Montreal for Outsiders

Montreal for Outsiders


Montreal has a reputation. It's sin city. It's the party girl that stays up all night with smeared mascara and perfect hair. It's European without being European at all. It's corrupt but you love the corruption. It's Canada's Gotham and it's run by mafia and motorcycle gangs. And I love living here. For its grimness Montreal as a city waxes pure elegance in its writers, artists, and people. There's no way to narrow down the style and energy, Ok yeah, there's total eurotrash whatever, but people don't wear sweatpants or sneakers here. There is a sense of pride in putting yourself together because everyone on the street is going to openly check you out (which is totally creepy so wear sunglasses).

In Montreal there is a sudden energy as soon as the sun comes out around mid-May and everybody is suddenly naked. And proud and somehow nut brown. Old Montreal starts to bustle with tourists ogling the inches of skin as much as they are the brilliantly preserved architecture. There is a sense of community within the city. Sure everyone hates each other and there's social turmoil sometimes but there is a spirit here that I haven't seen anywhere else. So come visit.


-All the signs are in French. So if you get a ticket or need to talk to nay authority figure they'll hate you for being Anglo. Probably.

-Avoid hockey game weekends-there's too much pride

-Dress in layers. The metro is 1000 degrees, and it's probably -40 outside

-It takes twice as long to get anywhere from anywhere but sometimes only 10 minutes. Plan ahead.

-The village isn't as big as Toronto's, but the gay community doesn't give a fuck

-Cops don't care: Hide your weed but don't stress. Cops are more worried about the hundreds of bikers getting knocked by cars and people getting chopped up

-If you find a Quebecois accent sexy you are a stronger woman than me

-If you don't jay walk people will give you dirty looks

-Everyone will give you dirty looks



Depanneurs and grocery stores can sell alcohol until 11pm but can only sell less than 20% alcohol. Stick to SAQ for wine and the hard stuff and Deps for beer. Some are cheaper than other and Dep wine is just swill but its ok in a pinch.

Last Call is 3AM. Chyea.


If you're not staying on someone's couch or spare room there are great small hotels. Look into staying in the Old Port if you can afford it. The Stones stay at the Hotel Nelligan.

Eating and Going Out

Plateau/ Mile-End

The Mile-End/ Plateau area was the original art/hipstery stomping ground for years but they're slowly trickling south. This is "the main"  rue St. Laurent traditionally divided the city in West and East, English and French. This is where you want to party and where you want to eat.

You must have a Montreal bagel. They are denser, chewier and sweeter than New York bagels thanks to a dip in honey water. Fairmont and St. Viateur are long standing competitors. Make a meal out of it and check out Bagels etc (4320, boul Saint-Laurent) Leonard Cohen's version of thug mansion or Beauty's (93, av du Mont-Royal O,) for a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel and to drown your hangover in endless cups of coffee. If you're starting off a little healthier Au Vivre (4631, boul Saint-Laurent) makes a mean vegan breakfast on the weekends.

Wander over to Mount Royal for an afternoon hike, walk or run depending on your pace and footwear. The park was designed by the same planner as Central park and is gorgeously maintained all year. If you're lucky enough to visit on a summer Sunday prepare yourself for hundred person drum gathering that is tam tams, acrobats and LARP (Live Action Role Playing) which is exactly like that movie with Stifler from American Pie in it and everyone makes their own swords. There is obviously plenty of shopping too. Avoid downtown's St. Catherine which is basically Queen West and walk up st Laurent and east across Mont-Royal for vintage and boutiques.

For dinner try Big in Japan (3723, boul Saint-Laurent) for ramen and pork buns at 2am with a $4 beer. Icehouse (51 Rue Roy E) for Southern Food, fried avocado tacos, and bourbon lemonades that are well-known confidence boosters and pantyremovers. Nouveau Palais (281 Rue Bernard Ouest) is a bar with a crazy good menu (burgers and cheese fries) and their late night menu is always over the top. If you have money to burn and a caveman brain Au Pied de Cochon (536 Avenue Duluth Est) is it for pig heads, foie gras poutine, and leaving with a busted gut.

Le Petit Idee Fixe (4857, Av Du Parc,)is my favorite dive bar. Buy a 50 (a huge beer) and watch the grizzled salty bartender he starts to smoke at 2am; killer jukebox too. If you want to dance St. Laurent has everything but all the hot lesbians are at Royal Phoenix (5788 St-Laurent Bvd.) and the hoards have followed. Great DJ sets

Smoked meat is great anytime but especially at 3am when you're getting starry and shiny-eyed over French fry grease. The Schwartz's (3895 Saint-Laurent Boul) vs. The Main (3864 Saint Laurent Boul) splits Montrealers almost as much as bagels and politicians. I'm team Main. Get medium fat with fries and a black cherry pop. Heaven. And don't even front because the best poutine is at La Banquise (994 Rue Rachel Est). If you're gross (or me) get it with hot dogs.


If you're looking to save your pennies Amelio's (201 Rue Milton) has the best pizza ever. There are no reservations and you have to line up in the snow but it's so worth it. Get the white pizza. BYOB and Montreal has no corking fees. ;)

Get a coffee at Cafe Myriad (1432 Rue Mackay) that houses art students from Concordia University in troves and with good reason. It's some of the best coffee in the city. If you need something strong Dominion Square Tavern (1243 rue Metcalfe) has breath-taking cocktails, every whiskey you can imagine and 1920s décor to relax into.


Griffintown/St Henri

St. Henri is one of those areas that is being harkened as the new neighborhood. It 's a gorgeous area near the water that was previously ignored. For falling off the bone barbecue try Le Boucan (1886 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest) . I'm a fan girl and saw one of the chefs from Joe Beef (2491 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest) last weel and literally flipped my shit and fell a little and didn't even say hi. Joe Beef is what food is now. And if you want to run into me frantically pounding on a keyboard and lusting after gluten drop by Café St. Henri (3632 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest). If you're in this area you absolutely must visit the Atwater Market. I find it much more accessible and less overwhelming than Jean-Talon.

Old Port

Give yourself an afternoon to bike or walk along the canal and explore the old parts of city. Montreal was a trading post and it's buildings and architecture reach back hundreds of years. Tour cobblestone streets but beware of tourist trap trash French restaurants. Old Montreal and Old Port are mega bucks if you're looking to party or just grab a bite. For food and ambience Le Bremnier (361 Rue Saint Paul Est) is the sister restaurant to Food network droolfest chuck Hughes' Garde Manger and I think it's waay better. Velvet (426 Rue Saint Gabriel ) has a stone grotto coke den hallway and it's where you'll find any touring DJs or overdressed trash of the week depending on the night,


Montreal is famous for its festivals and they go nonstop all year. Start off the new Year with Igloofest which runs for three weekends in January its house and electronic outdoors on the canal and everyone's in snowpants. In February the city goes crazy for Nuit Blanche. Buses are free and people are still shaking glitter out their hair as they make their way home at 9am. The summer boasts weekly Picnik Electronik daytime DJs in parc Jean Drapeau every Sunday all summer long. In July check out Jazzfest and Just for Laughs. Osheaga is exploding with guests last year like A$AP Rocky and M83 and headliners like Snoop Dogg.

Practise your French curse words and hop in a car.

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