Montreal is a city known for its secrets. Filled with underground bars, restaurants tucked in alleys, and hidden spots that hold breathtaking views and history, this city is an adventure no matter how many times you visit! Luckily for us, Rebecca gave us the details on some Montreal secrets she’s been able to unravel herself. From advice on food, where to shop, and where to stay, Rebecca’s guide to Montreal will make you want to visit more than just once!
1. What city are you in right now? – Montreal, Quebec
2. What’s the best-kept secret about your city? – Montreal has so many amazing bars, restaurants, and festivals that are merely advertised by word of mouth. One of my favourite spots in the city is a bar called Big in Japan. It is nearly impossible to find as the only thing making this bar distinguishable is a large red door often covered in graffiti. Once inside, the ambiance and vibe are amazing and the variety of drinks and outstanding food make it that much better! The servers are all dressed in tuxedos and the room is designed like a maze with minimal décor but a lot of character! The “secret door” adds to the feel of the night- a great place to go with a few friends.
3. Describe your city in 10 words. – Vibrant, cultured, French, historical, young, educated, passionate, and very cold!
One of the best things about Montreal is the immense culture available through the streets, restaurants, festivals, and bars.
4. Favourite place to catch up on some emails? – Presse Café on rue Sherbrooke; it’s open 24 hours a day, family owned and super friendly staff, and the food and drinks are actually pretty good! With the exception of exam time, it’s usually decently quite.
5. Best place to relax and enjoy some quiet? – Living in the heart of Downtown Montreal makes it hard to find a calm ambiance. Truthfully, the most peaceful, relaxing hours are after the bars close, and before the sun rises. One of my favorite places to sit and relax is at the top of the McGill arts building, looking down at avenue McGill College. Montreal puts funding toward decorating its busiest downtown streets in lights and festive décor during the holiday season. Both the view from the top and bottom of avenue McGill College, provide one of the most breathtaking experiences. It’s gorgeous during peek hours as well, but there is something special about enjoying the sight in quite. Similarly, last December a friend and I climbed to the top of Mount Royale to watch the sunrise from the look out point. We were the only two there and it was absolutely breathtaking. Although going in the winter meant that the weather was less than appealing, we didn’t have to deal with the same crowds the summer months attract and truly could appreciate the view and quite.
6. Best restaurant that offers atmosphere and good prices? – Coming to Montreal, everyone raves about Fairmont Bagels and Shwartz’s Deli. While I agree that Fairmont offers an amazing experience of watching the baking process and eating some of the most delicious, freshest bagels… ever, Shwartz’s Deli in my opinion is over rated. I have never been a fan of long lines, busy places, or crowds. Shwartz’s definitely has amazing Montreal Smoked Meat at cheap prices, but they also have few tables, where you are asked to sit with other people, often feel rushed, and the restaurant is claustrophobic. I happen to like Reuben’s Deli on the corner of Saint Catherine and McGill College a lot better. It’s the same quality of food and I personally love the Reuben’s Smoked Meat Sandwich. The staff are always friendly, and you get a lot for your money. Reuben’s atmosphere is exactly what you’d expect from a casual lunch spot, but if you’re looking for a nicer but cheap restaurant L’academie is also a favorite! On weekdays they have a $13 dinner special, which includes unlimited warm bread, an appetizer, and a choice of pasta or mussels and fries. The atmosphere is gorgeous, food is always good, and it’s bring your own wine!
Sometimes, the nicest weekend’s in the city are when you have an opportunity to just do nothing but enjoy what’s around you.
7. Best shopping neighborhood and favourite store? – Rue Saint Catherine is always a lot of fun for shopping but my favorite store is called Editorial on Stanley Street. One of my favorite things about Editorial is how friendly their staff is and their amazing instagram account where they let their clients know when their new stock is coming in- which is pretty frequently- and they post outfit ideas almost daily!
8. Tell us about your perfect weekend? – Being a student in Montreal, I’m not given too many opportunities to really explore. One of the best things about Montreal is the immense culture available through the streets, restaurants, festivals, and bars. One of my best weekends since moving to Montreal was when my mom came to visit in September. We became tourists for the weekend and enjoyed several art exhibits and walked around for hours. We found a great Ethiopian restaurant on St. Denis, and went for after dinner drinks in Old Montreal at Velvet and Joeverse. The next day, we sat on a bench by the water in the Old Port and drank coffee and enjoyed the atmosphere and each other’s company. Sometimes, the nicest weekend’s in the city, are when you have an opportunity to just do nothing but enjoy what’s around you.
9. What hotel would you recommend for women business travelers? Old Montreal has some of the most beautiful hotels! Many of them are heritage buildings that have been renovated to mesh the old and new. One of my favorites is Hotel Le Saint James. If you wanted to stay closer to the heart of downtown then Le Germain is also really nice! Both aren’t huge chains, which makes the experience more enjoyable as the staff are far more friendly and genuine.
10. Where is the best place to meet new people in your city? – McGill students tend to flock to the same few bars and clubs on St. Laurent; Tokyo, Ivy, Pinq Taco, and Korova. If you want to branch outside of the McGill/College community, Old Montreal has so many bars and lounges that allow for a more social dynamic and calmer atmosphere. Wednesdays and Thursdays are always pretty busy and there are countless places to go! I always meet the most interesting people and think it’s fun to explore in more cultured areas of the city.
11. What are the top places you would take a visitor? – I feel like every visitor to Montreal has to walk to the look out point on Mount Royale, and try a Montreal Bagel. Besides that, walking around Old Port and going for dinner on rue St. Denis is always fun!