Hello from Villeray, one of the coolest "hoods" in the world!

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton is the community director for QueerMTL, an internationally-touring musician with his projects Woodpigeon and Frontperson  and a graduate studies student of history researching LGBTQ+ activism in the city. He’s lived in Montréal since 2015, during which time he’s most often spotted atop a BIXI bike usally running a few minutes late.

What Villeray may lack in size, it more than makes up for with a unique personality all its own that’s not only long charmed local Montréalers, but also the editors of Time Out magazine’s annual list of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world.

The lay of the land

Bordered on the east and west by leafy residential streets Garnier Street and Casgrain Avenue, and between the 40 Highway at its northernmost edge and Jean-Talon Street and the Jean-Talon Market to the south, Villeray has long grown as one of Montréal’s most up and coming quartiers. Founded as a town in 1896, Villeray was initially surrounded by the quarries that provided much of the needed stone for Montréal’s landmark architecture. Annexed to Montréal in 1905, Villeray has maintained its resourceful working class origins of stone workers and entrepreneurs, developing a flavour unlike anywhere else in the city. Villeray is also home to the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montréal, the meeting place for the city’s Japanese community (their annual outdoor market also transforms Rousselot Street into a genuine slice of Japan). And talk about easily accessible – no less than three métro stations stop within its borders.

Villeray musts

Villeray’s charms lie in its people and independent businesses, from its picturesque parks to its curved apartment staircases. The neighbourhoods charming green spaces range from the smaller Park Turin and Park Prévost, to the arrondissement’s green heart Parc Villeray. A walk down Jarry, de Castelnau (pedestrianized in the summer months) and Villeray Streets reveal that original village gung-ho spirit and creativity in its independent boutiques and eateries. And there’s few finer spots for people watching and taking in a bustling Montréal neighbourhood than at one of Villeray’s trendy cafés.

Food and drink, Villeray style

  • Café Vito (151 Villeray Street): A popular entry point into the neighbourhood, Café Vito’s exterior is always busy with locals, refuelling cyclists and soccer fans on the edge of their seats and toes to catch team Italy in action.
  • Miss Villeray (220 Villeray Street): You won’t want to miss a photo op with Miss Villeray’s iconic neon sign, and the locals inside are just as welcoming at this local watering hole that’s been a gathering spot for the neighbourhood since 1960.
  • Ferlucci Coffee Shop (432 de Castelnau Street East): Promising “good times, great coffee,” Ferlucci is more than just one of Villeray’s preferred cafés. Named for the Ferlucci Jeans brand founded here in 1980, it also pays tribute to the city’s Italian immigrants and that proud history makes an appearance in the decor. Their small boutique sells branded hoodies, their house espresso blend and old school diner mugs.
  • Restaurant Moccione (380 Villeray Street): A pinnacle of Italian cuisine, Restaurant Moccione offers up hearty plates of home-made pasta, freed courgette flowers and tender balls of mozzarella. There’s also a small epicerie selling their in-house gelato, sauces, sausages and toques.
  • Restaurant Pachamama (7245 St-Hubert Street): Serving traditional Peruvian foods like tiraditos, ceviches and tallarines, Restaurant Pachamama sits at the heart of Montréal’s self-proclaimed La Alameda Peruana (or Little Peru).
  • Cafécoquetel (426 Faillon Street East): Putting a spotlight on locally produced ingredients, Cafécoquetel demonstrates that Villeray can-do spirit with an original menu of unique warming drinks like the Montréal Fog. Recipes are featured on their webpage, but Cafécoquetal’s skilled baristas do it best.
  • Knuckles Cantine & Vins (241 Jarry Street East): Grab one of the house specialty “knuckles” (stuffed panzerotti) and some expertly curated natural wine – the perfect refuel for a neighbourhood exploration.
  • Le P’tit Atelier, boulangerie & pâtisserie (427 Jarry Street East): Breads, sweets and sandwiches are some of the main attractions at this neighbourhood bakery, with a few seats for a quick break or some laptop time.
  • Avanaa Chocolat (309 Gounod Street): Featuring bean to bar production through links with small cacao farms, Avanaa Chocolat makes some of the best bars around. But don’t just take our word for it – their creations have taken home medals in the international International Chocolate Awards. Plus, their cacao husk infused teas are true originals.
  • Rawesome (151 Gounod Street): Specializing in vegan cheese cakes, Rawsome’s delectable slices, cashew cheeses and creams are to die for. (But really, please don’t. There’s so much more left to see and eat!)
  • Baristello (709B Jarry Street East): Guaranteeing a genuine Italian coffee experience, Baristello also pays tribute to its home quartier with its Villeray Blend, available for purchase and mail order.
  • Café Larue & Fils (244 de Castelnau Street East): A neighbourhood hot spot (now with three locations), Café Larue & Fils makes for a perfectly situated caffeination stop-off.
  • Tandem (586 Villeray Street): A cozy local favourite, Tandem is the ideal spot for a romantic French dinner for two. And as one of Montréal’s BYO spots, don’t forget to stop off for wine first!
  • Cantine Emilia (7901 St-Dominique Street): Hearty Portuguese comfort eats, sure to leave you stuffed to the brim with traditional flavours and generous sides.

Get your shop on

  • Archive Montréal (318 Villeray Street): Specializing in minimalist chic, Archive Montréal offers the latest looks for men and women, jewellery and housewares. Local names hang on the racks next to international brands like Naked and Famous and Anian.
  • Boutique Articho (300 Villeray Street): Offering a carefully collected selection of ceramics, jewellery, soaps and cosmetics and baby wear, Boutique Articho is the perfect spot to find that special something for someone back home.
  • Magasin Général de Castelnau (337 de Castelnau Street East): Raising the bar for general stores, the Magasin Général de Castelnau features artisanal local products and a wide selection of microbrews in a beautiful wooden fridge. You’ll find it impossible to leave empty-handed.
  • Anfibio Boots (175 Villeray Street): Designed and hand-made in Montréal, Anfibio Boots (and jackets and bags to boot, pun intended) not only protect you from the elements, but look darn good doing it too.
  • La Maison de l’Astronomie (8074 St-Hubert Street): Everything you’d ever need for a night of stargazing, La Maison de l’Astronomie is your one-stop shop for telescopes, binoculars and night vision.
  • Dumoulin Bicyclettes (173 Jean-Talon Street East): Fit in like a local with a folding bike from Dumoulin Bicyclettes, then take it home as carry-on!

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton is the community director for QueerMTL, an internationally-touring musician with his projects Woodpigeon and Frontperson  and a graduate studies student of history researching LGBTQ+ activism in the city. He’s lived in Montréal since 2015, during which time he’s most often spotted atop a BIXI bike usally running a few minutes late.

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