Montreal on a full belly
May 13, 2012 1:50 PM   Subscribe

My friend and I are going to Montreal next weekend. Been there a few times, so I'm looking for quirky things that are off the beaten path to see and do. Any ideas?

For example, I've just learned there is a store dedicated to mushrooms:, which I'm excited about. I'm also considering checking out Piknic Electronik, which is less off the beaten path.

I've already been to the Drawn and Quarterly bookstore, the Belgo Building, a few French bookstores, which I might go to. I also know about Tam Tams.

I will of course eat until I burst at some old and new favourites, which unfortunately won't take much effort. The trip is mostly about eating, but I'm looking for things to fill the in-between time. If with nothing novel, then what are other good ways to spend next weekend, as a local would, in Montreal that I haven't thought of yet?
posted by alusru to Travel & Transportation around Montreal, QC (11 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Depending on where in Montreal you're basing yourself, I find it a very pleasant city to walk in. In considering your question I was trying to think about things I have done in the city that might qualify as "off the beaten path", and all the things that came to mind were not so much locations or activities as they were moments I saw something funny or interesting walking from one place to another. You'll have to go by your own definition of what is too far away to walk to, and obviously use your discretion when it comes to sketchiness of neighborhoods, but I generally try to walk a different way to my destination each time I leave the house, and I am rarely disappointed.

I know that's not tremendously specific, but I think the real treasures are the things we find ourselves when not speeding by or cruising about underground.

In terms of specific recommendations, Au Vivres( has very tasty food, and should be visited, whether you are vegan or not.
posted by Glambie at 2:02 PM on May 13, 2012

Little Italy can be nice for strolling. You can get great coffee, go to the Jean Talon market, and also stop by the hilarious and tasty Dépanneur Le Pick Up.

Other food favorites: Schwartz's for smoked meat, L'Express for bistro dining. Have fun!
posted by asuprenant at 2:18 PM on May 13, 2012

Next weekend both the industrial/noise festival Kinetik and the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair will be taking place, depending on just how far off the beaten path you want to go.
posted by Jairus at 2:56 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Le Petit Medley is a local bar that our couch surfing friends showed us. Its a bit older crowd, probably late 20s, so you get less of the obnoxious drunk young teen stuff. We went with people who knew the staff though so maybe that skewed our perceptions, but it was fun and really non-touristy which is what we wanted. Also the three guys that approached me there were, in broken English, so confused as to how Americans discovered the place and it was a hilarious fun time to explain to them.

For food, I suggest Au Pied de Cochon for fancy food. Not vegetarian friendly at all, fyi. But very tasty for those that eat meat and even though its pricey, well worth it.

If you have never been to the Botanical Gardens I highly recommend those. My favorite greenhouse is the one with all the fruit plants. Who knew that pineapples grew on a bush?!

If its nice out, I suggest walking over to Mont Royal. We found some people slack lining and spent the afternoon hanging out with them and they were real chill. They also gave use some good music recommendations. Also a good view of the city if you hike up it.
(The mushroom store you are talking about is right near Mont Royal btw)

Also seconding the Jean Talon market-- it is fantastic! There is a cheese shop right near there that has an amaaaazing selection of cheeses.

I really like Montreal hah.
posted by fuzzysoft at 4:29 PM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

PS Barros Luco for authentic DELICIOUS Chilean food. Our Chilean friend highly recommended this place to us and so good. Cheap too and awesome desserts!
posted by fuzzysoft at 4:33 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

yeah Jean Talon market! And indian food in Park Extension nearby-ish (Bombay Mahal is popular, and I hear Maison Indian Curry is good too). There are a couple events listed on Midnight Poutine. The people slacklining at the tamtams are pretty friendly and happy to help you out if you want to try. There's a play that looks pretty fun at Mainline.

There's a neat map of green alleys that could be nice to walk through on your way somewhere.

Else's is a pretty nice bar.

I like walking along the water in the old port and looking at Silo no. 5 and the farine five roses sign and Habitat 67. And walking on Duluth to Parc Lafontaine. Laurier is a great street for walking (west of St. Denis, say) -- there's a park, and lots of cheese shops and bakeries and things (le fromentier, in particular). And a Persian place, Byblos, which is wonderful!

In the food court of faubourg st catherine (a kinda run-down building) there's both Grumman 78 which just opened and apparently does awesome tacos and super awesome Thai food at Bangkok.
posted by oranger at 6:00 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Little Italy is nice and it's close to Jean-Talon market.
posted by furtive at 9:47 PM on May 13, 2012

This is the time of year when lilacs, crabapples and almost every other flowering tree is in blossom in Montreal. A place that's way off the touristy track is René-Lévesque park in Lachine which combines views of the river, flowering trees and public art in a very delightful way. The map on that page will show you where it is relative to downtown.

There will also be lots of flowering trees up at Mount Royal Cemetery, which occupies part of the mountaintop and is a really splendid place unless you're squeamish about graveyards.

There is a chamber music festival on as well as the other things people mentioned.
posted by zadcat at 9:48 PM on May 13, 2012

Getting Portuguese chicken, fries and buns to got at Rotisserie Romados (115 Rue Rachel Est) and then eating them with your bare hands in Jeanne Mance Parc on an afternoon is the best way to live, but get the before 5pm because they sell out of chicken.
posted by furtive at 9:50 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Orange Julep comes to mind. It really is bizarre, especially on the weekends when the bikers all gather there. (I would google around; I'm not exactly sure which day they swarm.) There's also a go-cart place nearby and some killer Indian deserts.

Other ideas:

- Check out a show at the Tohu, the only building designed specifically for contemporary circuses. The headquarters for Cirque du Soleil are across the street. You might request a tour.

- While you're visiting Drawn and Quarterly, check out the coffee at Cafe Depanneur, Cafe Zosha, Olympico, and Caffe Im Gambe

- Is roller derby going on?

- Here's a great list of 100 Things to do in Montreal, originally from Couchsurfing. I would recommend most of them.
posted by vecchio at 11:05 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

on St Laurent there is a really sweet thrift store. it's right near L'insoumise.
posted by costanza at 7:11 AM on May 14, 2012

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