Call it hipster capital, call it the artsiest district in Montreal — eclectic Mile End Montreal doesn’t care for labels. Technically part of trendy Plateau Mont-Royal but infinitely more authentic, this effervescent district covers just about 10 blocks but is incidentally home to Canada’s largest concentration of artists, in addition to some of Montreal’s most acclaimed restaurants.
If you’re keen on discovering this lively, diverse, appealing part of town, here are my suggestions of things to see and do while you’re there to get a proper Mile End experience. Hint: better pack your eating pants.
* photos by the amazing Gaelle LeRoyer, who is way more talented that I can ever dream to be
Often dubbed Instagram porn by local ‘grammers, the vast majority of the Mile End does indeed beg to be photographed. Between the rows of colourful houses and the eye-catching murals, not to mention the quirky Dragon flower shop and the Church of St. Michael and St. Anthony, there truly is no shortage in photo inspiration around these parts. Best not to leave your phone charger behind.
Go On a Mile-End Food Tour
With almost weekly restaurant openings and a myriad of well-established tables, too, the Mile End is one of the most sought-after culinary destinations in North America.
This thriving creative community is the perfect place for a Mile End Montreal Food Tour, which will not only feature the best eateries but also secret back alleys, independently-owned shops, as well as cultural highlights. Definitely, a well-rounded and mouth-watering tour that’s well worth the price.
As expected in a neighbourhood that’s famous for its entrepreneurial spirit and artistic mindset, there are plenty of small boutiques scattered across the Mile End where it’s possible to encourage local artisans and their craft. Here are a few of my favourite:
- Drawn & Quarterly // books
- Boucle & Papier // stationary
- Marché des possibles // street market featuring small-batch artisans and cultural events
- Vestibule // womenswear and home goods
- General 54 // womenswear
- Clark Street Mercantile // menswear and home goods
- Annex Vintage // vintage womenswear & menswear
- La montréalaise atelier // womenswear
- Frank & Oak // menswear + womenswear, coffee shop, barbershop
- Lowell // leather goods
- Mile End Kicks // sneaker shop
- VdeV // home goods
Catch a Show
Mile End is home to not just one but two esteemed venues that welcome anything from comedy acts to music shows and circuses. Théâtre Rialto, on avenue du Parc, is a former movie palace — now a National Historic Site of Canada — dating back from 1923 famous for its lavish neo-baroque interior. Truly one of Montreal’s most charming venues!
Another option is the quirkier, peculiar Casa del Popolo on boulevard Saint-Laurent. “The house of the people” is equal parts vegetarian eatery, coffee shop, indie music venue, and art gallery, and an intimate one at that, with just 55 seats.
Eat At These Legendary Mile End Montreal Eateries
While there are plenty of noteworthy restaurants in the Mile End district, I do have a handful of favourites that never, ever disappoint, be it because of the friendly service, the stunning decor, and, of course, because of the yummy grub.
A few of them are even featured in my Montreal city guide! Here’s where I would normally go for a date or an evening out with friends in the Mile End:
- Wilensky’s Light Lunch
- Lester’s Deli
- Nouveau Palais
- Pier 66
- Drogheria Fine
- Kem Coba
- Panthère Verte
- Boulangerie Guillaume
- Hof Kelsten
- Bishop & Bagg
- Harbin Dumplings
Pitstop at the Best Microbrewery in Montreal
Why not treat yourself to a well-deserved pint at Canada’s best microbrewery after all that walking? Dieu du Ciel is indeed Montreal’s top craft brewery, having pushed the limits of beer since 1998 with audacious and inventive home brews inspired by Quebec’s folklore.
Get there early to snag a coveted on their flowery outdoor terrace!
Pick a Side on Friendly Mile End Montreal Local Feuds
Every Montrealer I know has a favourite bagel shop and has unmistakably strong feelings about it. I personally am on Bagel Fairmount‘s team, simply for the friendly service and the fact that you are completely surrounded by ceiling-high columns of bagels when you enter the store; a lot of my friends, on the opposite, prefer Bagel St-Viateur, and you wouldn’t catch them so much as walking past Bagel Fairmount.
Same goes for the Italian coffee Cafe Olimpico (which opened in 1970) or the sun-drenched terrace of Café Club Social filled with elderly Italians playing cards, the truth of the matter is, you’ll have to try both in order to make up your mind and join one of the opposing teams!
Refuel At a Coffee Shop
Obviously, being in hipstertown also means you will be surrounded by trendy third-wave coffee shops with amazing lattes. Many of the cafés below are actually part of my Montreal Coffee Round-Up!
- Le Butterblume
- Cardinal Tea Room (okay, this is a tea room and not a coffee shop, but it’s too good not to mention)
- Caffe In Gamba
- Arts Café
- Café Myriade
Have a Romantic Date Night in Mile End Montreal
If you’re visiting Montreal with your loved one (and, considering Montreal is one of the most romantic cities this side of the pond, there’s a good chance you are indeed), you’ll be needing a few dim-lit, wine-abundant restaurants suggestions.