Signs of Fall are abounding in Montreal, mingling with the last stragglers of summer in both nature and city environs: trees are swapping colours and shedding leaves like crazy, and squirrels are ‘squirrelling’ away their winter eats; pedestrian-only streets have re-opened to vehicular traffic, and terrasse de-construction is imminent…
October in Montreal is a wild card when it comes to weather. Whichever Montreal personality you encounter, though, we’ve got you covered in the eating, drinking and entertainment departments – always good and reliable things in the city!
The 52nd Edition of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema de Montreal is screening in theatres across Montreal through Sunday, October 15th. Although there is programming overlap with the Vancouver International Film Festival, there are also a decent number of unique Quebecois and international films screening in theatres big and small citywide. (Tip: if you don’t speak French, then be sure to note whether English subtitles are available!) Our top picks: L’Ouragan Fuck You Tabarnak!, VFC, The Girls, L’été dernier (Last Summer), Mars Express, and Visitors – Complete edition.
If summer is the time for big outdoors music festivals in and around Montreal, then Fall is the season of small shows. Some of the small venues I recommend checking out if you’re in the mood for a gig while you’re in town: Bar Le Ritz, Casa del Poppolo, La Sala Rossa, La Sotterenea, Foufounes Electriques, Le Ministere, La Tulipe, Theatre Fairmount, Rialto Theatre, Club Soda, The Diving Bell Social Club… (Hot tip: A shortcut to “good” rock and alternative gigs is often Blue Skies Turn Black.) Dive bar shows can be hit-or-miss, but these are a few that are usually worth the gamble: L’Esco, Turbohaus, and Verre Bouteille.
As far as outdoors activities within the city limits go, no matter the weather conditions, an after-dark trip to the Botanical Gardens (4101, rue Sherbrooke Est) is especially lovely this time of year. Until October 31st, the Gardens (Japanese, First Nations, and Chinese) are all lit up for the annual Jardins Lumiere (Gardens of Light) immersive experience. Time slots are available between the hours of 7-10pm, but often sell out in advance, so purchasing ahead of your visit is highly recommended! Do that here.
TO EAT & DRINK
Vin Mon Lapin recently won the top spot on Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants for consistently hitting “that sweet spot between being a special-occasion restaurant and a no-occasion let’s-grab-a-bite kind of place” with their solid selection of natural wines and a menu of farm-focused food cooked with care. Bonus: this award-winning restaurant has walk-in seats available.
After extensive “research” (i.e. pizza eating), we’ve come to the conclusion that Moccione Pizza, in the Villeray neighbourhood, is the spot for a pie. Although all of the standard menu options we’ve tried so far have hit the spot, faced with limited stomach space and time, the seasonally-inspired ‘Pizza Ephemere’ option is a no-brainer; for instance, the ‘Maistro’ with smoked fior di latte, corn, red onion, ricotta salata, Calabraise pepper, parsley & cayenne pepper. (Pro tip: on a nice day, bundle up and order yours to go, then grab some beer from a nearby dep (corner store) and meander down the street to Parc Jarry or plop down at one of the nearby public picnic table situations on Castlenau Street (a short walk away).
It’s easy to get overwhelmed walking along St-Denis, and Billy, J’ai Faim! doesn’t look like much from the sidewalk. But take our word for it: this quaint lunch spot (which just celebrated their one-year anniversary) does French bistro fare and service proper. Think a menu dictated by the seasons, using local ingredients and suppliers (check out the categorized list at the bottom of the menu), at delightfully affordable prices. Moules frites on Fridays only!
Le Elsdale is a relatively new, welcome addition to the Rosemont/Petite-Patrie area. From the Menu de jour to de soir, and weekend brunch, local ingredients and products are done justice across the board.
One thing that Montreal has going for it is its plethora of neighbourhood boucheries (butcher shops) selling high quality meats from animals raised on Quebec farms, as well in-house made charcuterie, sausages, et al. and other complementary goods (think sauces, condiments, preserves, prepared goods to-go, cheeses, wine, cider and beer). Oftentimes, like in the case of Boucherie de la Petite-Patrie, they also have a nice little take-out menu featuring the stuff they sell from their coolers and off of their shelves. The $14 burger or $8 hotdog (both on buns from Automne Boulangerie down the street) plus $2 side of spiced in-house fries is probably one of the neighbourhood’s best lunch deals. Bonus that it’s also only a five-minute walk from Parc Marquette!
Fellow hardcore ice cream lovers, take whatever measures possible to get your fill of frozen goodness from Iconoglace in the Petit-Patrie. Ice cream is its own category in Montreal, and this spot is on a level of its own…For starters, they have three housemade *all vegan* creme molle (soft serve) twist combos regularly in rotation. Peep their Instagram account to find out what’s on the board at the time of your visit. For added pressure: the days of ice-cream cone/sundae/ouragan (like a combo of blizzard and sundae)/etc.-eating are numbered! (Yes, ice cream shops are generally closed six months of the year, during the winter. This year Iconoglace is slated to close on October 22nd.)
Always a favourite. Reserve a bar seat at the compact Salle Climatisée and leave decision-making at the door. The fresh, well-considered menu – charmingly scribed onto a chalkboard – changes daily and will be carted around to you, if you need to see it…but honestly, from snacks to desserts, there are zero missed marks. Expect a tartare riff, local fish served with seasonal vegetables, and perfect desserts. Pair from a small but thoughtful wine list.
Metalhead or not, a visit to Microbrasserie Mutoïde is worth the trek to Hochelaga for any beer-loving folk. Weather-permitting, position yourself on the patio along Hochelaga for a prime view of all the skatepark action across the street (or grab some tall cans from the fridge and park your butt dans le parc).
Need more motivation to head to Hochelaga? Here are just a handful: the hood is home to longtime brasserie L’Espace Public (hit the Broue-Pub on Ontario for proper dive bar vibes and people-watching, and the Salon on Letourneaux is more sprawling and family friendly); Le Pick-Up is a great burger spot with cool diner vibes and a nice little wine selection; grab exceptionally good-looking pastries highlighting in-season ingredients from Aube Boulangerie; and for a fun selection of local and international natural wines and/or a proper coffee in a hip room, Supernat is where it’s at.
Smash burgers are unmatched at Mange Dans Mon Hood, the little sister casse-croute of La Belle Tonki. MDMH’s menu is the sort of super tight one that you can easily work your way through in just one or two visits…but if you don’t have the time for that, then the Ol’ Dirty Fries and Cali Burger are non-negotiable.
Another slim (and less greasy) but solid menu: Falafel Yoni. To narrow it down even further for you: we recommend the Frites Zatar and either the Falafel or Sabich pita – plus multiple Boule chocolat-tahini with all of the coating options (sesame, coconut, sprinkles) for the road.
Setting an early morning alarm while on vacation probably doesn’t come naturally…but it’s highly recommended if you want to scoop up a slice (or two) of San Gennaro‘s killer Roman-style breakfast pizza. They only make one pan per day (veg and meat options both available) and it always sells out early!
When in the Outrement, hit Super Condiments. Not just for their highly curated selection of local and imported pickled/packaged/conserved things to make home pantries happy… Also for: good coffee, natural wines, local biere on tap, weekly vinyl-only nights, lunch and apertivo options – all to be enjoyed in a super friendly, super airy and super inspiring space.
Find yourself downtown and thirsty? Dispensaire is a little brasserie slightly tucked away off of St. Laurent, but still close enough to be prime for people-watching. (And sports-watching, in a way more low-key atmosphere than your average sports bar.)
Going out of your way for sushi in Montreal probably feels counter-intuitive, but exceptionally tasty, fresh and fast take-away (at least as good as anything had in Vancouver!) can be culled from Tri Express. Trust us!
Claiming anywhere as the “best” poutine in the city is bound to stir up trouble. However, if you’re on a mission to fill your belly with this Québécois specialty, a stop at Broue Pub Brouhaha – where they cut their own fries and smoke their own meats on premises – is highly recommended.