Romantic cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture, delicious eats, and friendly, warm people. All of these characteristics are to me what make Montreal one of the best cities to visit. There is something to say about a place that you can go over and over again and still come back for more. Montreal to me is exactly that. Every time I venture back to my french speaking roots (my mother is from the Laurentians) there is something new, delicious, and beautiful to discover.
Recently needing a change of scenery from my everyday Toronto, I drove to Montreal for a few days to visit @HEY.MACA, a lifestyle blogger and dear friend. At the time I couldn’t shake off a lingering creative rut and desperately needed a shift in perspective. I knew Montreal would provide the perfect call for inspiration I needed and Maca would be the best company to do it with. We spent the next 48 hours running around Montreal collecting hotspots of happiness and inspiration along the way. She took me to all the new cool places and I left Montreal feeling completely full of delicious foods, inspiration, and with a list of new favourites.
So… without further ado, here is a list of some of my favourite new discoveries from my 48 hours in Montreal with Maca!
Caffe Farine - A cute coffee shop in the St. Henri neighbourhood (pictured above) with the most amazing coffee - their foam was soooo on point - I have ever had while in MTL! It was very quiet, had great lighting by the window, and I loved their vibrant blue banquette and little Ciao Bella neon sign on the wall. It all made for a perfect coffee shop photo-opp!
Ssense Cafe - The new Ssense store in the Old Port features a beautiful cafe on the top floor that is an architecture and design lovers dream! The lighting inside is also incredible and casts perfect rays of contrasting light into the space. Although the whole place makes for a great photography setting Maca and I both found it hard to shoot portrait style photos in here. Reflected light made for an interesting cast on skintone and accentuated all flaws - more than normal. Although it wasn’t a good place for us to shoot outfit photos it was still an amazing and inspiring space. The food coming out of their small kitchen looked and smelt quiet amazing as well.
Foiegwa - This restaurant has been open for a while and I have been dying to go. Every time I visited Montreal in the last two years I had it at the top of my list of places I wanted to eat, but it wasn’t until this last trip that I was actually able to go. The food here was spectacular although a little pricey*. Maca and I shared the beef tartare and immediately ordered another one after finishing the first - we couldn’t get enough!
*One of the beautiful things I love about Montreal is all their great restaurants. Usually in the past, especially as a student, I would always remark on how affordable nice restaurants in Montreal were. I remember going to visit my friends at Concordia and having a nice meal and thinking the same meal in Toronto would probably cost 20-30% more. That said I know Toronto food prices have gone up (perhaps because of higher food cost or even increase in rent) so I can only imagine Montreal is experiencing the same. Honestly this comment was more about me no longer seeing Montreal restaurants being as affordable as they once were and how they are more on the same tier as Toronto in terms of food price points.
Cafe Pista - This little Mile End gem was totally my hipster coffeeshop dream. It was very bright with amazing tile floors and white and mint decor/accents. Although their menu was small the food looked amazing and I couldn’t stop myself from ordering their ‘Bol Pista’ - a salad version of a salmon poke with a boiled egg - a delicious choice if you ask me. If I was looking for a cafe to do some work while I was in Montreal this would be it. This place just did it all for me - great people watching, awesome food, and cute decor.
McKiernan Lunchonette - This new collaboration between the owners of Maison Publique and Joe Beef is definitely one to add to your list. Having only opened the week prior to my trip I was so happy I got to check this place out before I left Montreal. I was only informed of its opening the night before I was leaving town, and being a big fan of Joe Beef’s food and having heard amazing things about Maison Publique, this place immediately shot up to the top of my Maca and I’s ‘to-do’ list. The cafeteria style space the restaurant is located in is nowhere near downtown but rather in a more industrial loft style building on the outskirts of Montreal. Although it may be a little bit of a trek from where you may be staying, the breakfast we had here was delicious and so was the spicy Caesar cocktail I ordered. The space is available to rent for larger events and the new Lunchonette venture doubles as both an on and off-site catering company.
Pastel Rita - This pretty pink heaven is a mixed-use space featuring a boutique, an atelier, and a coffee shop/winebar. The three designers (a jewelry designer, a milliner and a leather-smith) share an open concept atelier in the back (with glass windows so you can peer in), while displaying their handmade goods in a boutique space and coffee shop in the front. The whole idea of having a shared co-working space that is also partly open to the public is a very cool concept to me. It is something I don’t often see as they are usually more private, members-only spaces in Toronto. I always find watching people work on their craft very inspirational and it helps feed my curious tendencies. Taking this opportunity of inspiration and combining it with coffee, and all pink everything, makes for an afternoon well spent in the Mile End area.