I love arteries such as Ontario street that have small local merchants catering to those living in the fun Hochelaga Maisonneuve borough. While it may not be as pretty as some other streets such as Saint-Catherine street (when it is not under construction) or the Main, it more than compensates with its authenticity and local vibe. Here are my favourite “coup de coeur” restaurants and food shops that can be found along and around les Promenades Ontario. The stroll starts from the Marché Maisonneuve and heads west. The merchants are placed in the order that you will find them.
Marché Maisonneuve – I just had to start with this popular public market which opened at the turn of the 20th century. Many food merchants are gathered together to offer fresh produce and local products in a historical setting. Come for your groceries while admiring beautiful architecture such as the original market building built in 1914 by Marius Dufresne (pictured above). Take the time to look around to admire the La Fermière monument that is located in the square. On Morgan, get your camera ready to take a picture of Bain Morgan. You cannot miss the indoor swimming pool as the white building is adorned by rather impressive monuments and a horse on the roof of the building!
Bagatelle Bistro – The Bring Your Own Bottle concept is very much a thing here in Montreal, and this restaurant has been serving French classics such as tartare and duck for over ten years to go with the bottle that you buy at the SAQ. Its menu is varied and sure to please even the pickiest eater.
Canard Café – I will make a bold statement: Canard Café has the best cup of coffee on the whole Ontario street strip. The coffee shop also has some decadent desserts such as a gluten-free brownie, and you can take home some coffee too!
Le Bierologue – Craft beers have never been more popular in Quebec and the Bierologue prides itself in carrying a wide variety of the local tap. It’s other brand Le Vinologue specialises in Quebec wines and ciders. The staff is very friendly and unpretentious, and they do offer an extensive selection of Quebec beers and wines.
État Major – Quite simply put this Bring Your Own Bottle restaurant is one of the best in the city. État Major regularly changes its menu and has a focused menu according to the season. It’s heavy on the meat options but you cannot go wrong with any dish on the list.
Le Flamant – Their website boasts having a “Montreal experience”. If this pertains to being adventurous and experimenting with local products then this restaurant fully succeeds. I highly suggest going with their tasting menus that are meant to be shared. Small plates throughout the meal and they give you the option to have the wines to accompany the dishes too.
Le Trèfle – It may look like your traditional Irish bar but this pub actually makes an effort in making higher-end dishes to go along their extensive beer list. Of particular interest is their Celtic Poutine during weekend brunch with aged cheddar, bacon and a sunny-side up egg. Throw in a pretty decent whiskey menu and you have yourself what a true pub du quartier (neighbourhood pub) should be all about. While you’re there do take a moment to admire the great mural made by artist Monosourcil in 2021!
Boulangerie ArHoMa – The name wordplay alone merits a mention (Aroma and arrondissement Hochelaga Maisonneuve) but this consistently makes the list of the best bakeries in the city. Whether you are looking for baked goods such as croissants, cannelés, or decadent desserts such as a lemon tart, or their bread such as the traditional baguette you cannot go wrong. You can also buy their made-to-go sandwiches and sit right outside at Place Valois where there are always people and something going on.
Atomic Café – I’m a big fan of nostalgia. Upon entry, you are thrown back to your youth with shelves filled with retro WWE glasses, Strawberry shortcake mugs, and Youppi! Expos figurines. The place is hip yet unpretentious in a truly eclectic setting. And look for those record sleeves with “Atomic” song titles on them.
Don’t forget that the Promenades Ontario become pedestrian again during the summer starting from Pie-IX boulevard to Darling street.
Check out the other blog entries on this site as well as my various private tours of Montreal that you can book to make the most of your visit of this fascinating city.