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The Concordian guide to Montreal

by Archives September 8, 2009

You could fill pages, books even, of things to do and places to go in Montreal. We here at the Concordian have tried to boil it all down to the essentials: On the next two pages is a list of our favourite spots to wine, dine, bum around and party the night away.
We’re covering four neighbourhoods: Notre Dame de Grâce and the downtown core, because that’s where Concordia is, along with the Plateau and the Latin Quarter, two of our favourite neighbourhoods to galavant in.

Latin Quarter

The Latin Quarter sits between downtown Montreal and the Gay Village with the majority of attractions located on St-Denis St. A popular place for large outdoor terraces, the Vespa-lined streets are full of youthful crowds and French bistros. From condom stores to Tibetan restaurants, you’ll find whatever you’re looking for. It’s also home to the Just for Laughs Festival in the summer. Be sure to take some time out to visit the Grand Bibliothèque de Montreal. Not only will you discover a large selection of information on hand, but there’s plenty of space to lounge and kick back. A membership at the Bibliothèque is free for residents of Montreal. Nearby is CinéRobothèque, a film buff’s haven. Lectures, workshops, and screenings are scheduled regularly.

Metro: Berri-UQÀM. 

Cafes
1)  La Brioche Lyonnaise (1593 St-Denis St.): A French café with reasonably priced food. Sandwich platters are all under $9.50 and specialty coffees cost between $2.75 and $7.75. Their must-have item is the brie and pickle sandwich served on a crisp baguette.

2) Juliette et Chocolat (1615 St-Denis St.): A quaint French chocolaterie that has it all. Even the salads are served with homemade chocolate dressing. Waiters wear bright red chef hats and aprons, making a cheery environment, adding to the sweet scent of fresh dough and butter caramel sauce. Best of all are the French pastries and chocolate shots.

3) Brulerie St- Denis (1587 St-Denis St.): This chain coffee shop beats Starbucks any day of the week. With over 70 types of coffee to choose from, even the pickiest coffee connoisseur will leave satisfied.

Bars
1)  Les Foufounes Electriques (87 Ste-Catherine St. East): ‘Foufs’ is a bar catering to those who love heavy metal and punk music. With weekly live performances, Foufs never has a boring night.

2) Le Saint–Sulpice (1680 St-Denis St.): Sulpice has three floors and a monstrous terrace adorned with a large fountain outback. Drinks are moderately priced, but the terrace makes it a worthy hang out.

3) Le Saint Bock (1749 St-Denis St.):  The main draw to the Saint Bock is their endless varieties of beer — over 250 different types of bottled beer and more then 20 on tap. Food is on the pricier side, but the beer is the main draw. 

Restaurants
1) Zero8 (1735 St-Denis St.): Zero8 is extremely friendly to anyone with a food allergy. Fish and seafood, peanuts, nuts, sesame seeds, milk, soya, eggs ,wheat or any grain containing gluten can be avoided. Reasonably priced and delicious. Turn to page six for a full review.

2) Chuchai (4088 St-Denis St.):  A vegetarian Thai restaurant divided into two: a more formal restaurant upstairs and a casual/takeout restaurant downstairs. They specialize in making their food look realistic: expect to find chicken, duck and even shrip made of tofu. Try the coconut tapioca pudding served warm for a sweet treat.

Downtown

As the Petula Clark song says, “Downtown, everything’s waiting for you.” There is just about anything and everything downtown. An endless number of bars, pubs, clubs, and dives gurantee you’ll leave feeling just a little tipsy. Once you’re down there, make sure to check out Crescent and Bishop streets where you’ll be sure to find a place where everyone knows your name. Meanwhile shoppers will be left in awe at the number of diverse boutiques. There’s also a whole world of underground shopping made up of a series of malls connected by metros and tunnels. What more can you possibly ask for? And the best part is Sir George Williams campus sits comfortably in the middle of it all.

Metro: Green: Guy-Concordia, Peel, McGill. Orange: Lucien-l’Allier, Bonaventure.

Bars: 
1) La Boite à Karaoke (2071 Ste-Catherine St. West.):
Karaoke’s on the menu every night at this popular student hang-out. The friendly, easygoing atmosphere is fuelled by four-litre pitchers of beer, $17.50 each.

2) Brutopia (1215 Crescent St.):
Brutopia is home to a variety of home-brewed beer. Try the seasonal chocolate and raspberry beers. There’s an extra long happy hour from 3 – 8 p.m. and on Mondays, happy hour never ends.

3) Grumpy’s Bar (1242 Bishop St.):
Located in a small basement, Grumpy’s is a great location to kick back with some friends and enjoy a beer or two. Open mic Tuesdays and live music on Fridays and Saturdays. It was a favourite watering hole of Montreal greats and writers, likeNick auf der Mar and Mordechai Richler.

Restaurants:
1) 3 Amigos (1657 Ste-Catherine St. West):
This Mexican joint is a favourite for birthday boys and girls (think free sombrero and cake) They also knows how to make a big, mean margarita. And don’t miss the 69-cent taco Sunday. 

2) Al-Taib (2125 Guy St.):
Al Taib is your local source for pizza and zaatar, a pita wrapped around vegetables. According to Lebanese lore, zaatars replenish the mind and the body, very filling at around two bucks a pop. Al-Taib has four locations around the downtown campus.

3) Moe’s (2214 de Maisonneuve St. West):
It’s 3 a.m., you’re drunk and you have to catch the 356 bus home: skip McDonald’s, slip into a booth at this cozy 24-hour diner, and order a grilled cheese and milkshake. You won’t regret it.

Cafes:
Cafe Myriade (1432 MacKay Street): A breath of fresh air from the countless other coffee chains surrounding the downtown campus, Myriade offers high-quality coffee and tea in a casual atmosphere.

Plateau

 This quirky neighbourhood has been home to an ever-changing group of diverse immigrant populations who’ve left their imprint over time. From the European Jews who brought delicious delis with them, to the Portuguese who introduced us to barbecued chicken and natas. Now the hipsters, art-types and out-of-province Anglo kids have brought an overwhelming sense of trendiness to the Plateau. It’s the place to go if you like good grub, vintage shopping, drinking and art galleries. Find a new favourite spot, and make yourself at home. Check out Tams Tams, the lazy Sunday mecca at the foot of the mountain filled with drumming, dancing and other revelry and then head for the best bagels in the world at 263 St. Viateur St. and 74 Fairmount St.

Metros: Orange: Sherbrooke, Mont-Royal, Laurier. Green: Saint-Laurent.

Bars:
1) Bar Bifteck (3702 St-Laurent Blvd.): Bifteck is a student institution. It’s dive-ish and cheap. Plus there’s free pop corn. Sure it’s stale but somehow it’s extra delicious.

2) Chez Serge (5301 St-Laurent Blvd.): Ride a mechanical bull, pole dance on the bar and drink beer out of a plastic bucket—just a typical Saturday night at Chez Serge. If you think this is wild, come here on a hockey night.

3) Dieu du Ciel (29 Laurier St. West): Sit back, relax, and enjoy a beer at this unpretentious Montreal microbrewery. Great for those nights when you just want to unwind with friends. 

4) Saphir (3699 St-Laurent Blvd.): Two floors with different mus
ic and different scenes. Old school and rock and roll downstairs, louder and faster upstairs.

Restaurants:
1) Salonica (5261 St-Denis St.):
It can be a far walk after a night of drinking, but they deliver until 6 a.m. The poutine is made with mozzarella instead of cheese curds (heresy) but the gravy is delicious and the sizes are huge.

2) Schwartz’s (3895 St-Laurent Blvd.): Smack down the best smoked meat in the world — or at the very least in Montreal. A historical city landmark, Schwartz’s has been drawing crowds since its conception back in 1928. Be prepared to wait in line, it’s totally worth it.

3)  Aux Vivres (4631 St-Laurent Blvd.): The chefs here must have super human powers because they can make vegan food taste downright amazing. But beware: Once you try their tofu burgers, veggie paté, veggie lox and vegan desserts you may never go back.

4) Pho Lam (4525 Parc Ave.): Vietnamese Pho is surprisingly rare in Montreal, and this is one of the best. Try the seafood soup. It’s delicious.

Cafes:
1) Toi, Moi et Café (244 Laurier St. West): Famous for having the largest selection of specialty grade certified organic and fair trade coffee in town, this place won’t let you down. And did I mention how adorable it is?

2) Cocoa Locale (4807 Parc Ave.): Cakes, cupcakes and brownies oh my! Everything in this funky pint-size bakery is made fresh daily right on the premises, and tastes even better than it looks.

N.D.G.

 Notre Dame de Grace, aka No Damn Good, is hemmed in by wealthier, independent suburbs and gets a lot of flack for belonging to the city of Montreal. But this middle-class, residential neighbourhood, once tapped as the next Plateau, is actually a nice antidote to bustling downtown. It’s green and full of parks, walkable, and peppered with original cafes and restaurants. Walk down Sherbrooke Street for quirky stores and eats, and Monkland Village for a more upscale experience. Somerled Street is a place quietly humming with diversity. And if you’re at Loyola a lot, learn to love it.

Metros: Villa Maria, Vendôme. 

Bars:
1) Honey Martin’s (5316 Sherbrooke St. West):
So authentic that apparently visitors from the British Isles feel right at home here. It’s a cozy pub with a warm, inviting, dirty watering hole atmosphere. Music’s familiar and fun, whether it’s coming from an iPod or a three-piece live band. Win your next beer at Trivia night (unless I’m there. I’ll kick your ass. True story.)

2) Typhoon (5752  Monkland Ave.):
It’s as close as N.D.G. gets to having a club. If you like dj sets, this might be perfect for you. Nice terrace too.

Food:
1) Dad’s Bagels (5732 Sherbrooke St. West):
Open 24 hours a day, the bagels are pretty good (probably really, really good by non-Montreal standards) and they have really tasty Indian food made on the premises and packed to go.

2) Marché Akhavan’s (6170 Sherbrooke St. W):
 A local grocery store with Middle Eastern food galore and desserts like Turkish delight, baklava and halva.

3) Anacy’s (6587 Somerled St. West):
 A little Caribbean soul embodied in a restaurant. Yummy jerk chicken, ginger beer and sorrel.

4) Ganges (6051 Sherbrooke St. West):
A classic N.D.G. eatery with delicious Indian food, complete with low-key atmosphere and the price is always right.

5) Momesso (5562 Upper-Lachine Rd.):
Kind of a Montreal institution, it’s known particularly for the subs which are prepared in that greasy, spicy and delicious Italian way. It’s also owned by ex-Canadien’s hockey player, Sergio Momesso.

Cafes:
1) Shaika Cafe (5526 Sherbrooke St. West): A hip spot on Sherbrooke that serves free trade coffee and delicious pizzas. Catch the live music nights.

2) Second Cup (7345 Sherbrooke St. West):
Okay, it’s a chain—but it’s a stone-throw from Loyola campus, and the owners are super friendly purveyors of coffee and good cheer.

3) Bano Cafe (6929 Sherbrooke St. West):
Walk a block past the Dagwood’s near Loyola and step into this casual little cafe. They serve up coffee, surprisingly huge sandwiches, warming cups of soup, and little cupcakes. The ultimate comfort food on a cold winter day.

4) Cafe Grand (6202 Sherbrooke St. West):
A classy joint with good coffee, fancy waffles and delicious sandwiches. A tad more expensive than the 24-hour Dunkin Donuts up the street, but worth it.

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