Montreal City Guide | Mile-End

Guest Post by Amy Johnson & Marilis Cardinal of Puces POP

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Montreal is just too full of gems to fit them all into one city guide, so we're breaking it down into neighborhoods. Naturally we chose our own neighborhood, the Mile-End, as the first one to feature. It's a neighborhood where in the 1930's Mordecai Richler lived and based many of his novels and at the same time a neighborhood called the epicenter of the indie music world in the early 2000's. The Mile-End is a young vibrant neighborhood surrounded by decades of history. We hope you'll love it as much as we do.

EAT

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Sparrow (5322 Boulevard Saint Laurent)
 Easily the most buzzed about new restaurant in Montreal, Sparrow grabbed the attention of foodies as soon as it opened and has had brunch lineups ever since. The gastropub style restaurant owned  by Marc Cohen and Ethan Wills features rich food with British flavor while staying fresh and seasonal. Cohen’s background as a chef in London and Wills’ experience in the New York restaurant scene blended perfectly to create this fast local favorite. Try the English Breakfast, French Toast with seasonal fruits, Eggs Royal with house smoked salmon & Chocolate Doughnuts. Open for brunch & lunch and at night as a bar.



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St Viateur Bagel vs. Fairmount Bagel (263 Rue Saint Viateur & 74 Avenue Fairmount Ouest) 
Forget the war between New York and Montreal bagels (Montreal clearly being the winner), the Mile-End has it’s own mini Bagel war. Are you a St Viateur or a Fairmount person? It may seem silly to an outsider to have a strong opinion on something as simple as a bun with a hole in the middle but ask any local and you’ll find that they are adamant that one is better than the other. Luckily they are close to each other so you can perform your very own blindfolded taste test.  




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Cafe Olimpico vs. Social Club (124 Rue St-Viateur Ouest & 180 St-Viateur Ouest)
Equal to the above mentioned bagel war you will find that people in the neighorhood also have very strong opinions about Cafe Olimpico vs. Social Club. Both are simple no frills European coffee shops where you’ll find equal parts hip kids and elderly Greek and Italian men sitting & chatting for hours.  The two cafes have equal sized patios on the same side of the same street a block from each other. Still you will find that people’s loyalties will lie with one vs the other, decide for yourself. Either way each patio offers pretty fantastic people watching with pretty fantastic coffee. 




Buvette Chez Simone (4869 Avenue du Parc)
 When Buvette Chez Simone opened down my street I have to admit I thought they’d made an odd location choice. In a block with a pet food store, a rug shop, a dive bar and not much else it’s very impressive that the patio is packed in the summer and that people wait in the very very chilly cold to get a table in the winter. Specializing in small tapas and with a massive wine menu the simple yet modern design of Buvette has injected a little piece of New York cool into a sparse block of Parc Ave. If you’re lucky you might even spot some Montreal celebrities (Xavier Dolan anyone?).


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Cagibi (5490 St. Laurent)
With its' mismatched furniture and mix-and-match dishes, creaky wooden floors and cozy couches, an afternoon at Cagibi feels like a weekend trip to a bed and breakfast or a lazy morning in a friend’s living room. The cultural hub of the Mile End features monthly art shows, DJ nights, bingo, film screenings and seminars and shows every night. The vegetarian cuisine, Megalove cocktail (pink lemonade and vodka), zine library and central location makes it a perfect summertime meeting spot, while the wireless internet, hot drinks (and hot toddies) selection and bay windows keeps you from suffering of the unforgiving wintertime blues.

Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent) & Casa Del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent)
La Sala Rossa, a Spanish Social Club for over 30 years, is located right in between the Plateau and Mile End neighborhoods and has become an integral part of the community. Upstairs La Sala Rossa venue space has welcomed the likes of Thurston Moore, Moldy Peaches, The Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra and Xiu Xiu as well as played host to cabarets, monthly queer parties and slow-dance nights. Downstairs you’ll find the Sala Rossa restaurant with weekly Flamenco shows and the city’s best tapas (try their famous fried goat cheese with honey and caramelized onions (yum!) and their mussels in white wine sauce.) If you hop and skip across the street, you’ll find Sala’s little sister, Casa Del Popolo, a vegetarian fair-trade café/venue-space/art gallery famous for its burritos, 5 à 7 drink specials and nightly DJ nights.


SHOP

les etofes1les etofesLes Etoffes
Les Etoffes (5253 Saint-Laurent Blvd) There has always been choice when it came to shopping for womens clothing in the Mile End but not so much for the boys to choose from. While Les Etoffes is a unisex boutique it has really given the neighborhood boys starving for fashion something to sink their teeth into. The small cozy store with dark wood walls houses a perfectly curated selection of mens and womens clothing. You can find vintage in pristine condition or unique pieces by small fashion houses, it’s all drool-worthy. 



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Drawn & Quarterly (211 Rue Bernard Ouest) 

Librarie Drawn & Quarterly opened as the brick and mortar store front to the successful graphic novel publishing company of the same name but has since become much more than that. While the store is known for it’s excellent selection of comix and graphic novels it is also just a well curated &  beautiful bookstore with novels, art books and a fantastic kids book section. You don’t have to read graphic novels to love this shop. With regular readings by visiting or local authors, kids days and printmaking workshops D&Q has become a creative meeting place in the neighborhood.

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Phil’z (5298 Boulevard Saint Laurent)
 If you happen to visit Sparrow for brunch (which we highly recommend) take a post-feasting stroll next door to Phil’z. There you’ll find beautiful vintage mid century furniture and lighting and some very well done reproductions. I like to wander through and redecorate my house room by room in my mind. Imaginary interior design is much more affordable than the real deal but if you’re in the market to invest in a beautiful sofa or dining room table make sure you take a peek at their selection.  



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Phonopolis  (5403A ave du Parc )
 Considering the high percentage of  musicians and artists in the Mile End (often referred to as the Williamsberg of Canada) it is pretty shocking that until three years ago there was nowhere to buy new music. A musician himself Nathan Gage (Shapes and Sizes (myspace.com/shapesandsizes) , Elfin Saddle (myspace.com/elfinsaddle) set out to open a store that would offer all the hot new releases while maintaining an excellent used vinyl selection, with records making  up 70% of their sales. Montreal is renowned for it’s indie rock music scene with bands like Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Unicorns hailing from our great city. Nathan celebrates this fact with a Local Music section and with a tradition of having bands do visual installations in the front display window to promote their new releases. If you stop by ask if there are any shows scheduled, often bigger indie bands play secret word-of-mouth shows in the teeny tiny basement. 


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General 54 (54 St-Viateur W.)
The sunny store front of General 54 is a haven of all things crafty & girlie. Featuring printed matter like the now Toronto-based Worn Fashion Journal, clothing by Les Enfants Sauvages and Anastasia Lomonova, lace jewelry by This Ilk, feather headpieces from Headmistress, pins and marionettes by the Pin Pals, Squid Wool’s felted critters, soaps and beauty products from Dot + Lil and preserves from Consider the Pantry. If you're in need of gift for your best girly friend this is the place to come.

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L’Arterie (176 Bernard W.)
From racks of vintage clothing, lingerie, hats and purses, to display cases of designer jewelry, vintage trinkets and hair clips, to their in-house cat Oscar, to the selection of Montreal designer clothing (Valerie Dumaine, La Fete, Atelier B) and vegan shoes, L’Arterie is a lot like a secret attic filled with treats.

Guest Post by Amy Johnson & Marilis Cardinal of Puces POP
Puces Pop Craft Fair
POP Montreal International Music Festival
Celebrating 9 Years of POP Montreal,
September 29th - October 3rd, 2010

Jan Halvarson

16 comments:

Susannah Conway said...

I've been to Cagibi and it was fabulous - such great food!

jan said...

Susannah - you visited all that way? wow and cool!

Anonymous said...

This makes me miss my undergrad days and lazy weekend mornings in Montreal so very much. Big fat sigh.

Anonymous said...

This post made me want to get back to Montreal ASAP! I was there in 2001-02 and lived near by the bagels store and cafe olimpico. My job was in a home very close to the YMCA.
So nice to know they are all there and soon I'ĺl be able to visit them...

Thcnk you! :)

Anonymous said...

Will definitely check these out. The pictures make me feel like I'm there and the words are like getting your best friend's secret tips. Thanks!

Mandy Crandell said...

I'd love to visit Montreal! Amazing photos!

Anonymous said...

I live here and concur; do not miss these places if you visit.

kittenrocket said...

Hooray! Beautiful photos!

kaitlin said...

I've heard many an Ottawa student say that their favourite thing about Ottawa is its close proximity to Montreal...while I wouldn't go quite that far, I do love that city.

Lady Grey said...

Such a fabulous post!!

nolita*wanders said...

bookmarking this for my next visit, thank you for the lovely post :)

Christine Hale said...

SOOOO glad you guys made this! Every time a friend or friend of a friend comes into town, I've been scrambling to find just one good link for mah homelove. Lovely pictures and posts! :)

Michelle @ Roasted said...

Wow - I am moving back to Montreal from London and this post has just made me a lot more excited about it! Can't wait to try some of the new places out and revisit some of my old favourites!

joolsstone said...

Hi, just letting you know I found this post very inspiring. Great pics too. Montreal's Mile End looks much cooler than London's! I want to go very badly now! I've linked to it in my post on 28 things to do in Montreal (from someone who's never been) hope you enjoy it. Thanks, Jools :-)
http://joolsstone.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/28-things-to-do-in-montreal-before-youre-dead/

Dalma Boros said...

I just spent a few days in Montreal and found this guide super helpful. I hit up a bunch of destinations on the list, and explored a bit on my own. The trip's left me wanting more!

vanessa said...

Hi there! Thanks for making and sharing this great list. IS there a Part 2 that i can also explore?

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