What to do in Montreal

Montreal isn’t short of great restaurants and fabulous places to shop, but you have to be in the know if you want to escape the crowds. Here are my favourite places where you can fit in with the locals.

Yokato Yokabai (Mile End)
You’re going to have to line up here, as is the way in Montreal when the food is good, but do it and your taste buds will be transported from Mile End to southern Japan. I’m talking ramen bowls served in the distinct Kurume style – a milky-white marrow-infused pork broth soup. To this, you can add meat and veggies of your choice by ticking off the boxes on the order sheets at your table. The presentation strikes me as authentic, with the ramen being served in black ceramic bowls and a noodle soup ladle. You can add a side salad, burdock fries or chicken karage but honestly, the soup is absolutely filling. Yokato Yokabai, Montreal, 4185 Drolet

Domo Montreal

Domo Montreal (Mile X)
Modern historians and design types will love Domo (located two doors down from Dinette Triple Crown). This gift shop is where you’ll learn everything you didn’t know about Expo 67, the Montreal metro and Quebecoise design. It’s expertly filled with 60s-era furniture, collectables, posters, t-shirts, furniture and books – many of them livres are published by Domo. It’s the kind of innovative upstart that Montrealers are known for that makes you want to rip off the concept. Domo Montreal, 6710 Clark, Montreal

Les Soeurs Grises Old Montreal

Soueurs Grises (Old Montreal)
Old Montreal: home to run-of-the-mill restaurants, souvenir shops, and really good beer. No, that last one isn’t made up. This is where you’ll find Les Soueurs Grises, Old Montreal’s only microbrewery. They make about eight brews, my favourite being the Camelia, a Belgium wheat ale infused with tea. The few times I’ve been here, I’ve paired my wine with a cheese platter that features, of course, Quebec cheeses. The surprise fromaage is Le Douanier, a semi-soft cheese with a line of grey ash through the centre. Apparently the marking represents the US-Canada border located one kilometer from where this cheese is made. Open on Sundays at noon, day drinking at Les Soueurs Grises is a great way to max out those last weekend hours in Montreal if you’re on a late flight home. Soueurs Grises, 32 McGill, Montreal

Dinette Triple Crown Montreal

Dinette Triple Crown (Mile X)
Yes, you’ll likely have to wait for a table at this wildly popular Mile X spot, but it’s worth it, especially if you get your fried chicken packed to go in a Dinette Triple Crown picnic basket. If you fancy eating al fresco, all the tableware, sauces, napkins and even a red-and-white plaid tablecloth are packed for you. Head to the park across the street with your wicker basket and enjoy. The basket is free, all you have to do is return it after you’re finished picnicking. Dinette Triple Crown, 6704 Clark, Montreal

Crew Collective Montreal

Collective Crew & Cafe (Old Montreal)
Discreet is the way they do things in Montreal. You’re walking past monolithic historic buildings when you see a sign marking a coffee shop. Sure enough, you step inside and then you’re inside Collective Crew, which has to be the most opulent coffee shop in Canada. There’s bronze and marble everywhere. You don’t even know if you’re supposed to be there but you just act level-headed, and nod “oui, oui.” Crew Collective is a co-working space that has a coffee shop that’s open to the public. It’s actually a former Bank of Montreal HQ built in 1923 and Instagram gold. Collective Crew & Cafe, 360 Saint Jaques, Montreal


Maison Espace Pepin (Old Montreal)
With plenty of furniture shops on St. Paul Street, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with so much choice. But it’s hard to go wrong at Maison Espace Pepin. The store is perfectly curated with unique furniture and home accessories, many made in Quebec. It’s the type of place where you’ll be inspired to redesign your entire house with findings from Maison Espace Pepin. There’s also a coffee counter in the back where you can plop yourself down and refuel with a latte. Maison Espace Pepin, 378 Saint Paul, Montreal