indoor skatepark both kids and adults can skateboard, scooter, BMX and rollerblade on the ramps and rails.

The Vans Skatepark on the Olympic Park Esplanade is an incredible structure that gives all Montréal skaters free access to an international-caliber play zone.

We know you’ve heard of Habitat 67, but did you know you can visit it? Explore the inner workings of this architectural landmark designed by Montréal’s own Moshe Safdie.

 

 

Parc Frédéric-Back - Festival Grain de ciel

Quiet spaces and great bike routes

Enjoy the vastness of the sprawling Frédéric-Back Park near TOHU — it’s a great place to get lost in thought.

Join the old Italian men discussing life and eat a cannoli from Alati-Caserta as you take up a bench at Parc Dante, across the street.

The pond at Parc Jarry in a wonderful place on a weekday. Inhale, watch the ducks dance across the water (the babies are the cutest!), and exhale.

Got kids? Head to Parc de Lestre in Parc Ex — it’s small but it’s got a lovely waterpark.

Parc De Lorimier is a stunning place to sit in the grass in the summer. There’s a playground for kids, and a giant skating rink in the winter.

Place Kate-McGarrigle near Querbes Avenue on Laurier Avenue is just tucked away off the street far enough that it’s a sweet and quiet spot to rest.

There are so many amazing bike rides in Montréal: a very favourite is the Parc-nature du-Cap-Saint-Jacques one.

Take a half day to explore the bike path through Parc-nature de l’Île-de-la-Visitation and onto Gouin Boulevard, in Montréal-Nord – take a look at the old farm houses dotted among the newer housing.

Get an unprecedented view of the city from a floating pontoon at Turtle Wharf in Verdun — you can swim and relax in a haven surrounded by nature.

Inside Chinatown’s Holiday Inn Montréal Centre-Ville you’ll find a splendid Chinese garden, featuring a koi pond. You’ll find this urban oasis one floor up from reception.

Savour a moment of natural splendour at Westmount’s Conservatory and Greenhouses, a small but magnificent botanic garden full of fresh air and sweet smells right by Westmount Park.

 

 

Two friends shopping

Unusual shopping

Find fantastic architectural remnants at Spazio, a massive, massive emporium on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, just before Autoroute Métropolitaine. You’ll find things you didn’t even know you needed.

The finds never end at the second-hand chain Renaissance — it’s particularly great for vintage dishes and glasses.

Boutique STOCKMARKT is a great shop in Little Burgundy for top-brand seconds: think last-season’s Acne Studio clothes for half price!

Get your notes on at papeterie nota bene, on Parc Avenue and Sherbrooke Street – there’s everything for writing in this pretty store, from notebooks to file holders to pens aplenty.

Nab yourself great unique finds at Ex-Voto in Little Italy, from candles to socks to cool mugs to jewelry and perfectly curated vintage clothing.

Contemporary jewellery lovers will swoon at Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h, a boutique-cum-gallery that’s as beautiful and serene as the wares are stunning. (By appointment or watch for exhibition openings here.)

Oui Mais Non is a well-loved café next to Jarry Park, but what you may not know is that it’s a fantastic little spot to purchase gift cards and little edible gifts. The cards feature quirky French Canadian expressions and the unique sense of humour of the owner, Manon, who produces the cards herself.

To exchange some clothing, Shwap Club is a great option. With two locations in Montréal, one next to the Lachine Canal in Saint-Henri and another in Mile-Ex, bring some clothes you don’t wear anymore and exchange them for other pieces brought by Shwap swingers. They even have another location in Verdun for children’s clothes.

 

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant is a Montréal-based editor and storyteller with a curiosity that runs deeper than most. She has chatted life philosophies with celebrity chefs, gemologists, arena rockers and furries. (All were transformative.) Her free time is spent designing jewellery and laughing at her husband’s jokes.

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