17+ Exciting Things to do in the Plateau Mont-Royal
By Tobia Galipeau on March 15th, 2018
From indie theatre to unique restaurants, from lush green parks to Portuguese chicken, and from local artists to secret alley ways, we present you: our basic guide to visiting Montreal’s most magical place, The Plateau.
Plateau & The Main Walking Food Tour
A List of Amazing Things to Do in the Plateau Mont-Royal
Le Plateau Mont-Royal: the rent is cheap, the restaurants are endless, the people are beautiful and art is everything. No wonder it’s the most densely populated borough in Canada. From indie theatre to unique restaurants, from lush green parks to Portuguese chicken, and from local artists to secret alley ways, we present to you… The Local Montreal Guide to Visiting The Plateau.
Locals are always working to make their space reflect their values. When most of those locals are creative, energetic types, you’re pretty much guaranteed to stumble upon public art as you explore. Want a hint or two, treasure hunt style? Public pianos can be found scattered around, and there’s usually one on St-Laurent and Rachel at the Parc des Amériques. The international soft street art of yarn bombing also takes a seat in the Plateau: take a look for cozy trees and lamp posts. And.. psst! A little birdie told us that every so often there are pop up concert venues in the alley ways! So keep your eyes and ears open, because escaping other peoples’ creative outlets isn’t going to be possible in this magical place called The Plateau.
16. Lounge in Plateau park paradise
Picnics, fountains, benches, trees, ponds, BBQ’s… Parks are truly where the magic happens in a Montreal summer. The Plateau has some of the best around, and the people you’ll find in them are sometimes just as good. Of course, there’s Parc La Fontaine, perfect for a bike ride or picnic in the summer, and has a huge outdoor skating rink in the winter. Carré St-Louis, at the bottom of Prince-Arthur, has one of the city’s most romantic fountains surrounded by benches. Parc Jeanne-Mance, opposite to Mount Royal is a classic for a reason. Receiving tam-tam echoes on Sundays, and hosting soft ball on most days, this large patch of grass has the perfect amount of action for a non-boring picnic spot.
15. Take the Plateau Food Tour
The best way to get to know the area, its history, its restaurants and its people is to take the 2 hour Plateau & ‘The Main’ Food Tour. The walking tour will show you the ins and outs of the most bustling Montreal neighbourhood, both its rich cultural history and the exciting culinary directions that it’s going in. You’ll get to see Leonard Cohen’s house, striking street art, and the exciting shops and bars of Saint Laurent Boulevard along the way. Montreal is famous for the smoked meat sandwiches from Schwartz’s Deli so, of course, you’ll get to try one! Other stops on the tour include a steamed bun from a Tokyo-style counter, an authentic Portuguese dessert, local cheese and craft cider from the charming Bar Darling. This is a culinary and cultural experience you won’t want to miss!
Click here to read more about the tour, and book your tickets today!
14. Visit the best places for a 5 à 7
Buvette Chez Simone
For a classic and cozy 5-7 in an unpretentious atmosphere but great, upscale food, La Buvette Chez Simone is your destination. They have an extensive selection of wine that you can pair with their aromatic cheese and meat sharing platters, and they also make the tastiest salads for miles. In the summer, their intimate terrace is always packed with patrons with a wine glass in one hand, and cheese in the other. 4869 Park Ave
Having opened in 1998, Bily Kun is a timeless Czech bar with a decor that could be described as ‘tavern-chic’. Your happy hour experience is punctuated by the smooth and sophisticated music of live jazz ensembles. Taste their Czech-inspired snacks to pair with their menu of, mainly, Czech beers. If beer isn’t your refreshment of choice, in true eastern-Europe style, their cocktail list features absinthe and other Czech liquors. Try the absinthe-laced apple cocktail and let your work day fade away… 354 Mont-Royal Est
If you’re yearning for a taste of France’s countryside, Rouge Gorge (or Red Throat) can satisfy those cravings. Set in an effortlessly sophisticated locale, Rouge Gorge is a wine bar with a carefully selected list of wines, predominantly originating from France. Their food menu also mirrors their French style: charcuterie, tartare and fine salads are offered, making this 5-7 an elegant experience all around. 1234 Mont-Royal Ave E
From brunch to evening cocktails, The Sparrow is a favourite spot morning and night. This drinkerie has the feel of a tavern with sprinkles of vintage decor and old wooden pews pulled-up to the tables. They have an extensive list of cocktails, beer, and wine for a post-work refreshment set in a warm and homey locale. 5322 St Laurent Blvd
There’s nothing like the vibe of an airport lounge. If you’ve ever been a fan of a pre-departure cocktail but dreaded being cooped-up on a plane for hours on end, Plan Bhas what you’re looking for. The decor is simple: a long dark leather booth lining the wall, lots of glossy wood and light beige walls. The menu is also straightforward, offering a bit of everything from cocktails, beer, wine, aperitifs and a list of scotch. Be sure to visit their candlelit backyard terrace in the warmer months! 327 Mont-Royal Ave E
13. Save some bucks and BYOW
If you’re not sure where to look for a BYOW restaurant, here’s a tip: most restaurants on either Prince-Arthur or Duluth are BYOW. These cobblestone streets have an old world feel and are fun to walk along, wine or no wine. If you’re going the wine route though, buy yourself a bottle at the SAQ and check out our guide to the best Montreal BYOW restaurants here.
12. Follow what local artists are up to
Surely an area defined by art and culture must have its darlings. Metal sculptor Glen LeMesurier has been living in the area for over 30 years. These longtime roots translate into the industrial sculptures you can find all over the city, which he prefers to call poetry. Walk around and get entranced by his twisty metal endeavours, such as his project The Twilight Garden on St-Urbain and Van Horne.
Patsy Van Roost
There’s also Mile End resident, Patsy Van Roost. She’s known in the community as “The Mile End Fairy”. Her art seeks to break the walls of isolation within a community and bring people together. By wrapping trees with provocative phrases and including residents in her projects, Van Roost creates exactly the kind of magic that people thought only possible in fairytales.
11. Grab a bite, a drink, and catch a show all at once
Sala Rossa and Casa del Popolo are sister venues that combine food and music, each in their own very special way. Downstairs at Sala you’ll find a Spanish tapas restaurant, with the most amazing goat cheese balls fried in…honey (it’s actually worth the trip for those alone). Pair these with a nice sangria, and take yourself upstairs to their music venue. The small/medium concert venue welcomes popular indie acts and local events. The decor at Sala is also half the fun: a classic red curtain paired with white lights make the ambiance intimate, no matter how loud the singer sings. Casa del Popolo is like Sala’s little sister: a smaller venue with smaller acts and comforting sandwiches, but you’ll find some of the coolest people in the area hanging out there at all hours of the day.
10. Enjoy a delicious dinner
The Plateau boasts an impressive list of delicious restaurants. It can be hard to choose which one to go to on a particular night. Luckily, the Plateau’s got something no matter your mood, from classic French gastronomical fares to the best pho in town. Here are a few recommendations for where to go when dinning in this neighbourhood.
Having been established in 1980, Restaurant L’Express is now an iconic eatery in Montreal. Step into this Parisian-style bistro and you’ll find timeless, classic decor: checkered black and white tile floors, white tablecloths, burgundy wood, and a classic French menu. Think tartar with crispy yellow fries, fresh poached salmon, and shrimp risotto. Great for an intimate tete-a-tete, this bistro can tickle even the most discerning tastebuds. 3927 St Denis St, Montreal
Au Pied de Cochon
The chef at Au Pied de Cochon, Martin Picard, is changing the gastronomical game by throwing out many of its core characteristics. Picard’s French fares aren’t small in portion size, light or particularly healthy. The hearty Quebecois dishes are food for the soul while still being simple and rich. Picard’s creative uses of foie gras takes up a lot of the menu from a foie gras poutine to a foie gras tart. Set in an unpretentious and warm locale, this restaurant will entice you to come back more than one foie. 536 Avenue Duluth E
Yokato Yokabai Ramen
As far as small ramen restaurants go, the Plateau has the best one. Most people probably don’t have time to boil animal bones for twelve hours, but Yakota Yokabai does. They specialize in serving up the thickest, fattiest, and tastiest broth in the city. Everything is made in house using only natural ingredients and you can pick the toppings for your own dish. Experience the city’s best ramen under the paper lanterns in this cozy Japanese joint. 4185 Drolet
9. Take part in a festival
Keeping with true Montreal tradition, the Plateau has multiple events and festivals throughout the year. In June you can catch the Montreal Fringe Fest, which takes over many venues in the area to host experimental local theatre, comedy, burlesque, and everything in between. It’s a must for those who enjoy both the fresh and bizarre. It’s also the centre of a myriad of music festivals: POP Montreal takes over most of the Plateau venues in September and invites local and international indie rock, electronic and other pioneering artists to perform. They also host Puces Pop, a bazar of artisanal goods from local artists, crafters and designers. If international music is more your jam, be sure to checkout Mundial, an international music festival that invites musicians from all around the world to perform throughout November.
8. Explore the famed Plateau nightlife
The Plateau is the place to go after dark. There’s something for every taste: a night of extreme dancing, a cocktail tasting at a speakeasy, and catching a band at a cool bar/venue. Most places are located pretty close together, so if you’re not feeling one, just head to another! Here’s a list of exciting nighttime places to visit for a great time.
Sticking to the Main
Although its vibrance extends beyond its night owls, Plateau nightlife is nothing to scoff at. For a dance party almost every night of the week, Blue Dog Motel and Le Belmontare spots for those who want to let loose on the dance floor. Bass drive Wednesdays at Le Belmont are a popular time to go for a high-energy dance party, with rum and coke pitchers at 20$. Blue Dog doubles as a barber shop during the day, but turns into an intimate dance club at night where many well known Montreal DJs started out. Checkout their websites to find out what events are happening.
Bluedog: 3958 St Laurent Blvd Le Belmont: 4483 St Laurent Blvd
To broaden your musical horizons, L’Éscogriffe is a bar/venue that hosts local bands and those just passing through Montreal. It’s a prime destination to see shows ranging from punk to indie rock to seasoned jazz ensembles. The stone walls and moody candlelight give it a cavernous feel, reinforcing the idea that you’re experiencing a cool underground show. 4467 St Denis St
The new kid on the block (specifically Marie-Anne and St-Laurent) is Darling, a coffee shop, 5-7 meeting ground and charming bar. The locale evokes a vintage Los Angeles vibe with tufted leather couches, old fashioned lamps and plants placed just about everywhere. Head there for a morning meet-up over coffee, to bury yourself in your laptop, or for a night of very reasonably-priced refreshments, such as the ciders on tap. 4328 St Laurent Blvd
Underneath the aforementioned wine bar, Rouge Gorge, is the speakeasy, Le Royal. The underground bar has dark features–smokey marble and bronze walls–giving it a feel of exclusivity. With a passion for mixology, Le Royal stirs up some creative cocktails and also boasts an impressive wine list like its sister bar upstairs. For an intimate, chic night out, Le Royal is the place. 1232 Mont-Royal Ave E
This quaint, corner bar/club is a great place for cocktails and dancing–what more could you ask for? Datcha has a Russian theme and minimalist design with an arch in the center and white brick walls. It’s an intimate venue with a mixed crowd, from students to business-chic. The music runs the gamut of musical genres, from electro to funk. If you’re anywhere near Laurier street and hoping for a European-style dance club, you’re in luck! 98 Avenue Laurier O
7. Get crafty (or tipsy) with Mtl brewed beers
The Plateau is no exception to the current craft beer boom. Getting tipsy has never tasted so good! Le Reservoir on Duluth is your go-to microbrewery if you love rooftop terraces and refined dishes. Benelux, on the cusp of the McGill Ghetto, is known for their flavourful IPAs and wide range of successful brews. Dieu du Ciel (God of the Sky), is comparable to Montreal’s grandfather of gourmet beers, taking the award for Best Brewery year after year. Take yourself to Laurier street and bask in everything from fruity brews to dark coffee stouts such as the Péché Mortel (deathly sin). Oh and, don’t worry–they’ve got a patio too.
6. Get the lowdown on Le Petit Laurier
Le Petit Laurier is another little neighbourhood on the outskirts of the Plateau, full of its own unique character. To find it, take yourself to Laurier Park, be inevitably impressed by it, and keep going East. A neighbourhood once populated mainly by blue collar workers, today Le Petit Laurier is a lovely mix of that and young vibrant artists. Byblos Le Petit Café is an authentic Iranian restaurant that transports you to its mysterious homeland by way of artsy woodsy decor and dishes. Go there for a brunch like you’ve never had it before, and be sure to ask the Mother of the house for her recommendation.
For a taste of the area’s inner workings, go to Cafe Les Entretiens, a restaurant that began as a joint dance school and sandwich spot. Today, it serves up some of the finest bistro food, doubling as a gallery for local artists. If that wasn’t enough to pull you out of bed and drag you there ecstatically, you just might do so when I tell you that they’ve mastered the art of brunch, specializing in breakfast potatoes.
5. Find the best poutine
Among the many Montreal food wars–best bagel, best smoked meat–the Plateau is home to Montreal’s poutine war. All the best poutineries are located within the area, making the Plateau a haven for that late night greasy snack. Here are some poutine war competitors to indulge in so you can pick your own winner.
This tiny, corner gourmet french fry shack is is unassuming, but is full at pretty much every hour of the day and night. The reason? Patati Patata‘s classic poutine: a perfect ratio of cheese curds, veggie gravy and dark, crispy fries. Upgrade to a “patatine,” which adds mushrooms, red peppers and onion to the best dish in town. Their window seats are perfect for people watching and make sure to wash down your Quebecois fare with their homemade iced tea. 4177 St Laurent Blvd
Chez Claudette is the definition of classic Quebec comfort food. They boast a menu of a few dozen different kinds of poutine, from spicy tomato sauce to meat galore, but, of course, you can never go wrong with opting for the classic three ingredients. Their fries are drenched in gravy (as it should be) and can be enjoyed in their little corner locale that’s very casual mom & pop. Among the Montreal poutine war candidates, Chez Claudette is a top contender. 351 Laurier Ave E
Well, we had to mention La Banquise! This world famous poutinerie attracts a steady flow of people all 24 hours of the day, from late night partiers to daytime cravers. Their poutine is said to be, by many Montrealers, the best poutine in the city (which really means it’s the best poutine in the world). The bright decor is so simple you’ll barely notice it – you’ll be so focused on your delicious, gravy-soaked fries! What will catch your eye is the lineup of people at the door waiting to feast on one of Montreal’s most delicious delicacies. With over thirty different poutine variations, there’s always a reason to come back! 994 Rue Rachel E
Ma Poule Mouillée
Who knew a Portuguese rotisserie could master a Quebec classic? Ma Poule Mouillée‘s version of poutine features São Jorge cheese, charcoal-cooked chicken and chorizo sausages. They’re known for their chicken and tasty meat sandwiches, but their poutine is as delicious as any dish on the menu. 969 Rachel St E
4. Experience indie theater
The Plateau’s art factor doesn’t stop at its murals, DJ’s, or culinary feats. St-Laurent street houses two theatres in a three block radius.
First up is Mainline Theatre. Charmingly bizarre space Mainline Theatre is known as “indie theatre’s home on The Main.” Host to an array of quirky acts, workshops, comedy, and film screenings, Mainline’s community-run vibe (and reality) makes it a true gem. And hey–what screams “we’re in this together” more than a gender-neutral bathroom? Whether you’re in it for the show, or the politically correct bathroom, Mainline’s a spot you’ll want to check out.
Walk a few blocks up and you’ll find Montreal Improv,an improv acting school (Yes! This is your chance! Hollywood?!) that has improv shows in both English and French, as often as Thursday through Sunday. It’s a fun, laid back space, and an excellent option if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to have fun.
The Wiggle Room
TheThe Wiggle Room, also on St-Laurent, is your go to for all things burlesque, circus, and vaudeville. The folk there don’t take themselves too seriously, but absolutely do take their craft seriously. High quality performances with nothing but a passion for the fun, sexy, and bizarre, check out their calendar and make a reservation!
3. Catch a flick at these independent cinemas
Catching a movie in The Plateau is a great way to boycott that super-sized, unreasonably priced, commercial movie theatre experience, and stay in proximity to all awesome things of Le Plateau. The area contains Cinema du Parc, and… our very own erotic film theatre, Cinema L’Amour!
Cinema du Parc
Cinema du Parc is an underground theatre (I mean, it’s literally under the ground), which makes it perfect for rainy days. There you’ll find foreign films, old films, indie films, and judiciously picked Hollywood movies. This little mall is a strange time machine to the 70’s, filled with cafeteria-like tables and an awesome Chinese restaurant. Catch an indie film and then pretend you’re inside one.
And Cinema L’Amour? Well… who doesn’t like a good vintage erotic film? This iconic location in the Plateau may have sticky seats, but it’s an experience you’re sure to remember. Oh and.. Pro tip: it’s free for couples on Mondays and Tuesdays! They also have merch, so you can proudly wear a Cinéma L’Amour t-shirt back home.
2. Connect with the area’s Portuguese roots
Look around and you’ll begin to notice: there’s an awful lot of Portuguese joints around. That’s because before becoming Montreal’s artistically diverse hot spot, The Plateau used to be a primarily Portuguese neighbourhood. And thankfully for everyone, those roots remain. The first sign you’ll find is Parc du Portugal, located on St-Laurent and Marie-Anne, where Leonard Cohen used to hang out. The real reason people love the Portuguese allure to the hood however, is because of the chicken. Chez Dovalis a popular sit-down option serving up its famous meat and seafood, and their weekend dinner service sometimes has a guitarist walking around, signing Portuguese songs!
Romados on Rachel is known for its large portions of mouthwatering chicken and fries. Utter the word “Romados” to any local and watch their eyes go wide, and their mouth salivate. It’s like a magic word to make any Montrealer chicken-crazy. You’ll have an important choice to make: spicy or not spicy, choose wisely (spicy).
1. Get coffee
Surely, a neighbourhood this full of artists and intellectuals requires coffee. Lots of coffee. If you’re on the Mountain or Mont-Royal Street, Café Plume is there to serve: the quaint spot is the perfect combination of friendly staff and a creativity inducing atmosphere. Le Lapin Pressé on Laurier has a cold brew to die for, and makes the most scrumptious cheesy sandwiches. The ever-so-popular Café Névé on Rachel is at your service for all things espresso, chewy cookies, and cozy turquoise decor. Pro tip: all these spots are perfect if you’re looking for somewhere to write The Next Great Montreal Novel. …And for one more, Dispatch, a sleek, modern and minimalist third wave cafe just opened up on St-Laurent street and Duluth–it’s instantly popular for a reason!
Plateau & The Main Food Tour
The Plateau is an ever-popular, vibrant neighbourhood with classic eateries and new, hip places to visit. Discover this exciting neighbourhood with us!
Enjoy 5 food stops incl. a Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich and craft cider